Writing Your Wedding Vows
More Than Words
Thinking of penning your own vows?
Celebrant Frances Cave from Fanfare Ceremonies gives the lowdown on writing, delivering and savouring the most important words you may ever utter
What would a wedding be, or mean, without the wedding vows? The words you share with your partner; the love and commitment you express in the presence of your family and friends, are, after all, the whole reason the day is happening. And so often they are hidden behind the dress, the entourage, the inevitable hiccups, and the need for the perfect wedding day – first look, first dance, bouquet toss; the list is endless.
For some, though, putting feelings into words can be difficult and then becomes an additional worry in the build-up to the wedding. Or perhaps you don’t know how to be succinct whilst avoiding too much ‘cheese’.
What’s vital is that you tell that person in front of you why you love them; why you are promising to spend the rest of your life with them. It’s your wedding day, your love, your story and your feelings and all that should be expressed in the best possible way – in your words.
This is something worth putting time, energy and thought into, so you can say something truly meaningful to the person you love. But if you are finding it hard to start, or you are feeling self-conscious, here are a few simple tips to help you create the perfect vows and have your guests reaching for their tissues!
1. Keep them short and sweet. It’s terribly easy to get carried away once you’ve got started and end up pouring your heart out. No more than a couple of paragraphs is honestly all that is required or it will verge on overkill or cheese. Your guests don’t need to know every detail and you don’t want your guests zoning out. If your creative juices do flow freely save some of the content and put it in a letter to him/her for them to read privately after the ceremony. Alternatively, perhaps it include in the reception speech.
2. Say the things you would like your partner to say to you. Write honestly, truthfully and authentically and, most importantly, how you would normally speak.
3. It’s not really the time to crack jokes. By all means, throw in a line or two reflecting your natural humour that your partner and guests will definitely find funny but it’s more important to focus on making it meaningful and genuine; think a chuckle rather than side-splitting laughter. Trying to be funny can unintentionally sound insincere very quickly which is the last thing your vows should be.
4. Keep your private lives private. You and your partner may have the most fantastic time behind closed doors and that’s where it should stay. No one else needs, or wants, to know and it’s not the moment for grandma to have a turn and need to lie down with heart palpitations!
5. Remember the solemness of the occasion. This is not the moment for grand promises that you cannot keep. If you hate football don’t promise him that you will go to watch his favourite team (not that he realistically would want you to anyway) or take up an interest of his that truthfully you have no real intention of doing so. Inevitably one of you will let the other down.
6. Be real and avoid clichés at all costs.
7. Starting is often the most difficult part. Once you get going normally it will flow. But if you really have hit a wall, try and find a format you and your partner both agree on so that you have a bit of a template to work from. Sometimes it helps if you know what your partner has written so that you are both on the same page. It can help if you decide on things you both want to say such as
• “I am standing here today because…”
• “I love you because….”
• “One of my best memories with you so far is…”
• “Since I have been with you I feel...”
• “Because of you I feel…”
• “I look forward to...”
• And finish with something along the lines of “thank you for loving me.”
8. Alternatively, why not keep your vows secret from each other? The impact of this can be awesome. As a celebrant, I keep the vows to myself until the ceremony and then, when the time comes, it can induce goosebumps, tears, delight, but always a totally memorable experience for all.
HOW TO WOW WITH VOWS
Keep calm and savour every second of the vows with these top tips
Once the big day has arrived you should know your vows like the back of your hand. After all, you will have written them either yourself or with your celebrant. They are your words and feelings.
The trick is to recite them as naturally as possible and not the let the nerves take over. The only way to achieve this is practise. Rehearse them until you are conversationally comfortable and, most importantly, so that they sound like you. On this day, of all days, when you are making promises to your partner, you shouldn’t sound like someone else.
Practise will also make you more confident and help in alleviating some of your nerves. In front of a mirror is a good place. Speak much slower than you would normally and think about the intonation and natural pauses. This applies whether you are reading or memorising them.
If you need support, hold hands and look at each other whilst reading or reciting them. This will help you and your friends and family feel the full impact of your words and provide comfort and reassurance for each other.
Lastly, remember this is ultimately between you and your partner to whom you are about to pledge your life. The rest of the wedding day is an ‘everyone affair.’ But, for these few minutes, forget about everyone else and make each other feel uber special, leaving no doubt how you feel and how they make you feel. If you stumble, mumble or forget your words, it is not the end of the world. Your love and intention is all that matters and, in any event, your celebrant will be there to prompt you, support you and ensure that no one even notices.
Find out more about Fan’s bespoke ceremonies on www.fanfareceremonies.co.uk
Copyright Wed magazine 2016