Creating personalized wedding vows can be a bit stressful if you are not comfortable writing and sharing your feelings. Regretfully this is more often a problem for the male partner whose ‘maleness’ might tend to stifle his emotions. When setting out to tackle the task, you might be more frightened than inspired by the responsibility. Don’t worry, this article will help you get through it and perhaps even make you enjoy the process.
It would be a bit awkward to “have your partner do it for you,” and really that shouldn’t need to be the case. Putting the vow together should mostly be your own responsibility. If you take on the responsibility, the result can be something you end up being proud of and happy to perform on the day of the ceremony.
How do I start?
Understand, first, that writing is always a process. You won’t likely sit down and take 20 minutes to write the perfect wedding vow. You will probably have to think about it for a while and go through a lot of iterations and considerations. However, dwelling on it for too long might create more anxiety. Instead, promise yourself that you will work on it for 10 or 15 minutes a day. That is enough to get something done, and short enough to avoid frustrations.
Set aside time to work on your vows a few minutes a day and start months ahead.
What do I include?
When it comes to what goes into the vows, it is a completely personal thing. While you should review the content with your partner — or a best friend, member of the bride’s family, or even the person performing the wedding — the final choices should ultimately be your own. That is the whole point of personalizing. Some of the ‘ground rules’ may be the things you’ll need to work out with your fiancee so that everything seems well-prepared and in sync.
One of the first considerations you should make is how long you want it to be. Going too short can make it seem like the whole thing is an inconvenience; taking too long can get tedious and flip the moment from romantic to boring. If you are someone who is generally not used to speaking publicly, you’ll probably want to keep it on the shorter side.
A comfortable reading speed averages about 120 words a minute, or about two words a second. The typical vows take about a minute for each party, and about half of that is taken by the person performing the ceremony. Using that as a guideline, you’d most likely want to speak for 30 to 60 seconds, or 60 to 120 words. That is just a suggestion. The audience will have some expectation of how long this phase of the ceremony should take, and sticking to that will keep them from getting restless.
Once you know how long, it is easier to complete the task of writing your vow.
Knowing the number of words isn’t a solution, but it is a start. Inspiration can come from any one of a variety of sources. Here is a short list, below:
- Look at existing traditional vows and see what they say.
- Look up “personalized wedding vows” online.
- Take a look at the lyrics of favorite love songs.
- Pay attention during date-night romantic dramas and comedies.
- Notice what small things make her tear up with happiness.
- Think back to the best of times you have had so far in your relationship.
- Remember how you met, the first kiss, and how you became a couple.
- Think about the days you met each other’s families and what you thought.
While you do these things, take notes about things that seem special, and words that remind you of your relationship and your partner. Write them down or copy/paste them to a Word document and keep going till you feel like you’ve collected enough ideas. Five-hundred words will likely be quite enough to start the next step.
Look at sources of inspiration and collect at least 500 words.
With everything collected, you will notice how much more you need to go. Your total of 500 words could keep you reading for nearly five minutes. Now you want to start trimming. Start to take out the things that seem less important. You are looking to eliminate one in every four words, so hit the delete key a lot. Look at retaining those things you know are special to your partner and that will communicate the special way you feel about her. If for some reason you trim it all away, you can always start again. An attempt that leads to a result you are not happy with was an opportunity to learn from what you did and get better the second time.
How do I know it is finished?
Your vow is finished when you finally orate it at the ceremony. Up until that time there is room for change. Stick to a plan of refining and brevity, and don’t be afraid to go through the process more than once. This is the one time in your life you will get to do this, so take the opportunity to give it your all — in just 15 minutes a day.
When you feel like you are getting close, review with your partner’s best friend, mother, father, or someone else who knows her well. If you don’t want any secrets, share it directly with your partner. This sharing can be a fantastic personal encounter, and she may have suggestions or make comments that encourage you to make changes. She should not get tired of your proclamations of love for her.
When you feel you are close to being finished, read the vow out loud, many times. Imagine reading it to her mother, to her father, to her, and then to a group of people in a church — not all of whom you will know. Following through on learning the words and knowing what they mean and say will make it easier on the day you are standing before her — and everyone else — and proclaim your eternal love for her.