What’s the most crucial part of your wedding? Photographs will let you preserve your memories of the day, whilst good catering will ensure that you and your guests have a wonderful dinner. And the location is all-important, too – we all want to get married in a beautiful place which will enthrall us. But there’s something that’s even more important than all of these things: the vows. The words you will speak to each other should be full of meaning and will hallmark the rest of your lives together. So it’s very important to spend time thinking about them. They’re a lot more than just a few words you’ll utter on a beach in Thailand. They sum up what you promise to give your partner for a very long time to come.
Though the vows may only take a minute or less to say, they should reflect exactly what you want to tell each other. One of the easiest ways to find those magic words is to see what others have said. This will spark off your own ideas. It’ll probably take time before you finalize what you want to say and this is perfectly normal. Don’t expect to come up with the right words in a day, but sleep on what you’ve come up with and only finalize your vows when you are ready to do so.
Many couples use wedding vows that have been standardized but if you’d like to write your own, it’s not as hard as you may think. Here are some brief tips on how to do it.
1. Ensure that your partner agrees to your vows. Just because you may want personalized vows doesn’t mean that your partner does. Some people may simply want to keep with traditions. Decide if you’ll both have the same wedding vow or will write completely different ones.
2. Have a quiet think. Because vows are so deep, totally personal and have to be summed up in just a few words, they can be notoriously difficult to write. If you’re having trouble formulating your vows, then take a break, or even come back to the task the next day. Try answering the following questions – they will give you food for thought:
o What is the most wonderful thing about your partner?
o When was it that you first knew that he/she was the person you wanted to get married to?
o What’s the importance of marriage to you?
o Why do you want to be a married person?
o In what ways has your partner changed you?
o When you get married what do you think will change about you?
o Will getting married mean that the relationship will change?
o What will stay the same?
o What’s your favorite memory of your partner?
o How has your partner helped you in your life?
o How do you think you’ve helped him/her?
o In what ways is life better than if you had never met your partner?
3. Look on the internet. Spend time reading wedding vows, poems that are suitable for wedding ceremonies and speeches – these are all good sources of quotes and ideas. Find the ones that appeal to you.
4. Choose what’s best. Go back to what you wrote before, and select the words that speak to you and which you like. If they are too long, you’ll need to cut them down to size. Add some of the answers to the questions above and if they fit, then add some of the wording from poems, speeches, etc. finish up with the words “I promise to/that…” and complete the sentence.
5. If none of this works try writing some very simple vows: “(Name of partner), you are my true love / greatest friend / the person I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. Today, I take you to be my wife / husband / partner / one true love. I promise you that I will be faithful / worthy of you / worthy of your trust / worthy of your love. I promise to love you / honor you / respect you / share my life with you for richer for poorer, for as long as we both shall live.”
6. Try out the vows. Read them out aloud to see how they sound. They should ideally be easy to read, with a natural flow. If they’re very complicated you will probably want to simplify them as you may otherwise find yourself stumbling over the words on the day. You’ll probably find yourself changing the words so they sound better or flow better. Once you’ve got a final version, read it out loud several times just so that you know the words are exactly right for you. At the ceremony, you can have the words written on paper or have the celebrant read them in chunks to you. Or, if you feel brave enough, you can memorize the words and repeat them while you hold the groom’s / bride’s hands. It might be a good idea to give a copy to the best man or maid of honor, though. Some couples keep their vows secret from each other until the moment of reading. Others repeat their vows in front of the audience but in a voice low enough so that nobody else can hear.