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Writing your own vows can be both freeing and paralyzing: Because while you're free to write from the heart, you can be paralyzed with fear your vows won't stack up to those of your new spouse. Plus, what if you leave something out and look like a fool in front of your friends and family?
But you can focus only on the amazing opportunity in front of you, because we've got expert advice on exactly what to include, so that your vows will wow both your spouse and your guests.
"Having couples write their own vows allows them to really think about what's important, and to think about how they would act and react in their marriage," says Monique Honaman, wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic. Honaman advises her couples start with a standard vow template and go from there, sure to include these three very important sentiments in what they write themselves.
1. Tell your partner, "I love you."
This seems like a no-brainer, but Honaman says she is often shocked at how many couples leave out this little three-word phrase from their vows. "Isn't that why people are getting married?" she asks. "Yes, we assume that's a given that we must love someone if we are willing to stand by them through thick and thin, but it's always nice to hear and emphasize."
2. How you plan to stand by your partner through thick and thin.
Almost every vow we've ever heard touches on sticking around through sickness and health, through good times and bad times, and for richer or for poorer. They're sentiments are repeated so often, Honaman says, "we can become immune to what they really mean." So when you express your intent to stay by your spouse's side, it's smart to say what that means to you and how you'll go about it. "The reality is that all marriages have their cycles of peaks and valleys, not always based on huge dramatic changes in life, but just because life get's busy," Honaman says. "It's nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together."
3. Acknowledge you'll need help and support from others.
You've gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but the truth is, you'll need them just as much during your marriage. So, Honaman recommends you "use your vows to acknowledge that you need others to help your marriage be successful," she says. "This may mean acknowledging the role of religion or God in making your marriage work, or the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough. I believe it's helpful to know the two of you aren't in this alone."