Here at Joy we work with wedding professionals around the world to bring you the best wedding inspiration and expert advice. This week we’re featuring advice from Camille Abbott of Unbridely.com, who shared with us her tips for writing your own wedding vows based on her years of experience as a wedding officiant in Australia.
Kick ass wedding vows?
Ahhh, we definitely want to write our own, but we’ll get onto them later.
It’s okay – I GET IT!
But, if you could experience what I see when a couple read out their own vows to each other; how they almost burst with pride and beaming smiles with the feeling of being understood and accepted, you’d be onto your own a hell of a lot quicker!
As a marriage celebrant of 11 years based in Adelaide, South Australia, most of my 700+ couples really want to write their own warm, funny, memorable and most of all unique, wedding vows, but very few know how to start — which means that all too often it gets pushed down the to do list.
I can tell you with 100% certainty that thoughtful and personalised wedding vows, written with intention and attention they deserve, are one of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to guarantee that your fiancé will feel positively amazing on your big day and create a memory for you both to hold onto, cherish and look back on for the rest of your lives together.
And while traditional wedding vows can be useful for inspiration, and searching for samples from others’ real wedding vows is a great starting point to get your head around a style or structure that you’re comfortable with, nothing can replace the authenticity and impact of your own voice.
As in, it’s not just what you say, but the way you say it — your choice of words, your little sayings and your sense of humour that really make the difference. No one else can write, say it and deliver it quite like you.
Writing your own wedding vows also doesn’t need to take as long as you think. Gathering all your ideas, creating the 1st and then final draft can be as quick as a 15-20 minute exercise (or as long as you want it to be).
These dos and don’ts are my very best tips to read and keep in mind as you write your own vows, but if you would prefer for me to walk you through the process, step by step (handy for when you want to sit down with your fiancé at opposite ends of the couch and just bash them out) you can buy my ultimate downloadable pdf ebook How To Write Wedding Vows That Don’t Suck, and know that you won’t miss a thing (and that you’re literally on the same page with each other).
- Chat about the format and tone and length of your vows with your fiancé first. Are you going for rhyming romantic prose, a love letter or just a list of promises? Setting a guide for each other (for example, 3 paragraphs: one of what you love about each other or a funny story from your past, one with the promises you want to make and one about your dreams for the future) can really help narrow down the options.
- Take some time to make notes about how your life has gotten better since being together, what you love and respect most about them, how they inspire you and what they’ve taught you, what you want to promise to them and how you’re going to show them what they mean to you and your hopes for your marriage.
- Write or type out your vows, leave them for a couple of days and come back to them. Fresh eyes will help you to refine what you started with; to add extra thoughts and clean up those rambling sentences.
- Send a copy of your vows to your celebrant/officiant so they can see both sets, make sure the lengths are similar and can recommend any slight tweaks that might make both/one of them better or more complementary to each other.
- Ask your celebrant/officiant or one of your wedding party to prepare (think large black font on white paper) and hold your vows on a palm card, so they can hand them to you at the appropriate time and your can read from during the ceremony
- Speak from your heart on the day. Using your palm card as a guide, but if you feel that there is something over and above your vows that you want to add in the moment, then do it!
- Let your family or friends’ expectations of what your vows should be get in the way of what you and your fiancé want to express to each other. This is your special (and unique) expression.
- Feel confined by outdated language that isn’t relevant or doesn’t express what you feel. If you don’t normally ‘cherish’ each other, ‘pledge’ to be faithful or ‘obey’ but always want to ‘value and nurture the incredible bond that you share and never take it or each other for granted’, then write THAT instead.
- Treat your vows like a roast. In purist terms, vows are your promises to your future spouse, not a chance to get laughs or score points. You are writing your vows and reading them for each other, so when in doubt, ask yourself ‘will this make them feel awesome, understood and very loved?’
- Skip using a microphone if you have 20 or more guests or are in a noisy (e.g. beach, high traffic or crowded) environment. The biggest complaint of wedding guests at ceremonies is that they can’t hear what is being said. So sad and so easily fixed!
- Be afraid to stand tall in your truth, knowing that the person holding your hand will be there to support and love you the whole way through.
If you would love a quick, fun and foolproof way of writing your wedding vows together, check out Unbridely’s downloadable pdf ebook How To Write Wedding Vows That Don’t Suck