Of all the things that go into creating a wedding day–the guest list, the invitations, the sparklers for a celebratory send-off–the vows are the only things that actually make a marriage. Your vows are your chance to declare to your world the things that you will honor in your marriage, and the things that you will abide by for the rest of your life. What an amazing opportunity, y’all!
If you’ve decided to write personal wedding vows, we’d love to share our step-by-step process with you today. And BONUS! Sign up for our newsletter here to be sent nine of our favorite romantic and meaningful vow examples–a perfect jumping off point as you’re looking for inspiration!
P.S. Does this advice resonate with you? You’ll LOVE the Southern Weddings Planner!
Our Vows Booklet Set: the perfect place to record your vows for posterity, and read from during your ceremony!
Get inspired. As early as you’d like, start a repository of inspiration for your vows–virtual (like Google Docs) or physical (like a notebook). And remember, inspiration can be everywhere: weddings you attend; wedding magazines, blogs, or films; books you read; songs you hear; lines of scripture. If a sentiment, line, or phrase resonates with you, jot it down–don’t worry about editing at this point.
Mine your past. If you are lucky enough to have love letters (or emails or texts–this is the twenty-first century!) you’ve written each other over the years, break them out! They can be a great source of inspiration, and a wonderful way to include parts of your past in your future.
Set parameters. Decide whether you’ll jointly write one set of vows that you’ll both recite, or if you’ll each write individual vows. If you’re writing individual vows, consider setting up basic guidelines so they aren’t wildly different: perhaps they’ll both last 30 seconds or a minute, or they’ll both take the form of promises, or they’ll both include an anecdote from your past.
Start early. These are lifelong promises, not something to be jotted down the night before the wedding (or, God forbid, the morning of). About a month before the big day is a good time to sort your inspiration and begin a draft. Your groom might need a little prodding to get going–be gentle.
Write a draft. Block out a space of time when you don’t have other commitments or things weighing on your mind, and begin sifting through your inspiration. Pull out the best pieces, and begin forming them into a coherent whole. Add and subtract, write and rewrite until you’re happy with what you have.
Revisit your draft. Set your draft aside for a few days, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Make sure your words sound like YOU, not like what you think vows should sound like.
Try it out loud. Make sure the words and sentences flow well and that there aren’t any tongue twisters. Adjust awkward lines. Be sure to time yourself to make sure you’re not running too long. And when in doubt, cut it out: short and sweet is almost always preferable to directionless rambling. Pick the most important points and make them well.
Take it seriously. Personal vows can be funny and sweet and touching and, well, personal. But they’re also made up of the things you are vowing to abide by for the rest of your marriage. That is no small thing, and it deserves your time, attention, and seriousness.
Ensure a smooth delivery. Whether or not you plan to memorize your vows, make sure you write out at least two copies for your big day. Put one in our vows booklet set for posterity and for reading from during your ceremony, and give a back-up copy on an index card to your officiant or maid of honor.
Don’t forget to download our library of vow inspiration by signing up here!