Have you made the decision to write your own wedding vows? Then chances are you’re stressed, anxious, and procrastinating.

I’m Katelyn, creator of Wedding Words, a wedding vow and toast writing service. As a professional vow writer, I hear the cries of brides who crave custom wedding vows, “I’m so overwhelmed and have no idea how to write my own vows!”

Well, there’s no reason to fear this wedding planning task any longer. I’m here to help by outlining the ultimate guide to wedding vow writing. Follow these tips for a stress-free vow writing experience and you’ll soon enjoy sharing unique vows on your big day.

1. Start with a Brainstorm

The hardest part of vow writing is getting started. For now, forget needing to form actual sentences. Just begin with a brainstorm.

List every romantic memory or a funny moment you two have shared. What feelings come to mind when you think about your relationship?

Scribble down thoughts without judgment. The goal with this brainstorm is simply to get ideas down on paper. We’ll worry about forming them into coherent thoughts later on in the process.

2. Include a Theme

Themes are the anchor points of any good story. Think about your favorite movie or book. You can identify themes. Vows are another form of storytelling—and should also include a theme.

To identify your theme, review your brainstorm notes. What similarities jump out at you? Unwavering support? Thoughtfulness? Laughter?

Once you’ve identified the theme of your relationship, use this to center your vow writing around. For example, if thoughtfulness is your theme—tell a specific anecdote about how your fiancé showed his thoughtfulness. Then connect this theme to what you wish to bring into your marriage. In other words, how do you plan to be thoughtful to him throughout your marriage?

3. Track Your Word Count

Aim to write between 390 to 650 words. This is three to five minutes in speaking length. Keeping the word count around this length will ensure that your vows are concise, articulate, and will keep the guests engaged.

Trouble keeping your vows short and sweet? Editing your own work can be challenging.

Follow these two tips to help with the self-editing process:

  • Remove any word that doesn’t add to the meaning or your point. Meaning, does the sentence still make sense without the word? If so, delete it. It’s not needed.
  • Remove any phrase or sentence that does not make a new point. If you’ve already said something similar but in a different way, no need to be redundant. Cut it and move on to making a new point.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Any great speaker you’ve watched and have been inspired by has endlessly practiced their speech. This step is especially important for anyone who has a fear of public speaking—which most of us do!

Rehearse reading your wedding vows in front of your bridesmaids and ask for constructive feedback.

Prefer not to go public just yet? Video record yourself. The purpose is not to be self-critical. It’s to be self-aware. Do you say “um” countless times? Do you avoid eye contact or fidget with your hair?

Catch your nervous ticks before the ceremony and you won’t have to watch them for years to come on your wedding video.

Practicing your wedding vows will also build your confidence. The more you do something, the more natural it begins to feel. The more you practice your vows, the more poised you’ll feel.

5. Print Your Vows on Paper

As natural as it might feel to read your vows off your phone—don’t do it. Your photographer and videographer will not be happy. The glow from your device will distort the coloring on your face in images and video. It will also look dated and tacky in the future.

Plus, if you experience any technical issues, you may not be able to pull up your vows on your phone. #awkward

Opt for handwriting or printing your vows on paper. For an especially polished touch, use a wedding vow booklet. Etsy has a variety of adorable vow booklets. You can choose anything from booklets that match your wedding colors to having your names embossed on the cover.

These booklets will make for beautiful photographs and are a nice keepsake after the wedding.

6. Work with a Professional

If you’re still struggling to write your own wedding vows, consider collaborating with a wedding vow writer. At Wedding Words, we work with couples to create custom wedding vows that are completely unique to your love story.

When you’re looking to add a special and personalized touch to your wedding, choosing to do non-traditional wedding vows is the way to go. Enjoy following this wedding vow writing guide so you too can create beautiful, custom wedding vows.

For more expert wedding advice, visit our planning section.