So you have decided to write your own wedding vows.
It is a heartwarming proposition… and a daunting one. If it hasn’t dawned on you yet, it soon will as the fateful date approaches: what if my vows aren’t cute enough? Moving enough? Funny enough? What if my fiancée hates them? What if the mother-in-law hates them? What if the congregation thinks they are less heartfelt than those they heard at Jo and Mary’s last month?
Congratulation, you are into writer’s block territory. But never mind that, as any professional writer would be able to tell you: writer’s block is only a pit stop to greatness. You just have to take very specific practical steps to get your creative juices flowing.
-First of all, talk to your officiant. If you are getting married in a specific faith, chances are you will be required to recite at least a portion of the traditional vows. At what point in the ceremony will you exchange vows and how long will you be expected to have?
-Talk to your fiancée: are you writing them together or keeping them a secret from each other? What is the tone you both would want the vows to have? Are you allowed to be funny (never underestimate humor!) or would you both rather land on a meaningful note? Is there a date you agree you should have written your vows by?
-Gather inspiration: read the vows from your specific faith and other peoples’ vows. Look for ideas in poetry and prose. At this point don’t let the censor part of your brain kick in and judge anything: you are not allowed to double check yourself: just jot down everything that jumps out at you. Don’t be scared of plagiarism, the best do it: remember that Shakespeare lifted off the plot of Romeo and Juliet from a traditional Italian tale!
2) Answer this question:
Who are you doing this for? Chances are, your answer will be something along the lines of “my fiancée and me”. If you try and please all listeners, you will end up being disingenuous and manipulating your words to achieve an effect. Now, this is the most important principle: audiences respond to other people’s true stories. Someone’s genuine experience is always relatable. As humans we welcome with great curiosity any information to do with another human: we are always looking for genuine connection, to imagine what it is to be in someone else’s shoes. For both the old couple who just celebrated their gold anniversary and the young cousin who just cannot get a girlfriend, the genuine story of how you met and how you got here is interesting enough. It’s thrilling, actually! So the good news is: be simple and true.
Concentrate on this axiom: “before I met you, I __, and now__”. The story of how meeting each other enriched you and changed you is the reason why you are committing to each other on that day. And it is also a great occasion to be completely honest with your partner and appreciate them without any screens, letting them know what you normally wouldn’t, as day-to-day reality often doesn’t allow for that. Really: it is all about you and them. Actually, it is about them. Concentrate of them.
Being off book is optional. Rehearsing is not. You will have a million different things swimming through your head that day, don’t let this be one of them. Grab your best man or the bridesmaid of honor (several weeks in advance and multiple times!) and read the vows to them, as if it were the day. Remember you are allowed to sound like yourself.
5) Best of all: have fun! You are a lucky person to be in this position in the first place.
Be yourself and don’t forget to enjoy the day. Good luck and congratulations!