I knew long before Michael and I were even engaged (over a DECADE ago…now I’m really aging myself!) that I dreamed of us writing our own vows for our 10/3/10 wedding. I don’t think Michael was as crazy about the idea, as an introverted guy who definitely saves his emotion for the most key moments in life. But he agreed (after all, it IS a pretty important moment!), and it was truly one of the most memorable moments of my life to experience, even 11.5 years, 3 kids, a home build, and what feels like a lifetime of memories later. I will never forget how it felt, hearing him tell me about his love for me in his OWN words in front of our 60 absolute favorite people. We said some of those words that have been repeated by millions of people over the last hundred years as well, and those were special too. But sharing in front of everyone our very favorite parts of each other, of our life together, and our promises for the future was just so special. Here are 3 of my favorite moments from our own personal vows:
So you might be dreaming about writing your own vows but feel unsure, or have some questions about how to actually make it happen! I hear my couples mention all the time that they are worried that they aren’t “funny” enough, or equally “sappy”, or that one of them wouldn’t express the depth of their love the same as the other…we shared those fears too! But after doing it ourselves and witnessing many of our couples also do this over the last 8 years, I thought I would share some ideas here!
1). Consider following a similar overall structure to your vows. Starting with a general opening and ending with a list of promises (more on this later) makes a lot of sense and helps give both vows an OVERALL similar feeling even though they can be completely personalized.
2). Stay within a few minutes overall, and keep them semi-similar in length (you can either both time yourselves reading, or compare word count—but there can be a lot of variety with word count based speaking speed! I could read an extra 100 words easily in the same time Michael reads 100 less!
1). Consider including a list of promises. The point of personal vows is certainly to let your relationship really show through what you share, and to be able to fully express your love in your own words! But there is something special about including promises, since at it’s core, a vow is a promise! I wrote with a “I promise to _____, even when I ____” structure, which allowed me to add some humor even though I do not consider myself a generally funny person.
2). Don’t shy away from personal references and jokes if they might be understood by your closest people! It really personalizes what you are sharing in a beautiful way, and can help bring the audience into what you are saying as well. I talked about how I promised to try new foods with Michael, and not beg him to take in EVERY stray animal that came our way, because those were both truths about our relationship that our loved ones were very familiar with!
3). Practice it quite a few times out loud! Reading it in your head isn’t the same thing as practicing the words out loud to see how it all flows. Maybe even consider reading to your sibling or BFF just to make sure that it goes smoothly.
4). While you do want to practice so that you know emotionally you can get through it- it is OK to show emotion as well! It’s your wedding day, after all– it is expected, and honestly beautiful to see from your loved ones.
5). Think about what you will read your vows from. Definitely go paper (vs on tech!) for the photo/video sake, and maybe consider beautiful vow books! You could continue to write each other letters in those books for years to come, and they could become a special keepsake for future generations.
If you are hesitant to write your own vows for your ceremony (or aren’t allowed based on church tradition), that is understandable too. If you want to make sure you share your personal feelings with one another in a different way, letters before the ceremony are also a lovely sentiment that feels like a better option for couples who choose not to go with personal vows. Any way that you can share your own feelings and thoughts about the day and your future spouse is a super beautiful touch!
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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!).
As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids. I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!
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You're in the right place! As a past high school teacher, educating others is my life's work and a HUGE part of my business! I have been teaching moms and hobbyists how to use their camera from first purchasing it all the way to coaching them into businesses of their own, and I'd love to help you as well, wherever you are (and whatever camera you have!).
I'm so glad you are here! Teaching Photographers and other small business owners how to run more joyful, successful, and profitable businesses is one of my favorite parts of my business! I specialize in working with photographers to make their goals a reality (or figure out what their goals should be in the first place!).