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  • Writer's pictureSam Gardner, Celebrant Portugal

"Crafting Your Personal Vows: A Hints and Tips Guide to Getting Started"

Updated: Jun 2

Discover the art of writing personal vows and craft heartfelt promises that reflect your unique love story.

Personal vows are, first and foremost, the promises you make to your partner. Promises that you will endeavour to uphold during your marriage. But they can include words that reflect your values, your hopes, your love and your excitement in a shared future together.

As a celebrant who has helped many couples over the years in creating bespoke ceremonies, I find that the writing of personal vows is often something couples struggle with. Where do you start? What needs to be considered and how can you express your love and commitment to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?

Here I'll share some of my insider tips to get you started.

Tip #1 - Get comfortable

Personal vows are exactly that – they are personal to you as a couple. Therefore, they need

to reflect your personality. You may relish the idea of declaring your love in front of your closest friends and family, on the other hand, you may not feel comfortable expressing big emotions to anyone other than your partner. My biggest advice to any couple planning a symbolic wedding ceremony is don’t feel pressurised to do anything that doesn't feel right to you. Personal vows can be anything from short and general to long, intimate and romantic.

You may even decide to exchange your personal vows in private and not include them in your ceremony.

Do what works for you.

Tip #2 - Talk it through together

Get on the same page about your expectations.

- How long should your vows be?

- Will you share inside jokes and anecdotes or would you rather keep things more general?

- Will your vows lean more towards the humorous or sentimental? Or a mixture of both?

- What tone or theme will you choose – will they be emotional and deeply personal, traditional, romantic or thankful?

-Will your vows be a reveal on the day, or will you write them together?

You know yourselves best and taking time to think this part through and discuss it together can really help to give you clarity. Remember though, you may not be totally in sync with each other on this and that's OK. It can be an opportunity to understand each other's values more and reach a compromise (a perfect lesson for married life!)

Tip #3 - Use a structure

It can be really helpful to use a structure around which to write your vows, which not only allows them to flow in a logical way, but can make the process of writing them that much easier.

You might want to use a structure like this;

  1. Affirmation of your love and feelings

  2. Praise of your partner

  3. Promises and commitments

  4. Closing statement

"Writing is a form of alchemy, transforming thoughts into words and words into emotions.” — Neil Gaiman"

Tip #4 - Set the mood

Research has shown that we often do our best thinking and writing when we set the mood before we write. This allows us to connect with our emotions and tap into our subconscious.

Try these suggestions to get that pen (or keyboard) flowing;

- Listen to music, especially music that you enjoy together or remind you of a particular time in your life with your partner.

- Look at pictures of your partner and the two of you together.

- Read the love letters, emails and text messages that you've exchanged.

- Go for a walk - even a walk as short as 20 minutes can improve creative inspiration (again this is proven by research.) Take pen and paper, or a phone with you to write things down should you feel inspired along the way!

- Arrange a date day or night. Sharing special time together can help to increase your intimacy, is a great way to have fun and enjoy each other's company. Use those positive feelings to write some notes when you get home (see note taking below)

Tip #5 - Take notes

A technique I've learned as a writer is to jot things down as and when things occur to me. Starting off with a blank piece of paper can be really daunting, so I suggest you write notes over the months leading up to your wedding and then combine those thoughts over time. The beauty of this is that they don't have to be fully formed ideas or written in the most beautiful way, they're just a starting point to get your creative juices flowing.

Perhaps your partner says something that makes you laugh out loud, or they do something quirky or sweet, write it down and start building up your ideas and wording for your vows. This makes the process of writing that much easier as you’ve done half the work.

Tip #6 - Focus on the unique

You as an individual are unique and so is your love story. Some of the most heartfelt (and often funny) vows I've heard focus on what makes you and your partner work, the experiences you've had together and what you plan for your future.

Perhaps consider including some of the following;

- Cast your mind back to when you first met your partner, how did you feel, what was it about your partner that struck you? Perhaps it was a slow burn for your love to develop, or maybe it was love at first sight.

- When do you feel most loved by your partner?

- Has your partner done something that makes you particularly proud?

- Have you experienced things together that act as milestones in your relationship? They could be funny, poignant or even difficulties you've overcome as a partnership.

- Does your partner have any particular quirks or behaviours that stand out for you?

- What excites you about your future together?

- What are the promises you want to make about your life as a couple?

Tip #7 - Try not to leave it too last minute

Giving yourself the time and space to take notes, write, edit and hone your personal vows will allow you to enjoy the process and give you the best results. Leaving it to the last minute can add extra stress in the days before your wedding. I suggest you plan to have your vows written in their final form one month before your wedding (that's not to say you can't make a few tweaks here or there after that.)

However, we're all guilty of waiting until a deadline is fast approaching before really focusing on a task. With so many things to do in advance of your wedding + your job + family commitments + life in general, you may only get down to writing your personal vows at the last minute.

Don't panic! If you're up against the clock, try using my suggested structure (see Tip #3)

Tip #8 - Don't feel you have to memorise them

In my 8 years as a celebrant, none of the couples I've married have memorised their vows. It's really not necessary. Having your vows to read out takes the pressure off at a time when you're in the spotlight and perhaps already feeling very emotional. The important thing is what you're saying and the person you're saying it to.

You could read your hand written vows from a vow book (which look lovely in your ceremony photos) or a printed version on card (which I'll bring with me on the day.)

Tip #9 - Remember what it's all about

Lastly, writing personal vows can feel daunting, but it doesn't have to be if you remind yourself what it's all about. It's about you and the precious person who has chosen to make a life with you.

It's not a writing competition and it's not about performing to a crowd. If you focus on the person who will be standing in front of you at your ceremony, you'll never go wrong. You are entering married life together and your personal vows are a reminder of what is important to you both and the way you'll navigate your future and any challenges that you'll face along the way.

You never know, you might even enjoy the process of writing your vows and learn more about yourself, your partner and your relationship into the bargain!

If you want more advice like this about your tailored-made ceremony and to work closely with someone to make your day truly special GET IN TOUCH.


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