Planning a wedding is stressful. But it’s the fun kind of stress. Like preparing for Christmas or making sure everything is ticked off your to-do list before vacation. Sure, there are a million details to iron out, but you’re tasting cake and ogling over flower arrangements. What’s not fun about that? The one component of wedding planning that most couples find completely un-fun and super stressful is the task of writing personal vows. It’s daunting, it’s intimidating, and it’s overwhelming. It feels like homework.
But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a couple tricks to make writing your vows less tedious and more on par with designing your signature cocktail.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Turn back time and replay the story of when you and your partner first met. Try to recall as many details as possible and jot them down. Was she wearing a baseball cap backwards and looking super cute? Did your relationship transition from colleague to friendship to romance, but all along you knew he was special? Did she accidentally bump into you with her shopping cart at the grocery store and your initial annoyance was soon replaced by infatuation?
Whatever your story is, it’s yours, and yours alone. The details of how you met are the building blocks of your wedding vows. It’s how your love story began so incorporating it into your vows makes sense.
Fill in the Blanks
Now that you have a starting point, let’s fill in the gap between meeting and exchanging wedding vows. Think about what it is that made you fall in love with your partner. Jot all those things down and then dig a little deeper. Say, for example, that you love how he makes you laugh. But what does he do that makes you laugh? Tell dad jokes? Belt out 80’s ballads when you cook together? Make funny voices for your dog? (You’d be shocked at how many times I hear this one!) The goal is to make all those generic feelings more personal.
Let’s try another example: You love your partner because she encourages you to reach your goals. But if you take it a step further, you love her because she brings you snacks and caffeine when you’re up late studying for your MBA. Now go even further. What kind of snacks and caffeine does she bring? “I love that you support my goals and bring Swedish fish and Red Bull when I’m up late studying for my MBA” is a lot more personal than, “I love that you support my goals and dreams.” These are the details that take your vows from average to extraordinary.
Look to the Future
You’ve shared your memories and professed your love. Now it’s time to deliver some kick-ass vows to the person who’s so great she’s worth getting publicly emotional for. Get out your pen and paper again and make a list of all the promises you want to make to your partner. Then, we’re going to do just what we did earlier – we’re going to dissect those promises. If you want to vow to always put your relationship first, you might add a little humor by saying “even if it means interrupting my fantasy football game.” Everyone says they’re going to be faithful, but not everyone completes that promise with “because you’re my best friend and I can’t imagine anyone making me as happy as you make me.”
Getting the hang of this?
Now, Go in for the Kill
You need to clinch the ending and whenever possible, I like to bring things back full circle. Reintroduce that backwards baseball cap: “Most of all, I promise to spend every day making that cute girl in the baseball cap as happy as you make me.” Or, reiterate one of the reasons you love him so much: “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I get to marry my best friend, my live cooking entertainer, and the man I’m so excited to call my husband.” Mic drop.
A Few Additional Pointers
• Traditionally, vows are on the more solemn side, but when writing your own, I advise interspersing humor throughout. Humor does two things: first, it breaks the ice which will put both you and your guests at ease. And second, it humanizes the vows and makes them more personal.
• One way to brainstorm humor is to make a list of your partner’s quirks. Maybe he talks in his sleep and you find it adorable – this would be something to incorporate in the “love” section. Or maybe she always steals your fries when she thinks you’re not looking. You can something like this into the “vow” section: “I’ll always save a portion of my fries for you to steal off my plate.”
• If you’re still struggling, there are professional vow writers (like me!) who can help. When I work with clients, I keep the process as quick and painless as possible on their part. All they have to do is fill out a detailed questionnaire and then I take all those memories, feelings, and hopes for the future and spin them into memorable and personal vows. Contact me or visit my website for additional information.
A final word, and I can’t stress this enough – don’t wait until the last minute to write your vows. Remember it’s more than just writing – it’s brainstorming, composing, revising, and rehearsing. But with my tips, your homework can be fun. Enjoy a trip down memory lane, relive the reasons you fell in love, and dream about the beautiful future ahead of you. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and while the reception will undoubtedly be a blast, the words spoken during your ceremony are the foundation of your marriage and set the tone, not just for the celebration to follow, but for the rest of your lives.