Vows to wow!

You’ve booked a celebrant-led wedding and you would really like to write your own wedding vows. How do you begin? I’m Sam White, a friendly musical celebrant based in Bristol who works across the South West and beyond. I am here to assist you with writing the perfect vows. 

The traditional format sees each nearly-wed repeat short statements after the celebrant or other officiant has said them. It is essentially a list of promises you are making to one another. This is a very lovely choice. However, more couples are opting to recite a continuous piece of prose as their vows – something that they have written themselves and / or have had some input from their celebrant. You can, of course, combine the two methods of delivery – there are no limitations with a celebrant-led ceremony! 

So how do you begin writing the very words that will set the tone for the rest of your partnership. Here is my guide to writing vows to wow! If you are going to recite one continuous piece of prose, in terms of word count, aim for 150 words and certainly no more than two minutes total speaking time. Now you know how long you need to aim for, here is how to ensure the content is perfect.

Firstly, begin boldly. Here are just three ways to get started. You can open your wedding vows by addressing your partner directly, “Ellie, I have always…” or, “Harry, you are…”. You will be standing face-to-face at this moment so this is a time to let everyone else fade into the background so that you can truly focus on one another. This is high impact and very beautiful. 

Secondly, you can reflect back on your early relationship or even to the months before you met your partner. “Before I met you, I…” or “When we first met…”. You have the opportunity to express just how much your partner has transformed the way you live your life. Or, here is an opportunity to throw in a little humour. Yes, you are allowed even though this moment is serious. You could say, “Long ago, I knew freedom, independence, uninterrupted sleep then I met you.” Don’t worry, you are going to bring this back on track. Then continue with, “Now, with you in my corner I truly know what freedom means…” This approach will not work for everyone and only you will know whether or not this will land in the way is was intended with your partner.

Thirdly, go big and go bold with a declaratory statement – after all, your wedding ceremony is a huge declaration of your love for each other so why not throw it wide open? Try, “I cannot state how lucky I feel to be standing in front of you today.” or “I knew I wanted to…”. 

The most important thing is to allow yourselves enough time to write your vows. Don’t leave writing them until the week of your wedding. They will evolve and improve with each draft so if you can avoid putting yourself under pressure, you will enjoy the process even more! 

When it comes to the delivery during the ceremony, you have two options. You can either rehearse them together so you know exactly what is coming and where the emotional points are. Or, you could decide to create more impact by surprising your partner on the day. If you opt for the latter, read on for top tips.

No matter how tempted you are to tell your partner what you are going to say to them during your vows – don’t! Surprising each other with your vows will lead to an authentic, tender and prompt a beautifully genuine emotional reaction on the day. You’ll really be in the moment.

If you are concerned that you or your partner will make a faux pas, ask a trusted friend to proof both of your sets of vows. Choose someone who knows you both really well. Not only can they check how your vows will land, they can make sure that you are not both saying the same thing and that your words complement each other. You can always ask me to help.

Next – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Obviously out of earshot of each other. Rehearse with a friend. Say your vows out loud a lot. You want them to roll off the tongue on the day. Although you may be able to recite them from memory by the time your wedding day arrives, emotions have a funny way of playing with your brain. Therefore, play it safe. Print them on an A5 piece of quality card so that you can refer to them during your ceremony. This way, if you stumble, you have a security blanket right there in your hands. I am always happy to hold on to these cards and give them to you when the moment arrives. Having the printed words in front of you will ensure you are able to say your wedding vows seamlessly.

If you would like further support with writing the perfect wedding vows, get in touch. I regularly run vow writing workshops to help nearly-wed couples who want to wow with their vows!