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Written by Liam Barrows Last updated: December 13, 2013
Writing your own wedding vows may seem like a daunting task but with the right advice you’ll find it an enjoyable and rewarding process. Confetti presents its top tips when writing your wedding vows.
Short sentences work better than longer ones: they have more impact and are easy to decipher (especially if you are speaking without a microphone). Remember to vary your sentence length. Intersperse longer sentences so you don’t tire the congregation out. You’ll want the speech to last about a minute give or take a few seconds.
Allow yourself some time away from the hustle and bustle to write. Make preparatory notes and then begin to jot down some ideas. Build the vows outward from the first truthful and meaningful sentence. Don’t leave the vows to the last minute. You’ll need some time for your thoughts to clarify.
These are your wedding vows. Now is not the time to be guarded, obscure, pretentious or equivocal. You should state truthfully how you feel, what you promise and what’s important to you.
Read your vows out loud. How does it sound? Check the music of the sentences. If you keep stumbling on the same passage then rewriting it may make it easier to pronounce. Practice on a close friend. Listen to their suggestions. Sometimes meanings can get muddled or there are ambiguities you don’t immediately recognise.
You should probably read some love poetry or romantic prose – if only to understand how the literary greats put their feelings into words – but don’t copy or ape someone else’s style. Be true to yourself, steer clear of the clichéd and trite and remember there is always poetry in the truth as you see it, no matter how plainly spoken. You should also probably remember the contradictory advice of T.S Elliot: “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.” If you do steal, make sure the passage fits organically with the rest of your vows.
You’ll want to sort out some guidelines about the kind of thing you and your partner are writing. If the two vows wildly differ the audience will probably be amused by the dramatic irony. You may want to listen to each other’s speeches beforehand or get a trusted friend to listen to both to ensure consistency. Remember that whilst these vows are deeply personal, or should be, they are also for the wider consumption of the wedding congregation. Consider how this audience will receive these statements when composing your vows.
Practice your speech. Make sure you pronounce and enunciate the words clearly. Emphasise the important parts. Inject a sense of drama but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to comes across as melodramatic or hammy. If in doubt read them ‘straight’.
Consider using anaphora or epistrophe . It’s a technique you’re probably familiar with from the Bible: repeating the beginning or ending of sentences with the same string of words. e.g. I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride / I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey / I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Don’t stress and worry about your vows. Take your time and if you really struggle with writing you can always ask someone to help clean it up for you. Don’t worry about the public speaking either: it will only take a minute to say your vows, half the congregation won’t hear you anyway, and you’ll coast through on adrenalin alone. Remember to smile as you say them. And be happy, it’s your wedding day!