Are you thinking about taking the personal approach to your wedding ceremony, writing your own vows?
It’s something I recommend because it involves you and your partner in a very creative, personal and meaningful way in your ceremony. But many people get stumped as to what to say and how to say it. Here are six tips from the Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway:
1. Open to the inspiration all around you. Seek and ye shall find sentiments that express your own thoughts. Look at wedding readings, poetry, songs and even greeting cards. Pore over vow books featuring words of love used by others. Source ideas from the faiths or cultures you were born into or the spiritual traditions you love. Devour inspirational quotes on love and watch wedding movies. One couple I married met in a public school where he is a teacher and she was a visiting consultant. The groom came up with an awesome opening line for his vows: “To paraphrase a line in your favorite movie, Casablanca: ‘Of all the classrooms, in all the high schools, in all of New York City, you walked in to mine.’ And I’m so lucky that you did.”
2. Ask yourself these key questions. Sit down with pen and paper, or at your computer, and jot down your thoughts as you consider these questions:
• How did you meet and what made you fall in love?
• What do you love about each other?
• What does getting married mean to you?
• What are some of your dreams and intentions for married life?
• What story do you want to share about your love?
Your answers can provide unique insights that can be blended into your vows. One example I will never forget involves a vegan bride who married a meat inspector. In doing this exercise they realized their shared love of animals transcended their political differences about food. Part of the vow the groom spoke was: “I love you because when you saw a hungry stray dog sitting by a hot dog truck, you bought it a meal — exactly what I would have done.”
3. Connect to the feelings. Before you write, take a moment of to reconnect to the energy and magic that made you want to get married. Remember the moment you recognized your relationship was meant to be; reflect on the excitement of the day you became engaged. Think of the little things that your beloved does to make you happy. Let the feelings flow and the vows will likely flow out, too. Start writing down the thoughts that surface.
4. Begin your first draft. Think of your vows as a short a love letter. You might open by sharing something about your first meeting. Then, share what you love about your sweetie (you can include cute and funny reasons) and how your beloved makes you feel. Highlight the things you look forward to experiencing and building together. Sprinkle in promises you want to make on your wedding day. Summarize by sharing how grateful you are for his/her love. Feel free to add your own unique touches. One bride, who first met her hubby when she was a teen and married him 14 years later, included diary entries from her old journals in which she fantasized about being his wife. It was charming, and profound, because they had loved each other, lost each other, and found one another again.
5. Revise and perfect. You may have to sit with this for a few days, so don’t leave it until the last minute. When ready, go through the first draft; edit or add in new thoughts. Don’t be afraid to use humor if that’s your style. A British bride told her beloved that she loved his strength of character and warm heart, and decided to spice things up with: “And, I quite like watching you walk around in your towel in the morning.”
6. Make sure you speak from the heart. Let your sentiments come from deep within. Since it is your wedding, you are welcome to share whatever you wish, but your vows do not have to be long or entertaining. Just make them real and allow yourself to deliver them with the authentic emotion of the moment. Those are the best wedding vows.