Your vows are arguably the most important part of your wedding because they are as strong a candidate as any other part of the day for being the moment that you actually become married. Here are some tips from marriage celebrant, Benny Roff, on how to write awesome wedding vows:
If you are totally freaked out about public speaking, or the idea of trying to talk about your relationship with your partner out loud is your very own personal hell, don’t worry, you can always read the minimum wording from the marriage act (which you have to say anyway) and even combine it with the ring ceremony to really minimise your exposure. Making it all about you is something that all modern style celebrants can and will do anyway, and regardless of what you say during the vows the emotions in the room are usually running high at that point. If you’re a bit more inclined to express yourself out loud, and you don’t want to trawl through the firewall of cheesy vows on the internet to find decent ready-made ones, then here are 5 tips to help you along the way:
1. Be yourself.
Why would you want to pretend to be anyone else when you’re getting married? Everyone there will recognise you as being you, especially your partner. Marriages often last a really long time, they’re a great equaliser, and everything comes out eventually, so you might as well get off on the right foot and be honest. I am often asked to read over and edit people’s vows for them, but it’s actually very rare that I do much to them. Mainly because people’s individual way of expressing themselves does more for getting the point across than any slick copy (unless you’re a crazy wordsmith, in which case go for it!) This is so important that I was tempted to put it into points 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well!
For how long were you engaged?
2. Be realistic.
Weddings are a public display of optimism, so there’s nothing wrong with reaching a bit with your promises, but it’s a far greater thing to promise stuff that you might actually be able to achieve. You are the ones that will have to live your lives afterward, so maybe instead of promising the Earth, you can promise to try to keep doing what you’re already doing that works.
There are so many ways of approaching writing your vows, but if you’re not struck by a lightening bolt of inspiration as soon as you sit down to write, a really simple formula to follow is to say some nice things about your partner, then make some promises. The advantage to this is that the nature of those nice things and promises is entirely up to you. The disadvantage is that it’s kinda hard. It’s definitely worth it when you come out the other end though.
4. Collaborate… or not.
Some people like to fully collaborate with their partner on the vows, others go the opposite way and write them in secret only to read out on the day. If you’re going the second option, the main thing I’d say is that you don’t have to worry about them matching each other in style, tone, or length. If somebody writes a few lines of short, punchy, jokey stuff and the other is a couple of pages of florid and sincere outpouring, that’s awesome. Again, just be yourself (see point 1). When people are saying their vows, I’ve already read, sometimes edited and printed them, and I don’t really notice the difference in length. If somebody mentions the difference afterward, I’d probably be asking them what the hell they were doing trainspotting your word count when they were meant to be getting caught up in the emotion of it all!
Don’t sweat every tiny word and phrase to within an inch of its life. Your vows are important, you might even refer back to them at times for inspiration when things get hard, but the reality is, that apart from a takeaway line people probably won’t remember the exact wording, they’ll just remember the vibe, and your intentions. Of course, you and your partner will likely remember a lot more of what you said, but over time that will fade too, and rightly so. If, for example, you’re childless and 27 when you get married, how do you think a 55-year-old version of yourself that has just become a grandparent would feel about being held to the whims of a person with completely different life circumstances and experiences, despite their careful wording and best intentions? So try to be yourself, be authentic, and don’t sweat the small stuff. What could possibly go wrong?
If you want to see some actual examples from real weddings that I have conducted, there are some of my favourite examples on my website. Also, don’t forget to have a good time doing it!
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