So this whole vow writing thing . . . easy-peasy, right?
Well, maybe for some folks.
But almost always, when couples I work with set out to write their own vows, it seems easier for them at the outset than it actually is in real time. I offer couples a few vow writing question prompts to ease the process, but more than anything, an important aspect of the process is agreeing upon what kind of vow format feels right for you.
I suggest that couples give these questions about structure a good bit of reflection together before setting out to write wedding vows:
- Do we want our vows to be a ‘repeat phrases after the Celebrant’ experience?
(My experience is that true introverts who aren’t into speaking in front of guests leap up and say “YES please!” to this question.)
- Do we want our vows to reflect the ‘tradition’ of any belief system or combination of beliefs?
For example, a couple I worked with this past spring, wanted to incorporate the format of Buddhist wedding vows because both draw from the wisdom of Buddhist tradition.
- Do we wish for any family members (children in blending families, for example) to participate in the making of vows?
Often I find myself marrying mature couples who are beginning anew in a second marriage, which means there are children involved who may be in their teens, or even adult children in midlife if the marrying couple is in their late 60’s.
- Do we want our vows to reflect more of a conversational style, a give and take, rather than “I read my 327 words and then you read your 281 words”?
If you’re having a relaxed and informal ceremony with your nearest and dearest, you might feel more at ease exchanging vows in a conversational way, kind of like real life.
- Do we want anybody to review our vows for length and the tone of content if we wait until the day of to exchange or do we share them with each other prior?
Sometimes waiting until the day of is a wonderful surprise, yet I find this true only if somebody (like me! or an objective friend) has read them first to give a sense of comparable length and tone, and then see if any revisions are needed.
These structural questions are a good starting point, but then go and HAVE FUN with it, too! The photo above shows lovely hand-written vow booklets from a couple who I wed last fall. I loved how they read their vows to each other in their own hand writing and their vow booklets could be something they revisit on anniversaries in the future, add to, and enjoy. Lastly, if these ideas leave you wanting more, this article has some good pointers in it, too. Especially, #8: “Practice by saying them aloud.” Yes, it’s different hearing the words outside your heads compared to reading it on a computer screen silently. Trust me on this one!