I vow to stay calm while writing our vows

Phrase of the day:

This is so hard. Have I mentioned that this is hard?

Guess what we’re doing?


Writing our vows.  You know, doing just the most important part of wedding planning, in my humble opinion. Or not-so-humble opinion.

This process has, I think, been the hardest part of this whole wedding planning experience, and also the part with the most pressure.  We have to represent ourselves and say it all in a way that other people will understand.  And while a wedding is not a show – I think most of us can agree on that – you also have to keep in mind that there will be people watching and yes, I do want to bring a tear to an eye.  Not the most important part of the whole thing, but I want our vows to be meaningful and moving – first to us, but also to the people who are at our wedding to see the transformation from two separate people to one little family.

No pressure, no pressure.

So all this time, we’ve been sort of talking about how we should write our vows soon.  We’ve been collecting sites with vows on them, looking at examples, taking snippets from here and there.  We spent a day by the lake doing a little exercise for our vows, writing down what we loved about the other person, and then writing down what we wanted to promise or bring into the marriage ourselves.

fun vow setup at the lake

This was all well and good.  And then we sat down together to try to put all of these ideas and phrases and all of this love into a coherent paragraph or two.

And that conversation ended with both of us yelling at each other.  Because of course we had different ways of doing it – we’re very different people, even though we have the same goals for our relationship and our marriage, and we approach writing and editing from very different places.  So my surprising lesson was that before we could write our vows, we had to figure out how people do that in the first place.

how we felt after trying to express our love together

Surprisingly, I haven’t been able to find much information on this.  I have found lots of peoples’ vows that they have written, places where people said, “we wrote our vows together,” but no one is really talking about how they did that.  Did one of them sit down and write them?  Did they pass something back and forth?  Did they do it together?

We are far from done, but here is what we have done:

  1. The exercise mentioned above.
  2. We sat down together and read out loud phrases we each liked individually – if we both liked them, we put them into one Word document.
  3. We went through the document and made everything we really liked bold.
  4. Turtle spent some time on her own writing some things – her own words, not just these other peoples’ words – and then we went through it all again, bolding and discussing.
  5. We realized that we just couldn’t collaborate in real time without getting frustrated with each other about the process.  And trust me, it’s extra frustrating when you’re arguing about how to say you love each other.
  6. We each sat down at the same time in the same room with our own computers with the same document, and are writing our vows.

It turns out that I had been thinking all along that we were going to have the same vows.  Part of this is is because we want to have a Quaker marriage certificate/Ketubah.  Basically, we want a big, beautiful piece of paper with a pretty picture on it and our vows written at the top, and then to have everyone at our wedding sign to say they were there and that they support our marriage.  It’ll be something like a combination of these, English only (no Hebrew), and with lots of lines for signing:

click on image for source

click image for source

Today, though, was the first time we talked about possibly not having the same vows.  Our ketubah/certificate/big-pretty-thing could have sort of a combination of our vows and cover all the major things we’re trying to say to each other.  So now we get to each write our own vows and figure out how to put them all together! Fun!

But seriously, how would you go about this process?  And do you ask people to edit your vows? Doesn’t that seem a little personal?  And now that we’re each writing our own, do we share them? Are they secret? Someone please answer my questions and fix everything for me!

“This only feels like the most important thing that will ever be written or read.” – Turtle



Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Relationships

12 responses to “I vow to stay calm while writing our vows

  1. oh gosh… our ceremony writing started off like this…

    me: “honey, we need to write this. here is some stuff i found.”
    josh: “ok.” (he looks at it)
    me: “what do you think?”
    josh: “it’s good.”
    me: “so are we using it?”
    josh: “sure.”
    me: (frustrated beyond belief) “stop being so damn indifferent!!!!”

    (did i mention this re-writing/editing happening tomo is my idea? haha! i brought it up to josh and he was all, “i thought it was done?” then i whined and said it was incomplete and he agreed to tackle it again.) so you and turtle actually having opinions about what goes into the ceremony is a whole diff experience than what i got going on.

    we’re trying again on saturday (tomo) to write it with our officiate/good friend. in fact, i just spoke to her and i was worried about where things go and she was like, “all that matters is the- do you take so and so?” part. in a way, she’s write. she needs to make it official in that sense, but that doesn’t take pressure off the important words i want to include.

    the one thing we did agree on was doing some kind of audience participation or sharing similar to a Quaker ceremony. i’ll send you ours after we write it. i don’t know how we’re going to do it to be honest with you! haha! not helpful at all, i know.

    • Angie, I love the idea of having a third set of eyes, but at the same time I feel so fiercely protective of them!

      One thing that’s challenging is letting go of the idea that we have to include every single important thing… I’m trying to focus on the top *ideas* and *basically* covering them…

      Good luck tomorrow, hope it goes well!

      • I’m writing about how we wrote our ceremony now. And it’s kind of an ugly post… Haha! I’ll have it up tonight. But yes, it’s written! I was embarrassed to show it to our officiate, but she was all, “Umm… why do you need me to look at this? You have a ceremony!” 🙂

  2. We haven’t tackled it yet but I know it’s going to be a major speedbump when we do. Marrv has already tried to fight for a more traditional ceremony where we just repeat what the officiant comes up with rather than personal vows we write – his reasoning? “I already know I’m going to get emotional, if I have to say my own personal thoughts I might not be able to get it all out” – which was so sweet I couldn’t be mad. But then the next day I said, “I get that but we’re writing our own vows.”

    Not that I know where to start – I don’t know if we should create one set for us both to say to the other, create two individual sets but that have the same structure/phrasing – we just fill in with our choice of “promises” based on what we want to say to the other person, or if we should each have our own set and doesn’t matter if they sound nothing alike.

    Um yeah. this is going to be tough.

    • Suzanne, I saw something I really liked, though decided not to use, on WeddingBee recently. It was someone’s “mad libs” vows… see here. I actually thought this was a really good starting point. We also looked at this list as a starting point, and pulled things we both liked.

      I like the idea of making a list of important qualities in each other and important promises you want to make, and then shifting those ideas into more traditional vows. Good luck!

  3. I’m in the process of writing my own vows. We’re writing our vows separately, otherwise we’d also fight like cats and dogs. They will be a surprise the day of. It’s definitely hard. My partner, Mr. Fiction-Writer-why-do-poets-obsess-about-these-things, wrote his in half an hour. I have no idea how I am going to write my vows. One helpful thing was that we have a “vow-vetter” a friend that is going to read both of them to make sure they are OK, but she is sworn to secrecy.

    Some friends of mine just got a traditional service and a bottle of wine, and by the time the wine was gone, they had vows and a ceremony.

    • I love the idea of the vow-vetter and the wine. How did you pick your vow vetter? Tell me more!

      • It happened pretty organically (as in my friend just volunteered to do it). But it started because I was worried that he would make fun of me (in a loving way) in the vows. So my friend (who was my friend first, but is now friends with both of us) decided to read it and told me that I had nothing to worry about. Now she’s going to read mine just to be sure they sounds OK. Pick someone you trust. Pick someone who knows you both well enough that she knows what would bother you. Since you’re writing them together, maybe a professional mediator? (Kidding. That’s what I would need, though.) Let me know how the writing goes because lord knows I haven’t written mine yet!

  4. We had no idea how to start this process. Ideally, we wanted to have similiar/complementary vows, but we wanted them to be a surprise. A bunch of people told us this was a bad idea, including our officiant.

    We decided to set a word limit (250), that’s all. Then, because our officiant was worried, we e-mailed her our vows so she could look them over. She never sent back a critique, so we assumed they were okay.

    Turned out they went really well together. They weren’t the same, but they had a similar structure. And they didn’t feel forced or unnatural. I was all worried about being cliche, but I finally let that go (and also tried to mention things that were specific to us, so it wouldn’t feel too generic).

    • Oooh I like the idea of a word limit. In the end, were you glad it was a surprise? I would be interested in hearing more about that… also, thanks for commenting! 🙂

      • I was glad we kept them a surprise, but to be honest, I don’t think reading them beforehand would’ve taken too much away from the experience. I had him read me his vows again later, just because it was hard to soak it all in during the ceremony – it went by so fast. I was trying my best to really pay attention and focus, but it still feels a bit like a blur. I think it’s all the adrenaline, LOL.

  5. Ashley and I looked at several examples, took what we liked about each and discarded what we didn’t care for or didn’t apply. We wanted something simple but touching that ‘said it all’ about us specifically getting married so we wrote most of it from scratch and put a modern spin on the traditional promises that you make. We didn’t have anyone proof it for us but we did let Ashley’s parents and our officiant take a look before the rehearsal to get a few opinions. Good luck!

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