BY SHARI ALTMARK
The best wedding present you can give the other is to take 20-30 minutes out of independent quiet time, preferably at least two or three weeks before the wedding, to write personal vows.
Sometimes easier said than done. Each person feels the burden of how to transform those big, life-altering feelings into a coherent string words. You don’t have to be Elizabeth Bishop to write memorable, meaningful vows.
There are no right answers. There is no such thing as perfect. Fear not, your goal putting your love into words is within reach. All you need to do is write one word at a time. Surprisingly, the words usually flow beautifully.
One thing that is paramount is that each of the brides or grooms doesn’t let the other person see the vows before they hear them during the ceremony. It looks classy if the officiant formats and frames the vows. It’s certainly something you can do yourselves.
Either way, it is extra special if your betrothed hears your vows for the first time at the ceremony. Also, instead of guests seeing you read from a shaky piece of paper or an iPhone, it’s nice if you’re holding a solid frame. It looks better in pictures and relieves you of the stress of having to memorize anything. I mean, you’re going to be nervous enough.
Here are four steps that will take you from blank canvas to beautiful vows.
- Create an outline: Bulletpoint what’s important to say on that day?
- Find your voice: What’s the overall tone? Funny? Mushy? It’s most important that it rings true for the two of you. Think of special moments from your relationship or every day life together and include snapshots of those.
- Cut it down: Pick a length and stick to it. Try keeping it to two paragraphs. Anything longer than a minute or so will cause the audience to squirm. Once you’re done, time yourself reading it aloud and cut if necessary.
- Put it aside: Once the phrases best capture the intended message, send them to your officiant or put them away until the day of the wedding.
For more tips and ideas, click here.
Shari Altmark is a secular wedding officiant, serving the GLBT community in Long Beach, California. She believes marriage was created for ALL people.