Whilst completely optional, many couples getting married will choose to embellish the recommended wedding vows with some words of their own. Combined with a choice of readings for the service, your own vows can really stamp your personality and feelings on the day and provide you with a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your love for one another, involve others and even inject some humour into the proceedings. This article takes a closer look at writing your own wedding vows and provides some tips and helpful pointers for those just getting started.
First up, even before you begin writing your own wedding vows it is wise to discuss options and possibilities with the Superintendent Registrar. The Registrar will be able to provide you with some suitable ideas and also give you an indication of what they are willing to accept, they must after all approve your ideas. It is unlikely that your ideas will be rejected, but more conservative and traditional Registrar’s will sometimes be reluctant for your to use ‘I promise to always give him the remote control’ and will favour more romantic lines such as ‘I promise to love thee till my dying day’. If you are set on particular words but your Registrar objects, ask them if there is an alternative Superintendent Registrar who will be happy to use the words that you have chosen.
Unless you are a gifted wordsmith, writing your own wedding vows can often prove tricky. You can never go wrong with words such as ‘cherish’, ‘love’, ‘honour’ and ‘respect’, but developing them into sentences you feel comfortable saying is another thing.
To help you along your way, we have put together the following pointers which you may find useful when penning your masterpiece:
Decide with your partner what emotions you want to convey with your vows.
Jot down as many key words and phrases as possible.
Look for inspiration from traditional vows that you can use or tweak to fit.
Note down quotes from films, songs, poetry, books and television that inspire you or make your heart miss a beat.
Decide whether you are to write one set of vows and repeat them or write separate vows to your partner, but remember to rehearse them through – ‘surprise’ vows are wonderfully romantic but may have you crying your eyes out if you are hearing them for the first time!
When writing your own wedding vows don’t make them too long or dull – you don’t want the guests falling asleep!
Say them slow, loud and clear or have them written in the Order of Service so your guests can follow them – or better still, do both.
Don’t say anything that will embarrass yourself, each other, or anyone present.
Practice, practice, practice. If you are planning to memorise them this is crucial, but even if you are to read from card, it will still help to know what’s coming next.
Avoid vows that will have you in tears or that include difficult words to pronounce.
If you are really nervous, ask the Registrar to read the vows as questions with you answering ‘I do’ or ‘I will’, or alternatively if one of you is more confident than the other, opt for overlapping vows. For example, the first partner would say ‘I, take you <Name>’ then the other would repeat ‘I, take you <Name>’ and so on and so forth.
Take a spare copy of the vows with you to the Service just in case the Registrar forgets them.
Involve others, particularly parents or children, by getting them to answer questions raised by the Registrar (sensible questions about supporting you and welcoming you into their family - 'Do you, as friends and family of Sam and Pat, promise to support them in their married lives together?', for example).
Humorous vows are all well and good, but try to avoid performing a comedy sketch – if you plan to use humour it is best used sparingly and interspersed with more serious, romantic vows.
If English is not your or your parents’ birth tongue, you may wish to say part of the vows in an alternative language.
For more help with writing your own wedding vows, be sure to check out our marriage vow examples and celebrity wedding vows for ideas and inspiration.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.