How to create vows that speak from
by Karissa D'Ambrosio
You and your fianc้ become
partners for life with the heartfelt words you speak at your
ceremony, making promises that mean the world to you. To
give your vows that special personal touch, follow our
Kick it off with tradition
Officiant for a look at the vows that would ordinarily be
used at your particular church, synagogue or other ceremony
venue, so you can use them as a jumping-off point for your
own words of love and commitment.
Be sure to ask the Officiant
if you will need to include any particular words or terms in
order to make your "I dos" valid in the eyes of your faith
or the law.
Celebrate your history
First, discuss with your fianc้
the things that make your relationship special. Did you meet
in some unusual way? What were some of the things you
discovered you had in common? Think about the milestones in
your relationship. When was the first time you exchanged "I
love yous"? What are a few of the experiences you’ve shared?
A look at the past can get you thinking about what you want
to promise each other for the future.
This is a great opportunity to
discuss with your fianc้ the kinds of things that are
important about marriage to both of you. What do each of you
consider the most meaningful aspect of the marriage? What do
you want for your future together? What do you especially
value about one another? Now it should start becoming more
clear to you what you want to promise each other at the
You might want to begin by
writing your vows in the form of a letter that only your
fianc้ will see. Thinking about a room full of friends and
family members listening to every word can cause writer’s
block, but in your private letter you’re free to pour your
heart out. Then go back and pick out the parts you want to
share with the crowd. You can give your honey the unedited
version on your wedding night.
Not every couple likes to share
their vows with each other as they write them—some choose to
keep them a secret from each other. If you do decide to
surprise each other at the altar, just be sure you don’t end
up promising different things. Simply compose at least one
line with your fianc้ that includes the important promises
you want to make—then be sure to weave them into whatever
else you plan to say.
Borrow from the classics
Help is at
hand if you get stuck along the way. There’s always
Shakespeare—or even Springsteen. Scour the works of your
favorite poets, novelists, playwrights, children’s book
writers and songwriters for quotes to include in your vows.
Or pick something pithy from that romantic movie you both
Don’t be afraid to let your
personality shine by making promises that may be slightly
off the beaten path. Brad Pitt vowed to always "split the
difference on the thermostat" with his bride Jennifer
Aniston. And Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who is presumably quite
inept in the kitchen, promised to "never cook" for her
husband John Stamos.
Whisper sweet nothings
feel most comfortable reciting traditional, time-honored
vows at the altar, but still wish to find a way to add a
more intimate message to one another. Do it privately! Ask
your Officiant to announce a moment when the two of you will
whisper those not-for-public-knowledge vows into each
other’s ears at the ceremony.
Or promise each other that you'll recite those more
personal vows to each other in the honeymoon suite later
Creating Words Of Our Own
So, you want to chuck tradition and write your very own
words of love to one another? Being able to boil down all
the feelings you have, write them down, and say them on the
most nerve-racking day of your life takes some planning.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Talk to Each Other
Before you begin composing your flourishes of eternal
devotion, sit down and have a talk. Decide together how the
vows will be arranged - do you want to say the same vow to
one another, or do you want them to be different? Also,
decide on a length - usually, 4 or 5 sentences is plenty.
Finally, be sure to cover word choices - do you both want to
include "I love you" or "You're my best friend" in the vow?
Make sure this is clear before you start, so you're on the
same page and nobody's taken off guard at the altar.
Not Kidding Around
Remember, your wedding vows probably represent the most
serious commitment you'll ever make, so avoid inside jokes
or stabs at humor for your audience. Choose carefully
exactly what you want to say, and then simply say it.
How Do I Know What to Say?
Sometimes it can be difficult to say exactly how you feel
for one another in just a handful of words, so we suggest
that first you write down everything you'd want to say if
you could. Here are some questions to ask yourself, to get
your brain and your heartstrings going.
you meet, and where?
state of mind were you in before you met?
the moment you realized you were in love? How did it
about when you got engaged. Where were you? Do you
remember the song that was playing, the meal you had,
what you were wearing? What did it feel like?
three things that inspire you about your loved one?
the goals you are looking forward to together?
have you learned from your love? And they from you?
qualities do you believe will keep your marriage strong?
Specifically how will you accomplish that?
have novels, poems, or songs that make you think of your
love? Write down special lyrics, or the meaning behind
them. Why do they move you so?
how you felt before you met to now. What's changed? In
what ways do you see the world through "new eyes"?
Boil It Down
Once you can name the things that are important to you
about the other person, and how you feel about committing to
them, you can then begin to distill down the very basics of
how you feel, and what you want to promise. Once you've
answered all those questions, it becomes very clear where
you want to head with your vows.
Practice Them - Together
I know, I know, you want it to be a "surprise". You don't
want to give away your most precious promises until the
drama of the altar unfolds. But (and it's only a
suggestion) you might want to hear each other's vows
before the Big Day. You're going to be nervous, first of
all, and you don't want any unexpected element to throw you.
Also, you're going to be SO nervous, that I guarantee you
(from experience) you won't remember a word they say,
anyway. Practice saying your vows behind closed doors
several times. You'll both cry with joy, you can work the
kinks out in private, and you'll feel much more confident
once you're in the hot seat.
Take a Deep Breath
Once you're at the altar, just before it's your turn to
speak, stop everything, and take a deep breath. Enjoy the
adrenaline, for a moment or two, of making a huge decision.
And, be sure that when you begin to speak, you take your
time and pronounce every word. Your guests will be able to
hear you better, and you may be able to avoid the "total
blank-out" brain-thing that happens during the ceremony.