In my mind, personal vows are the most sacred and unique aspect of any wedding. It’s the part of the ceremony when the couple pronounce to each other, their guests, and the universe, why everyone is gathered here today. It’s their love story told in promises. It’s a duet that only they can sing to a tune that only they can hear. It’s a beautiful tradition.
It’s also intimidating as hell. Writing personal vows is an exercise in plumbing the depths of your heart and soul. Whether you’re a gifted writer with divine sensitivity, or an illiterate robot incapable of showing emotion, vow writing will always be an overwhelming experience. Some couples choose traditional pre-written vows for this exact reason. (Seinfeld Voice) Not that there’s anything wrong with that… but from the perspective of wedding videos, personal vows are solid gold for crafting stories. We utilize their voices to shape the narrative of the day and tell the couple’s journey getting there. Oftentimes the vows are what make films feel unique and special, connecting the viewer to the couple emotionally. As editors, we at BDLB always get especially excited when couples write particularly beautiful vows, knowing they’ve made our job easier.
Without further ado, here are my 4 pieces of advice for writing personal wedding vows.
Like I said before, writing personal vows is an overwhelming experience. So don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to do it all last minute. Think of it like a college essay – it’s much easier to write a little at a time than wait for the night before it’s due. During the year between my engagement and wedding day, I jotted down vow ideas in my journal. Some were simple, like “talk about the value of family”. Other notes were very in depth, little love poems I’d compose while searching for the right words to express my feelings. I didn’t actually start composing my vows until a few weeks before the wedding. But when I did, I had a full journal of notes and ideas to utilize. It was a godsend. It also served as a really nice reminder of my journey over the past year planning the wedding. So heed this first bit of advice. Take notes before writing. Brainstorm the feelings that are in your heart. See what comes out. I promise, you’ll thank yourself later.
2. Read Them Out Loud To Someone Before The Big Day
For me, it was my brother (the Best Man) the night before the wedding. I read him my vows before we went to bed. I recommend doing this for two reasons. One, it’s always good to practice something aloud. You’ve probably only been reading it to yourself. Rehearsing your vows for someone you trust will allow you to hear how the words sound coming out of your mouth. You’ll be able to feel where the natural pauses for breath are. You’ll be able to anticipate laughter and your own tear ducts. You’ll also (if you’re anything like me) have your listener tell you something extremely important. SLOW DOWN. SLOW WAAAAY DOWN. This brings me to reason #2. You’re naturally going to be nervous on your wedding day. Nervous people tend to talk fast. This dress rehearsal run will remind you to keep your pace at a level human ears can understand.
3. Write The Way You Talk
Oftentimes people who don’t trust their own writing will search for inspiration online and steal phrases from well known vow standards (“For better or for worse” etc.) While once again *Seinfeld Voice* not there’s anything wrong with that, but usually this strategy will lead to personal vows that feel hollow and rehearsed. My advice is to stay true to your own originality. Write words that embody who you are and the love that you feel. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, be serious. As long as your words come from a place of emotional integrity, it doesn’t matter how you express them. We’ll feel them.
4. Bring a Handkerchief
If you’re anything like me you’re going to cry at your wedding. In fact, if you’re anything like me you’re going to cry through the entire day and night (Note: Don’t be like me). So my final piece of advice is the most basic. Bring a handkerchief (Kleenex is fine too but way less classy). The last thing you want is to be reciting your vows through sniffles and tears with a big snot bubble bursting out of your nose (Note: once again, don’t be like me). A hand-dandy handkerchief will solve this problem. I personally used my grandfather’s old one. Even though he passed away when I was nineteen, I felt like I had him up there with me, wiping away my joyous tears. It’s a moment I’ll never forget and a keepsake I will always cherish. So, bring a handkerchief. The tears will fade but the memories inside that cloth will last forever. Also… no snot bubbles.
Owner, Storyteller, & Chief Dog Lover