Your wedding vows are arguably the most important part of your wedding. Yet when it comes to wedding planning, often a lot more attention goes to things like the decor, the photographer, and the cake. The promises you make to one another really are the heart of your wedding ceremony, though, and they shouldn’t be overlooked until the last minute. You don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out your vows, but you should give them some careful thought before the week of the wedding. Though wedding vows are always a personal thing, you don’t necessarily have to write your own. Traditional vows are tried-and-true and usually sum things up nicely. If you do write your own vows, it can be daunting at first, but taking a structured approach can help a lot. Regardless of what kind you choose, here’s what you need to know about wedding vows.
While writing your own wedding vows is often romanticized, there’s something to be said for using the same words that have consecrated marriages throughout time. The words are already so full of meaning, and they connect you to your faith and tradition. And these examples of traditional wedding vows can be your starting point, even if you aren’t having a religious ceremony or you plan to write your own vows. Depending on the faith tradition you are getting married in, you may also be able to combine traditional and personal elements in your vows.
The different parts of your vows
When people refer to wedding vows, they’re often talking about a section of the wedding ceremony that includes three parts.
Declaration of consent – Saying “I do” and making it official.
Vows – The promises you make to each other.
Ring ceremony – The exchange of wedding rings. An example of traditional vows are “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Usually only the actual “vows” part is what people think about when they talk about writing vows. Though there may be some limitations on the phrasing of the declaration of consent, though, you can write your own vows for the ring ceremony. You can even combine your main vows and the ring ceremony vows into one set of vows if you want!
Writing your own wedding vows
Writing your own vows may seem daunting at first, but it’s just a matter of taking the time to think through how to best express the promises you are making to your future spouse. Here are some helpful steps to take in the process:
If you are writing your own personalized vows, you will want to reflect on your relationship first. Think about the times you’ve had together and, you know, why you’re getting married. If you wrote a wedding story for your wedding site, for example, you can use it for initial inspiration as well.
Think about your goal
After reflecting, it’s time to think about what your goal is for these vows. What kind of promises do you want to make? It’s also important to consider what kind of tone you want.
Discuss your vows with your partner
Decide if you want to work together or make them a surprise to each other. Even if they are a surprise, it’s a good idea to talk about tone and general themes. You don’t want the two sets of vows said during the ceremony to be jarringly different.
Talk it over with your officiant
You should also discuss your vows with your wedding officiant. They may be able to guide you and give you advice about what you can include. If you’re having a religious ceremony, your clergy member may be able to point out parts of the traditional vows that can be personalized.
Read lots of examples of vows. You can also read any favorite writers who you think might lend inspiration. Write down ideas you get while doing your research to help you get started with writing.
Take what you’ve discussed and what you’ve read and try to put it all together. Set aside time to write and if possible go to a place where you can best focus on the task. This could even be a weekend getaway as a sort of “vows writing retreat.”
Start out by writing out all of your best ideas. You probably won’t be finished after your first draft! As you write more drafts, narrow your vows down to the most essential parts.
Practice saying your vows. In saying them out loud, you may realize more edits you can make to improve them. The important thing is having vows that are heartfelt, so they should be natural to you. Putting in the time to practice can only help you express your promises on your wedding day!
Your wedding vows should be words to remember. The most important thing is the content of the vows and what it signifies for your marriage. Your vows can set the tone of your married life in the years and decades to come. This will be the lasting legacy of your wedding. By all means, take the time to plan some beautiful decor and find an amazing photographer. Just don’t forget to plan your vows!