You got the ring. Bridesmaids said yes. Engagement photos taken. Wedding venue booked. Wedding photographer and videographer hired. Flowers have been chosen.
Things are getting checked off of your wedding planning checklist. (Yay!)
As you’re approaching the wedding day, the day-of logistics begin to become more important. Planning will change from the big visionary decisions to more specific details, like the wedding ceremony agenda and how you will approach your exchange of vows.
To personalize or not to personalize…that is the question.
When you begin to think about your dream wedding, do you envision something specific for your vow exchange? Something traditional, unique, or somewhere in between?
The best part about answering the question on whether to write your own wedding vows is that it’s an answer you and your significant other can decide on together. It’s in your control so make sure to put some thought into this decision (because there aren’t any re-dos for your ceremony.)
Come up with a game plan for what’s most important for both of you to incorporate into the wedding ceremony. Put some time aside when things feel calm and drama-free so that you can talk to each other about it.
Keep in mind that one of you may have to compromise on this so being as planful and logical as possible will help set you up for success.
Here are some questions we would recommend that you think through together. Each of you should answer these questions individually and honestly.
What’s the one thing you want to incorporate into the ceremony?
What’s something you don’t want incorporated into the ceremony?
Is it important for a specific religious leader or someone in your circle to officiate?
If you had it your way, what kind of vows would you like to do?
When it comes to writing your own vows, there are a few reasons why you may lean more one way or the other. Your answers to the questions above will play a role here, but your religion may as well (since many religious ceremonies have their own standard set of vows.)
First, let’s start with the cons to this question “Should I write my own wedding vows?”
Three Reasons You May Not Want to Write Your Own Vows
Writing your vows will take time and a considerable amount of planning. Even if you’re a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ kind of person, it’s highly recommended that you are open to taking this seriously and planning in advance. If you went a more traditional route, knowing that you’re relying on someone else’s words will take off some of the pressure prior to the wedding day. Vows will not be an additional reason for the potential of a wedding-related headache.
Your emotions will likely be all over the place on your wedding day (and probably not exactly how you think they will be.) Reading out your own words may be even more emotional for you. If you’re naturally a crier, make sure you’re confident that you can get through your vows in front of a large group of people. Plus, decide whether you feel like the added-on nerves may take you out of being present in the moment. This will vary by personality type so consider how you typically feel in times of heightened emotions or stress. If you still want to capture how you’re feeling to share with your spouse (without doing your own vows), write them a letter to be hand-delivered while they are getting ready.
Whether traditional or with a modern twist, there is something meaningful about age-old traditions that are the foundation of wedding ceremonies throughout history. Now remember: your vows aren’t the only opportunity to share certain statements or professions of love. If you used traditional vows, you could also customize the ring exchange or incorporate special readings into other parts of the ceremony. Choosing to go with a set template for the vows doesn’t mean that there won’t be room for customization.
Now, here’s why you may take a more personal route, along with some tips for writing your own.
Three Reasons You Should Write Your Own Vows
You get the ability to put on paper what is in your heart. It will not only put you in the best mindset possible as you navigate the final stages of wedding planning, but you can also re-read them later in your marriage. Your personal words are going to capture your feelings at a very specific snapshot in time. These words will be encouraging to look back on when recognizing milestones like an anniversary, or even during rough patches in your marriage.
This will be one of the only chances where you can both profess your sentiments towards each other while standing in front of those you love most. If you aren’t a couple who typically shares your feelings, this will help challenge you in ways that you will both appreciate. The wedding day will serve as a cornerstone to the beginning of this new season in your relationship so documenting (and reciting) your own words helps make this even more special.
Your own wedding vows will add a layer of emotion and personalization to your ceremony in unique ways. Think about how many weddings you’ve heard about or attended where guests share that the highlight of the big day was hearing the personal vows. This is a great opportunity to share favorite parts of your love story and let your guests in on more of why you think you’re the perfect match. No traditional vows will ever capture who you are as a couple, in ways that your own words will be able to.
Leaning towards writing your own vows? Here are some things to keep in mind.
So often, writing vows becomes a wedding planning task that people dread, complain about, and even leave until last minute to complete. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
When writing your own vows, take time being present so that you can find joy in the process. Remember why you’re doing this and take it as a chance to start envisioning your big day. This assignment can help get you even more excited (especially if there’s a lot of wedding planning chaos in the background.)
How to Get Started
One of the hardest parts about writing your vows is getting started! When staring at a blank sheet of paper, it can be intimidating to figure out where to begin. Go into it with an open mind and know that it will be a process.
Plan to write your vows over a few sittings so that you can re-read, ponder over it, and then edit. It’s ok if your first few drafts don’t hit the mark because it will help you get started.
We found this handy template from Brides.com with tips from author and wedding officiant, Monique Honaman, and Alexis Dent, founder of XO Juliet. They recommend that you incorporate the following into your vows:
“Say "I love you." This seems like a no-brainer, but Honaman says she is shocked at how many couples leave those three little words out of their vows.
Tell your partner you'll be there through thick and thin. Most wedding vows touch on sticking around through good times and bad. "The reality is all marriages have cycles of peaks and valleys," Honaman says. "It's nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together.
Share personal stories. It's so much more interesting for friends or family to hear about your odd quirks and raw personal moments. “Guests (and your S.O.) want to hear vows that are real," says Dent. "If you've been through bumpy spots, you should express that.”
Actually make promises. Vows aren't just cute anecdotes—they are a promise and serious commitment that you’re making in front of a whole lot of witnesses. That doesn’t mean they have to be heavy though. “You can vow to not only stick by their side forever but to also be the one to kill spiders whenever they creep their way into your home,” says Dent.
Acknowledge the support you'll need from others. You've gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but you'll need them just as much during your marriage. Honaman recommends you acknowledge "the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough."”
With this template in mind, if you’re still not feeling confident since writing doesn’t come to you naturally---remember that all the words don’t have to personally come from you.
Incorporating a special quote, song lyric, love poem, or excerpt from other vows found online can add both depth and length to your vows. Here are examples to pick and choose from for some inspiration.
How Long Vows Should Be
This would be good to align with your significant other on beforehand, or one of you may talk for ten minutes and the other for two! They don’t have to be the same length but should complement one another nicely.
According to Zola.com, “There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how long wedding vows should be, but most traditional vows run anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute per person. If you’re writing your own vows, remember that what’s most important is what you say, not how long it takes to say it. Whether it takes 30 seconds or 3 minutes, make sure you keep your vows focused on expressing all that you want to share from your heart. This is your moment: don’t cut it short because you’re worried about boring people, but don’t pad it just to take up time.”
How to Personalize Your Vows
Once you have some ideas down on paper, review it again with a new frame of mind. Do your vows reflect your personality and capture who you are as a couple? If not, challenge yourself to make them feel more personal.
Don’t feel the need to fit into a specific box based on weddings you’ve attended or movies you have seen. This will end up being one of the most special parts of your wedding ceremony (for you and your guests) so take it as an opportunity to be authentic.
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or your vows sound like a cookie-cutter replica of everything you’ve heard before, get back to the basics.
Have a friend ask you these questions to get your creativity flowing and then take another pass:
What’s your favorite thing about your significant other?
What are you most looking forward to in sharing your lives with one another?
What’s the highlight of your love story so far?
How do they challenge and/or support you in ways that no one else can?
Do what you need to do to tap back into what has led you to this point in your relationship.
As you can see, it’s critical that you select the approach to vows that will elevate your wedding day and feel most natural to you both. We LOVE when couples do their own vows and think this is a simple way to make your wedding day feel personal.
We hope that this helped answer the question on your mind: “Should I write my own wedding vows?”
If you’re looking for a wedding photographer or videographer to help capture the joy of your wedding ceremony (and beyond), get in touch with us today. We have a professional team of photographers and videographers across Texas and Florida.
[Photoshoot in the spotlight: Kristi + Caleb in Austin, Texas.]
The Joy Team