Writing your own vows is a deeply personal and emotional task, so if you decide to write your own vows, don’t wait till two weeks before the wedding because you need time to reflect on your relationship before you start writing. Once you’ve got your wedding vendors booked you should begin to write your vows. Although before you start putting a lot of time and energy into your writing you should run this idea past your officiant. They might require you to say some religious text if you’re getting married inside a church, but most are okay with a certain level of improvisation. Once your officiant has approved or given you guidance about what’s appropriate you should get busy preparing to write something heart felt, possibly lighthearted, but also something that reflects the seriousness of the vows you are about to take.
Before putting pen to paper make sure that BOTH of you are participating in creating your own vows, because if only one person writes their own vows, this may seem awkward to the audience. Once you have both agreed, you should plan a date where the two of you get together and discuss your relationship. Talk about special memories, and the future you see together. During this talk take notes and write down what you feel is important. Afterward you should reflect privately on these matters and think deeply about the person your about to marry. Ask yourself some questions like, what do I see in my future spouse? What do I respect about them? What drew me to them? What was my first impression? When did I know I was in love? You should write down the answers to these questions and match them with the notes from your vow date with your future spouse.
When preparing to write your vows remember not to include information that is too personal or material that is only known to the two of you, although your vows are directed to your spouse, they are meant to be shared with everyone. So don’t talk about his cooking skills, or include inside jokes, because you will alienate you audience from the intimacy of the moment. If you find you still need some inspiration you can consult religious texts, love poems, novels, movies, songs, anything as long as you understand the context of the work and how it applies to your vows. You don’t want to include material from a poem that you think is a love poem, but turns out is a poem to a mistress or a mother. And don’t include whole portions of other people’s material, just a line or two is all you really need. Now that you’ve got all the personal material you need to draw from, next is creating a vow outline.
Because your vows will be said publicly, there is a certain amount of formality that will go into their preparation and style. It’s best to prepare you vows like a speech, where you introduce the topic give a little bit of information about the topic and then get into your promises. You should aim the timing of your vows to run for only one minute. It might not seem long enough, but you don’t want to bore the guests, just keep it simple and to the point. You might begin by saying something like, ‘Michael is an amazing and deeply caring person, together we’ve done A, B, and C. And through it all I’ve know that he is my support and love. That is why today I make these vows…’ Getting feed back is important, so get someone to edit your work, like a parent, a sibling or a close friend who knows you as a couple. Make a rough draft and give it to this person a month before you say your vows, then with their feedback begin to finalize what your going to say.
Once you believe you’re finished writing start to practice saying them out loud. Make sure you haven’t accidentally put any tongue twisters into your speech, or have any awkward phrasing that trips you up. If something is awkward fix it right away, if you’re not sure how to fix it get help! And when you can say it confidently and you’re satisfied with the wording you’ve got your final copy.