Weddings Today writer A.K. White shares her tips for penning your own vows.
Like all things lately, the more bespoke, the better. While you’re planning your wedding to ensure the event is as unique and specific as you and your bae-to-be, why not take it further with customized vows? The idea can be daunting; it calls for vulnerability, deep thinking and creativity. But as someone who wrote her own vows, I’m here to tell you it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Starts With a Vibe Check
While as a couple you might be the life of the party, keep in mind your wedding is a pretty serious occasion. I’m a firm believer that there is never not a time to be funny, but a vibe check with your partner before drafting can save some awkwardness later when one of you has written something deeply sentimental and the other has come with a chef’s kiss of comedic timing.
Step Away From ChatGPT
I know—it’s so tempting. But these are your wedding vows. Unless you’re a robot entering into eternity with another robot, ditch the AI-enabled platforms and get right to the beating human heart of your message.
Write a Horrible First Draft
Throw all of your thoughts, sensical or otherwise, onto a draft. Make it so bad you get it out of your system. From that messy chaos, something wonderful will begin to emerge.
Ask Yourself Why
Writing my own vows required answering some really big questions: Why did I fall in love? Why do I want to spend forever with this person? The answers will not only provide critical fodder for your vows but they’ll also likely open a wave of nostalgia you can surf all the way to your final draft.
Brevity Is Best
While this is about the two of you, it’s also about friends and family who encouraged you along the way. Don’t make them sit through 20 minutes of vows. If your final version reads over three minutes, you should cut. (Regarding the guests’ experience, it’s also best to hold any inside jokes for after the ceremony.)
Don’t Force It
Every writer I know has been given this advice: Sit in chair, write. Personally, that’s the best way to ruin all creative inspiration. While you certainly shouldn’t wait until the eve of the Big Day to write your vows, strict discipline may impede your efforts. The right words will flow when you’re ready for them, so be open to whatever that might look like.
Grammar School Tricks
Remember the old outline? Start with a beginning (perhaps relating to how you met), a middle (why you’re here today) and an end (a nod to the future you both envision, and an obvious concluding thought that makes it clear your vows are complete).
Be a Documentarian of Your Relationship
As I embarked on this journey, I found it was those quiet, otherwise humdrum moments—the reassuring feel of my now-husband’s hand on mine as we passed a warm plate around the dinner table; the hilariously specific way he puts his hands behind his back when he’s thinking—that inspired my most genuine writing. Live in those moments—they led you here.