Writing your own wedding vows is the perfect way to make your wedding ceremony more bespoke and unforgettable! If you want to write your own wedding vows, but don’t know where to begin, don’t stress – we’re here to help.
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We asked wedding celebrant Nat Raybould to share her top tips for writing your own wedding vows with us – Nat has overseen countless weddings, so she knows exactly what to do…
“I write bespoke wedding ceremonies for couples who are enthusiastic, elegant and eccentric. I am always thrilled when they tell me they want to write their own wedding vows: it’s a great decision! Although it’s no mean feat, and does require guts to be so vulnerable in front of your guests, it is so worth it!” Nat explains.
“Personal wedding vows are the best way to make sure your unique relationship is the centrepiece of your wedding ceremony. Also, this is quite possibly the only time you will publicly say exactly how much you love your partner, what you treasure most about them, and which promises you choose to make to them. Let’s seize that opportunity with gusto!”
Six Essential Tips for Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
Here are Nat’s six key things you need to think about when writing your own wedding vows to ensure they are personal, memorable and beautiful.
Why are You Writing Your Own Vows?
Before you begin, take a moment to think about why you both decided to write personal vows, and why it is right for you both. And you know this answer, before you can even articulate it, so you can’t get it wrong!
Trust in your own feelings, and know that everyone listening will hear everything you say with the same intention as you say it.
Yes, this is unashamedly romantic, but this will be your wedding day: if in doubt, go large!
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Writing Your Vows
Allow yourself some time away from the hustle and bustle to write. I usually recommend doing this about one month before your wedding day – close enough to feel the excitement in the crescendo towards the big day (it will inform your writing and help you imagine it) but not leaving it too late, so that you feel rushed.
Make preparatory notes if that’s how you feel comfortable, or just go for it if that’s your jam: everyone will feel differently. Once you have written down all the main things you want to include, you will have the meat of your vows, and the way forward will be clear…
The Symmetry of Your Ceremony
I have a thing about symmetry in my ceremonies. There are two people, two families coming together, pretty much two of everything.
So when you are considering your vows, a quick chat to determine tone is a good first plan, especially if your vows are going to be a surprise! Imagine if one of you decides to bare their heart with profuse compliments, and the other has written 80% banter and self-deprecation.
Both are great options, if you both match. Similarly, the length should be a rough match too – I always advise just counting the sentences to give a rough similarity without being too strict.
If you have chosen a celebrant-led ceremony and want to keep your vows a surprise for the day, send them both to your celebrant to check they have a matching tone and quality.
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Think About the Length
Some speech writers advise concision in vows, almost making them a poem rather than prose, and I understand why. Sometimes a simple point simply made says it all.
But, I don’t know about that being a hard and fast rule: it’s your wedding day, and your unique feelings! If the Muse takes you, write a longer vow.
Just take care to structure that length so that you can take your guests with you with every word (and check that your partner hasn’t written a haiku in balance…!).
The Structure of Your Personalised Vows
Well, this is the biggy! But actually it’s not hard at all to structure personal vows, especially when you have already nailed the truth of what you want to say.
Again, I would advise making use of symmetry to keep your vows clear and elegant. An example of that you could both share the same final line, which wraps your vows up like a ribbon bow, and also shows that you are both on the same page.
Repetition isn’t a common thing in pop songs by accident! It is a useful tool, and can be the “clothes hanger” on which you hang your feelings, for example: “I choose you today because you are the most thoughtful person; I choose you today because you make me laugh each and every day; I choose you because your cups of tea are always just how I like them.”
And thirdly, the ‘Rule of Three’ is a great choice too (see what I did there?!). Rhetoric involving grouping thoughts in threes has been around since Roman times, and sometimes the oldies are the goodies! Having a list of three things, whether they are descriptors, promises, or jokes, will always structure itself neatly.
Once you have a first draft that you like, it’s time to try it on for size…
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Practise Makes Perfect
Read your vows out loud. How does it sound? Does it mean what you want it to mean? Practice on a close friend (or if you have chosen a celebrant-led ceremony we will always be happy to check it out!) and listen to their suggestions to help you out.
You can practice to yourself just before the ceremony so that you feel comfortable, and can enjoy the experience more easily. But I will tell you now that it doesn’t matter one fig if you stumble over a word, or laugh or cry in the middle, or a dog comes up and licks you.
Whatever happens in the moment of your wedding vows is perfectly beautiful, because you will be declaring your love and commitment, in public, to the one you love. And that’s why you chose to do it in the first place. Enjoy it – you’ve got this!
If you love Nat’s advice and you want to totally customise your wedding and have a humanist wedding celebrant, you can find out more about her via her website or on her Instagram page. She can help with vows and speeches, as well as conducting a ceremony for you.
If you love the idea of totally personalising your wedding ceremony and making it all about you as a couple, make sure you read our guide to humanist wedding ceremonies.