HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS
Information gathered from Your Special Wedding Vows, by Sharon Naylo
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There are many excellent books and guides for writing your own vows. However, I recommend Your Special Wedding Vows, by Sharon Naylor, which has many helpful suggestions and examples. Below is some information that I gathered from her book.

THE TOP 16 RULES OF SMART VOW CREATION


1. Do your research from religious vows, those written by friends, poetry from books (such as Your Special Wedding Vows, by Sharon Naylor), and the internet.
2.
Start early. Do not wait until the night before the wedding. Make sure you give yourself time to mull over it and to make revisions.
3.
Decide as a couple if you will write the vows together to be repeated by each of you, or individually as a surprise for the wedding day.
4.
Before you begin writing, whether together or apart, plan a quiet night in which you’ll discuss what you’re feeling and what you wish to promise to one another. Use the questionnaire available below as a guide, if necessary.
5.
Be yourself. Don’t try to fit some image of what you think the vows should say. If you are not overly romantic, you don’t have to write overly romantic vows. Stay true to your own style and tone, and make your words fit who you are.
6.
Make room for humor and lightheartedness if it fits your personality, but remember this is a serious and sentimental moment. Be serious where you have to be in honor of the solemnity of your ceremony rites.
7.
Keep it short and sweet.
8. Make it your own. Use personal anecdotes (but not too personal) to make your vows your own.

9. Don’t worry about going long with your first draft. The more the better in the first stages so you have plenty of material with which to work. Save your earlier drafts as a keepsake journal-type recording, or as a love letter to your intended.
10. Practice, practice, practice. Be sure to practice your vows out loud, since some phrases may look good on paper, but sound awkward in speech. Read them to yourself, to someone else, into the mirror, or into a recorder.
11. Decide if you wish to memorize your vows, read them yourself during the ceremony, or have the officiant read them aloud for you to repeat.
12. Choose key words carefully. Does “obey” make your hair stand on end? Have you ever said the word “cherish” before? Make sure the words you’re using really nail your intentions. Use a thesaurus for additional suggestions.
13. Submit your vows to your officiant to include with the draft of the ceremony as a backup. If the vows are intended to be a surprise, write on the vows that it is a surprise so that the officiant won’t inadvertently spoil the surprise.
14. Give yourself permission to get emotional. If you mess up, just laugh it off and keep going. No one will blame you for getting nervous.
15. 
Look your partner in the eye while you’re reading your vows. As you hold hands, squeeze your partner’s hands to emphasize the most important points. This is an unforgettable moment, and these words are just for the two of you. They’re your first and greatest gifts to each other as husband and wife, so deliver them well.
16. Really listen you your partner’s vows. He or she has put a lot of time into writing them, and they’ll mean the world to you. If you’re speaking last, resist the urge to zone out while worrying about what you’ll say next.

YOUR WEDDING VOW QUESTIONAIRE

Get together with your partner, and go over the following questions together.

1. What did you think about each other when you first met?
2. When did you first know you were in love? Was there a specific moment, like when you saw him/her playing with his/her niece and nephew, or did it gradually evolve over time?
3. When did you first know you’d marry this person?
4. When and where did you first say “I love you”?
5. Did others know you were in love before you both realized it or expressed it?
6. What do you love and admire most about the other person? (A top 10 list is fine here)
7. What has your partner brought to your life that you didn’t have before?
8. What characteristics and qualities do you think you developed as a result of being together?
9. What challenges did the two of you overcome during your time together that led you to this point in your relationship?
10. Are there any special moments that you shared with his/her family that stand out, that perhaps showed you more of your partner’s depth and qualities?
11. What lessons about love and commitment have you learned from one another? From each other’s families?
12. Who serves as your relationship role model, that couple with the deep love you wish to emulate? What is it about their relationship that you admire?
13. How do you see yourselves working through the challenges that lie ahead on the path of your life together?
14. What are five ways you’d describe your partner to your very best friend?
15. What do you promise to bring to your future children someday?
16. What are the five key ingredients to a successful marriage?
17. What are your goals, visions, and wishes for your future life together?


WEDDING VOWS WORKSHEET

When writing your own wedding vows, it may help to use some of the following:

1. Your Opening Phrase
2. Remembrance of Your First Meeting (e.g., “When I first saw you, I thought…”)
3. What I Most Appreciate About You
4. What You Bring To My Life
5. Quotes or Poetry to Include
6. What I Promise You Forever
7. Closing (e.g., “This is my solemn vow,” “I will love you always etc.)

As a test, read your first draft aloud and time the duration of your reading. Then look below to see where you fit into the “appropriate duration” scale:

Ten seconds to fifteen seconds: You can do better that that!
Fifteen seconds to thirty seconds: Just perfect!
One to two minutes: Com on, you can narrow it down a little, right?
Two to five minutes: Someone likes to hear his/her own voice…
Five minutes+: You’re just rambling now. Focus!