We still remember how nerve wracking it was trying to write our own wedding vows. We wanted to find the “perfect” words to say to each other in front of our closest friends and family. Not only were we making promises for life, we were opening up emotionally in front our guests, which is an intimidating experience to say the least.
We would estimate that around 75% of the weddings we film, couples read their own vows to each other. It is such a great way to make your ceremony more personal and meaningful.
As Wedding Videographers we’ve had the pleasure of listening to hundreds of couples read their own wedding vows. We feel confident in saying that we are, in fact, experts in wedding vows because we are constantly dissecting and editing them for use in wedding films. We know when they’re good and we know when they’re from Google. So pay attention, because we have some great tips for you…
1) Don’t Write Your Wedding Vows
The worst thing you can do is sit down with a pen and paper. You’re beginning the process with a blank piece of paper and all you can think about is how badly you don’t want it to be blank! You’ll have writers block in no time and you’ll fall back on canned phrases that really mean nothing.
Writing your own wedding vows is a process that requires baby steps. First of all, just concentrate on trying to come up with some content, good or bad.
Think about what state of mind you’re in when you come up with your most creative ideas. Maybe go for a walk and clear your mind or lay back on the couch and close your eyes. Mark loves to write, and his best ideas come to him when he’s slightly distracted. For him that means walking, driving and working out. When he wrote his vows he went for a drive and set the “voice memo” app on his iPhone to record.
This is what he had to say: “For an hour I played our favourite music on the stereo and thought about our relationship. After a while I just started talking to myself about how I felt, not just in the present, but how I felt when we met and how I hoped I would feel in the future. I talked about my favourite things about our relationship and about Danielle.”
“When I got home I listened through everything I had said and wrote down my favourite lines and phrases. At that point I had all the content I needed and it was just time for a little editing and tweaking.”
2) Your Wedding Vows need a Beginning, Middle and End
You want to think of your wedding vows as a mini story. And by that we mean structure it with a beginning, middle and an end. Take a look at all the lines you wrote down and group them together. The beginning stuff might be phrases that talk about how you felt when you first met. For example: “It fees like everything in my life has led me to you” or “I have dreamed of this day since I was fourteen years old”.
You’re looking for phrases that set the tone for what you are about to say. You can also look for phrases that might be revealing to your partner. Something that is new information for them. Listen to Ian and Anna below. Ian says “Every chance meeting I would be overcome with a strange sense of butterflies and calm”. Check out Anna’s reaction to those words. This is EXACTLY what we’re talking about.
The middle section will likely be the bulk of your wedding vows. These are your promises and commitments. Just like the hero of a story faces a series of “trials”, think about what “trials” you might face together as a couple. How will you overcome those? What promises will you make so that your partner knows that your relationship can take on life’s ups and downs? Make sure these aren’t just “fluff” phrases. They need to mean something. These are the promises you REALLY intend to keep for the rest of your lives.
Next you want to round of your vows with something fitting. It doesn’t need to be long, just something that concludes or rounds up what this is all about for you. Take a look through your content and see if anything jumps out.
You could reference the future (“I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you”) or it could even be some kind of giving of thanks (“thank you for making me the person I am today”). You could even circle back and reference part of your story (“from that first moment we locked eyes, I knew it would be you. It’s always been you”). These aren’t exactly Pulitzer Prize-winning phrases, but we hope you get the idea!
3) Edit those Vows! Then Edit Some More!
Finally you’ll need to edit those vows and trim the “fat”. Honestly, your vows don’t need to be 2 pages long. And you don’t need to say “I love you so much” seven times (they already know that!). Is there anything you’ve said twice? Are there any words you put in just because you thought you should? Remember, this is a genuine statement, coming straight from the heart and often simpler is better. Show the vows to a couple of friends and see what they think. Having a set of fresh eyes is so important. Oh and the make sure to do all of this at least a few weeks before your wedding!.
Once you have your wedding vows finished, write them out in a nice booklet or postcard. Something that is easy to carry around in a pocket and won’t get damaged. Its also means you have a nice keep-sake after your wedding. Something tangible that you can feel and see.
4) Bonus Tip: Reading Your Vows
Whether you’re reading your own vows or traditional vows it doesn’t hurt to practice so that you can deliver your lines with confidence and be heard. No matter what, you’re going to get emotional and a little forgetful. So write them out nice and clearly and give yourself the freedom to glance at the words every now and again. In an ideal situation you’ll know everything by heart (very difficult!) but at the very least memorize your final line(s) so that you can look straight into their eyes deliver some of the most meaningful words you’ll ever say.
Alternatively you can also share vows. Join forces and come up with something together. You could then have the officiant read your vows to you and you repeat them back.
In the end there is no real “magic bullet” answer to writing your vows but we hope that our advice helps someone out there. Take a look through our films and see who inspires you. What sounded good to you and what wasn’t your cup of tea. As I said above, its all about baby steps. Start early and take your time. Feel free to get in touch if you need a little help and we wish you the best of luck!