How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows: 10 Tips
If you’re writing your own vows, you’ve chosen an incredible and meaningful way to personalize your wedding ceremony. It’s a chance to tell your story, give guests a peek into what makes your relationship tick, and to share meaningful, sweet words with the person you love. It can also be a pretty challenging task because it’s so intimate—you are really baring your heart to your fiancé, and you’re doing so in front of your family and friends. If you’re struggling to come up with the right words, read on for ten tips that will help you get through writing your wedding vows.
1. Talk about Your Vows Together
One of the hardest parts about exchanging vows is worrying over how people will compare your words to your fiancé’s. Were hers longer? Did he get more sentimental? Did she make everyone laugh? Did he make everyone cry?
Instead of considering vow writing a competition, get on the same page about your expectations. You don’t have to share what it is you’re going to say, but come to an agreement about the following:
How long will the vows be?
Will you share inside jokes or would you rather keep things more generic?
Do you want to incorporate elements of traditional or [religious vows] into your own?
Consider these starter questions—but don’t hesitate to ask your significant other if you’re stuck on anything else. Once you two have a game plan in mind, writing will be easier.
2. Find a Quiet Place to Reflect on Your Feelings and Write from the Heart
Don’t plan on writing romantic vows while your fiancé is in the other room with the TV blaring or when you have a work deadline on your mind. Find a time when your stress level is low and you can really spend a few quiet minutes thinking about your relationship. To help the ideas start flowing, consider propping pictures of you and your fiancé from throughout the relationship around your writing space as inspiration.
3. Make a List
You don’t have to try to put everything into sentences right away. The first step to writing your vows should be creating a list. Jot down all the things you love about your fiancé, what you’re looking forward to most in your marriage, and what promises you want to make to your future husband or wife. Set the list aside for a day or two, then go back and highlight your favorite items on the list. Use those as the starting point for your vows.
4. Write Up to Three Drafts
Once you’ve made your list, done your research, and written your first draft, walk away. Take a few days—even a week—to give you and your vows some space. After you’ve taken time apart, go back and reread what you wrote. A little separation from your words will do a whole lot of good and allow for you to fix anything with a clear head. If needed, do this one or two more times. But after three times, stop. The bottom line is that you wrote from the heart, and continuously rewriting will drive you crazy! Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Plan to have your vows written at least three weeks before your wedding. This will give you time to write without the added pressure of the approaching day and also give you time to practice reciting your vows in front of the mirror. Trust us: You’ll be thankful for the rehearsal when those wedding day jitters kick in!
6. Say “I Love You”
This seems like a no-brainer, but Monique Honaman, wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says she is often shocked at how many couples leave out this little three-word phrase from their vows. “Isn’t that why people are getting married?” she asks. “Yes, we assume that’s a given that we must love someone if we are willing to stand by them through thick and thin, but it’s always nice to hear and emphasize.”
7. Tell Your Partner You’ll Be There Through Thick and Thin
Almost every vow we’ve ever heard touches on sticking around through sickness and health, through good times and bad times, and for richer or for poorer. They’re sentiments are repeated so often, Honaman says, “We can become immune to what they really mean.” So when you express your intent to stay by your spouse’s side, it’s smart to say what that means to you and how you’ll go about it. “The reality is that all marriages have their cycles of peaks and valleys, not always based on huge dramatic changes in life, but just because life gets busy,” Honaman says. “It’s nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together.”
8. Acknowledge You’ll Need Help and Support of Others
You’ve gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but the truth is, you’ll need them just as much during your marriage. So, Honaman recommends you “use your vows to acknowledge that you need others to help your marriage be successful,” she says. “This may mean acknowledging the role of religion or God in making your marriage work, or the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough. I believe it’s helpful to know the two of you aren’t in this alone.”
9. Get Inspired with Books, Songs, Movies, and Poems
If you have a favorite line from a movie or song that expresses your feelings, use it as a starting point. Also, browse through some children’s books, like Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss’s I’ll Be You and You’ll Be Me and I Like Youby Sandol Stoddard. Kid’s books often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences, so they can provide some inspiration.
10. Use Other Vows as a Template
It can be helpful to start out with a set of standard vows and then personalize them. If you’re looking for a good starting place, 15 Traditional Wedding Vows to Inspire Your Own offers vows from different cultures and faiths around the world. They can be a helpful guide for anyone who is struggling to write their own wedding vows.
This very short video is a placeholder for a video currently in production that talks in much more detail about the topics shown in the graphics.
I’m working on the complete video between rehearsals and ceremonies right now since we are at the height of the wedding season here in the Portland/Vancouver area.
Comments and questions welcome. I’ll try to address them in the completed video!
I got to thinking last night as I reflected on this past weekend’s two weddings where I was privileged to officiate. I’d met with both couples well before the weddings and customized the scripts and vows for them. I also advised them on the processional and talked to them about staying calm on their wedding day because it was all going to be fine. I am an optimist, after all.
Both weddings went beautifully. And when I spoke to the brides they were both happy with the ceremonies and happy that it was finally done! They both confessed to being a little overwhelmed with planning and details between engagement and ceremony time. So I put together a little 55-second video with some slides and put it up on YouTube. You can watch it below.
As I was editing the video above, I was inspired to create a longer version of the presentation so that I could reassure future brides that as panicked as they might be feeling at the moment, everything would work out just fine, at least as far as the ceremony and the officiant — me! — were concerned. We had that part of the ceremony fully under control. You can see that longer (8-minute) video starring yours truly below as well.
I would love to have your comments on these two videos. And a description of your experiences from when he “popped the question” to when your ceremony had been completed. I think other future brides would like to be reassured that what they are feeling is normal!
Thanks for reading and watching. And feel free to share this blog post.
Owner, Stafford Studios If you need website development work done
April 26, 2017, Dawna worked with Jon Turino in different groups
Jon is an amazing, kind and perceptive person. He truly cares for and values people. His professionalism, organization and attention to detail makes him a perfect fit not only to officiate your wedding ceremony, but also to serve as an excellent resource for your wedding day.
Most couples spend more time choosing their cake topper than thinking about who’s officiating their ceremony. Don’t make that mistake. Jon will be the calm, reassuring and vibrant influence that you, your family and friends need on that day.
P.S.: If you need creative media or website development work done, Dawna Stafford is a wonderful person to work with!
Let me count the “Whys”
I’ve been asked many times why I became a wedding officiant and I’ve usually answered by telling the story of how I became a wedding officiant, and not necessarily the why. The how is pretty clear: a friend asked me to get ordained and marry her and her fiance and, because she was a good friend, that’s what I did. And I loved marrying her and her fiance. It was one of those moments that said to me that I had found a new calling. And I am not a young man, so a new calling was an extraordinary revelation.
I have seen a lot in my life. A lot of good and a lot of not so good. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and share my knowledge and experience with thousands. But with all the wonderful evaluation form results, nothing was as satisfying to me as seeing, in real time, the smiling faces of the first couple that I had the privilege of marrying. What an absolutely joyous occasion. I usually cry at weddings when I’m a guest, but I couldn’t do that when the bride and groom were depending on me to perform a ceremony according to a script that we had worked on carefully so that it was exactly as they wanted it. This first wedding had 200+ guests in one of Portland’s most prestigious venues. And when I pronounced them man and wife and presented them to their friends and family it was absolute magic! So why to I do what I do? Because from that moment I realized that I love marrying people. They are so happy. Their guests are so happy for them. How can you not feel happy, uplifted and yes, even proud of yourself, for facilitating such a joyous occasion? I love marrying people!
Teaching and Coaching
Most of the people who hire me as their officiant fall into two categories: young couples who are getting married for the first time and more mature couples who are tying the knot with new partners, sometimes including kids from one or both first marriages. I spent many years in the seminar and consulting business and I always found that what made me successful was my ability to listen before speaking, teaching, and coaching. So when I work with couples who have no idea what kind of ceremony they want, how a ceremony usually goes, what kinds of vows they want, etc., I’m happy to guide them and offer suggestions. That’s why the up-front in-person consults are so important. I find out what they really want and suggest ways to make sure that their ceremony meets all of their needs, wants, and desires.
Many years ago I was profoundly influenced by a boss in my high-tech days. He said that the most important thing that you could do for customers if you (a) wanted them back or (b) wanted them to recommend you was to under-promise and over deliver. To exceed their expectations. To deliver services from the beginning to the completion of the relationship that provided not just customer satisfaction but actually provided customer delight. And I have always strived to do that in all of my endeavors. I think that is one of the reasons that I have been privileged to receive so many wonderful recommendations from so many of my clients. And I love my clients! They have been universally great people who have depended on me to make their special day as perfect as possible. I love making that happen!
Each Ceremony is Unique
I don’t think that “cookie cutter” approaches are the best way to serve my clients. While I have resources to provide “canned” scripts and vows for religious and non-religious ceremonies, and for elements like unity candle, sand, hand fasting, and others, I really like to make sure that I understand where my clients are coming from and what they want their ceremony to convey to their family, friends, and other guests. I know that they — and you — have a choice of officiants, some more and some less expensive than what I offer. But I don’t quibble with folks who want a “quick and dirty” cheap canned ceremony. There are lots of officiants out there who can provide that. I want clients who value personal service, in-person up-front consultations, and ceremonies that fulfill all of their unique needs, wants, and desires. All at reasonable price points. Those are the clients that I love to marry!
A new live interactive forum to answer your wedding questions.
Please note: This service has been discontinued. But I am available one-on-one via phone, email, or live Internet video chat and I’d love to answer your questions.
Do you have questions about your ceremony? About your vows? About your venue? About wedding planners and wedding coordinators? You can get answers to these questions during a newly announced series of live interactive video chat session hosted on the Zoom.us platform.
The plan is to have people interested in both getting from and providing answers to prospective brides and grooms regarding virtually any topic. Thus I encourage wedding planners, wedding coordinators, wedding venue managers, photographers, musicians and DJs, caterers, cake makers and anyone else who would like to contribute to participate in these sessions.
These sessions are not a place to provide sales pitches for products or services. They are meant to provide actionable information to help future brides and groom make their special day as perfect as possible. So if we can help them by identifying and providing solutions to common problems we’ve seen occur during other ceremonies and receptions I think we’ll be adding a lot of value. And my experience tells me that if we provide value then we may be considered when they are making hiring decisions.
So please join me on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM Pacific time at https://zoom.us/j/7993445506 for the next sessions. If you are a bride or groom to be, we’ll all do our best to provide you with great information that will help you in your planning efforts to make sure that your wedding day is as perfect as possible. If you are a vendor who can provide valuable advice to prospective brides and grooms, your participation is welcome as well.
FYI, you may CLICK HERE to watch a recording of the first session that was broadcast on October 25, 2016. You missed this event but you can see what I’m trying to accomplish by watching the recording.
As always, your comments and thoughts are more than welcome. Thanks for reading and I hope to “see” you at an upcoming session.
The month you choose for your wedding has a big impact on your choice of venues.
Choosing when to get married depends on many things, of course. How long do you plan to be engaged before tying the knot? How long will it take you to complete all of the planning for your event? Are you planning a simple ceremony in a small chapel, community center or even someone’s home, or are you planning a lavish affair at a local or exotic venue?
These are only a few of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself. The chart at the left shows the percentages for each month of the year in terms of its popularity for holding a wedding. As you can see, the “Wedding Season” begins to ramp up as early as May here in the Portland/Vancouver area, increases in June (the “typical month” for weddings in the U.S.), dips in July and then peaks in August and September before beginning a steep decline in October.
So what does this mean to you? There are several things to consider:
- You’ll have more venue choices, and more day and date choices, during the “off-season” months.
- You’ll probably want to avoid outdoor venues during the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring months due to the weather.
- You’ll need to book earlier rather than later if you want a rented venue during the wedding season months.
- If you are extremely budget conscious, you may find lower prices during the off-season months. And more venues and service providers to choose from.
- If people are going to be traveling from far away for your ceremony you’ll probably want to avoid the months where inclement weather could likely disrupt travel plans and schedules.
These are only some of the things to consider, of course, in choosing your wedding date. As a point of reference, I’ve included another chart in this post, again courtesy of WeddingWire.com (where I am a registered vendor and where there are several client reviews). It shows the average length of engagements, without regard to any chosen ceremony dates, for engaged couples in our area.
The average times seems to peak during months 9, 12, and 14, with an unexplainable dip at months 10, 11, and 13, and tapering off from month 14 and beyond. So what can you do with this information? You have a couple of choices:
- You can decide how long you wish to be engaged before marrying, which will dictate the month in which you will plan to marry.
- You can decide when you’d like to be married, which will dictate the length of your engagement.
Let’s say that you decide to become engaged in December and that you want to be engaged for twelve months. That means that the earliest you’ll want your ceremony will be the following December. Does that fit with the kind of wedding venue and ceremony location you’d like? If not, you might want to rethink your engagement length options.
Alternatively, let’s say that you want to get married in August at a venue that supports an outdoor ceremony. Will that work if you want to be engaged for a minimum of twelve months from December? Nope! If the date of the ceremony dictates the engagement length, the engagement length has to be twenty months!
I hope this example helps you think through some of the early decisions you’ll need to make. I’d love to have your comments and reactions to this post. Don’t be shy– comment now! Thanks for reading and please share this post with others who you think may be interested in the topic.
Not having hired a videographer!
Yes, you read that right! I had the opportunity to participate in a presentation put on by the folks at WeddingWire.com at a recent networking event. One of the slides showed a typical timeline for hiring the “necessities”: — the venue, the caterer, the photographer, the DJ or other music, the cake, the stationery, the officiant, the decorations, etc., in roughly that order. The videographer was not on the list!
Another slide dealt with post-ceremony regrets. Number one? You guessed it — not having a videographer.
While still photos are still a necessity, many couples wish that they had video of their ceremonies to share with friends and family who might not have been able to attend, to post on various social media sites and to watch again themselves on anniversaries or when entertaining guests who might not have been invited for whatever reason.
So when you are making your “to do” and “to hire” lists make sure that you include the videographer so that you don’t end up having forgotten or deciding not to do so.
I’d love to have your thoughts and comments on this blog post. Did you find it interesting? Useful? Length OK? Thanks for reading and responding. I appreciate it.
“I’d love to marry you!”
Did you know that you must normally wait three days from the date your marriage license is issued in Oregon to get married? Or that Multnomah County will waive the three-day waiting period for an extra $5.00? You must intend to have a ceremony within the three days before they can issue the waiver. It’s better to get the marriage license at least a week — or even a month — before the scheduled wedding date. The license is valid for 60 days following its date of issue so earlier is better than later.
The last thing you want to do is wait until 1-2 days before the wedding to get it and find out at that moment that you can’t get legally married on your wedding day!
Multnomah County will waive the three-day waiting period for an extra $5.00 but then you must get married within three days of the license issue date. In Clackamas County, upon request, and at the time the license is issued, the three day waiting period can be waived. The waiver fee is an additional $15.00 payable in cash, certified check or money order.
Check with your County Registrar, County Recorder or other Vital Records department for the requirements in your residence area.
Washington law requires a three (3) day waiting period beginning the day you complete your application and make payment. The three day waiting period cannot be waived. You may not get married during this time.
The license is valid for 60 days following the three-day waiting period.
You can use this chart to see when you can get married depending on the day that your marriage license is issued:
Please feel free to share this information with anyone who may be planning to get married. You don’t want them to be disappointed. And I’d love to have your comments on the usefulness of this post. Thanks for reading!