Writing your own wedding vows? You’ll want to read these tips

Jane Patmore, independent celebrant and author of Celebrate your Love, shares her advice for writing meaningful vows

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Photo: Eilidh Sutherland
  • Writing vows can seem like a daunting task, but in fact it can be a lovely time for you to focus, before your wedding, on what your marriage is really all about once the dress and the cake and the first dance are out of the way.
  • Often couples want to keep their actual vows brief and simple – anything too private or sentimental might feel embarrassing or awkward, especially in front of family and friends. This really is one of those moments where you are making the most private of statements in the most public of places.
  • Occasionally, people like their vows to be spontaneous and heartfelt in the moment. This can be very moving, but it is also quite high-risk, and I’d suggest that you always have at least a few words written down, in case the emotion of the day gets too much.
  • Have a look at the structure of traditional vows. They often follow a pattern which starts with a question from your celebrant or officiant: ‘Do you, Mike, take Clarice to be your wife?’ OR ‘Are you ready to make the declarations which will join you in marriage?’
  • It is okay for your vows to be amusing and light-hearted, particularly if you have a fun and laughter-filled relationship and are playful with each other in how you interact. It might be as simple as including a promise about bringing her a cup of tea in bed every morning, or a promise not to leave your half-empty coffee cup lying out in the kitchen.
  • I find that it usually works well to think in detail about your vows from about six months before your wedding. This is a really good time to start collecting meaningful words and phrases – ones that you think describe how you feel about each other, and that sound right for you to say in your vows.
  • Think about the events in your relationship – look back at the stories of the good times and the difficult moments. You do not need to retell the story during your vows or the rest of your ceremony, but when you use the words ‘love’ or ‘trust’ or ‘honesty’ or ‘support’ in your vows, your brain will link them with the emotions that you felt at the time, and give your declarations and promises real depth of meaning and significance.

Find out more about Jane’s book and celebrant services here.

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