I often hear brides and grooms speak of writing their own vows for their wedding ceremony. It’s a wonderful idea but unfortunately, it’s harder than it looks. Writing your own vows requires someone who can write a significant amount of ability and clarity. Which is the reason why I suggest couple to simply write “love letters” to each other with that moment in mind, and stick with the traditional vows for the ceremony. In reality, this idea allows the bride and groom to enjoy both their own words (in the form of a letter) and the marriage vows that most recognize as traditional vows.
I do not recommend to brides and grooms to write their own marriage vows. It’s much more difficult than it sounds to most of my clients. That is why I suggest to couples to write a “free-style” letter to each other in the place of customized vows. However, if my client is committed to writing their own vows, the following tips may help with the process.
1. START EARLY – give yourself time to write, digest, and make several revisions. This is too important to wait to the last minute
2. READ OTHER VOWS FOR IDEAS – Go online and read what others have written. You don’t have to plagiarize, but you can grab some good ideas
3. CHOOSE A PARTICULAR STYLE TOGETHER – Are you going with serious, romantic, fun, cleaver, story-telling, or even short-n-sweet.
4. CHOOSE A DEADLINE – Together decide when they need to be complete.
5. ASK A MUTUAL TRUSTED FRIEND TO READ BOTH FOR SUGGESTIONS – choose the same trusted friend to read them so he/she can catch any problems early.
6. KEEP YOUR GUESTS IN MIND – if your guests are mostly older, than be aware of that I you write them.
7. DECIDE TOGETHER IF HUMOR IS ALLOWED – humor is great but extremely awkward if one of you is funny and the other isn’t. Decide together if humor is permitted.
I hope this helps!
So many couples sit down with me as their Arizona wedding pastor and one of them wants to write their own vows and the other does not (more often the bride does, not the groom). Then I sit as the tension in the room rises, because both are strong in their feelings about the idea of writing their own wedding vows. I listen, trying not to side with one or the other. Until a couple years ago, I thought it was all or nothing when it comes to wedding vows. Now, I offer them an idea that, more often than not, makes each happy. It’s what I call, “Freestyle Vows” or “Love Letter Vows.” Allow me to explain.
At the beginning of the ceremony, before the promises, the vows or the rings, I take out a letter from each, to each, and read them publicly for the first time. They do not need to match in length, content or style. Both are written from the heart with that magical moment in mind. The following are the reasons why I think freestyle vows have caught on and been embraced by so many of my couples:
- One can be long; the other short
- One can include humor; the other can be more serious and romantic
- One can be poetic and structured formally; the other can be simple bullet points about how wonderful the other person is.
- One can include “inside jokes” that only the couple gets; the other can be a favorite love poem.
As one can see, the ideas are endless. Writing your own vows has become a great way for a bride to bring creativity to the ceremony as well as an extra dose of romance.
So good luck writing, and remember to have fun with it. Your guests will LOVE it and so will you!
– Rev. Randy Williams