How To Write Your Wedding Vows In Three Sentences

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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.

VOWS AND HOW THEY FIT INTO THE WEDDING

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:

bride writing vows
  1. Walk down the aisle: the bride enters the cer­e­mo­ny space.
  2. Greet­ing and prepa­ra­tion: the offi­ciant wel­comes the atten­dees and par­tic­i­pants to the cer­e­mo­ny.
  3. Leave-tak­ing: the bride leaves her fam­i­ly, often rep­re­sent­ed by the father or head of the fam­i­ly.
  4. Officiant’s charge to the cou­ple: makes sure you two are ready.
  5. Promis­es: these are the ini­tial com­mit­ments you make to each oth­er, typ­i­cal­ly includ­ing lan­guage such as, “Do you take this woman to be your wed­ded wife,” etc.
  6. Vows: this is the deep­est, most sacred part of the cer­e­mo­ny, where you make your per­son­al state­ments.
  7. Giv­ing and receiv­ing of the rings: seals the bond between the two of you.
  8. Affir­ma­tion: the ini­tial mes­sage for the com­mu­ni­ty, usu­al­ly “Those that have been joined, let no one sep­a­rate.”
  9. Pro­nounce­ment: the final state­ment to the com­mu­ni­ty, “I now pro­nounce you hus­band and wife.”
  10. Nup­tial bless­ing: a prayer, let­ting God in on the deal.
  11. Intro­duc­tion of the cou­ple: the tran­si­tion is com­plete, “Ladies and gen­tle­men, may I intro­duce you to Mr. and Mrs. X“

    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.

COMPOSING YOUR THREE STATEMENT VOW

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. 

bride and groom in blue suit getting married

Sec­ond Vow: Make this some­thing light, fun and par­tic­u­lar to your rela­tion­ship. Some exam­ples:

I vow to…

  • get rid of my Van Halen posters.

  • nev­er again wear car­go shorts.hand over the TV remote every oth­er evening.

  • remind you why you first fell in love with me, even when you can’t remem­ber why you mar­ried me.

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…

  • make your dreams our dreams.

  • care for, sup­port and love (their child or chil­dren from a pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship), to make our home a sanc­tu­ary of warmth, safe­ty and peace.

  • to put you and our mar­riage first before work, friends or oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers.
picture of his and hers wedding vows on soft stationary

DELIVERING YOUR VOWS

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:

  • Although you don’t need to show your fiancé the final draft of your vows, be sure to share with her an out­line or rough draft of what you plan to say.

  • If you feel like you want to include four or more vows, feel free to do so. It’s your wed­ding. Just make sure that each vow is dis­tinct, hon­est and sin­cere.

  • Wed­ding offi­ciants nor­mal­ly make the con­tent of the cer­e­mo­ny avail­able well before the wed­ding date. If you haven’t seen a copy yet, con­tact him or her to get one.

  • Avoid includ­ing too many absolutes in your vows such as “Always,” “Nev­er,” or “For­ev­er.” You can promise to try, but no one can promise to suc­ceed.

  • The sec­tions list­ed above and the sam­ple lan­guage used to describe them are intend­ed sole­ly to show the pro­gres­sion of steps in a cer­e­mo­ny. In your wed­ding, for exam­ple, the bride may walk down the aisle alone or you and the bride may walk down the aisle togeth­er.

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.

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