Groom Duties

The 7-Step Guide To Writing Ultimate Wedding Vows

Jenna Shouldice

(Wedding vow advice from the experts: our friends at Vow Muse.)

Your life’s co-star, a.k.a fiancée, suggested you write your own wedding vows. Piece of cake, you thought, followed promptly by a Homer Simpson-style, “Mmmm… cake.”

We know, writing anything—even your feelings about the only woman who you’d enjoy being stuck in an airport with—isn’t on your list of super-awesome-delicious things to do (though cake probably is.) And now that it’s time to buckle down and write, you don’t know what to say.

Great news: Vow Muse is here to help. While we offer custom vow-writing services, we can also give you a few hints that we’ve found useful over the years. Here are 7 steps to write vows that will make her tear up with joy, and maybe even get a googly-eyed chuckle as well.

Surely we are, friends… Read on.

1. Schedule Some “Me” Time

Be One with the Pen

When it comes to writing, getting started is the hardest part. There is always something else you could be—and probably want to be—doing, from moustache trimming with your pals to tending the tomato garden. Put some personal time on your calendar so you can sit down with your writing utensil of choice.

Once you’re seated and you’ve checked Facebook, close your web browser (wait—unless you’re still using Internet Explorer. Then first, go download Firefox or Chrome. You can thank us later.) and open a blank text document.

Or grab a pen and paper if you’re old school.

2. Warm up Your Writing Muscles

Start with a 5-Minute Brain-Dump

Set a timer for 5 minutes, and write anything that comes your mind. From “What’s going to happen with Jay-Z and  Beyoncé?” to “Yesterday I saw a terrier,” anything is fair game. Just don’t stop writing—the idea here is to empty your mind from random thoughts.

When the timer goes off, scroll to a new blank page.

​Now, let’s harness your thoughts.

Reset that timer for 10 minutes. This time, as you write, focus on your leading lady. Write anything that comes to mind about her (sexy thoughts are okay, but try not to linger on them), and be sure to address what you want to vow to her.

Remember, this writing doesn’t have to sound nice. You’re just penning ideas.

Feeling stuck? Totally normal. Answer one or more of these questions:

  • When did you fall in love with her/want to be with her forever?
  • Write down something she does that makes you smile.
  • What do you admire about your fiancé?
  • Describe some of your favorite memories of her.
  • Jot down a few inside jokes you two have.
  • What are your favorite qualities she possesses?
  • Why are you lucky to be marrying her?
  • How have you changed since you met her?
  • What do you want to promise to her?

When the timer goes off, save this document, stand up and take a very short break. Do anything but write.

We’ll see you in 5 minutes.

3. Organization Is More Than Half the Battle

Your 8th Grade English Teacher Was Right

An outline gives you a place to start organizing your thoughts.

A standard vow outline looks like this:

I. Saying “hello” and complimenting her.
II. Things that are awesome about her.
III. Things about you that relate to her (e.g. how she makes you a better person).
IV. Promises you want to make her.
V. Final thought/final statement about love.

(Feel free to copy and paste that into your document.)

Time to smash everything together.

4. Revisit Your 2nd Brainstorm Session

Time to Copy and Paste All That Cheesy Stuff

Some of the thoughts you wrote down should fit into items I-V of the outline. Copy and paste those thoughts under where you think they might go.

You’ll probably have a bullet pointed list that looks something (or maybe even nothing) like this:

I. Saying “hello” and complimenting her.
Annabell has always smelled like home to me and she looks gorgeous no matter what.
II. Things that are awesome about her.
She is amazing at communicating with all types of living creatures and loves to say “yes!” to life.
III. Things about you that relate to her (e.g. how she makes you a better person).
I’m thankful that she is so good at taking care of me, it’s made me a more generous person.
IV. Promises you want to make her.
Take care of her as well as she takes care of me and grow as people together.
V. Final thought/final statement about love.
I knew I wanted to be with her forever when we built a blanket fort in her living room.

5. The Actual Writing

It’s Time

Unless you want to speak in bullet points (which may work for you!), you’ll want to start writing sentences around your initial outline thoughts. Don’t be afraid to return to your initial brainstorming list for more ideas, and don’t be afraid to repeat step #2 if you’re coming up short.

Here’s how the opening might start to look:

Annabell, I know you prefer pajamas to ball gowns, and you are beautiful in both. But today you look awe-inspiringly stunning.

Since I met you, I’ve been comforted by your presence—you just remind me of home.  And I know I’m not alone.  Your friends seek you out for advice, our houseplants seem to blossom just for you, and I’ve never seen a dog not wag his tail at you when you walk by. I’m so honored to have such a good force of life as my partner.

Bro tip: As you write, don’t judge yourself or restrict yourself. Just try to craft sentences. We don’t recommend erasing anything. If you write something you don’t like much, hit return and keep writing.

After an hour, stand up, and walk away. You’ve just earned yourself 24 hours of time off. In case you’ve got nothing to do…

6. Take a Second Look

It’s Not Over Yet

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the writing process isn’t finished. Re-read everything you’ve written (and keep your paws off the keyboard!).

You’ll likely see sentences you want to change, or feel inspired by new sentiments. After you’ve read through once, start making alterations. Use the “Save As” feature—you never know when your original thoughts might be useful.

Repeat this step as needed.

7. Read the Whole Thing out Loud

Stretch Those Vocal Chords

Finally, and we can’t stress this enough, you must read this out loud before the big day. (If possible, many days in advance). As you read, you will quickly discover if any sentences don’t work. Make a note, and revise them.

Bonus Round: Feedback!

Don’t Get Shy on Us Now

If you’re feeling bold, ask a trusted friend or family member to listen to your vows (one of our clients read them to his barber!). See if they have any qualms, advice, or just lots of high-fives/tears, and incorporate any compelling thoughts they share.

*If it’s the night before and you’re really in a time crunch, here’s a Mad Lib for you to fill out and read:

[Fiancé’s name] you look [positive adjective.] There are many reasons why I am [honored/blessed/excited] to be standing with you today. Your kind heart, your caring nature and your [put one thing you love about her here.]

Today I want to promise you the following: I will be by your side even if [tragic event here]. I will be your [sturdy object] when you need support. I will share in your happiness when [something good she dreams of happening]. But most of all, I will love you faithfully, forever.

Okay, you’re ready! Go forth and get married with confidence and great words (and if you need help, you can always call Vow Muse.)

Vow Muse is Angie Sommer and Alicia Ostarello, two women who have been helping grooms (and other members of the wedding party!) with wedding writing since 2010.

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