Wedding Vows 101

Featured Article, Home, Home & Family
on March 14, 2013
what is a wedding officiant

Most mistakes in life are overlooked and eventually forgotten. Messing up your wedding vows is not one of those easily overlooked mistakes. These wedding vow tips from The Knot will help you avoid wedding vow mistakes and the ensuing, lifelong razzing from your in-laws.

Make sure it’s OK. Check with the wedding officiator to make sure writing your own vows is permitted. It would be awfully frustrating to spend all that time creating your once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece, only to be thwarted by the justice of the peace or a minister at the last second. You may also want to get clearance from your spouse, a practice that will prepare you for marriage. Just because you want to write your own vows doesn’t mean she does and the last thing you want to do at the wedding is dazzle the spectators with a poetic recitation of your commitment, followed by an anticlimactic pre-packaged declaration from your spouse that leaves the audience wondering why someone so brilliant and wonderful as you would settle for an illiterate.

Start early. This isn’t high school English. Don’t wait until the last minute to write your vows. Start early—like months in advance. Approach it as you would the most important writing assignment of your life. After all, it is the most important writing assignment of your life. Before you set pen to paper, establish the desired tone of your vows—serious, religious, playful, humorous—then jot down some ideas, create an outline, write a rough draft and make necessary changes. Unlike that essay you turned in back in the 10th grade, you’re going to have to read these vows aloud. You should, therefore, practice speaking them aloud. Make sure they sound good.

Remember your audience. Your primary audience is your soon-to-be bride or groom. Your secondary audience are those in attendance. Your vows shouldn’t be private or cryptic. You’ve invited these people to your wedding so they could be a part of your happy day. You’ve invited these people to your wedding because you want them to be a part of your life. Vows that alienate and that are impossible to follow will not help this important step in starting your new life with the one you love. In addition, your guests will stop paying attention if the vows are too long. Save your lengthy love declaration for the honeymoon. Speaking of the honeymoon—keep your vows appropriate. You don’t want Auntie Edna to withhold her generous gift because you got a little creepy with your love pronouncement.

Practice. Schedule some alone time and read the vows out loud. Although your wedding vows should be written in your heart, you’ll be really, really nervous. Really, really nervous people forget things.