In life, only three things are certain. Death, taxes, and the fact that every single wedding you go to is exactly the same, incredibly dull, and a complete and utter cliché.
So why not make yours the one big day everyone will remember, by giving your vows a personal touch? Read on for Speechy’s guide on how to write your very own wedding vows.
Because, put very simply, it’s more personal. It’s like the difference between on Valentine’s day carefully hand-writing a beautiful card for your loved one, versus sending them an off-the-shelf card that says ‘Happy Hanukah Nan’. The personalisation shows them you care.
Brits can be a little adverse to telling people how much we love them; instead we often prefer to use our actions to show how we feel. We may bring them tea in bed, or run them a bath, or not go absolutely mental when they stack the dishwasher wrong for the five thousandth time. And these are all great, but sometimes it’s important to say it as well, and there’s no time more important to say it than in your wedding vows.
Get googling. Sure, you’ll spend the first 45 minutes down an internet rabbit hole, but once you’ve finished reading an article titled ‘You’ll never guess what Gunter from Friends looks like now’, you’ll be ready to find what you need.
Start by reading as many different types of vows as you can and noting their style. Are they romantic? Are they funny? Are they profound? Are they written entirely in Vulcan? Now decide which style suits you, or more importantly, your partner best.
And once you’ve decided on the style and tone you’re after, move on to…
There are official words that you have to say if you want your wedding to be legally binding. They’re the ones that go “… To have and to hold, from this day forward, in sickness and in health, you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later may rely on in court” Or something like that.
But other than that, if you’re writing your own, then you can make these into whatever you want them to be. They can be poems, or songs, or raps (please don’t do raps).
But ultimately what you want to convey is how much that person means to you, along with a set of promises about your commitment and love for them.
Despite being about love and commitment, they don’t need to be stuffy or gushing. Most couples in their day-to-day lives don’t talk like Wordsworth, so there’s no need to pretend to be like that now. Humour is often about fallibility, so start by writing down a list of annoying things you do. Saying “I stand before you today with a simple promise, a promise to stop eating soup so loudly” is infinitely more fun (and personal) than saying “Our love is like a gentle dove resting on the tender limb of a wandering willow”.
How do you irritate your partner? Do you leave your pants on the bathroom floor? Do you leave wet towels on the bed? Do you forget to put the bins out? All of these things are funny, light-hearted and in a subtle way show your partner that you’ve really thought about your promises to them.
Beyond all the irritating nonsense you make your poor partner put up with (honestly, pants on the bathroom floor? You should be ashamed of yourself), write a list of all the things you love about your partner. The smaller the better. Sure, it’s OK to mention that you love how smart and kind they are, but really dive down into the minutiae. Do you love how their nose wrinkles when they laugh? Do you love how they send you every Llama-related meme they come across? Do you love how they pretend to listen to Pink Floyd, but really Justin Bieber is top of all their Spotify playlists?
All these things tell your partner that you’re listening and you’re paying attention, all without feeling like you’ve just googled ‘Romantic guff to say at weddings’.
As the old saying goes “It’s not the size, it’s what you do with it”. Wedding vows are intended to be short, preferably a minute or two each. The anecdotes from your life will come later in the speeches, so keep the vows short, sweet and to the point.
A few sweet, tender and funny vows will not only be more memorable for your partner, but also more memorable for your guests. The art is to keep them laughing and entertained instead of looking at their watches thinking “Why are they talking like Keats and what time does the free bar open?”.
If all of this seems like too much, then don’t worry, we’re here to take the stress out of it.
Also, don’t panic that this is somehow cheating. It really isn’t. No one expects you to be a professional writer, much like they don’t expect you to play in the wedding band, or make the canapés.
At Speechy, we talk to you to get a sense of the tone and style you’re after to really personalise the vows and turn your feelings into words.
Think of it like choosing how to decorate your lounge, then just hiring a decorator to create your vision. We’re like that, except we take fewer tea breaks and our butt-cracks are rarely on show.
So there we go, Speechy’s top tips on how to personalise your own wedding vows. So, remember, focus on the small stuff, keep it light, tell them how much you care, don’t rap, and for the love of god, pick up your pants.