Pledges from the Heart
Tips for personalizing your own vows

You and your fiancé become partners for life with the heartfelt words you speak at your ceremony, making promises that mean the world to you. To give your vows that special personal touch, follow our guidelines.

Kick it off with tradition
Ask your officiant for a look at the vows that would ordinarily be used at your particular church, synagogue or other ceremony venue, so you can use them as a jumping-off point for your own words of love and commitment.

Be sure to ask the officiant if you will need to include any particular words or terms in order to make your "I dos" valid in the eyes of your faith or the law.

Celebrate your history
First, discuss with your fiancé the things that make your relationship special. Did you meet in some unusual way? What were some of the things you discovered you had in common? Think about the milestones in your relationship. When was the first time you exchanged "I love yous"? What are a few of the experiences you've shared? A look at the past can get you thinking about what you want to promise each other for the future.

Look ahead
This is a great opportunity to discuss with your fiancé the kinds of things that are important about marriage to both of you. What do each of you consider the most meaningful aspect of the marriage? What do you want for your future together? What do you especially value about one another? Now it should start becoming more clear to you what you want to promise each other at the altar.

Let loose
You might want to begin by writing your vows in the form of a letter that only your fiancé will see. Thinking about a room full of friends and family members listening to every word can cause writer's block, but in your private letter you're free to pour your heart out. Then go back and pick out the parts you want to share with the crowd. You can give your honey the unedited version on your wedding night.

Get coordinated
Not every couple likes to share their vows with each other as they write them—some choose to keep them a secret from each other. If you do decide to surprise each other at the altar, just be sure you don't end up promising different things. Simply compose at least one line with your fiancé that includes the important promises you want to make—then be sure to weave them into whatever else you plan to say.

Borrow from the classics
Help is at hand if you get stuck along the way. There's always Shakespeare—or even Springsteen. Scour the works of your favorite poets, novelists, playwrights, children's book writers and songwriters for quotes to include in your vows. Or pick something pithy from that romantic movie you both love.

Whisper sweet nothings
Perhaps you feel most comfortable reciting traditional, time-honored vows at the altar, but still wish to find a way to add a more intimate message to one another. Do it privately! Ask your officiant to announce a moment when the two of you will whisper those not-for-public-knowledge vows into each other's ears at the ceremony.

Or promise each other that you'll recite those more personal vows to each other in the honeymoon suite later that night.


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