TIP # 7: GET ALONE FOR SOME REFLECTION TIME
After chatting with your future spouse, take some self-reflection time alone to think about how you feel about your fiancé. What did you think when you first saw him? When did you realize you were in love? What quality do you most admire in him? How has your life gotten better since meeting your future mate? What about him inspires you? What do you miss most about him when you’re apart? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.
TIP #8: BORROW FROM OTHER GREAT WRITERS
Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts, or even from romantic movies. Write down words and phrases that capture your feelings. Widely recognized works ring true for a reason. I’ve found that the Bible has some of the best quotes I’ve ever heard. For example, the wise King Solomon penned these words in Proverbs 5:18-19: “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be exhilarated always with her love.”
Based on the last phrase in the second verse, I said to Carrie, “I am captivated by your beauty, refreshed by your genuineness and encouraged by your love for me.” My wife is a beautiful woman and a very authentic person. There is no pretense with her. She wears her emotions on her sleeves – what you see is what you get so I wanted to include this wonderful character quality in my vow to her. At the end of the vow I said, “I will always be exhilarated with your love.”
Your vows should reflect your beliefs, values and desires as a couple. Some of you will want to be more covert when including your spiritual values while others of you will want to be a bit overt. Some couples I marry do not want anything spiritual or religious in their vows to one another or in the ceremony itself. I respect each couples wishes.
I provide my couples various readings for their weddings from all different sources – from Scripture to Shakespeare. Here is a link some excellent WEDDING READINGS.
TIP #9: CREATE AN OUTLINE
An outline can get you started by helping you establish structure. For example, plan to first talk about how wonderful your fiancé is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your commitments to each other. You may want to share why you chose to marry your fiancé, reasons why you love your fiancé and promises you intend to keep.
TIP #10: GET SOME FEEDBACK
Get some objective feedback from people you trust. Run your vows by some of your trusted friends and get their input. Listen to their constructive criticism of your vows in order to make them even better. I also read my vows to my mom because she was a English major in college and I wanted to make sure they were grammatically correct.
TIP #11: REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE
Don’t make your vows so personal that they’re obscure, mysterious or embarrassing! You’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words. My favorite nickname that one bride used for her fiancé was Stud Muffin. That also means being sensitive to the different religions and faiths represented in your audience.
TIP #12: PRACTICE YOUR VOWS OUT LOUD
Remember, these words are meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. A good rule of thumb: When you write, you write for eyes to read. But when you speak, you speak for ears to hear. Speak your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Rehearse in front of the mirror a few times – seriously! Beware of tongue twisters and super long sentences. Go slow when you say your vows to one another – you do not want to get out of breath or stumble. And remember speak up so that everyone can hear you! There is nothing worse than attending a wedding and not being able to hear the couple when they say their vows. You may become overwhelmed with emotion in the moment and begin to cry. That’s okay because they are happy tears - just compose yourself and carry on.