During our initial consultation with couples one question that we always ask is if they will be writing their own vows...the response is usually a resounding "YES" from one and a look of horror on the others face. We encourage all of our couples to write their own personal vows as we always say; "you know your partner better than anyone!" but we do understand that this can feel like an overwhelmingly daunting task for some. Don't worry, we're here for you every step of the way. We provide a selection of sample vows for our couples to look through; not necessarily for them to use unless they choose to do so, but we often find that it gives them that little bit of inspiration that they need to start putting that pen to paper and creating vows that truly speak to their partner in the most heartfelt way.
Below is an article that was published in the local Saratoga Bride magazine Spring/Summer 2022 Issue which features Maria Pelton; Direct of Ceremony Services for Carissa Ceremonies. She provides some great tips on writing your own personal vows, and hopefully help take some of that fear away...
"How To Put Your Love Into Words"
Most people will list public speaking as being among their biggest fears, so the thought of expressing their deepest feelings in front of a room full of family and friends on their wedding day feels down right terrifying.
Yet, more couples are doing just that with the help of people like Maria Pelton. Maria is a certified non-denominational minister and the Director of Ceremony Services at Carissa Ceremonies, which was started by her sister, Jessica Rowell, fifteen years ago.
“We come from a long line of entrepreneurs, and we love talking to people, being with people, and are natural presenters,” said Maria. She is now Carissa Ceremonies lead officiant (Jessica has gone on to pursue other interests) and has made it her business to ensure your wedding is tailored to your unique vision.
“I write all the ceremonies from scratch. They’re never cookie cutter.”
Listen, Connect, Create
Crafting the right words to say during the ceremony always begins with actively listening first.
During your initial one-hour consultation, Maria will learn how you and your fiancé met, your engagement, and the role the family has played in your relationship.
She’ll go over the traditional aspects of the ceremony, including the processional, the welcoming of family and friends, discussing special moments, the exchanging of vows, and if you’d like to add a special ritual. These rituals can be a reading that embodies the relationship, or a symbolic gesture of the couple’s unity, such as the fasting of hands with a rope, scarf, or ribbon, or a sand ceremony where two containers of colored sand are poured together to represent the blending of the couple’s lives together.
Writing the Wedding Letter
In recent years, it’s also become common for couples to write letters to one another. These are exchanged the morning of the wedding before the chaos of the day commences.
“This is an opportunity for the bride and groom to reflect on the time from the moment they met up to that day and to think about what they’ve experienced together,” said Maria.
“When we start to talk about these letters during the consultation,” she continued, “people often get nervous and cringy because they’re not sure they’re going to come across the way they want to.”
How to Say, “I Love You”
Here are wordsmith Maria Pelton’s top tips on how to write a heart-thumping wedding day letter.
Share memories of your relationship up to that point.
Describe how you express your affection for each other on a daily basis.
Speak from the heart.
Scribble down ideas whenever they come to you so you don’t forget them – you can always expand on them later.
Avoid the crunch. By starting a few weeks before your wedding day, you’ll have enough time to revise your drafts without feeling rushed.
Keep it short and sweet – stick to what will fit on a single page.
Writing Your Own Vows
Writing your own vows is approached differently than the wedding day love letter. The vows are much shorter, are spoken in front of everyone in attendance, and encompasses what will come.
“The letter is you speaking to your partner about what you have shared… The vows are focusing on that specific moment in time and into the future. They describe what you are committing to when you’re starting out together on that day, and in the days and months to come,” said Maria.
For couples who want to write their own vows, Maria recommends the following:
Look at samples. She has selected more than 50 to use as inspiration.
“When they see what others say and how they say things,
couples will have that ‘AHA moment’ where they realize,
‘Hey, this is going to be easier than I thought!’” said Maria.
Steer clear of anything overly intimate. No matter how close you might be with your audience, make sure everything you say is something they’re going to feel comfortable being privy to.
Stay away from hot-button topics. If it would be off-putting dinner table conversation, leave it out of the vows.
Be supportive and encouraging of your spouse in your statements.
Express your hopes for your relationship as you move forward together.
As part of her services, Maria will review (and if necessary, help you edit) your wedding letter and vows before the big day to ensure your words will be received in the loving spirit that you intended.
A professional wedding officiants advice on answering some of those all important questions that couples ask.
Where to start when it comes to writing your vows? Maria provides some helpful tips to think about when starting the process. And just remember...you don't have to be a professional writer!