I wholeheartedly believe your ceremony is the bread and butter of your wedding day -- your guests are there to not only celebrate you, but bear witness to the incredible promises you are making to each other and provide support to your marriage. It is important to spend time on your ceremony and your vows, which are often easy to put off until "later" since you don't technically need them done until the wedding day.
Many of my clients tend to put off their ceremony or vows because they have a difficult time figuring out where to begin, or how to start writing their wedding vows. After seeing over 75 wedding ceremonies, I can tell you that the ones that stand out to me are the ones that include personal elements from the couple's relationship, ones that include a bit of humor, but most of all - that are genuine to the couple.
I believe your ceremony also helps set the tone for the rest of the wedding, and your vows are such a big part of that and include your community into your promises and relationshiop to each other.
So here are my best tips:
1. I recommend trying to get your vows complete at least 1 week if not 2 weeks before your wedding day. I know a lot of brides and grooms have those wedding dreams (nightmares??) that they show up to the ceremony without their vows completed. I know I certainly did! Get them complete, and stop having bad dreams!
2. If you are writing your vows separately, I advise that you sit down together to create a structure for your vows, determining a general range for how many promises you are going to make to each other, the overall tone and if you will have any repeating elements in each of yours together. For example, my husband and I both opened our vows with personal words for each other, then began our vows with the same intro, and ended our vows with the same promise.
3. Once you have your structure down, it's time to brain dump all of your ideas- typing, writing, recording, whatever medium feels best to you. Jot down all your thoughts on your partner, what you love about them, how they've changed or influenced you, and promises that resonate with your relationship.
4. Once you have brain dumped all of your ideas, its time to organize them. I tend to be someone who can go on and on (have you noticed my writing tends to maybe go in circles sometimes?!) so it was really difficult for me to be concise. But once I organized my thoughts, it was easy to see which ideas repeated, and I compared which statements felt stronger, or determined if I was able to combine similar thoughts. So get everything organized on the page or in your document by promises, or by statements about the other person.
5. Revise, Edit, Cut. If you're like me, some vows dragged on with so many commas, I knew our guests and Dave would have a hard time deciphering between different promises, and the main idea I was conveying with each one. I utilized the strikethrough option on the computer so I could still keep my original ideas if I wanted to revisit them, or moved vows to the bottom of the page in red if I didn't think I was going to use them. I suggest to stretch this last bit over at least a few days (or weeks); it always brings a fresh perspective when you come back to edit with new eyes, you might find a way to add back something you cut when you had been looking for too long, or realize a better way to revise a promise to make it feel bolder or more specific to your relationship. You might also find something you intended to be heartfelt is actually jumbled or not coming across properly.
And just because I love them -- I'm sharing my vows with you below:
Dave, you came into my life when I was least expecting it, and became exactly what I never knew I needed. I'll always remember the day we finally met; the day I thought you stood me up, but in classic Dave form - you went to the wrong Starbucks. From that very first giddy moment of meeting, through all of our adventures, our laughs until we’re crying, all the times you’ve kept my cold feet warm, and all our lows and highs, to this extraordinary moment of marriage, you have never ceased to leave me in awe of who you are and the partner you have been.
I admire your tenacity and uncompromising willpower to accomplish anything you put your mind to. Your humor keeps me smiling and laughing every day, and your touch calms me in an instant. You are the most trustworthy, brutally honest, and fiercely loyal person I have ever met. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I can rely on you in any situation our future may bring. Maybe I admire most how unapologetically yourself you are, outlandish signature Dave statements and all, you are who you are and I love you wholeheartedly for it.
You have filled my life with happiness so far beyond what I could imagine. You have shown me how to live in the moment, taught me how to be emotionally stronger, and watched me become a more confident person. You have risen me to my greatest potentials with your unwavering support and encouragement. I am not more complete because of you, but rather, a piece of you has become part of me and has shaped who I am today.
We have faced challenges bigger than ourselves from the beginning of our relationship, we have come through stressful times and we have calmed and reassured each other in unpredictable times. We’ve come through unknown transitions and have grown stronger because of it. Through our experiences and communication, we have created a bond so thick and so truly our own. When I look at you, I don’t just merely think I love you, but I love you from the deepest part of who I am and I know you understand and see who I am at the most profound level of my soul.
Of all the beautiful adventures in our lives, may our love and our marriage be the most beautiful of all. You are my favorite.
David, today I choose you to be my husband. I take you as you are, loving unconditionally who you are now and who you are yet to become, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.
- I vow to get back up with you every time we stumble and fall, to always nurture and fight for our marriage, and to reconnect our souls when life gets in our way
- I promise to listen without judgement, support and advocate for you always, and to wake up every morning grateful for the life we have built together
- I will be your compass when you feel lost and vulnerable, your moon when you cannot find your light, and your stars when you need a reminder of your brightness
- I vow to hold your hand through the exciting, joyful and incredible times in our lives, and to squeeze even tighter through the rough and unbearable
- I will challenge and push you, and encourage and believe in your dreams as my own
- I vow to foster a home of growth, learning, and compassion
- I will strive to keep playfulness and joy between us, and will never take our lives too seriously
- I promise to care for you, respect you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life's adversities and all of its joys from this day forward, and all the days of my life
There you have it! Bonus tip -- Dave and I had so much fun actually working on our vows at the same time, just independently. We got cozy on weekend mornings and hunkered down for a few hours to work on them which was really fun to be doing together. Good luck!