Photo: Anna Kuperbuerg
Writing your own wedding vows is a daunting task to say the least. Just because you want to recite straight-from-the-heart vows that capture your relationship with your future spouse, doesn't mean you have the time to write an Oscar acceptance-worthy speech. (And when it comes to professing your deep and profound love in front of a pack friends and family, even the coolest cucumbers break a sweat.) To help quell your nerves and provide some guidance, we rounded up a few ways to get started:
Don't cram every possible sentiment into your vows. Your ceremony will likely have all sorts of readings, blessings, and other spoken words, so you can keep your vows simple.
Browse through books of quotations and poetry. If you have a favorite line from a movie or song that expresses your feelings, use it as a starting point. Also, browse through some children's books, like Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss's I'll Be You and You'll Be Me and I Like You by Sandol Stoddard. Kid's books often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences, so they can provide some inspiration.
Refresh traditional vows if you don't want to write brand-new ones. Use a thesaurus to come up with variations. For instance, instead of love, honor, and obey, consider treasure, admire, and celebrate.
Do your own take on the questions of intent, usually answered by "I do." Rather than "Will you love and honor him? Comfort and cherish him, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him?," try "Will you promise to be honest in your relationship, and give him support and strength?"
Ask your officiant, friends, and relatives to share customized vows they've come across. Cut and paste what you like to create your own version.
Decide if you want to write them together. Do whatever is most comfortable to you. If you want to collaborate, do it over a quiet dinner at home or a lazy Sunday brunch. Discuss your hopes for the future. Reminisce about your first date and when you realized you were in love. Write down actual phrases you use. Play with ideas and sentiments.
If you're writing vows separately, decide on a structure that you both can use as a jumping off point. It's not a bad idea to make sure that you and your partner are going to be saying somewhat similar things. To start, complete these sentences: "I am lucky to have met you because..." "What I wish is..." "I promise to..." Also, decide on a word-count maximum — that way, each person's will roughly be the same length.
Begin writing at least two months ahead. Don't procrastinate. Seriously.
Read your vows aloud. Listen for awkward phrases or repeated thoughts or words. And give your officiant a copy ahead of time; it can be helpful to have another set of eyes review your writing.
Have a copy at the altar, even if you plan to memorize your vows. Nerves can ambush the best of intentions.
End with a declaration of love. For example, "You are my person — my love and my life, today, and always."