“I take thee, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”
We’ve all heard traditional wedding vows, in various TV weddings of our favourite characters or in wedding’s we’ve attended. This Summer, when we were all willingly swept up in Prince Harry’s nuptials to Meghan Markle, it was a powerful moment to see her arrive at the end of the aisle, her veil lifted by Prince Harry and to finally hear what they will pledge to one another. Less formal than previous Royal weddings, they vowed to love, comfort, honour and protect each other, to be faithful for as long as they both shall live. Kept relatively short and sweet, perhaps because the wedding was being watched worldwide by approximately 29 million people!
The wedding showed how important vows are; the words spoken in front of your friends and family and begin your wedding life. One of the most romantic moments in your lives together but also one that you can use to reflect upon everything you love and will love about your partner. There’s so much to say and whilst you could probably write an entire novel on your love story, you need to choose: will you write your own or will you choose from a template of traditional vows?
If you’re a nervous public speaker and the thought of standing in front of everyone spilling your heart out to your partner fills you with awkward dread and casts a shadow on your day; go for traditional vows – you can always write the vows and recite them later on just to your partner. But, handwritten vows can often be the purest declaration of love and a moment you can treasure with your family and friends.
To begin with, sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with both nothing and everything to say is overwhelming. So; where do you start?
I vow to…
You might have seen on our Instagram that we have a series that revolves around wonderful “I vow to…” quotes. It’s a great way to begin your writing as it gets pen to paper and breaks that awkward first line – even if you don’t keep it this way after the first draft. Naturally, after this point, it will flow. Do you want to make it a little silly and break the nerves that will be present on the big day? If your partner is notorious with something – like his favourite sports team, vow to never book a date night the same night as a game for example. Something small that will show your guests a side of your relationship to make them laugh and then follow up with the more serious things; creating a life together to cherish, support them in their future adventures and never forget how lucky you are to have found each other.
The promises you make to each other here are called vows, so even if you don’t use the format of ”I vow to…” you still need to make promises in a different phrasing. Called vows for a reason, they’re an important part of the ceremony; whether more generalised or specific to your relationship.
I love you because…
Looking through examples of others who have written their own vows, there’s something intrinsically pure and lovely about those vows which start out with a ”I love you because…” It could be how they make you feel, little things they do or, sometimes, just the fact that you want to let them know you’ll love them forever.
Make sure to check your vows with your registrar to ensure they’re comfortable with them and that they’re happy for them to be read – it’s something you might need to check before you decide to write your own vows; especially if you’re getting married in a religious building; are they happy for you to not use traditional vows?
Write them yourself…
This might be an obvious one, but it’s easy on the internet to be convinced into a standard template or ask friends for assistance. If the words aren’t your own, they can often feel flat and if this is the case, we’d suggest going down the traditional vows route. It’s fine to scroll on Pinterest for inspiration, use quotes in from authors or song lyrics if they reflect your romance but ultimately, even if your voice shakes during or your vows aren’t utterly flawless, your guest and your bride/groom is going to feel that raw emotion so much more than from a standardised template or from something you’ve had help to write.
If you’ve ever done public speaking, you might be aware that the written word is rarely the same read aloud. Even if you’ve read it a hundred times, you still might stumble over a word said aloud, your vows shouldn’t sound too staged and instead something that feels natural. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice; sometimes certain phrases can be difficult to say and you might need to reword them if you’re stumbling over them. Even better, if you’re comfortable, get your girl friends or your mum round for a wine night and recite them – they’ll be able to tell you if you need to take another look at any sections too personal with too many in-jokes or when you need to take a breath and slow down! They can also let you know if you need to shorten it, we’d recommend writing all you want to say and then editing to below 2 minutes to keep your guests engaged; are you saying something multiple times using various words? If so, choose your favourite, succinct way of saying it for maximum impact.
It’s tempting to want to have no paper when you’re reciting vows, but sometimes, with the overwhelming emotion and nerves that often come with the day, you might blank on what you want to say and always regret not getting to read the vows and make sure your bride/groom knows exactly how you feel. So, we’d recommend writing them out and then handing them to your best man/ maid of honour to keep safe – if you don’t need them, that’s great, but if you do, you can rely on them to hand them to you. Handwriting them, in our opinion makes them a little more special and is a great keep sake to frame or put in a scrap book. Remember to back them on some nice thick paper so that they look great during your vows – it’s all in the details!
Remember: thirty years into your marriage, you’ll forget the taste of your wedding cake, you’ll won’t be able to recall the tiny details every bride worries about ahead of her wedding but, you will remember how your vows made you feel and the euphoria you feel when you place the wedding ring, the most significant item of jewellery you’ll ever wear, on your partners finger.