Whether you’re a professional writer or just another dude trying to put some words down on a MacBook screen, you want your vows to be the best they can be. In that sense, there’s no shame in asking for help. It’s actually good for you. We’ve got a few tips to get you going in the right direction before you exchange your tungsten rings.
Before Your Start Writing
Know Your Limits
Okay, this might sound harsh, but just bear with us for a sec. This may sound like sacrilege to you, but you don’t have to write your own wedding vows. We’ve had standardized ones for a long time now, and they work pretty well.
If you’re curious, the classic wedding vows we have are believed to have originated from The Book of Common Prayer, written by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the mid-16th century. All we’re saying is, if you’re not exactly a flowery writer, there’s no reason you can’t stick to the classics.
There’s No Reason to Be Overly Specific
You’ve heard the vows. “I promise to bake you muffins every Thursday of fall,” and “I promise to do the dishes within three business days, no matter what.” You know the ones. Let’s avoid those.
Look, not that these sorts of promises aren’t nice, but they also aren’t exactly vows either. You’re vowing your heart and soul to the person across from you, not making a rote list of niceties and chores you plan to do until death do you both part.
Start from 10,000 feet up. What is most valuable to you in your relationship? What do you most fundamentally believe in and want to share with your spouse and future children? You may actually be better off erring on the side of the general and philosophical than the particulars.
When You’re Writing
Yes, we just said don’t be overly specific. Both of these things can be true at once. You want to avoid being generic, of course, but you don’t want to delve too far into the everyday minutia either. Is that a bit of a balancing act? Yes. You’ll probably want to run through a few versions of your vows to get that balance right.
Just think, “Could I apply the things I’m saying to another wedding?” If anyone could read your wedding vows without sounding out of place, you’re being too generic. If absolutely no one can relate to them in any way, you’re probably going too specific.
Take Your Time
You’ll likely have a few drafts of these. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, quite the opposite. If you get it all done in one draft, you probably haven’t done your proper due diligence here.
Put All Your Thoughts Down
It’s going to be easier to throw every thought you have onto paper and then edit yourself down than try to drum up more ideas. Just throw things down and see what works. For a lot of us, seeing all our thoughts in one place makes prioritizing the most important ones much easier.
Don’t Try to Include Every Possible Thing
One, you don’t have the time. You don’t want your vows to be longer than a couple of minutes, so you want to prioritize appropriately. Two, you don’t want to include everything. You’ve got the rest of your life to say all the nice things you want to, so we’re just playing the hits when it comes to the vows.
This constraint is actually really good for you. You need some constraints to let your creativity fully flow, so embrace it. If you had 15 minutes for your vows, it’d be easy to include every point you wanted to hit and then some. However, when you’ve only got a couple of minutes, it really forces you to reflect on what’s most important.
‘I Love You’
Turns out that when couples write their own vows, these three words are easy to forget. Not that they don’t love each other (well, probably), but just because they’re so focused on saying all the beautiful and meaningful things they can in two minutes that it gets forgotten. There’s no right place to put this, but it has to be in there somewhere.
Embrace the Seriousness
You’re placing a men’s gold plated ring on your finger — it’s safe to say things are getting serious. However, you still want to lean into the weight of this moment. Of course, you can make your vows amusing and a little bit of humor works well. However, remember exactly what you’re up there for.
Know That You Won’t Get It Perfect
You just won’t, and that’s perfectly fine. You’re a human. You’re just going to do your best and get close enough. That shouldn’t be seen as some nihilistic take. It’s actually very freeing. You’re guaranteed to be imperfect, so just focus on doing the best job you possibly can.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you take nothing else from this list, take this tip. You can tell when someone hasn’t practiced a speech. Don’t be that guy. Plus, these should be words you’re excited to say, so why wouldn’t you practice them?
Above all, enjoy the moment. It’s going to fly by, so enjoy every second you possibly can. There will be lots of pictures, so just be as present as you can and do your best.