Image by Dawn Thompson Photography

Whether you’re saying your vows over Zoom or in front of a large gathering of friends and family, we know just how hard it can be to find the right words, and get through your vows without a tearful breakdown. This is why we caught up with one of the best in the industry, Charlotte of Your Big Day – Queenstown Celebrants to share her best tips for writing and saying your vows.

Continue reading below for more about Your Big Day and for Charlotte’s advice…

Tell us about what you do and how you came into the wedding industry…

I’ve been a marriage celebrant since 2015 and got into wedding planning in 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic changed things a lot for couples and wedding businesses alike. I first had the idea about becoming a celebrant whilst I was doing some casual work for a catering company as a waitress and I would work at lots of weddings. I was on my feet in the heat for long hours, and I would always watch the celebrant who seemed to show up looking glamorous, do a bit of talking, drink some champagne and then leave in a flash! At the time I thought “I’m in the wrong job here, that celebrant gig looks way easier”.

It wasn’t until I met my now husband Brad and we were planning our own wedding that I realised what an important job the celebrant has. We wanted to do things a little differently on our wedding day (we had our dog as the ring bearer, Dr Seuss style wedding vows and a champagne toast to finish) and we wanted our celebrant to jump on board with our ideas and kick off an awesome day with a fun ceremony. We struggled to find a celebrant we could connect with and be ourselves around. In the end, a close friend’s mum became a celebrant to marry us and she was the perfect personality fit but didn’t have professional experience.

So, that’s what I set out to achieve with YBD, creating personalised ceremonies that are unique and fun whilst also guiding couples through the process of getting married with expert advice and insider knowledge. Now I love to be inspired by each couple that I work with, I get a real kick out of helping people write their own vows, and I enjoy creating blogs that help nearly-weds prepare for their big day. I also collaborate with a YBD team of celebrants who share the same passion for making sure every YBD couple has some fun in the wedding planning process and their ceremony on the day.

What are personalised vows?

Writing your own wedding vows is your opportunity to share a personal message with your partner on your wedding day. Often your vows will feature in the ceremony just after, before, or in-place of the “I do” moment. When it comes to personalised wedding vows there are no real rules, so you really can say anything you like. They might be romantic and reminiscent or sentimental and a bit silly, or all of the above. Great right? Free reign! But also a bit scary when you’re not sure where to start…

So, where do I start?

OK, let’s go back to basics. Think of your wedding vows as having a beginning, middle and end. You’ll want a good opening line, some meaningful content, and some poignant last words. All YBD couples get access to a bunch of helpful wedding vow templates with bullet points to follow and inspire their vows. Here’s one you can try right now:

  • Start by reflecting on how far you’ve both come since you first met
  • Pick three things about your partner or your relationship that has helped you along the way
  • Make three promises to your partner that you know are important to them and to your marriage
  • Tell your partner about your hopes and dreams for your future together

This is just one example of a great vow structure as a starting point to get your mind in gear. Give yourself time to jot some ideas down against each of the bullet points first, have a break, and then go back to make them into sentences. Now you’ve got your first draft of your vows done, you can play around with them as much as you like. Consider adding some inside jokes or favourite anecdotes and don’t be afraid to have some fun. You can also share your vows with a friend or your celebrant for their feedback and suggestions. Above all, as long as you’re writing from the heart and being yourself, your partner will love your wedding vows!

How long should they be?

Again, there are no rules here which I know doesn’t always help! I’ve seen vows that are just a couple of sentences long and others that stretch over multiple pages. At YBD we recommend not to get too hung up on yours and your partner’s vows being the same length. If one of you is more talkative or more wordy than the other then why not let that be reflected in your vows? However, if you would like them to be similar in length but still keep them as a surprise on the day then share your vows with your celebrant. Your celebrant can help you even things out by incorporating some of the sentiment and themes from the longer vows into their words for the ceremony instead. 

What if I’m too emotional to read them on the day? / I won’t be able to read them without crying and I don’t want to ruin my makeup!

First of all, don’t worry about being emotional on your wedding day, it’s totally normal and makes for great photos! Once you have your vows finalised it’s a good idea to read them aloud a few times to get familiar with them. On your wedding day I’ll always remind you to take a deep breath first and take your time reading your vows. There is no need to rush and it’s OK to pause if you have an emotional moment. I’ll also have tissues ready for happy tears too! And if you’re really nervous about sharing your vows in public, consider exchanging them in letter form before, during or after your ceremony.

What are the best vows you’ve heard?

I love that everyone’s vows are different and unique but there are a few that stand out as particularly personal. One bride incorporated a bunch of the couple’s favourite band names in her vows such as “A Day To Remember”, “This Wild Life” and “Yours Truly”. Another couple saw their marriage more like a business merger and wrote terms and conditions instead of vows. And vows for blended families can be so beautiful, one bride once made vows to her partner’s daughter saying “I did not give you the gift of life but life has given me the gift of you” and I’ve always loved that line.

To get in touch with Charlotte from Your Big Day , you can visit their website HERE and Instagram HERE

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