You’ve decided what anecdotes to keep and what jokes to throw away. You’ve made an attempt at organizing your ideas and now it’s time to put them all together into unforgettable and loving vows fit for your spouse-to-be.
The best way to get your ideas organized and start to work is to determine if you have a beginning, middle and end. Writing vows is a little bit like writing a story-the story of your love and commitment to your partner. A beginning, middle and end will solidify the coherence of your vows as much as it will help you bring them together in an organized speech. Play around with the order until you find the best rhythm for your vows. Whether you start or end with a joke or heartfelt words of emotion doesn’t matter as long as the vows flow well and are truly meaningful to you and your partner.
Once you have a clear-cut beginning, middle and end, it’s time to work on transitions. Make sure each anecdote, declaration or quotation leads smoothly into the next. If you just have three separate things to discuss, it’s time to work on what ties them together: your love! An anecdote could lead into a quote or vice-versa. A declaration of feeling could lead into a quote or anecdote. Make sure each thing explains the last and most important explains how you feel. Without transitions your vows may seem unrehearsed and bumpy. The smoother more coherent vows will show your partner how hard you worked on the perfect thing to say.
Just a few more steps and you’ll be ready to say, “I do.” Now, it’s time to start reading aloud what you’ve written. Reading aloud is imperative because hearing words as they are said can be sometimes different than reading them. Reading aloud helps you to hear what your partner (and those attending the wedding) will hear. It also helps to fix any awkward phrases or sentences you might not notice until you speak them. Some combination of words may be difficult to say and can be switched around. Make sure the vows are smooth, almost rhythmic. The better the flow of words, the easier they will be to remember, say and understand.
Now, it’s crunch time. If you haven’t decided with your spouse already, it’s time to determine how long your vows should be. Note that even your partner may get bored with a fifteen minute long vow of love. If your vows are running long, it’s time to make cuts. Get rid of anything that repeats itself. If you have a quote and an anecdote about the way you feel, get rid of the quote. Anything that still feels awkward or doesn’t fit into your beginning, middle and end should also be cut out. If everything sounds great, cut the least important thing to get across in your vows. If you’ve got a lot of jokes, let go of some. You can always use them at the reception! Be concise and meaningful in your vows to make the best impression.
If you’re having some problems editing down or just need another set of ears, turn to someone you really trust. A best friend, parent or relative of the bride may be able to help you with awkwardness, time or even testing out the humor in the vows. Be cautious, however, these people may give you a lot of advice that you don’t like. Remember it is your wedding and your vows. If you believe you’re in the right, go for it. And, if you’re really not sure, run it by your partner. It may ruin some of the surprise, but dignity and tact might be better for you in the end.
In the end, your vows should reflect you, your future spouse, and your feelings for one another. After brainstorming, organizing and putting it all together, you should have created memorable, thoughtful vows that will really amaze your partner. The harder you work, the more it will show.