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10 Steps to Writing Personal Wedding Vows

Putting your feelings of commitment to the love of your life into words, can seem more overwhelming that it should be. I mean, this is your future spouse, it SHOULD be easy, right? You've waited for so long for this moment, there's so many things to say, and so little time or space. After so much life shared together, and so much intention behind your decision to marry, you know you want to write the perfect wedding vows.

Well, you have come to the right place, because no one cares more about speaking over our marriage and using that to help others do the same on wedding day, than us. It sounds like a stretched claim, but to this day, I haven't met a vendor who cares more about your marriage and the impact your wedding has on the trajectory of your life than we both do. Not only do we love hearing well written vows, but we also know how powerful these words are as an embodiment of each other's vision for what will continue hereafter to be a beautiful marriage. So to that, we share with you this guide to help lead you along the journey of poetic vow writing.

Challenging, yet rewarding, expressing your love in your own words gives you a chance to share just how excited you are to spend the rest of your lives together. But with less than three minutes to sum it all up, where do you begin? Where do you end?

To get yourself started, make yourself a tea, grab a pen (preferably a pencil so you can erase when you want) some paper (preferably several pages), highlighters if that's your fancy, your phone, and of course, this guide. If you’re ready to give it a go, let’s get to writing!

Step 1: Talk to your fiancé

We know we have you all excited now to write your vows, but we want to make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page. Checking in with each other will make sure that you two have similar ideas about what you want to do for your wedding vows. Maybe they are a little nervous about writing their vows and are more drawn to following the traditional script. Maybe they would rather share personal vows alone during your first look, or in the form of a letter they read the morning of, or during an outing with us during a getaway session. This is the time to talk it out and figure out what works best for you as a couple.

Some couples opt for private vows, and we love getting to capture these and get creative with what that looks like. But considering them for the ceremony, if it's possible, is our favorite choice, because of the fact that everything has led up to then, and hearing your partner speak words of love and admiration over you publicly is one of the best feelings in the world.

Regardless of what you choose to do, talking together and being open to what each other feels and what your overall vision is, is 1000% a conversation that needs to happen.

Step 2: Prepare your mind / brainstorm

Once you've found your quiet place with your cup of tea and what not, take a seat and a moment to reflect on everything. Does anything already come to mind? If not, let your mind wander through your timeline together, from your proposal to who you were before meeting, and everything you've become and experienced since then. Did you grow up together and everything just fell into place? Did you meet on Tinder and have the excitement of meeting someone you clicked with but no one else saw coming? Or were you strung along years of distance? Are you both accomplished business owners who have been through hell and back together? Are you both from different religions or backgrounds went against the odds to find love? Are you both musicians, artists, sports fanatics, doctors, dancers, realtors, or have completely opposite interests altogether?

Take a few minutes to look through your favorite pictures or reflect on all you've gone through to remember all of the reasons you fell in love. Focus on the elements of your relationship that have meant the most to you and why. Don’t worry about how it sounds in your mind or if it all makes sense. Set aside your expectations of perfection and just be genuine in thought about your relationship for this moment. You'll know you're ready to move on once you have an honest vision of your life together and are already coming up with bullet points.

Step 3: Your story, your intention, your rhythm

We've found that all amazingly composed vows will follow a poetic flow, and will bend to the rhythm of your relationship. Just like a jazz musician or composer will learn the fundamentals of music theory, then compose music that disrupts or defies theory. We've heard short and long vows, funny and serious vows, vows filled with shared memories and vows filled with long winded commitments. But let me tell you now, nothing will bring peace to one's soul more than being led by each other's feelings and intentions. What do I mean by that? Well, here is an example outline, structured as a story to lead your spouse along a series of emotions, from who your spouse is, to who you are with them, to how they wrecked your life in the most amazing way, and how you are committed to them for evermore.

Who is your spouse to you

A significant moment or decision or feelings that made it true

What your life was like without them and now with them

What you felt/feel when you see or think of them

What you love most about them

Who you have become because of them

Your 2-4 vows based on your convictions of who to be for them

Your intentions moving forward/dreams you share for the future

Meaningful closure and salutation

Here is an abridged version now of my vows to Maria for our wedding.

Maria, my rib.

The one I searched far and wide for, the one I know God designed for me.

You coming into my world was the best thing that ever happened to me.

For 612 days we've known a life of 7 hours difference, 30 hours distance, and 8,888 miles apart.

But today marks the day that all changes. No more goodbyes before bed, no more lost signals.

No, today and for the rest of our days, I vow to never leave your side.

...followed by commitment to affirm her and her feelings, to communicate mine, and express love through all love languages, especially ours; to never stop pursuing our interests and passions, to enjoy life together, and support her aspirations wherever they take us; to take responsibility for us and our future family, to lead with devotion and dignity, and pursue a Godly life together in every way possible.

You show me every day that you love me (an inside phrase we came to share before ever expressing our feelings for each other, was stopping to look at each other sand say "I know" and "you show me every day")

I feel blessed to say I am the happiest man alive and can't wait to finally call you my wife!

I love you so much.

Now, for a little twist, here are Maria's vows to me on our two year anniversary vow renewal.

Daniel, I love you. I love you today more than I could have imagined 2 years ago.

With you, I've learned that true intimacy and love come from a compilation of little intentional moments, piling on top of each other, transforming us as a couple and as individuals.

Today I stand before you knowing that you not only see me, but you get me.

You've seen me at my highest and lowest, and you keep holding me close through it all, and I love that.

I also love watching you grow as a leader and as a husband.

I admire your dedication and sacrifices to make our dreams reality.

In everything you do, it has been an honor to be by your side when things are easy and when things are hard.

I promise, again today, that I will be by your side in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow.

In every heartache, in every obstacle, every loss and every victory.

Today and always, I promise to be yours, yours always.

See how both are so full of genuineness and reassurances, specific to us and our story? Both are out of full awareness of our feelings and the other's, and yet the deepened bond definitely shows in the second year renewal we shared. The vows of commitment stem from our greatest core marital convictions and ones we know were important to us. Getting to stand up in front of family and friends in these ways allowed us to both let it be known who and whose we are and what our lives will look like moving forward. It felt amazing getting to speak over our marriage together, especially during our official wedding ceremony.

Step 4: What are your commitments?

Now, before turning this outline or these examples into bullet points and sentences, remove everything you heard from us and center your attention on YOUR commitments. What is a commitment you may ask? Great question. A commitment, for those who don't know, is a promise of dedication to something. As you proposed, or said yes to your spouse's proposal, you were making a decision to commit your life to each other, and it's honestly such a miraculous privilege, to have someone you can share that with.

So, this part may be easy, or it may take some soul searching. Think about how you picture your future life to feel and look like as a married couple. What are a few core principles or convictions you have in preserving your relationship and future family together? Your promises to each other can take on a more grounded tone or can be lighthearted, depending on your relationship and personalities. Whatever these commitments are, the key here is to be personal, realistic, and specific. Don't just say you vow to love them. Express HOW you vow to love them, and, knowing them, HOW you will have their back, etc.

Start writing these commitments down. Don't worry about how many there are. Once you have a strong list of commitments, start a new list. These will be your 3-4 vows. Start combining each of your commitments now into 3-4 categories, so that each vow has its own set of commitments.

For example, if you have several commitments that involve time, family, and supporting your spouse, then group your commitments into these 3 core vows, vowing your time, vowing to prioritize family, and vowing to support them. Of course, expound on each vow, being specific about what your commitment is.

These vows now will be the cornerstone on which you point everything else towards.

Step 5: Putting it into words

Now, think back over your brainstorming sesh. Do you feel the thoughts coming on? Close your eyes and say your spouse's name out loud. It may sound weird at first, but keep talking, as though you're talking to your spouse. Start with their name, and who they are to you, and just let your thoughts flow as you get absolutely real, as though you are having an intimate moment with them.

As words and phrases coming to you, begin writing them down. Here are some questions to get you thinking, but don't look at it like you're answering questions, but as though you are intentionally addressing your spouse as you guide them through your emotions. By the time you get to your vows, you should already be flowing straight into them naturally.

Who is your spouse to you

A significant moment or decision or feelings that made it true

What your life was like without them and now with them

What you felt/feel when you see or think of them

What you love most about them

Who you have become because of them

Your 2-4 vows based on your convictions of who to be for them

Your intentions moving forward/dreams you share for the future

Meaningful closure and salutation

Step 6: Bring it all together

Now that you have your words and structure down, it’s time to bring together all the things you want to say. Start by thinking to yourself, how do you see yourself reading these words to your spouse at the alter (or wherever you're reading them)? Do you see yourself as a cryer? A laugher? A strong and steady? A romantic poet with love in your eyes? A smiler? As you picture this moment, take out your highlighter or pen to highlight the words and sentences that jump out to you as most important. If you need to, reorder the sentences to create a better flow, or rephrase the sentences to sound more you. If you catch yourself sounding poetic or using sophisticated words, embrace it. Intelligence is an attractive element to sounding non-cliche and non-cheesy. That is, unless you see yourself as more of a laugher or witty speaker and prefer your own personal linguistics, in which case your sentences will tell you.

Step 7: Take a lengthy break

Having fun yet?? By all means, if you're on a roll, keep at it. But once you get your vows fairly structured and phrased, we recommend taking a day or two to let your thoughts unravel and refocus. This iss . something we take seriously with all of our films, with the intention to create the most impactful films from moments and words and feelings that have and will develop over time. Time is often the most powerful breeding ground for maturity, especially when thoughts we can have one day can flee or sound poorly worded the next. When you pick back up from where you left off, double-check that the words you used to express your feelings are true and genuine. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the things you think you are expected to say and overlook the things that truly matter.

Step 8: Refine, Rewrite

The next step is to refine your words and rewrite it. Using what you already have written, cross out and write in any words or phrases you want to improve. If you feel inspired to say something differently altogether, first see where it makes sense to add it, and restructure or rephrase again to encorporate it. If you should ever choose to restart or go a different direction, just backtrack from the vows until you find where you want to pick up from.

Once you've nailed down your sentences, rewrite everything onto a new piece of paper and tuck them away somewhere safe where your fiancé won’t find them. In fact, be sure to hold onto the original as well, just to be able to look over it someday to remember the wrestle you had with yourself to express your vows to your future spouse.

Step 9: Practice makes perfect

Ok let me reword that, recite makes perfect. Reciting your vows out loud will ensure that you feel confident in what you are saying to be true and meaningful. We recommend asking a close friend or family member to listen or practicing in front of a mirror, or even better, in the shower! The goal here is not to rush, but to speak soulfully with heart and emotion so that your genuineness shines through. No need to spend hours practicing, but do try to make sure you run it through a couple of times (or maybe a few more) to prepare your heart for speaking over your marriage.

Step 10: Focus on your fiancé

This is the moment you have been waiting for. You’re standing at the altar and it’s your turn to say your vows. Nothing matters but you and your fiancé standing there looking into each other’s eyes. So, take a deep breath, read each word with passion, and let it all out. This is the moment you get to marry the love of your life.

Save your vows!

The vows are read, you have said “I do”, and now you’re ready to dance the night away – but wait, what happened to your wedding vows? If you used your original vows on wedding day, be sure to tuck them somewhere you'll remember! Saving your vows can be a special keepsake to remind you of this special moment.

A Moment to Remember

Saying your vows is a moment that we want you to remember forever. Years down the line when the memories of this day grow faint, we want to help you bring your wedding day back to life. As movie-like, documentary videographers, we specialize in creating personalized cinematic wedding films that capture this moment in the most transformational way. Check out some videos on our website to see how we can make this memory last forever.

Yours Always,

Daniel and Maria



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