Let’s be honest….there’s no real how to on writing your vows. They are personal and unique to each individual however figuring out where to begin can be a daunting endeavor. Here’s a some simple tips from professional writer Jen Girdish who’s lived through writing her own vows and has some valuable advice.
Decide if you want to write them together. Either way you decide is the right way. It’s a good idea to consider what kind of people you and your partner are and whether or not the element of surprise would actually be fun, or another stress point.
If you don’t write them together, consider picking a structure that you both can use as a jumping off point. Michael and I decided to use the phrase “I promise to” as an overall structure, and to end with “thank you for marrying me.” It gave us a good place to start, and still let us write from our own voices.
Decide on a word-count maximum. It’s nice to have a constraint sometimes, especially if your husband-elect is threatening to put on a scuba suit and perform the vows as an hour-long, aquatic-love-metaphor themed rap. We settled on a 150-word maximum.
Details, details. Every creative writing workshop will tell you that good writing is in the details—specifics that speak to a larger, universal truth. What are the little things that your partner appreciates that you do? And the biggy: Is there something that you can work on to build an even better relationship? I promised Michael that I would participate in our relationship no matter how hard it might seem, because my general tendency is to shut down during conflict. I also promised to roll my eyes with him and not at him—because let’s be honest, I’m never going to stop rolling my eyes.
Remember that the vows are ultimately just for you and your partner. If you are a silly person, I’m here to tell you that it is okay if your vows are a little silly, or funny. Or if you’d rather just write one simple line: DO IT. Vows should sound like you, especially when you’re making promises to your partner. Of all days, you wouldn’t want them to sound like someone else.
And if you start to think, what if my vows aren’t good enough? We give you permission to slap yourself.
I promise to curate a faithful and fantastic marriage with you.
I promise to treat you with kindness, respect, appreciation and silliness.
I promise to participate in our relationship, even when it might be hard.
I promise to let you know when you are getting too arrogant at backgammon.
I promise to roll my eyes with you, and not at you.
I promise to make laughter an integral part of our family.
I promise to love you until I am extinct.
Thank you for marrying me.
Jen, for the rest of our very, very long lives:
I promise to love you with all of my heart, honor you with all of my actions, and treasure you like actual treasure.
I promise to keep you warm when you get cold, and to stand in the way of the sun when it gets hot.
No matter how many books you get, or how many times we move, I promise to always carry them all. Every time.
And wherever we go, I promise to be there, holding your hand and telling you, “I love you.”
You’re my best friend, and you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.
Let’s get really, really, really old together.
Thank you for marrying me.