From the moment we got engaged, my husband and I decided we were going to write our own wedding vows.
It was very important to have our day be uniquely about us and our vows be personal and true to who we are as a couple. Before we were married, we spent many months in a long distance relationship, him in London and me here in Vancouver. We wrote hundreds of love letters, telegraphs and emails to each other about how we were feeling and what we were thinking, so it only make sense to write our own vows.
It seemed like it would be a very simple task, like second nature. One year and two months later, and with just two nights to go before our wedding day, neither of our wedding vows had been written.
Photo : Elizabeth Anne Designs
We couldn’t believe it. Our pages were still blank. How could something that was supposed to be the most important part of our day be left so late?
Our wedding was cancelled two months before the big day, so we’d been scrambling to get every other aspect together. In all the commotion, we had overlooked the importance of what we were really doing – making a lifelong commitment. Somehow, our vows turned out to be the hardest part of our planning process.
We had family and friends from Iceland, Germany, Mexico, Australia and across Canada visiting and were feeling completely overwhelmed, making it nearly impossible to find a moment alone to sit down and write them out. So, we checked ourselves into a hotel close to home to have some space and time to breathe.
I got about halfway through my vows that night, after a long bath to clear my head. Finally the night before the wedding, in my hotel room with a friend, I wrote them all out and read them to her – somehow they were perfect. Midnight hit and I emailed the words to our pastor so he could read them over and have them printed out for us in his booklet for the ceremony for us to read. They turned out to be the very best and most important part of our day and the foundation of our life together.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want to personalise your day, this is one sure way to do so. The ceremony is, after all, the heart of the whole wedding and although it can be tough, and can take up a lot of time, writing your own vows is so incredibly rewarding.
Here are some tips on how to write your own wedding vows:
- The first thing to do, is talk it over with your soon-to-be spouse, make sure you’re on the same page and both of you are up for writing your own vows.
- Then, talk to your officiant and make sure he or she is okay with you writing your own vows. It’s more than likely it will be fine, but you need to find out if there are any phrases you have to use depending on your religion, as some religions require traditional wording. Your officiant can help you with writing the vows as well – our pastor gave us a print out with guidelines to writing our own vows to help get us started by answering questions about each other.
- Take some quiet time in your favourite café, or bring a pen and paper to a park or place both of you love. Write a list of things you love about your fiancé. Answer these questions: How did you meet? When did you fall in love and describe the moment when you knew he or she was the one for you? What do you adore most about your fiancé? What are your hopes for the future together? What does marriage mean to you? What is the foundation of your relationship?
- The next thing to decide as couple is if you are going to write your vows together or separately. Will you write one vow that you will both say or will you each write your own? Will you show them to each other before the ceremony or on the day or surprise each other with your words?
- It’s important to set out a guideline for amount of lines or words so they are similar in length – a good rule of thumb is to keep them under four minutes in total, two minutes each.
- Wedding vows usually have three parts, a declaration of love (I, Alicia-Rae, love you, Kjartan, with all of my heart), promises for your marriage (I promise to be patient with you and laugh with you) and personal touches (I promise to always eat your last French fry). Before you begin writing, decide on the tone you want to set. What do you want to promise to each other? Maybe it’s fidelity, or the importance of friends and family.
- Your vows are really just for you and your partner. If you’re silly, make them silly. If you’re a hopeless romantic, make them hopelessly romantic. They don’t have to sound like traditional vows – think outside the traditional wedding box and have fun with them.
- Once you’re finished, leave them for a day or so and then return to them. Read them through a couple times beforehand and ask your officiant to have them printed out for you discreetly so you have a reference during the ceremony or have your stationer print them to match the rest of your theme – this makes a great memento! Even if you have them memorised, everything happens so fast on the day that you may forget them – nerves can get the best of us! Better to be prepared.
I, Alicia-Rae, love you, Kjartan Olafsson, with all of my heart.
I knew I was in love with you when you became the only thing in my life I’ve never had to think twice about.
Who would have thought on my journey to conquer London, I’d find you in a shabby house on St. Georges Road and grow to love you more than I ever knew I could love another person. I now know, without a doubt, that as a team we can get through anything we put our hearts into.
I love how you take the time to listen to me and admire how endlessly patient you are.
I love your dimples and your perfect smile.
I, Alicia-Rae, take you, Kjartan Olafsson, to be my husband, today in the presence of our family and friends.
Today I give myself to you completely and promise to be faithful to you for always.
From this day forward, I promise to encourage and support you in your successes and failures.
I promise to take the time to listen to you even when I find it hard.
I promise to laugh with and at you every day.
I promise to always eat your last French fry.
I promise to love you and cherish you for all the days of my life.
Above all, no matter what each day brings I promise to always kiss you good night.
And I can’t wait to shout from the rooftops that you’re mine forever.
Eg Elska Pig. (Icelandic for I love you!)
Alicia-Rae Light, I love you and I always will.
From the moment our paths crossed, you’ve surprised me, distracted me and captivated me.
I have fallen in love with you again and again and again and I still can’t believe that today I get to marry that beautiful girl that moved into my house in London and stole my heart.
You caught my heart by being exactly who you are. The sweetest, most fun and loving person I have ever known.
I promise to be true to you, to laugh with you and to cry with you, to believe in you and support you.
To protect you and let you call my arms home, to stand by your side through thick and thin and to share with you every single beautiful moment that life offers.
From this day forward, you shall never walk alone as today, I give you my hand to hold, my life to share and my heart to keep.
You will always be the best part of my day.