Andrea has been an online writer for 8+ years. She mostly writes about dating, couples, weddings, travel, interior design, and gardening.
Vows that Wow
Writing your own vows can make your wedding more personal. It can also be scary to put words to paper and confess how you feel about someone in front of a crowd.
I want to go over some ways to write your vows to make the process easier for you and to make them as clean and lovely as possible.
- On average, each person's vows last about 2 minutes. Exchanging vows altogether takes about 5 minutes. Going longer or shorter is okay. But you don't want to be standing there expressing your vows for 30 minutes.
- Keep audience in mind. What you say to your partner is going to be heard to all your guests. If it's inappropriate for children, it probably isn't a great idea for your wedding.
- You don't want to wait until the last minute to write your vows, but it's not unheard of for people to adjust and rewrite them the night before the wedding.
What to Include in Vows
Vows, point blank, should include the reasons why you love your partner. If you're worried you're not a very good wordsmith, and you hate public speaking, you may want to skip vows altogether and let your officiant do all the talking.
- There is nothing wrong with skipping the wordy vows.
- You can always save what you really want to say to your partner for your honeymoon.
- Long vows can make your guests antsy.
If you're brave and want to write your vows, and maybe words of affirmation is your love language, then by all means give it your best shot.
I think the best vows come from the heart and avoid quotes from the Bible, Shakespeare, or famous people. (You can include those quotes in other parts of your wedding.)
The easiest way to get started: write down why you love the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with.
- Write down moments that really meant a lot to you when dating, especially in the early stage. There are reasons why you're marrying this person and not your other dates.
- Use scenes from your relationship that are meaningful that you can describe. Vows in part are storytelling. It's a lot easier for people to follow a story than a series of random adjectives. Your guests are hungry for a good love story.
- Don't go on about how you've wanted to get married since you were little. You don't need the timeline of your vows to go back into childhood, your teenage years, or before you even really met the person. Concentrate on the relationship.
- Write a passion draft: put down everything you've ever dreamed of saying to your partner but haven't. It's better to write too much and subtract parts then not have anything to work with.
- Type up the words and if you have the time write them by hand. This will help you get an idea of whether you're writing too much.
Ask a Friend for Help
If you have the time, ask a trusted person to read both your vows and your partner's vows. This person should look for the following:
- Are the vows about the same length? You don't want one person's vows to last two minutes and the other person's takes a half hour. Your vows should be about the same length.
- Your friend should check to make sure both vows go in a similar direction. It'll be really weird if one person completely pours out their heart, and the other person went the comedic route. It will be jarring for your guests, and potentially it will be jarring for you and your partner.
- The friend should read them to make sure they make sense, that you didn't ramble, and that you sound like yourselves.
- The friend can help you take out any potentially embarrassing or weird parts.
Don't stress out about your vows too much. There are several things that all take place during a wedding, and most people will probably forget your vows in the long run. You don't need to be the greatest orator, the greatest writer, or the greatest anything. You just need to be yourself and talk for a couple of minutes, or five minutes.
While your partner reads their vows, you need to focus on them. Don't think about your vows or what you just said. Stand there, look them in the eyes, stand up straight, breathe, and don't lock your knees. Smile. Be reassuring. You're only going to have this moment for so long, so savor it.
Laugh at your partner's jokes. Let yourself cry if need be. I recommend not wearing mascara that will run. If you have an emotional breakdown and your makeup is everywhere you'll have to waste time cleaning it up and it could make your pictures look bad. So be careful about what makeup you wear. Weddings can be hard because they are a blast of emotions, and you have to find some composure.
When reading your vows, look up every once in awhile so you can see your partner. Don't turn your back to your wedding guests. Smile when you can. If all of this sounds like too much, then keep your vows short.
People love you! That's why they're attending your wedding. You have people there to support you. Your wedding is a safe space. This is a time where you can confess your true feelings for someone, make it clear why you want to spend your life with them, and what you're dreaming of for the future.
- Excellent vows are well written and polished. They've been rehearsed, they've been edited, and they've essentially been perfected.
- You should try writing a few drafts of your vows over your engagement period. It might take you awhile to find your voice.
- Write from the heart not your root chakra.
- Keep things in an order. Stick to a timeline. Move from the beginning of the relationship to why you are at the wedding today.
- Keep quotes short. If you have a favorite quote, poem, or the like this may be wise for someone in your bridal party to read instead.
- Lookout for repetitive phrases. You don't need to say the same thing twice.
- Make sure your sentences are not too wordy. If you can say the same thing with less words, it's probably better.
- Avoid sounding too simplistic. Look for spots in your vows where a stronger word would have more impact.
- Your vows should sound conversational. This is dialogue, not an academic paper.
- Write your vows in paragraphs. It will help you to read it better if you have paragraph breaks rather than one large chunk of text.
- Consider your sentence arrangement. When writing your vows, you likely put down whatever you thought onto paper. Now that you have a rough draft, look for parts that can be moved and work better with other sentences or paragraphs.
- Don't be too attached to a sentence. You may have to remove sentences or paragraphs because they're too repetitive and you've already made your points clear.
- Look for cliches in your writing and try to replace them with something more original or unique to you.
- Look out for run on sentences. If you have a really long sentence, it can likely be shortened.
- Make sure you're not mixing metaphors. With something as romantic as a wedding it's easy to get flowery and start combining too many metaphors, allusions, and the like all at once. This isn't the time to get into philosophy.
- There is nothing wrong with keeping it simple. There is nothing wrong with making it creative. Make it right for you.
- Avoid starting every sentence the same way. Also avoid ending sentences on linking verbs. . . and verbs in general.
- Love what you wrote and don't analyze it too much.
- Don't analyze your partner's vows for what they wrote and be thinking about grammar. Really listen and soak up why they love you.
- Avoid references to TV shows, movies, and nerdy things. People want to learn about the two of you as a couple, not the latest Marvel movie. You'll sound more mature if you avoid these things.
© 2021 Andrea Lawrence