“We want to write our own vows…. But we don’t don’t know where to start!”
So many of my couples say this! Fear not – writing your own vows is a deeply personal, loving and fulfilling thing you can do together to make your marriage ceremony truly unique to your love story. Here are my “top tips” for writing vows that WOW.
- First, decide if you and your partner will say the same thing to one another, or different things.
- Write down three things you most love about one another. For example, what was it that made you first fall in love? What is it about this person you cannot be without? What do they do that makes you most happy? What is your strongest most heartfelt happy memory of being with your lover?
- Next, write down three things you promise to do as your partner’s husband/wife/life partner. While it’s ok to include one lighthearted promise e.g. “I’ll let you go fishing with the guys every Sunday”, this isn’t really the time to go for laughs from the crowd and be flippant! These are your marriage vows – your heartfelt promises of lifelong love and commitment to your soulmate. Make them meaningful! What is it that you MOST want to spend the rest of your life being and doing for this one person above all others? Is it protecting them, supporting them, parenting with them, growing old with them, travelling the world or making a home? How, and why will you do these things?
- Decide whether you want your vows to be in the form of short sentences, a poem, or a short speech. (For example you might read your vows as a love letter to one another from a card, or you may repeat line by line after your celebrant.) Notice I used the word “short” in that sentence twice!? I do mean short. Long speeches and anecdotes are best saved for the reception when everyone is more relaxed and comfortable. During the ceremony, all eyes and ears are on the two of you as you share meaningful words of love (which in essence are private thoughts, voiced publicly!) Make every word count and don’t ramble. Keep your vows short and to the point.
- Finally, you need to “top and tail” what you have written. By law you need to say your name (preferably your full legal name, but I know some folk have given names they’d rather not say out loud in public!) and words to the effect of: “I, [name ABC], take you [name DEF] to be my legally married [wife/husband]. This is a good “top” line or starting sentence. Don’t forget to end with “I LOVE YOU!” (or, once again, “words to that effect”! 😉 ).
While I am always happy to give my couples some examples of vows to start their own creative juices flowing, I would warn against endlessly surfing the internet for “the perfect vows”. If they are someone else’s words of love, will they ever be truly right for you? Other people’s emotions, when you say them out loud, risk being “twee” or “cheesey” or just plain wrong.
If all else fails, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the tried and true traditional vows we all know from the movies, pop culture, and romance novels… “to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health… till death do us part”. Those words work well – after all, aren’t they just what we mean when we remodel them into our contemporary voice?! Why not use these as a starting point and see where you end up! Whatever words you settle upon will be perfect, because you are in love with the person to whom you will be reciting them.
Arohanui. Go well.
PS… There’s inspiration in sources other than the internet! Why not pop on your fave CD, take a novel or book of poetry from the bookshelf, head into nature and admire the view, reflect on body art and tattoos, look to yoga and meditation texts. What do artists, musicians and philosophers have to say about their true love? What words could you use to voice the same feelings? My thanks to the Madden Brothers for this “true love vow”, my current fave!
Oh, and I wanna let you know
I am an endless spring
You gotta know I’ll flow forever
And I will always sing
As long as we can stay together
You are in every lyric
You are in every chord
You’re the only reason
The one I’m singing for
You are my only anthem
You are the greatest score
You’re my inspiration
The one I’m singing for
You are, you are
Oh, you are, you are
You are, you are
U. R. – Greetings from California, The Madden Brothers.