This is it! The big day has finally arrived. You’ve been planning it for months and dreaming about it for years. Not a single detail was left to chance. From your dream venue to the perfect cake and flowers, you’ve planned every single detail with meticulous care. The florist has arrived, the cake is being set, your shoes have been polished to a brilliant shine and your dream dress is hanging on the door. You’ve checked and rechecked everything. “Something Old” is dangling from your bouquet. “Something New” is in a velvet box your groom sent over. “Something Borrowed” is sparkling from your wrist and “Something Blue” will be slipped onto your thigh in matter of minutes. Butterflies are dancing in your stomach. You fight back tears, hoping your makeup really is waterproof as you start working your way into your dress. It is the happiest day of your life, and all of a sudden you start to panic. You worry about the guests, the weather and everything in between. You’ve written your own wedding vows and you’re scared to death you’re going to mess it up. What can you do to calm your nerves and deliver your vows to the man of your dreams on the most important day of your lives?
Penning wedding wows
Believe it or not, calming those wedding day vow nerves actually starts when you write your vows. This is not an easy task. It’s sort of like combining poetry with public speaking. It is an emotional and eye-opening experience. These tips will help you write the perfect vows.
Get approval from the individual officiating the ceremony
Certain types of ceremonies require traditional vows to be recited, while some officiates may want to review your vows ahead of the ceremony.
Start writing your vows early
Don’t wait until the night before. You’ll be too excited, rattled and nervous to give your vows the thought and time they deserve. You should have a rough draft ready three weeks before the big day and a final draft ready to go at least two days before the ceremony. This gives you plenty of time to practice reciting your vows and have the officiate review them for any potential changes.
Get inspired and set the tone
Review traditional vows from your own and other religions to see what appeals to you. Look up variations of vows on the internet. Most importantly, before you even begin writing your vows, discuss with your groom the tone for the vows. Should they be poetic, humorous or a combination of both? You want your vows to be a reflection of both yourself and your relationship. They should come from the heart, and while they can be lighthearted, it is important for your vows to acknowledge to importance of the commitment you are about to make. One example of this can be “I vow to love and cherish you, and sit through at least one football game a week with you.”
Plan them out
Sit with your groom and decide if you will write your vows together or separately. Will separately written vows be kept secret until the big day, or should you share them beforehand? Make a vow date to brainstorm ideas for your wedding vows. Talk about what marriage means to both of you and discuss what you expect from each other and your relationship. Talk about what you expect from married life and what challenges you expect to face in your future. This discussion will help to inspire the words in your vows and help you come up with stories and phrases to include in your vows. Spend some time alone to reflect on how you feel about your future husband. Answer some questions about him. What were you doing the day you met? How has he improved your life? When did you first realize you loved him? What is it about him that inspires you? Asking these types of questions will provide a good foundation for what you’ll want to talk about in your vows.
Keep your audience in mind and time it just right
You don’t want to write cryptic vows your friends and family might not understand. Limit inside jokes and personal anecdotes. Vows are the most important aspect of the ceremony, but you don’t want them to go on and on. When read, they should be about a minute long. You can always save some words for the reception toast and the wedding night.
Practice reading your vows out loud several times
Words sound different when spoken out loud versus on paper. If you are not entirely happy with the way its written or the way it sounds, walk away for a while, clear your mind and start again. Try writing your vows in a more conversational tone rather than a formal tone to make them sound more natural when read aloud.
Practice, practice, practice
Know your vows like the back of your hand. Your goal should be to recite the words so they sound as natural as a first thought. Knowing your vows will help to both alleviate some of your nerves as well diminish some of the hesitancy and need to read from your notes during the service.
Read your vows out loud in front of a mirror
Rehearse them until you are conversationally comfortable. You will be more secure with your words and feel less rehearsed when you are saying them on your wedding day. Doing this in front of a mirror will also help you to work on your facial expressions.
Identify key words or phrases
These will serve as mental cues that will help you continue reading without pauses and remember what you will say next.
Keep constant eye contact with your groom
Pause if necessary to look down at your vows, but try to look directly in your groom’s eyes when you speak. This will help you to feel the full impact of your words as well as provide comfort and reassurance from the man you love.
Deliver your vows clearly and with the right enunciation and inflection
Vary your tone and speed to convey the true meaning of your words. Try not to read in a monotonous manner; speak from the heart and let the emotion be felt through your words.
Keep a positive attitude and remember you are not the only one who is nervous
Don’t think in terms of how you are going to get through this. Think about the fact that you are about to pledge your life to the man of your dreams. Smile at your groom. Hold his hand and offer him your emotional support. This will help him feel at ease too.