Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Article by Claire Parsons Marriage Celebrant
Sammy & Jordan. Captured by Amber Eyes Imagery.
Carve it into my gravestone, personal vows are the ‘Brown cow stunning "ooh-ah" sensation’ of your ceremony. They’re the emotional crescendo for you as a couple and everyone gathered to celebrate your love. But they can also be intimidating. How do you possibly put all those big feels into a few little minutes? Here’s my cheat sheet for vows worthy of happy tears and lots of laugh.
Step One - Talk It Out
Even if you’re keeping your vows as a very secret surprise, do discuss and agree on the tone of your vows. Do you envision them as humorous? Poetic and romantic?
Step Two - Thinking Points
•What makes your relationship tick?
•What did you think when you first saw your partner?
•When did you realise you were in love?
•What do you most respect about your partner?
•What about them inspires you?
•What do you miss most about them when you're apart?
•What qualities do you most admire in your partner?
•What would you like to promise to your partner (serious and light-hearted)?
•What does marrying your partner mean to you?
•What does marrying NOW mean to you?
Step Three - Structure
Now that you have notes, you're ready to establish a structure and write your first draft. Play around with what structure works for you.
Perhaps begin with a memory, anecdote, or story of a moment in time when you realised that your partner was “The One”. Flowing from that memory, tell your partner what you appreciate, treasure, and value about them. Next, express your gratitude for what they have given you. Then state what you vow to do, and to be, for your partner.
For an easy cheat, try:
I love you because...
Together, I believe we can...
I promise you…
Stay true to you - don’t think vows have to be about the prosey, fancy language you’ll see in vow examples online. If that’s you, great! But if you’re a little sillier or a little more reserved, do you. Don’t worry about sounding corny or cheesy - if the words are heartfelt, then they're not cheesy.
Think quality not quantity - keep in mind when writing that a good public speaking pace is around 120 words per minute. If yours are running longer than three minutes, make some edits. Put some of the more personal thoughts in a letter or gift to your fiancé to open on the morning of your wedding and save any guest-related topics for your toasts.
Don’t stray from your personality - serious, fun, light-hearted - stay true to yourself. Your sincerity and authenticity will be more emotive than your words.
Practice Out Loud
It might sound a little awkward, but this really is the best way to prep. When you practice, don't just do the same thing over and over. Listen each time – play around with pauses, try out different synonyms, listen for any tongue twisters and super-long sentences to cut out. Your vows should be easy to say and sound conversational.
Write Them Down
Sure, memorising them is a great idea but always have them written down for reference in case wedding day nerves set it. Choose a visually appealing notebook or similar as, regardless how “discreet”, it will feature in many photos. A neat trick is to write no more than one sentence per page. Turning the pages as you say your vows is an effective way to slow down your pace. Send your Celebrant a copy ahead of your day for them to have an emergency back-up, just in case.
Claire is a Celebrant who will not blend colourful sand in an ugly vase and hates your soppy poem about love.