Write and Recite Your Own Wedding Vows
Writing wedding vows is not a difficult as it may seem. Below are some ideas for how to write beautiful, original love vows.
What Do You Know?
The first thing the couple needs is some quiet time, a couple hours where they can get together and talk about their relationship and their future. Set aside some time to piece together some notes for the wedding vows.
A good way to collect ideas is to answer the following questions. Each person should write their own answers to collect some notes on which to base the completed vows.
- How and where did you first meet?
- What was your dating/engagement journey like?
- Why do you love your future spouse?
- What have you learned about life from your future spouse?
- What do you wish to bring to the marriage?
- What do you wish to receive from the marriage?
- What do you hope your marriage will be based on?
- What do you promise your future spouse?
- Where do you see yourselves in 50 years?
- For what do you want to thank your future spouse?
Now, after each of you have answered these questions, go through your answers and highlight phrases or sentences you definitely want to include in the vows. You don’t have to use all the material you’ve collected; in fact, it’s better to pick and choose from the ideas.
Organize the Words
The vows should be anywhere from a minute to two minutes in length. You could allow for a minute per person. A minute of oral speech is around 170 words in length. So plan on writing around 340-350 words.
To organize the vows, you can start chronologically from the time you first met to now. Divide up the narrative between the couple, taking turns to tell your “relationship story.”
It could go something like this: (Woman) “From our first date at Applebee’s, I knew you were the one for me. I remember that night after the date, I went home and told my mother that I’ve meet the man I’m going to marry. (Man) And after a long three-year courtship full of laughter and mutual discovery, here we are ready to be married.”
A good way to continue this kind of vow structure is to tell your family and friends what you promise to each other and/or on what you hope your marriage will be based.
What you bring, what you wantAnother possible structure is to concentrate on questions #5 and #6. Start out by stating what each person brings to the future marriage. Then, switch to what you both hope to receive from this matrimony. You might end these vows with the answers to question #9: where you see yourselves in 50 years.
Play around with the material, knowing that basic vows can address the quality of the existing relationship and how the relationship is to be formulated in the future. In your vows, you’re promising your spouse how it will be when you’re married.
A little bit traditional
A good model for your own vows is the traditional wedding vows. Let’s look at what they say. (These vows were found at weddings.about.com. They have been edited to make them more concise.)
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my (husband/wife), from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
If you notice, God is mentioned in these vows. It will be your choice as to whether or not you mention God or religion depending on your beliefs.
So, you can model your vows after the traditional vows if you wish. Or, an alternative way to go about writing the vows is not to start from collecting notes, but to start with an outline of exactly what you want the words to convey, and then build up the ideas from there. Some people work better from notes; and others, from an outline. Up to you.
A quote of love
Now, here’s a completely different approach. It’s based on famous love quotes. Often a famous quote at the beginning of the vows will propel the complete vows forward to a logical ending.
Let’s look at an example. Here’s a famous love quote: According to Amy Carmichael, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
From this, the vows might proceed to “Beloved _____, in our marriage I promise to give you unconditional love, my entire intellect, my whole body, my being.”
“Beloved ____, in our marriage I promise to cherish you and learn from you and respect your individuality. You will be my best friend and my one true love.”
The vows could then talk about the couple’s mutual goals for their marriage.
“Beloved ____, in our marriage, with God’s help, let us raise a family and help to build a peaceful world in which to coexist with our children and our neighbor’s children.”
“Beloved ____, in our marriage, let us learn to be more human by studying Jesus’ example.”
“With this ring, I thee wed.”
“With this ring, I thee wed.”
See how it’s done?
It’s really a matter of zeroing in on what you want to mention and then putting it into some kind of logical order.
Here’s another quote from which to start a speech: According to Willa Cather, “Where there is great love, there is always miracles.”
From this quote, the vows might proceed to “____, you are my miracle. Every day, you teach me to be a better person by your wonderful example.”
And then to “____, you are my miracle. Every moment, you teach me how to abide in joy.”
“____, I promise…”
“____, I promise…”
“Together we dedicate ourselves to each other. ___, I take you to be my husband.”
“___, I take you to be my wife.”
“With God’s grace, let us walk forward into our future together.”
Below are some more famous love quotes with which to begin vows:
Francoise Sagan said, “Loving is not just caring deeply; it’s, above all, understanding.”
According to Annie Sullivan, “Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out. You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything.”
Sophocles said, “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.”
An unknown author once said, “You don’t marry someone you can live with; you marry the person who you cannot live without.”
And don’t forget the ever popular, 1 Corinthians 13:4 quotation: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
So again, using a quotation to start wedding vows often makes good sense, especially if you have a favorite quote about love. It might be useful to invest in a book of quotes.
Practice Makes Perfect
After you’ve written your wedding vows. Read them aloud in front of an audience you trust and get feedback. Do the necessary editing and trimming to get them to the proper number of words.
And when you recite your vows to each other on your big day, I suggest using a microphone if one is available. If there is no audio system in the church, be sure to speak loudly, clearly and fairly slowly so everyone can comprehend what you’re saying. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
You may choose to read your vows to each other from the paper or note cards on which they’re written or memorize the vows and recite them while looking into each other’s eyes. I prefer the second method.
In conclusion, writing your own vows is a wonderful expression of your mutual love. And hey, if you still, after reading this, have no idea on how to go about this process, immerse yourself in wedding vows of all kinds. A variety of wedding vows can be found on the Internet. A good site to view many vows from around the world is 1weddingsource.com.
Good luck to you. I’m sure you’ll produce something beautiful, honest and lasting with which to anchor as well as inspire.