''For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.''
Everyone has heard these lines time and again on the silver screen, but when it comes to your own wedding vows, you might want to steer away from the traditional and get a bit more creative. And, despite what some might think, writing an impressive, heartfelt, and touching set of vows doesn't require that you be the next Shakespeare. All it takes is a bit of time.
Take some time to talk to your partner about your vows before starting. Discuss whether you want to write your own or use a pre-existing classic. Using vows that have already been said is an easy way of getting through the process, especially if you aren't comfortable writing and reading your own prose. However, something especially from you for your partner takes on special meaning as it truly comes from the heart.
Some people simply don't want to be bothered with writing their own vows. Luckily, the Internet offers a variety of resources that can help.
* About.com: Samples of wedding vows that you can plug you and your partner's names into.
* ElectPress.com: Poems to use for wedding vows.
* SheKnows.com: All sorts of traditional religious vows.
* TheKnot.com: An excellent list of tips for creating personalized vows.
You can also have your vows written for you, with a fee of course. Check out these Web sites that create customized vows for you so that you don't have to. Usually these cost from $100 to $500.
* Compassionate Expression
* The Clergy Network
Writing Your Own Vows
When talking things over with your spouse-to-be, decide on whether to write your vows together or separately. If the bride and groom are to write their vows on their own, be sure to set some ground rules before starting. These guidelines will keep you both on the same page when writing your vows. This way, you write vows of similar lengths and can avoid redundancy.
* Choose the approximate length of the vows.
* Will the vows be poetic or prose style?
* Are there any words or phrases that you definitely want or don't want to include?
* Is there any inspiration that should be used as an underlying theme in the vows?
Check out some books that can give you some in-depth, vow writing advice.
Brainstorming out loud with a tape recorder or jotting down ideas before writing the actual vows is a crucial step in the process. Take some time to do this by yourself in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed or distracted. Perhaps put on some background music if you feel it might help. The purpose of doing this by yourself and not together is so that you can get all of your ideas out without feeling pressured or influenced by the other person.
Think back to the moment you fell in love with your wife or husband to be, when you knew that this person was "the one," and what it is about this person that makes you want to be with him or her for the rest of your life. Consider what this marriage means to you and what things it will change in your life and in your relationship. Reminisce about favorite memories, life changing events that you and your partner went through together, the hard times and the fun ones. Is this person what you had always expected? How does he or she match up to your dream woman or your knight in shining armor? You may want to make that clear in your vows.
Once you have brainstormed for a good while, take all those ideas and pick out the most compelling points that you mentioned. Rewrite them on a clean piece of paper or on note cards. Pull the old thesaurus off the shelf and consider making your ideas a bit more eloquent, but don't get overwhelmed. You still want the words to be natural and easy for you to use and remember. Avoid the clichés if possible. You might also consider finding some poetry or quotes to insert into the appropriate places to add another element to the vows. They are great for opening the vows because they help give your vows direction.
Once you have developed your ideas this extra step, start putting them in order. Play around with placement of poetry or quotes so that they'll have the most impact. Play with developing a good opener and create the conclusion. Make sure that the order makes sense to you, has a good flow, and peaks near the end. That pinnacle should come just before the closing and should be the high point of your vows. This technique helps add suspense and intrigue to the vows and gives them more power.
Points to Remember
* After writing your vows, have someone other than your partner read them to make sure that they sound good and to help fix any rough spots. Often your officiant can help with this. Otherwise, talk to a close family member or the maid of honor or best man.
* Be certain to discuss the vows that you have written with your officiant before the ceremony. Make sure that reciting your own vows is allowed, a typical topic that arises when hiring an officiant.
* Always give a copy of the vows to the officiant before the ceremony. That way if you get the jitters and suddenly draw a blank, he or she can get you back on track.
* Keep the vows interesting and personal, but avoid getting into private issues. Remember that you will be saying them in front of your friends and family. You don't want something that will offend or embarrass.
* Practice makes perfect. Do try reciting the vows until you have them clearly stuck in your head and heart. Say them loudly, slowly, and with conviction.
* Keep things short and sweet but, above all, be sincere.