I tell every bride and groom that once they make it through the vows, the rest of the night is just a party. But getting to the vows is tricky. Especially if you're writing your own! But writing your own vows gives you the chance to tell you future spouse just how amazing they are and how much they mean to you.
So before you begin I suggest sitting down, pouring a glass of wine and making a list of all the reasons you can't wait to say "I Do" and then use those bullet points to write your vows.
Keep it pithy. This isn't the time to take your guests through every critical moment you two have shared over the course of your relationship. Hit the high points and try to keep the vows to a minute or so. Remember you will probably need a bit longer than the rehearsed time due to inevitable tears or laughter. If you want to include more details about your relationship in your ceremony, consider writing your ceremony. Your JP can give you some guidelines and check everything before the big day for you too.
Cliches are ok. For years your teachers have told you to stay clear of cliches. But this is the time to use them. If a cliche is the best way for you to say what you feel, then go for it! These words aren't going to be graded. Speak your mind and if your mind keeps saying a cliche, then use it!
Keep them close to your heart. This tip is two-fold because you should want to keep your vows a secret (although one proofreader is ok especially if that proofreader is your JP) and you want to keep them true to you. If you guys are a goofy couple, insert some humor. If you're loving and romantic, bring on the tissues. Follow your heart and speak from your soul and the vows will flow naturally onto the paper.
Multiple drafts are key. You might write your vows and thing they are the best thing you've ever written and they just may well be, but be sure to take a step back and review them. Do you think your spouse would appreciate that embarrassing anecdote? Will your Nana care to know that bedroom detail? Write and review. And then review again. Which is why it's also important to write them early. Do not wait until the morning of. You want to alleviate stress of your wedding day and enjoy family and friends. You don't want to be rushing some of the most important words you will ever say just so you can get it done.
So you have the tips and the tricks, but where to begin? Here is a general structure of how most vows are written:
1. Begin your vows with a special moment or memory. Recount when you knew that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with your spouse (as long as it's appropriate).
2. Tell your spouse how much they mean to you. And how important they are to you.
3. Say thank you. I have no doubt that your partner deserves a lot of thanks whether it was supporting you through a hard time, helping with the planning or agreeing to watch all of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. We both make sacrifices in relationships and this is the time to say thank you.
4. State what you promise - what you vow - to be and do for your spouse.
And if you follow these simple rules and speak from your heart, you'll be golden. I promise!