Wedding vows are a pledge of life, soul and faith in the other person that defines a life commitment like nothing else. Because the commitment is so distinct for those who honor it as it is meant to be honored, the standard vows may not always be enough to express the unique feeling an individual has for their chosen love. Placing a unique stamp on a ceremony allows a couple to personalize that very special day when they commit their lives to one another.
Re-writing a long-standing tradition and making it meaningful and at least at par with the standard vows is a bit of a heavy task. It is likely you will not want to totally dispense with the ideas suggested by those vows which have both stood the test of time and evolved to this point. Let’s look at the traditional vows and why they are so special to so many and so enduring and ingrained in our lifestyle.
The actual wording of traditional vows varies, but virtually every religion vows are a pledge of faith and love in isolation from adversity. That is, the reassurance is a statement of dedication to the life partner is to be unbroken regardless of circumstance, fate, ill luck, misfortune or other unexpected calamity. It is good to take this as an historical lesson when considering creating your own vows, and it is the perfect place to start.
Remember to stress on dedication to your partner and their well-being
One of the curious aspects of many traditional vows is the rather dark side to the wording. Mentioning “worse,” “poorer,” “sickness,” and “death” can do something to mar a moment that might otherwise be filled with great optimism. This negativity is really not a necessity, and may be one of the best reasons to use personalized pledges. Avoiding the negative implication of these words is relatively easy.
Use positive words and imagery in your personalized vows
Emotional vows can be based on personalized words, or simply the lyrics to a meaningful song. The vows are best, however, when they are a true, heartfelt declaration to your partner. Use details about your partner that are appropriate for the audience yet personal enough to express the unique feelings you have for your partner as an individual.
Personalize your vows with appropriate details
Check everything you write with your partner. Wedding day, the intensity of the ceremony and presence of the audience creates a situation that is not really the place for awkward surprises. If you really want to include a surprise, you need to check it out with a close friend, relative or confidant — and likely more than one of those. Be sure that everything included is offensive to no one.
Be sure the content is approved by your partner
If you know you will be personalizing your vows, dedicate ten or fifteen minutes a day — perhaps while brushing your teeth or having a morning cup of coffee — to review your progress and add to it every day. This will serve the purpose of refining what you’ve written as well as making you remember it.
If you are not really a writer and are having trouble getting into the swing, do a search online for “personalized wedding vows” to get some inspiration. It is possible to just use existing vows, and many are published and shared all over the internet. Your partner may appreciate your personalization and creativity, however. When in doubt, just start with the traditional vows and make replacements with words and ideas you like better.
Whatever you do, sit down with a piece of paper, and start jotting down ideas — collect your own, collect parts of those you search online, write down the traditional vows, write down snippets of your favorite love songs, extract words from books, etc. The page will always remain blank unless you start writing on it. Don’t expect that what you write has to be perfect immediately, and allow yourself to make mistakes. After collecting some ideas, even if they feel incomplete, that may be the best time to begin consulting with your partner. The process of putting together something you are proud of might take weeks even though the vow itself may end up being short. It is good if it takes a while to distill, and important that what you write has impact and meaning.
Write it down and do it well in advance of the ceremony
Finally, use the review time you have set daily to read the vow out loud. Doing it every day for several months will help you memorize it, make it flow better when you are reading it, and eliminate mistakes. You probably won’t have to memorize it, but doing so can make it seem more natural when it is your turn. Your nerves will likely not be on your side even if you are usually comfortable in front of an audience, but knowing that your are familiar with reciting the words will certainly make it easier to perform.
Read your vow out loud every day in the months before the service
In writing your vows, the goal is not so much to wow the world as it is to say something meaningful to your partner. It is OK to have fun. Personalizing vows is all about leaving your mark on the moment. Enjoy the process and create something you are happy to share as you share a beautiful day with your partner, family and guests.