If you’ve read a few of my posts already, you will know by now that I am
slightly obsessed by personal vows. Having helped hundreds of couples think about and shape their vows and then come right through the process to hear them being said aloud on the wedding day, you will understand my obsession.
There is simply nothing more beautiful than hearing couples open their hearts and telling one another how they feel, how they are made to feel and how they pledge to spend their future with their love. I’ve been marrying people for seven years now and I love the fact that I still well up when I hear personal vows. I would not have it any other way.
I want to help you get your vows right, even though I don’t believe you can actually get vows wrong! However, vows do need a bit of a planning, a bit of thought, a bit of preparation. You may be someone whose mad love is spilling out of you and you need a hand reigning it in and giving it some direction or you may be someone who can’t quite bring out to the surface all of those feelings that make you warm inside. So here is an early wedding gift to you, a little help with merging all of your ideas and feelings together into a smooth, flowing, statement of love.
The advice I have written below is aimed at couples who will be making individual personal pledges to each other ie those brave and beautiful couples who will be writing solo and surprising each other on the day! However, this advice can work for all types of personal vows too, even when you’re writing them together.
Set the guidelines
Work out with your love bunny what style of vows you are going to do, so that you can literally both be working off the same page. Without getting too technical and potentially even boring myself (never!), personal vows basically fall into three categories; pledge vows, qualities vows, mixed pledge-qualities vows. In a nutshell, a pledge vow is where you make pledges and promises, a qualities vow is where you say why and what it is that you love about your love bunny and a mixed vow is where you do both! You big up your love bunny and make some promises. That my friends is a very crude breakdown of vows. For a more detailed look, check out this wedding vow post. Once you’ve decided on your vow style, a pat on the back will be due. You’ll have made the first step.
Why not have a vow weekend? On the Saturday, grab a bottle of wine, your laptop, a pen and paper if your old school like me, and some photos of you both from your time together. Find a happy spot in your home and get cosy. Maybe don’t drink all the wine before you start to write your vows, but if you do, use the Sunday morning to confirm that your dignity is still intact. It’s good to do this anyway, to check your vows over the course of a few days, to make sure you love the sound of them whatever day of the week it is, whatever time of the day. The key point is – vows take time.
Before, I mentioned about surrounding yourself with some photos of the two of you, but really you can grab on to anything that will get you feeling inspired (books, music, concert tickets). I know you love your love bunny but don’t think for a minute that the reasons why you love him/her will just pop into your head. Believe it or not, you may actually have to engage your brain and ask yourself, ‘why do I love my love bunny?’ This people, does not mean you love them any less, it just means you have to think about it a bit more! So why not ask yourself these questions?
What made me fall in love with you?
What do I love about you?
What things do I love most about you?
What annoys me about you? (Trust me, it’s good to think these things too. I love vows when couples pledge to get over those annoying things that get on their nerves. It’s all about keeping it real, at the end of the day! Marriage is not all chocolates and roses.)
What do we have in common? How are we worlds apart?
What have you taught me? What do I think I’ve taught you?
Hopefully, these questions will get those creative juices flowing and help you to think of other things which will be useful for shaping your vows. Another good method is this
I love you because….
I love you despite…
Watch how quickly you can complete those sentences! Maybe do three of each and see what you come up with!
Write in your own voice
Unless you’re William Shakespeare (you’re not, because he’s dead) there is absolutely no reason to write your vows like you are a 16th century wordsmith. Be you, because when you’re not it will be as clear as the day that you’re getting married on! Don’t say things you don’t mean, things that aren’t you, things that you don’t want to share. Obviously you want to have honest vows but that doesn’t mean sharing EVERYTHING. Although your vows are from you to your love bunny, they’re going to be said in front of others, so don’t forget that.
Yes, vows are ultimately a serious pledge of love and commitment but that doesn’t mean that they have to be serious in tone or nature. A vow that mixes some serious pledges with some funny light-hearted pledges is often more reflective of the couple than 100% straight-faced ones.
So to end here folks, all I can say is that there really is no such thing as a wrong vow. Couples often ask me how long a vow should be and I always respond, ‘however long they are.’ If you’re writing from your heart, you will write what is right, in terms of content, length and tone. In seven years, all the sets of vows that I have heard that were written individually, all sounded like they were written together. That’s true magic, people.