BY ANNA SACHSE
Lots of couples love the deeply personal nature of writing their own wedding vows, but often find it difficult to sit down and actually spell out how they feel. Sound familiar? This expert advice should help you find the right words.
Make sure everyone is on board. Some religions require that you use specific, traditional wording for part or all of your vows - a quick chat with your officiant should alleviate any concerns. If all's clear, have a heart-to-heart with your fiancé to determine if you will write them together or separately, and, if the latter, they will follow the same structure or be entirely individual.
Regardless, it's a good idea to do some brainstorming together to decide on the general tone (mushy, humorous, serious, etc.), says Anja Winikka, site editor for TheKnot.com.
Decide what you want to say. Rather than expecting the perfect romantic sentiments to flow from your pen on the first try, ask yourself a number of questions, says Winikka. What are your fiancé's greatest characteristics? What makes your relationship so uniquely wonderful? What was the moment when you knew you found the one? What does marriage mean to you and how do you think it will change your relationship?
"Remember, less is more so be concise and just speak from your heart," Winikka says.
Consult the experts. Chris Robinson, a Los Angeles-based nondenominational minister and founder of OfficiantGuy.com, always recommends that couples consider including part of a poem, song, book or movie that has had personal meaning in their relationship. Anything is fair game, from the Bible, I Ching and The Prophet, to Shakespeare, Dolly Parton or The Wedding Singer. The Internet is also a great resource - Robinson offers sample vows on his website, and TheKnot.com/ceremony provides numerous examples of popular ways to word your vows.
Be prepared. In a word: practice. And even if you plan to memorize your vows, write them out and stash them with a wedding party member just in case the moment turns you and your sweetie into temporary amnesiacs.
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