Wring Your Own Vows
Decide if you want to write them together. Either way you decide is the right way. My husband and I like to surprise each other—we’re also a little too competitive—so the surprise element was fun. It felt like wrapping a gift for him. However, a friend of mine got upset because he didn’t think his vows were as good as his wife’s. 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. It’s not a bad idea to make sure that you and your partner are going to be vowing somewhat similar things. 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. It gave me peace of mind that we weren’t going to make our guests to sit through thirty minutes of vowing.
Details, details. Every creative writing workshop will tell you that good writing is in the details—specifics that speak to a larger, universal truth. It’s not a crazy idea to apply this to your vows. I focused on a few things that I thought symbolized our relationship and (eventually) wrote my vows from that. Think of it as a writing prompt. A few (common sense) places to start: What are the little things that your partner appreciates that you do? How does that symbolize your overall relationship? And the biggy: Is there something that you can work on to build an even better, healthier 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, and I wanted to promise in front of our community to work on that. 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. If you want to rap them while wearing a scuba suit? Go ahead—if your partner doesn’t mind. Your vows don’t even have to sound like vows; you could write an essay, a sonnet, or a smooth love jam. 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.