There are many ways to celebrate a wedding, but one thing is certain: somewhere during the day the ceremony will take place and you will say ‘I do’ to each other. More and more often we see that couples like to make the ceremony a personal, relaxed and special experience. This can be done, for example, by getting married at a special location and/or hiring an independent marriage officiant who organizes the ceremony together with you. Another way to make the ceremony more personal is by writing your own wedding vows. Expressing your promises and devotion to each other makes your ceremony extra special and an unforgettable moment for yourself and everyone present.
Verder lezen in het Nederlands.
What are ‘the wedding vows’ in the ceremony?
With the wedding vows that take place during the ceremony you make a promise to each other. Even if you write vows yourself, you still have to say the official ‘I do’. The marriage officiant asks that you give each other your right hand and individually answer the question: “Do you declare to accept xx as your lawfully wedded spouse and promise to faithfully fulfill all the duties that are bound by law to the marriage state? What is your answer to that?” (note: this is the Dutch translation.)
If you both answer ‘I do’, you will officially be married.
You can make this promise more personal by writing your own wedding vows. You can promise each other things that are important to you. That you will be there for the other person. That you will laugh and cry together or just crazy things like: “I promise to share my chocolate with you.”
There’s also room for sharing a memory or a joke. The point is that you express in a personal way that you choose to be with each other and promise to continue your lives together from this day on.
Of course it’s a wonderful and romantic idea, but where to start? What do you write in your vows and how long can they be? We like to help you get started with these three steps!
Vow books: The Knot Heirloom | Photography: Dilani Schipper & Mariska Staal
Step 1: Consult
Before you start writing it is important to agree on a few guidelines. You want to avoid pouring your heart out for ten minutes while he needs only three and everyone will be on the floor laughing (or vice versa).
Discuss what you both like and how personal and intimate you want your vows to be. Are you going for a light-hearted vow with humor or a more emotional vow in which a tear may be wiped away?
Also agree on how long your vows should be and what form you’re going with. Do you want to tell the other person what he or she means to you? Do you want to reminisce or make promises to each other for the future?
The guidelines for the duration of the vows range from one and a half to five minutes, but please determine this for yourself and what you feel comfortable with.
Also remember to tell your (independent) wedding officiant that you would like to schedule a moment during the ceremony for your personal vows. In America it is quite normal for couples to write their own vows, but in The Netherlands we are not so used to this yet. Explain to your wedding officiant what you like so that he or she can take this into account in preparations.
Are there many guests present during the ceremony? You want your vows to be heard by everyone. Therefore, if necessary, consider discussing a microphone and sound equipment with your wedding location.
Step 2: Write
Now it ‘s time to start working on your vows. Start well in advance so that you have enough time to think about it and delete or add things.
Depending on the agreements you have made about your vows, you can start by putting your ideas on paper. You don’t have to write your vows right away; just let your thoughts run free.
Some questions that can help you with this:
- Your why: What does marriage mean to you? Why do you want to marry him? What makes him the one?
- Your memories: Where did you meet? Was it love or the first sight? How was the first date? When did you fall in love? When did you know he was the one? What is your favorite memory of you together? What wonderful or perhaps difficult things have you experienced together?
- His qualities: What are his qualities? What do you admire about him? Why do you love him? How does he complement you?
- Your promises: What do you want to promise him for your marriage and for your future? What are things you will do together? What are your goals and dreams?
Say something romantic or funny, something about the ups and downs you are going to experience. Above all, be yourself and don’t make promises that you know you can’t keep.
Write a beautiful, fluid story from all your collected thoughts. Remember that you’re not alone with your groom, but that also your friends and family are present. A joke that only the two of you will understand is fine, but also think of the people listening to your story and that they understand what it is about.
Some writing tips:
- Do not rewrite too often and put your vow aside (if you have enough time for this) for a few days to have a fresh look at it again.
- Write in a timeless form, so that when you read (or hear) your vows in five or ten years’ time, you’ll still agree to them and it still suits you. However, this does not apply to dates; name them specifically if you use them. For example, say “We met on July 23, 2017” instead of “Two years ago”.
That date will still be fixed in ten years, but two years ago will not be the same.
- Have you finished writing and are you wondering how it might seem to someone else? Ask your best friend to read your vow or read it to her. Your best friend knows you better than anyone and might be able to give you some great advice.
Buy two beautiful vow books or have them custom made in your wedding style by the designer of your wedding stationery. Write both your vows neatly in your own book. Not only does this look great on your wedding photos, but they are also a wonderful way to keep your vows as a memory for years to come.
Vow books: Nicnillasink | Photography: Allen Tsai
Step 3: Practice before the ceremony
Write down the final version of your wedding vows and read it out loud once or twice in the days before the wedding. This helps calm your nerves for the ceremony. Don’t try to memorize your vows completely. It may seem like a romantic idea to look deep into his eyes as you pledge your devotion, but chances are you’re a little nervous and maybe emotional and you won’t remember exactly what it is you want to say. It’s okay! Showing your emotions only makes the moment more beautiful and shows how special this is for you. Stay calm and take your time.
Last but not least.. Your vows are very personal and there is no right or wrong. Everything is possible and our tips are only here to give you a guideline. Whether you use them or do something completely different: it’s up to you!