You guys, I am SO excited to bring this blog post to all of you!!! As strongly as I feel that eloping is the best way to get married, I believe the vows are the most important part of the day. You may have already figured that out when I rebranded the business to be “Adventure & Vow.” What you say to your partner on your wedding day lays the foundation of your marriage. A lot of times when eloping it’s just you two, which gives you the beauty of feeling comfortable enough to say anything and everything you want to say to your partner. Sometimes you have your family or closest friends present and want to have a shorter ceremony, but maybe a private vow reading in the morning or later in the evening. No matter what, when eloping I am here to help you have the space and environment to freely express your vows. But first you need to write them. How do you write something this important? I have brought in an amazing officiant, celebrant and vow workshop provider, Emily, the owner of Rooted and Wild. She is based out of the great Pacific Northwest and I highly recommend her if you’re looking for someone to hold your ceremony on your elopement day. Let’s dig into what advice and tips she has to give!
Vows are my favorite part of the wedding ceremony. I love hearing the sincere bravery of an undefended heart, the hilarity of inside jokes, and the raw honesty of hope. It is a powerful exchange of promise. Because of that, vow writing can be a daunting process for many people. It might feel impossible to distill the contents of your heart. And how will you know if you picked the right words?
I’m here to tell you that there is no wrong way to write your vows. Yes, there are reflection questions and potential structures that might help but at the root of it, you are the only one who can write your own vows. It’s your unique love story. I have heard a lot of different vows as a Celebrant and I can honestly say that they have all been utterly beautiful because they came straight from the heart. So, that’s the good news. You can take a deep breath. You’re going to be fine, they’re going to be beautiful, and I promise that writing your vows can actually be a fun part of your wedding planning process. And we all know that you could use something fun to focus on in these uncertain times.
I love this quote by Hilary T. Smith: “People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”
So, where do you start with vow writing? You start by writing down the details in reverence for the cracks in the sidewalk and the secret rooftops of your lover. You fell in love with a unique person and there are so many specific things that you love about them. We rarely reflect back to our partners that we love the freckles on their shoulder or the way they always cry during Hallmark commercials. There is such reverence in these little details. Start there.
Here are a few prompts to get you started:
Next, take a look at what you’ve written and notice what jumps out at you. More than likely you won’t include every single thing that you just wrote down in your vows. You’ve got your entire marriage to keep sharing these details with one another, so don’t worry about cramming it all into your vows. But take a look at the things you’ve written and consider what rises to the surface. What feels juicy and important to include in your vows? Make note of these things.
When you sit down to write, take a deep breath and imagine looking at your fiance on your wedding day. Let the words flow. Be honest, be brave, be vulnerable. Most of all, be yourself. If you are a serious person, no need to turn into a comedian when writing your vows. You be you.
There are no rules, though I typically see them range between 1-3 minutes (½ to 1 page typed). If you’re worried about your vows being way longer or shorter than your partner’s vows, talk about it before you sit down to write and agree on an approximate length. No need to time them and get all analytical with it because the length of your vows has no correlation with how much you love your partner. Say what you want to say in as much time as it takes you to say those things.
Here is an excerpt from vows that were written by someone who came to my vow writing workshops claiming that she wasn’t a writer and didn’t know where to start:
“For me, home is in your arms. A feeling of calmness runs through me. It’s where I feel most safe and tranquil. Your infectious, bright smile is the first thing I fell in love with. More specifically, the gap between your two front teeth. Laughing with you is my daily medicine. I love your perpetual quest for meaningful connections to people and animals and your thirst for adventure, nature, pleasure, travel and excitement. Your ability to learn anything you truly care to is a thing of beauty and your ability to see people for who they are and not just the surface, is a true gift. You inspire me each day by working to be your best self. I am proud of the ambitious, courageous, compassionate woman I am becoming by way of illustration. You have contributed more to my life than I thought anyone ever could. You are always there when I need you, supporting me in whatever I do.”
If you’d like additional guidance, I encourage you to come to a vow writing workshop! It’s a fun evening of reflection and connection, available online or in-person in Portland, Oregon. The next online workshop is April 29th. I believe in creating inclusive and fiercely loving spaces in my workshops. All love stories are welcome and honored.
Celebrant and Owner of Rooted & Wild: Spirited Ceremonies
Portrait by Marissa Solini Photography
Here at Adventure & Vow I am here for you every step of the way. I love providing blog posts to help you plan your day and get ideas for your elopement. I love taking this even further with my couples that elope with me. Once I start working with a couple I help them connect with other vendors they need, finding the best locations and helping them plan the logistics. Your elopement day should be the day you are most connected to each other. I am here to help you a have a day that allows this in some of the most beautiful places in the world. As a planner, photographer, guide and friend I value your experience. I am beyond blessed to capture couple’s love story the day of to help you two preserve these moments forever.
If you are looking for even more help and inspiration on writing your vows check out Wandering Wedding’s blog post, How to Write Wedding Vows Guide. One of the recent elopements I photographed was featured along with their wedding ceremony and vows.