In my years as a luxury wedding planner in Colorado, some of the most emotional vow exchanges I’ve witnessed have been where the couple has written their own vows. That’s not to say that I don’t love the traditional vows, but they aren’t right for every couple. Custom wedding vows are the ultimate way to personalize your wedding ceremony, and add an extra layer of meaning. But writing your own wedding vows isn’t easy, even if you’re a skilled wordsmith. Here are my top pointers for wedding vows that sparkle with sincerity, and give your guests an intimate insight into your one-of-a-kind love.
Give yourself enough time. With everything else going on, it’s tempting to leave writing your own wedding vows to the last minute. But you’ll want to start early enough to give yourself time to reflect, find inspiration, and even practice a little! Starting three to four weeks before the wedding should give you plenty of time to work with.
Agree on the format and tone first. Even if you’re planning to keep the actual vows a secret, it’s a good idea to get on the same page before you get started. Discuss what you want your ceremony to feel like. Then agree on the length, format and tone of your vows. You should also discuss the vows with your officiant to ensure all your bases are covered. For example, you may need to include certain phrases, or hand over to them for parts of the ceremony.
Take time to reflect alone. You don’t need to start writing the actual wedding vows straight away. Instead, take time to reflect and enjoy the creative process. Page through old photographs. Jot down some of your favorite memories. Think about how you felt when you met, what you love most about your partner, and your hopes for the future. Write all of this down, and it will give you plenty of material to work with.
Seek out inspiration. Before refining all those rough thoughts into vows, you may want to look for inspiration. Movies, poetry and other couples’ vows can all be rich sources of inspiration. You may also want to look at traditional vows, and weave some of them together with your own words. When you find a few pieces you love, ask yourself what it is about them that speaks to you. You can then make that sentiment your own.
Make meaningful promises. Vows are, of course, essentially a set of promises. So be sure to include sincere promises in your vows (as well as the words “I love you”!). If you’d like to include a bit of humor, you can mix broader promises with more specific, personal ones.
Keep it short and sweet. Your vows are incredibly important, but you don’t want them to drag on either. Less is definitely more! Limit yourself to around 350 words, or around two minutes of speaking time. Edit what you’ve written to avoid repetition and focus on what really and truly matters. This is also when it can be a good idea to take a break, or enlist the help of a trusted friend to help you refine your vows.
Speak from the heart. Your vows may give your guests an insight into your relationship, but they’re really only for your partner. So make sure you aim your vows directly at them, and sound like yourself. If you’re stuck, try writing a love letter to your partner about why you have chosen them, what you love about your life together, and what you’re looking forward to. Sometimes the best lines come about when you’re writing straight from your heart and not overthinking the process.
Writing your own wedding vows can be a challenge. But when you’re standing at the altar sharing your heart with your partner, it will all be worth it!
Image by Megan Wynn Photography