Your wedding vows. Let’s be real—they are a trifecta of pressure: they are important, they are said in front of an audience, and they somehow have to capture all the inside jokes, couch cuddling, road trips, and Netflix marathons that make up you and your partner’s relationship in three minutes or under! If that’s enough to give you stress dreams, then take a deep breath and read on.
Step One: Talk
You’ve probably seen it happen. The bride’s vows are deeply emotional and touching while the groom’s vows are goofy and funny (or vice versa). In order to make sure you are both on the same page, sit down with your fiancé and decide ahead of time on the format and tone. Of course, give a little leeway for your diverging personalities. You might be more comfortable opening with a funny story about the first time he tried to talk to you while he might want to start with a serious quote about marriage. And that’s okay! Just be sure that, overall, you both have a clear understanding of expectations so neither of you feel surprised by what the other person says.
Step Two: Brainstorm
Get a nice mug of coffee, a cute notepad and pen and start thinking! Write down notes about your relationship, adjectives that describe your partner, and special memories that make you smile. Don’t worry about organizing them into any particular order just yet. Simply enjoy the process and get your creative juices flowing. Once you’ve done that, think about the things you want to promise (they are, after all, called vows!). List a few general ones—like, “I promise to always be there for you”—and some specific ones, like, “I promise to become an honorary Red Sox fan during baseball season.”
Step Three: Structure
For a foolproof method that would get you an A+ in a public speaking class, follow this formula: begin with a short story or affirmation of your relationship, describe a few things that you love about your partner, say two or three promises, and close with one final promise that sums everything up (and, for bonus points, you can circle back to the story that you started with). With this structure, you’ll say everything you need to say and, perhaps, illicit some tears from the audience. Overall, avoid anything too embarrassing or cliché. You and your fiancé have a relationship that is unique and special—let the quirky/passionate/fun aspects of your shared story guide you.
Step Four: Practice
You’ll feel much more confident saying your vows if you practice them. Say them in front of a mirror or practice in front of your friends—you can even record yourself on your phone. If you want, you can memorize them, but most brides opt for a pretty little vow book that they can read directly from. With practice, you’ll be familiar with your vows and you won’t have to worry about losing your place or stressing about your delivery. On the actual day, don’t think about anyone watching. Simply look into the eyes of your partner and focus on him alone. This is such a special moment that belongs to the two of you. It’s the culmination of all the ups and downs that compose relationships so let yourself be swept away in the moment.
Before you know it, you’ll be walking up the aisle as husband and wife but, even if your voice wavered or you stammered, you’ll always have those shared promises, from now to forever.