I talk about my process in this interview. We start with a conversation with the couple together to determine the tone, the length and the vibe they want to have. I then work separately with each, so the vows can be kept totally secret. Typically, I give a questionnaire which I ask only for answers that resonate and that they want to include. It’s actually a brain dump. Once that is competed, if we are meeting in person or working remotely, I ask more questions to delve into specifics. We dig into when and how they met, what it first felt like, their special experiences, some great memories, their joys and hurdles, why they are marrying this person, what they want to promise and more. What comes out of our sessions are often the guideposts for their marriage. I take all this content and, in their words, put a structure to the vows. Together, we edit. I also will make suggestions and do further editing, until we are in a good place.
Next comes the delivery. I approach this like a performance. I encourage ways to start getting familiar with the words and not to memorize. I have different tips and tricks to share to make this pretty easy.
Once they are familiar words with the words, we work on the enunciation of words (many people mumble), how to pause for a laugh, when to make eye contact, how to project their voice, how not to fidget, how to breathe, how to deal with nerves, etc. We rehearse together, as I stand in for the other, literally pretending we are actually doing this. If we are working remotely, we go through the same process….there’s just a little screen between us. I’ve been told by many of my clients that they use the skills I teach them in their everyday lives.
Because of my background as an actress, I coach my clients in a way that others can’t. Whether we do it in person or remotely, I have the ability to see and catch things that no one else can. If you’re mumbling and don’t realize it, if you’re swaying or twirling your hair…If you’re staring at your vows and forget to look up and the list goes on. I’m essentially helping you give the best performance of your life.
The ceremony is actually the most important element of a wedding and should be a priority. Starting on your vows 8 weeks prior is ideal, although allowing even more time is far more relaxing and less stressful. Don’t leave it to the last minute! That’s not to say it can’t be done. I’ve had a number of people come to me a week before and we pulled it off without a hitch, albeit somewhat nerve-wrecking.
I think that including saying “I love you’ is important…but what’s even more important is being specific as to why you love your future spouse, because that gives it far more meaning and relevance.
The surprise of speaking the words you’ve worked so hard on is far more special if you wait until the ceremony. I strongly recommend couples wait until that magical moment.
Absolutely! Religious weddings have their own structure and rules, but you can still personalize it. For example, you can recite your vows privately, or write them in a letter to your spouse. I’ve even seen one couple do their vows as speeches at their reception.
I recommend against it. It’s too much pressure, unless you have that theatrical skill ingrained in you. I encourage as much practice as possible, which you should do out loud, because hearing it over and over again will naturally seep into your memory. You want to be very familiar with the words, so that there is plenty of eye contact throughout. You don’t want to be glued to the piece of paper or vow book. Getting to know the words really well without memorization will ensure you are fully present, and not just reading in a monotone voice.
Not necessarily, but if one person is super silly and the other is deadpan serious, it can be a little jarring. In working with each one, I can ensure that both are somewhat on the same page with just the right amount of humor thrown in.
About 3-5 minutes each. My job is making sure the vows are balanced in tone, length and vibe.
Absolutely! Everyone does it. You get inspired that way. Whatever words are used, I make sure that they sound absolutely unique and authentic. I talk more about how couples can personalize their vows on the Wedded Podcast.
Don’t make empty promises and don’t use the words ‘never’ or ‘always’. I talk more about empty promises here. Also, don’t use inside jokes that only your future spouse can relate to.
I compiled some resources here that should get you started.
There nothing wrong with traditional vows: "I take thee to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, etc. You may want to say more, and prefer me to say it for you. It’s up to you….