I'm Donna Marie
An inclusive adventurous destination wedding and elopement photographer livin' in upstate New York. I'm here to empower all couples to create an intentional wedding day that focuses on the experience and the feels.
If you and your partner have decided to write your own vows, you may find yourself realizing that it’s a larger undertaking than you initially thought. Don’t be discouraged! This is your chance to express your love, dedication, dreams, promises, and reiterate the life plans you share with your partner. You get to tell your half of your love story to your partner here, and it can leave you feeling vulnerable to do so, especially so if you’re having a few friends and family along on your day.
So throw out that Wedding Vow Template that you found on Brides.com. Your love story is more unique than a template!! Your relationship ADDS value to your life, so why would you diminish sharing it by opting for cookie cutter vows via a template when you’ve decided to write your own? Just like I empower my couples to do things authentically, your vows should be authentic to you. [Don’t let family bully you when it comes to your wedding!]
A lot of wedding planners, officiants, or wedding magazines will tell you that you should have x, y, and z in your vows. (Things like, share personal stories that your guests would understand, etc.) Truth is, you really don’t have to listen to any of that. There is no formula for your vows. Truly. Your vows should reflect who you are, in a language that you would speak, that is meant for your partner.
Well, the psychology side of me (ayyy puttin’ that PhD to work!) says you should conduct some serious self-reflection before you put pen to paper. Self reflection give you the chance to dive deeper into yourself and your relationship.
Reflecting on your relationship with your partner throughout your time together can be a wonderful way to start the creative process—as that’s what this is, creative writing. Unless, of course, you’d rather just state facts a la Sheldon Cooper, which is a totally valid means of expressing your vows, don’t get me wrong.
A few things to think about to get the creative vow writing process started:
—How have you changed as a person since meeting your partner?
—In what ways have you witnessed their growth as a person and a partner?
—In what ways have you grown as a person and a partner?
—What emotions or feelings come to mind when you think about your partner?
—Are there any memories that come to the forefront of your memory when thinking on these emotions? What are they?
—How do you envision your future with your partner? And how do you plan on working toward that?
—What activities or pastimes do you enjoy together that you’d like to keep enjoying together? Why would you want to keep enjoying them together?
These are all things you can start thinking about weeks or even days before you start writing anything—while you’re in the shower, on the drive to work or the grocer, or before you fall asleep at night. The more time you spend reflecting on your relationship, the more emotive, heartfelt, and genuine your vows are going to turn out.
Give yourself space that’s conducive to creativity where you can think freely. It may be difficult, especially if you lead a busy life or have littles you’re caring for, but if you’re able to afford the time, take advantage of it.
You may not be able to start right off with writing sentences, and if you can’t that’s perfectly okay! This can especially be the case if you don’t feel you’re exactly a wordsmith (read: skilled user of words). If you’re able to write down a few descriptive words, like emotions, or snips about your time together (e.g., hot air balloon ride, or lots of laughter, or feeling secure), you can then expand on those thoughts and emotions later on.
Know that your vows once written likely won’t (and shouldn’t) look like anyone else’s—because your love story is like no one else’s on the planet. And think about that, too. Your story is seriously one of a kind and that’s something to take pride in.
After you’ve written your vows, make sure to take the time to practice reading them. Also make sure to discuss with your partner if you’re placing a time limit on your vow exchange, as that can impact the delivery (your partner may or may not appreciate a Beowulf length Epic).
Make sure you give yourself ample time to really think them through, edit them as you feel necessary, and practice delivering them.
2. Try to avoid words like “always” and “never”.
Kinda like that StarWars saying, only a Sith delivers an ultimatum. But for real, the words “always” and “never” are promises that are realistically unattainable, because we’re human. If you want to make a promise, make it realistic, make it human, and give each other grace.
3. Keep your vows secret.
If you’re planning to elicit a genuine response from your partner, your vows are a gift to them. Don’t give it to them early.
4. Write true-to-you.
Don’t try to use language that you wouldn’t when speaking with your partner. You don’t have to try and show off a profound literary catalogue in your vows. Simple yet robust is always impactful. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll have a better idea of how to write your own vows!