Tips On Writing Your Own Vows

By the time I got married, I'd been in--and at--a lot of weddings. In the American south, couples get hitched at lightning speed between the ages of 21 and 26. Then, matrimonies trickle in until your early 30s, when another round of friends take the plunge. That said, I've heard a lot of vows.

As a writer and a feminist, these words, exchanged in an open declaration to friends, family, and each other, are so intimate and important to me. Of course there's nothing wrong with pre-written vows, but for us, a pre-scripted call and response wasn't how we'd imagined our big day. We wanted everything, especially the vows, to be as specific to us as possible.

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If you're thinking of penning your own, here are a few tips

  • Don't let the pressure get to you. It sounds cheesy, but seriously, write from your heart. You can always edit it later.
  • Use language that feels natural to you. It doesn't have to be fancy. Even include silly nicknames if that feels comfortable.
  • They don't have to be this masterfully crafted, elaborately thought-out novella. I wrote mine in June (4 months before my wedding) in the Notes app on my iPhone on an Amtrak train.
  • A great way to start any speech is with a quote. If there's a piece of literature, a spiritual verse, or even lyrics from a song that have inspired the two of you, use that as jumping-off point to writing your vows.
  • Make sure you're on the same page. My husband and I read our vows to each other two weeks before the wedding. It was close enough to the wedding day that we were ready to share our thoughts, but not so close that we'd remember what the other had written. This may be sacrilege to some, but we wanted to be sure our vows were of equal emotional weight and we were afraid if we didn't read them first, that emotional tensions would have us both sobbing on the big day. I assure you, the impact is just as great day-of.
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couple reading wedding vows

Here's what I came up with:

When I think back to our first date, I remember a lot of things: your plaid shirt, the barbecue sauce all over our fingers, the somewhat frightened and unsure look in your eyes, when you must have realized you'd gotten in over your head by taking out a bitter and aggressive young lady like I was at the time. But more than anything else, and what I'll continue to remember forever, was the refreshing feeling you gave me. The youthful, innocent look on your face and the ease of your transparency. What you see is what you get, in the simplest, most assuring manner.

And even though our conversation that night was not particularly deep or complex, I immediately saw you, and realized that you possessed the biggest, purest, most well-intentioned heart. I knew immediately that I wanted you in my life for a long time. I didn't know in what capacity, but I recognized that it was hard to come by such a unique heart. And selfishly, I knew I had to have you. In order to make me a better a person, I knew I needed you from the night of our first date. Eating barbecue of all things. Little did I know that that night would be one of the greatest decisions I ever made.

Today, how lucky am I? Almost 4 years later, I get to celebrate my love for the man that has officially become the missing piece to my puzzle. Tim, you are the hot when I'm cold, the cool when I'm full of steam. You're reason when I am not. You are open arms and comforting hugs. You are my comic relief. You are three hours early to the airport when I am running to the gate with my rolling bag. But more importantly, what we have built these past few years is a love and companionship that I believe in with my entire body. I understand marriage is not easy, but there is no one on earth I'd rather tackle this challenge with but you. Sometimes, when I think about how much I love you, my heart physically hurts. In the best way.

Every morning I see, I want you to see it, too. And every corner I turn, I want you there. I promise to love you and support you, even when it's not fun, even when it's taxing, and even when I am tired. I promise to listen to your questions and concerns, whole heartedly, and provide answers with your best interest in mind. I promise to be faithful and honest. I promise to communicate. I promise to challenge you when I know you can do more. I promise to hold you with compassion. And I promise that I will always be here--available as your rock, your safety, and your constant.

*All photos by Love & Wolves