You’ve fallen in love. Now try putting that magical connection into words to explain why you belong together forever. Original vows can be the centerpiece of an especially memorable ceremony. That’s why New Jersey couples—as many as 40 percent of them, according to officiants we spoke with—are writing their own. If you’re game, here are some expert tips:
Speak from your heart. “When couples prefer personal sentiment to pre-packaged words, I suggest they tap into their feelings, stay under 50 words, and avoid the words ‘honor’ and ‘obey,’” says Minister Mitchell Maged of Oakland. Father Vince Corso in Cedar Grove agrees, “I advise brides and grooms to write five sentences from their hearts to reflect the openness and permanence of their relationship.”
There’s no right or wrong way. Couples have exchanged one set of vows, surprised each other with totally different vows, even had one speak traditional vows and the other original ones. In all cases, they were officially married.
Don’t memorize. Spare your nerves and read your vows—or repeat them after an officiant. “Vows come at the emotional height of the ceremony, when you’re ready to explode,” Maged counsels. “So my couples write them on index cards to read when the time comes. I ask them to keep these vows secret from each other, so they’re fresh for the ceremony.”
Stick with tradition. There’s nothing wrong with traditional vows; couples have been tying the knot with them for generations. As Father Vince tells us, “Some couples feel connected to grandparents and parents by saying traditional ‘I dos.’ Old or new vows don’t measure a marriage. These couples have already pledged themselves to one another. This is simply the public proclamation of something that’s been in their hearts for a long time.”
Save them for the future. Even so, there’s something magical about phrasing your mutual love in your own words. When couples do, Maged claims, “It’s like I’m not really marrying them; they’re marrying each other. I always suggest they tuck away their vows to re-read on their first anniversary.”