It is increasingly common these days for couples to individualize their wedding ceremony with personal vows. For those of us who have a hard time declaring our love for our fiancés in public, it can be nerve-wracking to deliver personal vows during the wedding ceremony under the watchful, expectant eyes of friends, family and future in-laws. Rather than wait until the last minute to cobble something together and mumble your way through it, there’s a simple way to turn this public speaking chore into a simple and powerful part of the ceremony.
Before we look at how to compose your vows, let’s take a minute to look at where they fit into the traditional western wedding ceremony. Most of these ceremonies have prescribed sections that increasingly fuse two individuals into one couple. Here’s the scene: you, the officiant, and the groomsmen and bridesmaids are all waiting at the altar for the bride. Traditional sections of the ceremony include:
This means that your vows come right after the promises. In other words, they are the deepest part of the ceremony, just before you two become one.
First Vow: Build your first vow off of the last promise made. So, for example, if the last part of the promise section was to be “faithful as long as you both shall live,” start off with, “I just promised to be faithful, but more than that, I vow to…” Some examples:
I vow to…
seek new ways to be closer to you.
help you be faithful to yourself, to help you become the person you were born to be.try to be a better man and husband.
be honest with you and to live in such a way that it’s easy to be honest.
Second Vow: Make this something light, fun and particular to your relationship. Some examples:
I vow to…
Third Vow – This one should be from the heart and, again, particular to her. What does she want most from you that she still doesn’t feel she has?
I vow to…
It’s unlikely that most people at your wedding will remember what your specific vows were. What they will remember is the emotion they felt hearing them. This means that how you recite your vows can be more important than what you say. Public speaking is tough for most of us, and reciting your vows in front of your fiancé, family and friends can be emotionally challenging. If you think you might be nervous or emotional, repeatedly practice reading your vows aloud.
Keep repeating your vows until you know them backward and forward until you are bored to death with them. Then, when you deliver them during the ceremony, you’ll be able to speak them clearly and focus on the meaning behind the words.Notes:
Don’t spend too much time composing your vows; it’s much more important to be clear and honest than clever. You’ve done the hard part: finding the person you want to marry. Explaining your commitment will be much easier and more fun.