Writing Wedding Vows

Beautiful pink rose with ribbon, petals and two gold wedding rings.

Many couples are curious, but reluctant, to write personal vows.  Let me say that these unique promises never disappoint!   Below are 10 suggestions to brides and grooms who are considering writing personal vows for their big day.  In no particular order, here we go!

  1. These are your vows—speak from the heart. You don’t need to be William Shakespeare of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to write wonderful, moving vows.  
  2. That being said, don’t be afraid to use quotations, poems or prose written by others in your vows.  Years ago, for instance, after one of my bride’s read vows to her beloved, she surprised him with a recitation of e.e. cummings’ “i carry your heart with me.”
  3. While I’d say the majority of personal vows are written on typical stationary, some couples choose to read vows from their smart phones.  I’m partial to new booklets specially made for wedding vows.  One can find options on crafty sites like Etsy or on Amazon or various wedding and stationery stores.  If you really want to be creative, consider designing something on your own.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be humorous.  Being able to laugh at ourselves and with our loved ones is an important part of a healthy relationship.   The best vows, in my estimation, mix lightness with weighty sentimentality. 
  5. Use your own words.  I love it when brides and grooms will draw from prior communication with each other in their vows….be it text messages from early in the relationship to love letters, using reflections is incredibly powerful.
  6. Don’t worry about how long or short your vows are.  This is the high point of the ceremony so don’t worry that people will become bored listening to these most important words.  Alternatively, remember when Mr. Big was having trouble writing personal vows in the Sex and the City movie?  Carrie calmly reassured Big, “All you need to say is ‘I will always love you.’”
  7. Think outside the box for inspiration.  I recently had a bride who used lyrics from an Elton John song for her vows.
  8. Look at love letters written by others for inspiration.  There are many such collections, and one of my favorites is Love Letters: 2000 Years of Romance, edited by Andrea Clark (London: The British Library).     
  9. Be sure people can hear these promises! Even with a micro-wedding, consider if you need some kind of amplification to make those beautiful vows heard!
  10. Don’t be afraid to show emotion.  If you can’t cry at your own wedding, where can you cry? For the gents:  nothing is more impactful than a man who is willing to cry.  For the ladies:  make-up can always be touched up, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment!

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