The Ins and Outs of Writing Your Own Vows
When Dustin and I got married, I wanted to write our own vows. He refused. Keep in mind, this is back in 2013 and very few couples wrote their own vows back then. There were lots and lots and lots of things he let me have my way about for the wedding, but this was one he was not budging on. He explained how much he hated public speaking and how nervous it made him. So, writing his own vows felt like a public speaking gig, and he was not about adding any additional nerves to an already nervous situation.
A couple weeks after we returned from the honeymoon, we were reminiscing our wedding day, and the vow topic came up again. Come to find out, he thought he had to memorize the vows he would have written and recite them on his own off the top of his head! I laughed as I confessed I wouldn’t want to do that either. I can’t help but think if I had described to him what personal vows would have looked like, he would have done it, and we would still have our vows written out to read today.
So, why write your own vows? How do you even begin to write your own vows? Do you need vow books? What do you do with your vows after the wedding day? Let’s talk through it all.
- Why write your own vows? It’s easy to recite the generic, traditional vows, but honestly, it can feel a little scripted. I’m sure you’ve seen the wall decor at Hobby Lobby that says “To have and to hold.” There are mugs and tees and key chains and prints with quotes from the traditional vows. I’m not saying it’s not meaningful or it doesn’t cover all your bases, but I am saying it’s very impersonal. For some people, impersonal is okay. For those of you with nerves like my husband, traditional is great. If you want it to be more about what the two of you share personally, writing your own is SUCH a sweet idea.
- How do you write your own vows? If you are not a gifted writer, I recommend reading other people’s vows online. See what avenue other people went down. Next, do a brain dump. Get a blank sheet of paper and a pen, and just start writing down reasons why you love your fiancé(e). Write down specific instances that caused you to fall more in love with them. When you’re all done, circle the funny ones and star the emotional ones. You want to have a good balance of these. Not too funny where the whole thing feels like a joke, but not too emotional where you get so weepy you can’t even finish reading. Order them how you would like them laid out in your vows. Now, write an opener and a closer, and you’re done. Great openers could be “the moment I first saw you” or “it was when you [did this one thing] that I knew I wanted to marry you.” Good closers could be wrapping it up with one final, monumental promise like “I promise to love you until the day I die” or “I promise I will choose you every single day for the rest of our lives.” Voila, you’ve got it!
- How do these translate into your ceremony? I’m happy to tell you that you do not have to memorize these! Every officiant will have their preference, but some people will still “repeat after the officiant” just with their own vows instead of the traditional ones. Others will print them out on computer paper and have them folded up in their suit pocket or with the officiant who hands them over at the right time. Other people will write them on lined paper, and others will write them in vow books. My personal preference is when couples use vow books. They are so pretty! I love having them for detail photos at the beginning of the day. While I love when couples read their vows during the ceremony, I know it’s not for everyone. Sometimes, it’s just too much pressure. I get it. There are so many people sitting there listening to these vulnerable promises. Even if you decide to not do personal vows during the ceremony, I still think you should do them! You can share them in a private moment at some point in the day, but moreover, you can revisit them years later as a benchmark of where you started vs. how far you’ve come. It’s just an outpouring of words describing your love for that person and the promises you are committing to. It’s nice to have those reminders a year later, 5 years later, 10 years later, FIFTY years later!
- What do you do with these after the wedding day? You could keep them in a safe box with your wedding album or your favorite bottle of wine. Every anniversary, you could get this box back out and read them as you flip through your photos, watch your video, and sip some wine together. You could also have them transcribed onto a piece of parchment paper and framed. You could have them etched onto some acrylic and have them sitting on a shelf in your home. You could have them displayed on your bathroom mirror as a reminder that you will not stop fighting for one another even through the hard times. Your love for each other will only grow over the years you spend together. Through the memories you make and the experiences you endure, through milestones of children and moves and life altering decisions, you will grow in that love. But the rawness and the realness of your emotions on your wedding day are a great source of reminders of the love you share.
I love when people make it personal. I encourage you, if you do vow books, take a second to add to them through those major, highly emotional moments throughout your marriage. Add a couple lines when you go through the stress of buying a home together. Add a couple lines when you go through the experience of growing your family. Add a couple lines when you hit 10 years of marriage. Build on that initial foundation, and come back to it as often as you need to if things get hard. It will not always be hard. Coming back to your vows is a great way to remind yourself of that.
I hope this was helpful!!
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See more from Amanda May Photos:
Branding Session at Highlight Studio
Family Session at Volunteer Landing