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By Jessie Walsdorf, Jessie Belle Ceremonies 

A failsafe guide to taking the stress out of writing your personal vows.

Hey there, it’s your friendly celebrant in-the-know here - Jessie Belle! Let me guess, you’re reading this because you and your partner are choosing to include personal vows in your wedding ceremony, but you have no idea where to start? Well have no fear as I am here to guide you through the process every step of the way. The biggest fear I hear from couples when it comes to planning their ceremony is always about writing and saying their vows to each other. I am here to alleviate the stress so you can shake off those worries and enjoy the process. “But how is that possible Jessie?” I hear you say? Oh, it’s possible. Get ready because I am about to throw a whole heap of wonderful ideas your way that by the time you have read through this piece, you’ll be reaching for the sparkly pen and perfume scented paper (Grease reference anyone?) to jot down all the creative ideas you have swirling around your head! Let’s break it down.

Personal vows are a personal choice

Before we go any further, I may just saved you a bucketload of stress by bringing this fun fact to your attention: did you know that you don’t have to say personal vows to one another during the ceremony? If the thought of trying to read loving words typed up on a bit of paper through shaking hands in front of your guests is your idea of pure torture, then you can choose to opt out. Just because its tradition doesn’t mean you have to do it. Saying personal vows to each other can be a lovely aspect of the ceremony for those that enjoy the process and it can be the most amazing experience for you and your guests. However, there are so many other ways you can convey your love to each other aside from personal vows if it’s just not vibing with you. Here are some alternative options:

1. Ask your celebrant to say your personal vows on your behalf. Ask your celebrant to say your personal vows on your behalf. Celebrants love a good chat into the microphone so use them to your advantage. They can say your words in the third person e.g. Ernie, Bert loves you so much and is so excited to spend the rest of your days bickering about who is going to turn the light switch off each night…”, or they might send each of you questions to answer about the other and piece together the lovely things you’ve said in a few paragraphs. Voila!

2. Write a letter to each other to open on the morning of your ceremony. That way you can start your morning all loved up and the day will just get better from there. 

3. Say your personal vows to each other in private during portrait photos. The most treasured part of your wedding day will be the moment the two of you are alone and you can soak up all those ‘just married’ feels! It is the perfect opportunity to find a quiet spot, say your vows to one another and your photographer can hang back and capture the moment. It means you can be more raw and honest (and saucy if that’s your jam!) and say all the things you don’t normally get a chance to tell one another when life is so hectic. 

Handy fact: Your legal vows are not the same as your personal vows. It is a legal requirement when getting married in Australia to state your legal vows during your ceremony. This is something your celebrant can share with you.

Where to start?

Well done, you’ve made it through and have decided that you are going to rock those personal vows so let’s make this as easy as possible for you. Strap in, let’s go! 

1. Talk to your partner (say what???)

The best place to start when writing your wedding vows is to talk to each other about it! Decide on a style that suits you both and go from there. Here are the three main points to decide on before you start:

Feel - are you going for romantic and heartfelt, or fun and light-hearted? Try a combination and see what feels good.

Length - Decide on the length of your vows so that you are both on the same page. Do you plan to say a quick little sentence each or a few paragraphs? If you want my expert opinion I suggest busting out three to five paragraphs. 

Style - You may like to Google some pre-written vows that resonate with you both. The other option is to write your vows together so that you are united in your promises to each other. If you are planning to write your vows separately and surprise each other on the day, ask your celebrant if you can email your vows to them to make sure the length and vibe match up nicely. 

2. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)

Pop some Barry White on, grab a glass of something yummy and write down the following:.

1. LOVE. Brainstorm all the things you love about your partner: it could be personality traits, looks, how they make you feel, what you admire about them, what they’ve taught you about yourself and why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. 

2. PROMISES. List all the things you would like to promise to uphold throughout your marriage. Make a list of everything you already do that makes your relationship so great. Then list areas you could improve on to make your marriage even stronger. It may be practical like remembering to put the bins out on bin night or it could be nurturing like never forgetting to kiss your partner goodbye each day. 

3. FUTURE Your wedding day is just the beginning of a fabulous lifetime together so what does your future hold for you? What do you look forward to most about sharing it together?

Handy hint: Write down the thoughts you may think to yourself but never say out loud to your partner. Let it all out!

3. Piece it together

Now to turn your jumbled scribbles into a romantic love story! I’ve broken it down into four sections and added some sentence starters to help get you started. 

Handy hint: Start your vows using your partner’s name. It seems so simple, but it really is effective. Better still, if you have an endearing nickname for your partner, this is the best time to whip it out!

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Section 1 - What you love about your partner and the relationship you share. I suggest choosing 3-5 from the below and making them your own.

Name/nickname, you are ……
Words cannot possibly describe….
You mean…
From the moment I met you…
When I look at you…
You make me…
You have taught me…
I can’t imagine…
When I am with you I feel…
I never thought I… but then…
I am so lucky because…
I love the way you…
When you walk into the room…
I love you because…

Section 2 - The promises you wish to uphold throughout your marriage

You might like to repeat the same sentence to add style to your vows.

I promise to….
I vow to ….
I will always try to ….
I may not… but I will…
I will never forget to…

Section 3 - Look to your future!

I can’t wait to…
I can just picture us…
When we are old and grey…
With you by my side I just know….

Section 4 - Find a sweet ending 
You may like to use one of the following sentences, otherwise your favourite song lyrics or a quote from a TV show is always a winner too:

This is my promise to you.
With all my love, *insert name here
I can’t wait to spend forever with you. I love you. 
Yours forever, *insert name here
I am so proud to call you my husband/ wife/ partner in marriage

Handy hint: Keep your vows all about your partner and less about you. Make eye contact with them when you read it out and if possible, hold their hand. It will put you both at ease and make your partner feel like they are the only person in the room. And don’t forget to say “I love you”! Simple, yet effective!

Still feeling stuck? 

It’s time for you to turn to your trusty friend Google for some inspiration. There is so much out there to sift through so go crazy! Research vows, song lyrics, poems, readings, or sit down with some popcorn and watch your favourite Rom Com.

I hope this has helped ease the pressure of your big day. Relax, have fun and enjoy the moment with your beautiful partner.

Happy writing! Enjoy xxx

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