bride and groom under arch at altar

You don't need to write them.

We want to start by reassuring you that you don't need to write your vows. Personalizing is an option, not a requirement. If the two of you would prefer to just stick to the standard ceremony, that is just fine. In fact, your peckish guests might appreciate the shorter nuptials! There are so many reasons not to write your wedding vows: crippling fear of speaking in public, neither of you either enjoys or is talented at writing, you prefer to keep these very intimate thoughts to yourself and not everyone you've ever met. And all are valid.

Keep it really simple.

Brides and grooms get into danger with writing their vows when they think they have to sound deep and wise and very eloquent. And if the two of you are philosophers, maybe that's the way you want to go. But for the rest of us, simple always works best. Talk about the reasons why you want to marry this person. Discuss the little things. Promise real and reasonable things to each other. Don't worry about impressing your guests--just consider what you want your life to look like together.

Look for inspiration.

So, here you are staring at a blank notepad with nary a sentence of your vows. You know you love this person, you just don't know how to express yourself. Look for inspiration in photos of your adventures together, letters the two of you have written back and forth, and keepsakes from dates and holidays. Think about the big moments like when you knew you loved them or when they magically went from your best friend to the person you wanted to marry. Focus on those moments and let them serve as inspiration for your vows.

If you are going to write your own vows, use your own words.

Just as with toasts at a reception, one shouldn't waste their chance to give a personalized message by quoting large chunks of Shakespeare or Austen. Make them your own words and in the language you ordinarily use. When you give your wedding vows, it just makes sense to be the most authentic version of yourself. Don't scour the thesaurus for flowery alternatives to commonplace words. Remember that in your wedding ceremony you are going to be emotional. You don't want to trip over your own vows or forget how to pronounce something unfamiliar.

It should feel like a one-on-one conversation.

When in doubt, you should write your vows as if you were simply speaking to them alone. If it helps, don't think of your vows as a speech, but rather as a love letter. Write what flows out of you, and then edit as you want later. If both of you are nervous about your vows, or having a similar case of writer's block, there is nothing wrong with writing them together.

Photography   |   Rachel Kara & Tim Ashton