First of all, let me give you a big, virtual pat on the back for reading this post. The very fact that you are here means that you are thinking of, or planning to write your own personal vows, and that my friends, is a most fabulous idea.
On your wedding day, the exchange of your wedding vows will be the MOST important part of your whole entire day. FACT! So you really have to make sure that you and your love bunny make your declaration of love and commitment to each other in the way that expresses you best, that captures your feelings, captures your honesty and captures your love.
However, before you get scribbling (I’m old school) or typing, here are a few things you should work out with your love bunny before sitting down to pen the most wonderful personal vows that you possibly can.
Make sure that your partner is onboard. It is one thing to be brimming with excitement at the prospect of writing your own vows, but it’s another thing if that excitement is only one-sided. Talk to your partner and gauge their reaction. Decide for yourself if their ‘hell-no-thank-you-very-much’ is simply their initial reaction to the idea of writing and saying their vows publicly (which in most cases it is) or whether your love bunny absolutely, 100% categorically, nah-uh, you’re-off-your bloody-nelly, does not want to say personal vows on your wedding day. In my eyes, that would be truly sad because it is such an amazing thing to be able to do, but at the end of the day you have to respect their wishes. But don’t give up if the reaction is a negative one. Maybe show your bunny some examples and spell out what your idea is and how you can work on them. Sometimes presenting a vision for them, makes the idea seem less daunting. Also, for the super nervous, there are many alternate ways to say your vows, which makes the experience much less nerve-wracking.
Check you are allowed personal vows in your ceremony. It pains me to even write this, because my poor peanut of a brain cannot even begin to understand why alongside any legal or cultural vows that you may have to say, you wouldn’t be able to then go on to make your own personal vows to each other. Who the hell is getting married after all? Yes, that’s right, you are and who the hell’s wedding is it? Exactly, yours! So why then would you not be able to say your own vows? I think the point here is to simply run it by your celebrant, registrar, priest, vicar etc that a) you want to say your own personal vows in addition to any others you must say and b) you’re hoping that there will be no objections to it and if there are, you want to hear a very good damned reason why ever not!
Figuring out what personal vows are. Okay, so your love bunny is onboard, your celebrant loves the idea of your saying some personal vows to each other and now it’s suddenly struck you that you don’t really have a clue what personal vows are! Yep, don’t worry, that’s kinda normal! A personal wedding vow is statement of promise, or a pledge of your intention for your future life together with your love bunny. It is where you will tailor a statement that reflects your love, your lifestyle and your aspirations and goals for the future. Still not clear? Then have a look at my guide to personal vows.
What type of vow to have. Although some vows may sound like a random collection of thoughts and feelings, most vows do follow a type of pattern and format. Before you start writing your vows, you should sit down with your love bunny and work out what format you like. Take a look at these vow formats to see which you love.
Writing your vows. Once you have worked out what format you’re going to have for your vows, you then need to actually get to the nitty gritty and get them written out. Easier said than done! I think the top tip I can give to any couple writing their vows is to write in your own voice. This means that when you read them, it should sound like you speaking, not like a version of you that’s been kidnapped by an alien and returned to life in the body of William Shakespeare. Are we clear? Secondly, decide what is important to you both and what content you will have and then work out if you’re going to write them together or separately. Believe it or not, many couples write their vows separately and don’t know what the other has written until the ceremony. I love this move! You can always send it to your celebrant beforehand so that at least someone gets to see both sets of vows. This is what most couples I marry do, and I have never ever seen a pair of vows they did not fit together perfectly. Get more vow writing advice here.
How to deliver your vows. Points five and six kind of go hand in hand. In order to know how to deliver your vows will of course determine how you write them. So what do I mean about vow delivery? Well, basically vow delivery is how you and your love bunny will say your vows. For example, if you decide to say the same personalised vow, you could decide to deliver that vow together, word for word. How wonderful is that, right? Or you could write your vows so that you each deliver a line alternately. Cool, no? Especially, if you are doing straightforward promises to each other then what nicer way to alternate the promises, line by line. For my notes on how to deliver your vows, check out these tips.
The impact your vows will have on you during your ceremony. There is no exaggerating here, you’re going to cry like a baby! And it’s fine to. Your voice will quiver, you will have a lump in your throat but you will make it to the end of your vows. Don’t underestimate how emotive saying your vows to your loved one will be. You may do all of the above, you may do just one, but don’t doubt it, the emotion will get you one way or another. I’ve seen the hardest, meanest, SAS commando types blubbing their way through their vows. It gets everyone. So be prepared. Don’t deny it, don’t shy away from it and above all, embrace it!
Good vows take time. Obvious but true. Don’t leave it until that last minute. Give yourself enough time so that you can write them, leave them for a while, even a month later and then read them again. If they make you feel as good as they did when you first wrote them then you’ll surely be on to a winner.
Your vow presentation. Think about how you are going to present your vows once you have written them. Some couples like to have them printed off on to nice card with stationery that matches the rest of their wedding theme. Anything but reading it from your phone, thank you very much. And don’t even think of trying to memorise them. As I tell all my couples, you’ll just about remember your name and the date.
Your vows don’t have to be solemn. Yes, you heard me. Your vows are a solemn promise but that doesn’t mean that they have to be solemn. Your vows can be funny, romantic, light hearted, rhyming, or even a rap if you wanted to, so long as you mean what you say and you say what you mean. Your vow is a representation of you, so make sure the two are literally on the same page!
Good luck and let me know how you get on!