Written with love, by Pastor Dave Page
Vows are a big deal! In fact, I'd argue that they're actually the most important part of the wedding ceremony. It’s been said that writing your own vows is like making homemade cookies. If you can find the right ingredients, the right words in the case of vows, it is almost always better. It’s the perfect way to personalize your wedding and show your guests exactly what you love about your fabulous fiancé.
Surprisingly, I don’t encourage writing your own vows unless you really have a deep desire to do so. Why? Because you already have enough stress to deal with in planning all the other elements of your wedding ceremony. But, if you really want to write your own vows then I look forward to helping you craft some amazing vows. My wife and I wrote our own vows and it was a very meaningful experience and a moving part of our ceremony. I still reflect today on the vows we wrote many years ago. I’ll share our vows with you in part two of this post.
Writing your own vows can be a daunting task for many couples. Someone once said, “Penning your own wedding vows is like writing poetry, public speaking and having the deepest conversation of your life all at once.” Still want to pen your own vows? If so, then let’s get busy. Below are Twelve Tips For Writing Your Own Vows to help you discover your inner Wordsworth:
TIP #1: BEGIN EARLY
Don’t wait until the last minute to write your wedding vows! Preferably, plan a few months out from your wedding date, but at least a month out. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, state of mind. Set a goal for when you’d like to complete your vows by and stick to your goal. I encourage having your vows done at least a few days before your wedding so that you have time to practice them, which can be a real stress reliever.
TIP #2: LOOK TO THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU
Seek out vows of real couples from real weddings and start looking them over to see which ones you like. I provide my couples with lots of real wedding vows from couples I have married, not online vows. I encourage couples to cut and paste certain sentences they like from various vows. If you practice a certain faith, you may want to look at vows from other couples that share your same faith. At this point you’re just trying to get some good ideas from other couples that have been down the road before so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
For an example of some vows, go to www.WeddingPastorDave.com and click on “Tools” on the menu and then “Vows.”
TIP #3: SPEAK FROM YOUR HEART
“I think you’re going to hear crickets” (Quote from the movie “The Wedding Crashers” when the maid of honor tried to be humorous in her toast for the couple at the expense of the bride and groom). You don’t want to hear crickets when you say your vows to each other so speak from your heart. Decide on the overall tone you want to convey. Do you want your vows to be poetic, romantic, humorous, spiritual or serious? My wife and I decided to make our vows both romantic and serious with a touch of spiritual. I like humor but it needs to be done well if you’re going to incorporate it into your vows. I don’t think the reciting of your vows is a time for stand-up comedy. But little jokes that are unique to the bride and groom can be tasteful and funny.
For example, “I promise to love you, respect you, cherish you and always watch Raider football games with you!” Spoken by a bride who shared her groom’s love for the Oakland Raiders.
TIP # 4: DECIDE ON YOUR STYLE
Do you want your vows to be traditional or contemporary? Or do you want a combination of both? One thing I suggest for couples that write their own vows is to add what I call a traditional tag. For example, a couple may say something like, “In your eyes, I have found my home. In your heart, I have found my love. In your soul, I have found my mate …”
After they recite their contemporary vows to each other, I say, “Now John, do you take Judy, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; for as long as you both shall live? If so, answer, I do.”
TIP #5: FIGURE OUT YOUR GAME PLAN
Make sure you and your fiancé are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your vows separately, or will you write them together? Will they be a surprise on your wedding day? I don’t encourage this as it can be very emotional but some people want to tap into that emotion and that’s fine if the couple is in agreement. If you write your vows separately, I encourage you to run them by each other before your wedding. Will the vows be the same for each of you or will the vows be different for the bride and groom? My wife and I wrote different vows for each other. I request that couples send me a copy of their vows just as a backup plan. How will you communicate your vows? Will you read them to each other or will you repeat after the officiant? Will you read them from an index card or off an iPhone or iPad? And by the way, don’t make your vows too long. Aim for about one minute or so each - it’s longer than it sounds!
TIP #6: GO OUT ON A VOW DATE
When it’s time to come up with the actual content of your vows, go out to dinner to brainstorm. Talk about your relationship and what marriage means to each of you. Discuss what you expect from each other and the relationship. What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What is it about this person that makes you want to spend the rest of your life with them? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges do you envision in your future? What do you want to accomplish together? Answering these questions help you come up with phrases and stories that you can incorporate into crafting your own vows.
Next time we’ll look at the final six tips for writing your own vows. I’m off to Santa Barbara this weekend with my wife (Carrie) to celebrate our anniversary!