How to Write Wedding Vows | Making Your Elopement Extra Meaningful by Personalizing Your Vows
As you start to write your own wedding vows it can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Like the rest of your elopement day, these vows are a celebration of you, your partner, and the love you share. You are writing for an audience of one; everyone except your partner is peripheral, so what you have to say will be completely unique to the two of you.
All this sounds a lot easier said than done, but, like almost everything else, the difficulties you anticipate aren’t nearly as bad as you think they will be. How to write your wedding vows can be broken down into manageable steps. The first thing is to try not to stress about it. Allot yourself more time than you think you need so you won’t have to rush. Take some time by yourself—go somewhere quiet and just think about your partner for a little while.
Look back over your relationship and ask yourself some questions:
what do you love about your partner? When did you know that you were both in it forever? What kind of life do the two of you share and what do you want this life to look like in the future? What values do the two of you share? Do you have the same sense of humor? You will, of course, think of many more once you get started.
Make a list of ideas, thoughts, everything you think you might possibly include. You can pare this list down later, but at this point, you are just getting ideas on paper. Try not to censor yourself at this point because you will decide later on in the process what to include and what to leave out. Remember, though, that it is impossible to cover everything; you will have the rest of your lives to do that.
Since I do a fair amount of writing, my process is pretty set. I know where and when I can do my best writing. But in the event you are not in the same situation, I have a few suggestions to get you in the mood for reflection.
Before you start:
- Talk with your partner and decide how you want the ceremony to progress, and maybe chose a general length for your vows.
- Don’t rush it. Very few people can really be happy working at the last minute. Start early and give yourself lots of time. Don’t feel that you have to finish it all at once.
- Find somewhere where you can focus without distractions, whether it’s at home, a coffee shop, or a library. Maybe there’s somewhere outside that has meaning for you and your partner. Wherever it is, go there. If music will inspire you, have it on in the background.
- Make a list of memories or things that strike you. All the thoughts about your relationship. Look at photos, letters, emails, etc., to help you. You won’t necessarily include everything, but you’ll have ideas to refer to if/when you get blocked/stuck.
A few things you might want to think about as you write your vows:
1. Make it personal and address yourself to your partner.
Even if there will be other people at your elopement, you are writing for an audience of one. Your vows are your gift to your partner, so you want them to represent the unique love you and your partner share. What makes your relationship special? Even though your elopement is one of the most romantic days of your lives, it’s okay to mention the other stuff: crazy and/or emotional experiences are part of the life you share. Mentioning them will make your vows authentic.
2. Make your vows real.
Even though this day will celebrate the beautiful aspects of marriage, someone has to clean up after the animals and take the garbage out, mop the floors, make the late-night orange juice run when someone has a cold, etc. It goes without saying that you will stay by each other’s side through thick and thin, but this is also where you want to acknowledge that being in it for the long haul includes the less fun parts too.
3. Make promises.
But make sure they are promises you can keep. As much as you may want to, it’s impossible to keep a promise never to get angry or never to be impatient. Don’t make promises based on things you can’t control and don’t hold yourself to a standard you wouldn’t expect from anyone else. One way to think of your vows is that you are promising to try and be your best self, not a perfect rendition of the person you would like to be.
4. And one final point—it’s okay to get stuck.
In fact, you should allow time for this and if you can, embrace it. When it happens, take a break, look out the window, or go for a walk. What you want to say will come to you, even if not quickly. This is one of the wonderful things about allowing yourself some time; ideas can percolate. Time will allow you to do your best writing. Remember that writing your vows should be pleasurable and creative; it’s not like writing an English paper!
The actual vows…
Okay, you are thinking, that’s all well and good, but what should actually be IN these vows? Vows are very personal things (you already know that), but here are a few areas you might want to include in your actual vows:
Your journey so far.
How did the two of you get here? When did you realize that your partner was “the one”? Were there any tough times you weathered together? Funny experiences?
What do you love about your partner? What made you fall in love with them? How does your partner make your life better? How have you both grown in this relationship? Who do they hope to be and who do you hope to be together? What will be the things that will help you change together?
What does it feel like to be with someone who shares your values? How do you live these values together? How does your partner support you?
Promises to your partner.
What kind of person do you want to be for your partner? What do you want your marriage to look like? Are there examples of shared experiences to show these traits? What values do you want to uphold for your partner?
How did you manage to get everyone here to this spectacular place to celebrate with you? Why here? What does it symbolize to you?
Comic relief (optional).
You might want to mention something funny here—a crazy experience, a joke that the two of you share—if you are in need of a break from the seriousness and/or tears.
What does your future look like? How will the two of you make it happen? What are you looking forward to the most in your lives together? How/where will you be in ten years, or even next week? How will your lives be different now that you are married?
Final Tip: It’s nice to end with “I love you”!
Once you’ve written your vows, give some thought to how you will deliver them.
Will you print them out, for example, or write them by hand (*wink* best way in my opinion)?
It’s usually not the best idea to read them from your phone; phones have a habit of dying just when you need them the most. And if it’s bright and sunny, the screen could become hard to read. Plus there’s also the annoying fact that most dresses don’t have pockets and the pockets in many suits are not very large. In addition, you may just simply not want to be carrying your phone at this particular moment in your elopement. Reading your vows from a handwritten copy guarantees that you won’t lose access to them and it will give you something tangible to reminisce with down the road.
Memorizing them is another option, but many people are anxious on their elopement day and it’s easier to forget something or to make a mistake if you’re nervous, so unless you are an actor who works from memory all the time you might feel better with a hard copy in hand. Even with a hard copy, practice reading them out loud a few times to get comfortable with saying them and to make sure the flow is right. You got this. Now dive in and get writing!
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