Choosing Your Words

So you’ve done it- you’ve looked into your partner’s eyes and promised to commit yourself to them, fully and forever. And in the ensuing pre-nuptial whirlwind of making choices like what your first song will be and if you should invite that one relative you don’t particularly care for, there is one choice which supersedes all others. That choice is just what words you and your partner will say to each other in order to express the fullness of your love, and the unshakable bond which your commitment will be. Sound intimidating? Well, it should be, these words will probably be the most important words you will ever say to another person- don't worry though, with the proper guidance, writing your vows will be an exciting and beautiful experience!

Getting Started

To begin the process of selecting vows, I always encourage couples to first discuss what vows represent for them on a deeply personal level. For instance, some couples feel deeply connected to the traditional “I Do”. Traditional vows are incredibly powerful. In most cases these words are the same words which a couple’s parents once said to each other. They are the same words of love and commitment which have been repeated through generations, and by people surrounding the couple who they love and respect.

For other couples, the traditional vows just don’t sit right. Maybe they don’t feel as connected to the traditional format of marriage. Or perhaps they just don’t feel that the familiar “I Do” goes far enough to express their passion for each other. There is absolutely no right or wrong answer to this decision.

Prompts for Word Flow and Writing Creatively

Let’s say you’ve had this discussion and determined that the traditional vows are not for you- this next step of actually writing your own vows can also be very daunting. That’s understandable, writing something as personal as a marriage vow is difficult. To start, know that the process of creating vows can and should take some time and a little bit of patience. Below are a few prompts and points of consideration to get any couple headed in the right direction!

  1. Get a notebook! You might find a little bit of journaling around these prompts will be very helpful as you begin the process of vow writing.
  2. Begin by carefully considering the word “commitment”. What does this word mean to you on an intimate level. Consider and discuss what this word means to your partner. Consider what inspires you in your heart to make this commitment to your partner. 
  3. Explore your definition of marriage on a personal level. First try to think of marriage in your own terms, not necessarily in the context of cultural and societal expectations. 
  4. Now consider commitment and marriage in the context of your culture and society. Why do you think people have chosen marriage in the past? What about our history as humans drives us to continue to commit ourselves to one another?
  5. Think about what your role in marriage will look like. How do you believe this role grow, expand, and evolve in the future? Consider your partner in this context as well. How do you expect you will grow together?
  6. Consider other unions which you have witnessed and respect. What about those relationships did you find valuable?
  7. Think about your history with your partner. Write down your favorite moments with them. Think about your worst moments with them as well. What feelings do these memories inspire? How have you moved through the good times and the bad with your partner still by your side?
  8. What elements of your relationship do you find thrilling? What parts of your partner spark your passion and love for them? What elements of your relationship do you find sustainable?  
  9. Once you’ve explored these prompts, revisit your answers and circle keywords which you believe you would like to include in your vows. These keywords will be excellent foundations for the construction of your words of commitment. 
  10. Write your vows. Once you have done so, spend a good deal of time reading them aloud. Become familiar with these words, places of hesitation or awkwardness will be great areas to edit or expand your vows!

Remember there is no right or wrong way to express how you feel for someone when true love is involved. There is also no length of time which vows should or shouldn’t take. Vows can be as ornate or simple as you want them to be. Enjoy the intimate process of vow writing, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore your heart and your feelings for your partner. Whatever approach feels right to you will be the perfect way to express yourself on your special day!