Part 1: How to Write Your Own Personal Wedding Vows
Personal wedding vows aren’t easy to write, but if you let go of a few pieces of bad advice you may have heard and instead follow these simple steps, I think you’ll be surprised. You will finish with wedding vows that serve as a keepsake of your day; words that have the real power to strengthen your marriage.
Imagine how it will feel to stand face-to-face with your beloved and say what’s on your heart without sounding cheesy or cliché’. When you write your own personal wedding vows, you get to:
say what’s in your heart
honor your fiance’
give your wedding an authentic purpose
It sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? I can say after having filmed nearly 150 weddings that the ones with personal wedding vows and/or personal letters have been the ones with the most magical sense of connection felt by everyone in attendance.
My own personal vows struggle
I knew when Chasen and I were engaged last fall that we would write our own vows and letters. I was so dang scared to actually sit down and get started writing though! I don’t suck as a writer, but pouring out my heart and knowing others would hear it was so much harder to do than I thought. In fact, I resisted for weeks leading up to our wedding. When it was down to just five days before we left for our week in Mexico, I finally opened up a blank Word document and typed the first word. 44 revisions and 4 hours and 26 minutes later (over the course of those 5 days) I had finished. Chasen also put off writing his vows and letter, but when our plane left the runway we both had a little booklet with our personal vows and a special letter tucked away in our carry-ons.
If you’re like I was and you don’t know where to start when it comes to writing your own wedding vows, this is for you.
I’ve taken what I’ve learned and packaged it in two blog articles. You are reading Part 1. In this article I’ll walk you through the first five steps.
How to write your own vows with less stress, in less time, and with better results.
The Knot published an article that ranks super high in SEO search results. Google “How to write wedding vows” and you’re sure to see this article. But, upon reading it during my research for writing this, it’s my opinion you NOT take its advice. Why? Well, the first thing The Knot tells you to do is “Read lots of vow examples for inspiration.” This takes me to the the first step of my tried and tested method for writing your own wedding vows and letters, which is…
STEP 1: RESIST THE URGE TO GO ONLINE AND READ EVERYONE ELSE’S PERSONAL VOWS FOR INSPIRATION.
I understand just how tempting it is. But, I also know how my brain works. It’s much more difficult for me to create an original writing, drawing, statement, you name it if I’ve already been influenced by someone else’s. Maybe this sounds like you, too? I just can’t seem to get the other author’s tone out of my own writing if I’ve been tapping into too many other samples. I’ve seen this “Google inspiration” thing backfire too many times. I once had the sweetest couple read letters from one another on their wedding day. Their letters had several of the EXACT SAME SENTENCES they had both copied from Google not realizing they were both reading the same “inspiration.” They had a great sense of humor about it, and they had a good laugh later about how they both plagiarized the same love letters that someone else had written. The same thing has happened multiple times before with vows and toasts. Citing a quote from a famous artist or author is great. I love quotes. Just be careful not to do it more than once or twice. And never cite Webster’s dictionary or Wikipedia. Be original. It will mean a lot more to your fiancé and to you when you look back on it, if you take the time to share your own feelings.
STEP 2: COMMUNICATE TO YOUR FIANCE’
Tone, general theme, and general timeframe are important to decide upon together. Don’t overthink it too much. Just have a conversation together at some point before or during the writing process to make sure you’re on the same general page. It could be a little embarrassing if you dig way down deep to share your heartfelt devotion and he doesn’t get the memo and instead of matching the emotional tone, goes for quick and funny. There isn’t a wrong theme, tone, or timeframe. Decide what feels authentic to the two of you and then decide to keep it similar.
STEP 3: OPEN TWO WORD DOCUMENTS
Title one document Vows. Title the other document Letter. Draft everything on your computer or tablet instead of pen and paper. It’s easy to cut sentences and move them around on a computer document, but that part comes a little later. Don’t worry, I’ll help you every step of the way. For now, just create the two blank Word documents.
STEP 4: GIVE YOURSELF MULTIPLE SHORT WRITING SESSIONS
This may be my favorite tip. It seems to be common sense, but it’s important to not overestimate your ability to write it all in one sitting. My personal experience was that I felt more confident that what I was writing was what I really wanted to say when I could write for 30 minutes or so, put it away, and come back to it the next day. Then I could reread what I’d written the day before and make changes to the parts that didn’t seem authentic and continue writing and revising over the course of at least three days. Don’t stress over the organization of your writing while you’re in the process. Just write what comes to your mind. You can organize it later. So, let’s start. Open the Word document titled “Vows” and move on to Step 5.
STEP 5: USE OUR LIST OF 14 EASY SENTENCE STARTERS TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
As you begin writing, don’t worry about saying everything perfectly. Just get your thoughts out of your heart and onto the screen. Let these prompts get you going. Use the ones that feel authentic to you. Don’t sell out and say something that doesn’t sound like you, but at the same time, there’s no better time to tap into your inner romantic. Or if the two of you have decided to mix in a little humor, feel free to do so as long as it honors your honey and puts him or her in a nice light.
Follow the five steps in this article and you’ll be well on your way to writing your own vows. In the next article, Part 2, I’ll share the final three steps to writing personal wedding vows with less stress and better results.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Do you feel inspired to start writing your vows? Did you learn any practical tips for getting started? What questions do you still have?
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