Vows are hard. Actually, let me start again. If you’ve decided to ditch the script, vows are hard. For some people, vows aren’t even something they need to think about. It’s a given that many couples will recite the same vows as their parents and their grandparents, and pretty much most couples. Chances are if you are getting married in any traditional sense, there’s an exchange of vows that is pretty familiar.
We are having a non-traditional, non-religious ceremony and we’re trying to personalize it as much as possible. So writing our own vows was a given. Until we actually needed to start thinking about writing vows. And then it became pretty clear why the script exists.
I write for a living, so the writing part is something I feel comfortable with. Plus I have *the feelings* for my guy, so I have material to work with. So far, so good. But then comes the pressure. The thought of speaking from the heart in front of people other than my S.O. is a bit intimidating. (Sidebar: This is one of the main reasons why decided to keep our ceremony tiny.) And then you add on the thought that this moment—to be remembered forever—is kind of a relationship milestone, and you just really want to get it right.
If we’re being totally honest, I’m definitely overthinking things. All of the above is true, but when it comes down to it, you’re still just saying nice things to someone you love. But, if you are planning on writing your own vows, here are some tips.
1. The idea of exchanging vows is a nice one—even if you make up those vows yourself. Whether you opt for humour or sincerity, exchanging promises is a great way to verbalize the things that you probably already do. And a little back and forth is a nice way for you to focus on your partner instead of anything else.
2. If you are going to make a bit of a speech—keep it short. All I’m saying here is that a little forethought and making a few points in a couple sentences is a good idea. Short ceremonies are pretty much what the people (the audience) wants, but it also means less opportunity for you to choke up.
3. Prepare. As much as we all think ad-libbing it is more romantic or more heartfelt in some way, it isn’t. Taking the time to think things out and really figure out what you want to say is romantic. So is editing. Editing is hella romantic. And it will also help you keep it short (see #2).
4. Write. It. Down. Whatever you prepare, write it down. That joke that you want to come across as oh-I-am-just-this-funny-off-the-cuff? Write it down. You do not want to mess up that joke during your vows. [Editor’s note: From a former bride to all the current ones, most officiants—even the non-denominational variety—will make you send your vows to them to ensure that they are written down and written in large enough print for you to read.]
5. Don’t worry about being all the things. It doesn’t have to be the funniest speech, or the most original and it doesn’t need to make everyone cry. If those things are not your usual MO, then you don’t have to try and be them on your wedding day, during your vows. Just be you. On one of the more sincere moments of your relationship, you are going to want to be you.
6. If everything goes wrong, don’t sweat it. The part that really matters—making the comittment—you already did. And if the vows weren’t perfect, that doesn’t change.