Getting Personal

Getting Personal

Exchanging wedding vows is a time-honoured tradition, but more couples are now choosing to write their own. Reciting personalised vows can add a special touch to your ceremony, however writing them can be a daunting task. Bhria Vellnagel speaks to Beverley Cleaver from Beverley Cleaver – Simply Stylish Ceremonies about how to perfect the art of personalising your vows.

Wedding traditions have certainly changed over time. Originally, marriages were seen as a joining of families and finances, with no interest in marrying for love. Historically in the Celtic tradition, a handfasting was held, which allowed the pair to be legally married for a year before making it permanent. Similarly, religious vows were traditionally defined to the letter to confirm a covenant between the couple and their chosen spiritual deity. These traditions have since changed as more couples are choosing to write their own vows to incorporate their own personal touches.

The growing trend of personalised vows has become extremely popular. Here, we delve into the ins and outs of personal vows, and explore how they can add a memorable and personal touch to every wedding ceremony.

A Passionate Composition

Love can often be hard to translate into words, which is why writing vows can be one of the most difficult details to perfect when getting married.

“Most couples now definitely prefer to write their own vows,” says Cleaver. She recommends you “draw on other [people’s] ideas... or get suggestions from your celebrant”.

“Not to mention, there are some amazing ideas to be found on the internet,” adds Cleaver.

A Good Beginning

Professional writers know that putting pen to paper for the first time can be the hardest part of the entire writing process. No one expects your personal vows to be an award-winning composition, nor should they be. A few minutes of simple and effective words are all that’s necessary to create the perfect personal arrangement.

Cleaver advises couples to “think about what you want to tell your partner on the day and what you want your family and friends to see”.

An easy way to start writing is by jotting down – in dot points – what you love about your partner.

Include a couple of promises you feel comfortable making to your betrothed, and add some of the reasons you want to spend the rest of your life with them.

“You are promising to spend the rest of your life with this person, [so] tell them why,” says Cleaver.

Getting Guidance

Celebrants are often overlooked as a source of advice and inspiration when it comes to writing vows. However, most celebrants are more than happy to help you put together the perfect words for your day.

“If you’re [struggling to write] your own vows, just tell your celebrant – in your own words – what you feel you want to say,” says Cleaver. “[They] will then create a number of drafts, which you can both work on until you achieve exactly what you want.”

Speaking to people who know you and your partner personally, such as friends and family, will give you some inspiration and feedback. Ask for advice from people who have written their own vows; the guidance from their previous experiences will help you avoid any misgivings in the writing process.

Your Own Style

Including some special moments that you’ve shared with your significant other in your vows can add a special touch, which can either make your guests laugh or cry! “Humour is a great inclusion, but [including too much will make you appear] flippant,” says Cleaver.

While writing, it’s important to remember that you’re not only speaking to your fiancé at the ceremony, but you’re also addressing your guests. While you may want to incorporate cryptic or embarrassing inside jokes, they may not be understood by your audience.

Cleaver says incorporating anecdotes or speaking about your fiancé’s special qualities is a great way to start. “Some couples promise to continue to have fun together, never forget what joy they shared on seeing their first sunrise, how their partner inspires them every day or that they always make them laugh,” she says. “On one occasion, the groom promised to continue to do the vacuuming!”

Speak Of love

When the day arrives, performance anxiety is likely to set in, and the words you’ve carefully constructed and rehearsed for weeks may vanish from your memories. Using pre-written speech cards and/or prompts from your celebrant can ensure you don’t get confused on the day.

Be Yourself

Cleaver says “vows that keep in tone with your values, expectations and personality can keep you from appearing nonchalant about marrying your future spouse”.

“If you aren’t an overly flowery or lovey-dovey person, don’t include expressions [that will] embarrass you,” she adds.

Being comfortable and confident in the words you’re saying will make them mean a lot more to both you and your significant other.

Practice Makes Perfect

Reciting your vows in front of a mirror – or recording them – is great practice, as it will allow you to see how you look and sound. Similarly, by rehearsing in front of people, you’re less likely to forget your words in front of guests at the ceremony.

“The couples I have dealt with have not relied on memory when saying their vows,” says Cleaver. “I definitely promote this; the day of the wedding is filled with excitement, nerves and joy, [as well as] stress, so it would not be surprising to get a bout of stage fright.”

The growing trend of personalised wedding vows has become a beautiful new tradition; writing your own vows allows you to make meaningful and personalised promises to your significant other. With the help of friends, family and a celebrant, creating your own vows will certainly create an individual and memorable experience for all!