The exchange of vows: undoubtedly one of the most moving moments of a wedding… and one of the most disturbing too. To alleviate the anxiety of the blank page, here are some tips to help you write them as calmly as possible.
1. What are wedding vows?
A must in all wedding ceremonies (civil, religious, secular…) the exchange of vows is a beautiful moment during which the spouses commit themselves out loud in front of their loved ones. And bear witness to the commitments and promises they make to each other. If it is a key moment of the ceremony, it is because this time is very strong: the spouses prove their love in front of their guests and promise each other support and mutual comfort. To exchange your vows completely freely, a secular ceremony will be ideal. Indeed, the exchange of vows remains a very codified moment in the church (spouses commit themselves before God and the religious community) and at the town hall (spouses undertake to respect legal obligations). The secular ceremony allows for total freedom, both in tone and in the themes addressed… And allows an entirely personalized exchange of vows!
The exchange of vows is this moment when you must speak, each in turn, in front of your loved ones to express the love you have for your other half. In fact, why did you choose to commit to each other? This statement is directly addressed to the person concerned, and even if it makes you stress, relax, you are not taking an oral exam, you just have to let your feelings express themselves! In a secular ceremony, the wedding speech usually takes place just before the wedding rings are exchanged. The ideal is not to repeat what the officiant has already said about you. Prefer a wedding speech oriented on your feelings and personal anecdotes.
In a more traditional church wedding, the exchange of vows is summed up by consent. If you want to add a few more original touches, nothing prevents you from talking about it beforehand, with the priest who unites you.
2. Writing your own wedding vows – What form do wedding vows take?
Writing wedding vows is not an easy task – whether it’s your first marriage or your renewal of vows after many years together. Talking about your feelings, your expectations, the way you envision your engagement and your future life as a couple without spreading out too much… All of this can be complicated to put down on paper. Especially since it is risky to improvise your wedding vows. Indeed, the emotion will be such on the wedding that you will probably find it difficult to invent a text at the time. A text written in advance will give you the confidence to overcome the flood of emotions of the day.
First, make sure you have discussed with your spouse beforehand the form your vows will take. The length and tone of your vows should be similar so as not to create discomfort on the wedding day. Then, go out of your way to write your vows yourself. If the temptation is great to borrow from great authors or Youtube videos, it will take away the authenticity from your vows if they are just a copy/paste from someone else. Remember your vows! Once you have a final version, do not hesitate to clean them on a thick sheet of paper, in a pretty notebook, or even on an original support – like a ribbon! This will make a nice keepsake to keep throughout your wedding.
3. How to successfully write your own wedding vows
And you? How do you intend to declare your commitment to the loved one? What do you want to promise him? To help you write your vows, here are some rules to follow:
- Rule number 1 – be inspired! What are you talking about ? What are wedding vows? Why should you write your wedding vows? It’s basically THE declaration of love to your darling. The one you are going to proclaim in front of the witnesses of your love, that is to say your guests;
- Rule number 2 – again, be inspired! Don’t know what to write in your wedding vows? Here are some ideas of themes from which you can start: your meeting, his/her qualities, his/her faults that you like, your daily life, family, your commonalities, what you intend to change… or on the contrary what will never change, and, of course, your feelings. In fact, the inspiration is simple: it is YOU – you, the other, your couple;
- Rule number 3 – agree with each other! Of course, you are going to write your wedding vows each on his own. But to be on the same wavelength, it is advisable that you consult with your partner on the length of the message and a minimum of common thread (without revealing anything about the content). Generally, people start their vows with a “I promise you”. But it could be: “I love you because…”, “I’m marrying you because…”, “I wish…”, “I want…”, “I say yes to…”. In short, it’s as you want it, be imaginative;
- Rule number 4 – in front of whom? At what moment? As a general rule, vows are exchanged during: the religious ceremony, the secular ceremony but also the civil ceremony (to be confirmed with the town hall to insert this during the protocol) or even at the wedding party… But there is one thing that you need to know – there is no general rule! This could very well be done face to face: for the most modest of you. Indeed, as for the alliances, it is not obligatory to make your declaration of love in front of everyone. Only the exchange of consents at the town hall is mandatory in front of witnesses. Basically say “yes” in response to legal texts;
- Rule number 5 – reread your vows! Just to be sure that your message is intelligible. Above all, it allows you to know if your speech is understandable. The ideal is to call on a neutral third party. But it’s not mandatory. You can also keep the scoop of the message for your man (or wife);
- Rule number 6 – break the first rule and be genuine! Your wishes are personal. It’s not because you saw some wedding vows online that you have to talk about your meeting, and what your partner means to you, etc… that you must necessarily follow this path. If you like talking about how he stores groceries, then do it! If you feel like writing your wedding vows like a poem, then go! Or even a song against a background of scratches… so sing!
Depending on your sensitivity, your ease in writing and your ability to speak in public, you can:
- write your wedding vows on a piece of paper and read them;
- learn them by heart;
- improvise and let your heart speak on the wedding day.
3.1. Preparing your wedding vows
The key word is ANTICIPATION! Immediately remove from your mind the “I will improvise when the time comes according to my feeling”. Why? Because the emotion of the event and public speaking will certainly destabilize you. And even if you are used to speeches. To prepare well, write down your ideas, even in bulk, in a notebook or in the notes on your phone. When you have an idea, write it down. When your other half has a little tic that makes you melt, think about putting it down on paper so you can talk about it on the wedding day… Write down everything! You can come back to them later to rearrange them. Remember that your speech should not be too long: 3 to 5 minutes is more than enough (about 40 to 50 sentences), since the celebrant of the ceremony also provides many details about your life together. Finally, nothing obliges you to prepare your wedding vows alone and confidentially. If it reassures you, you can write them with your spouse. The advantage is to be able to help each other and stay on the same wavelength in your writings. Moreover, take inspiration from the testimonials and advice for writing your wedding vows, which already exist.
Although you will have a large audience watching you, the key to a successful wedding speech is to keep it natural and simple. You must express your feelings by opening your heart spontaneously. When writing your vows, focus on your feelings, and ask yourself about your own story:
- How did you meet?
- What has his/her entry into your life brought you?
- What are the defining moments in your history?
- What are your best memories?
- How do you see the future together?
To make your writing easier, stay in the timeline. For example, you can start your speech with:
- “Our story began with…”;
- “I always knew that…”;
- “Now that we’re at it, I had to tell you that…”.
To find the ideal frame, play on the balance between: emotion and humor. A speech that is too humorous might not be taken seriously and perhaps even evoke a feeling of general unease if it is misunderstood because of too many private jokes elusive by ordinary mortals. Conversely, a speech that is too romantic and recited without emotion could be tiring. Find the happy medium and liven up your wedding vows with a quote, a reference from a movie or a song that everyone knows.
Well, what you’ve written satisfies you for your wedding speech? Perfect! All that remains is to re-read several times and practice. On the one hand you will be able to fine-tune a few details, on the other, you will avoid last minute confusion. Flowing wedding vows are better!
3.2. Alternative to wedding vows
If your church or town hall does not allow you to include your personalized wishes during your ceremony – and you are not organizing a secular ceremony – nothing prevents you from finding another solution. You can, if you wish, exchange your vows through love letters (letters can be read just before your wedding, for example). The spouses will thus read their letters at the same time. You can also write your vows and have them read to your spouse before or after the wedding. Or choose an existing text to read or recite together.
All in all, once your text has been written, do not hesitate to show it to loved ones to ask their opinion and to read it again aloud several times. The emotion will be at its peak on your wedding day, so you will have to take into account any breaks… If you can, try to memorize your text (if it is not too long, of course) if you don’t want to clutter up with sheets or a notebook on the wedding day. All that being said, good luck and have a happy and wonderful celebration!
Photo sources: vecteezy.com, isorepublic.com