We like to start our engagement sessions with love letters because it puts you into the right heart space for the occasion.
Writing love letters (or vows) might seem a bit old fashioned —and writer's block is real, trust us—but putting your feelings into words and down on paper is an awesome way to set intention for your relationship. Here are some tips and tricks to get you through it.
1. Go old school for inspiration.
Start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows from your own religion if you practice a certain faith, and others as well, to see what you like. Incorporate these samples or simply use them as a jumping-off point. Once you've found a few you love, consider what it is about the style that draws you to those vows in particular.
2. Decide on tone with your partner.
How you want your vows to come across Humorous? Poetic and romantic? Will you write them separately or together? Will they be completely different or will you make the same promises to each other as you would with traditional vows? Finally, will you share them with each other or keep them a secret until the wedding day?
3. Jot down some relationship notes
Think about how you felt when you first met, what made you fall in love and when you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together. Think about why you decided to get married, what hard times you've gone through together, what you've supported each other through, what challenges you envision for your future, what you want to accomplish together, what makes your relationship tick, what you thought when you first saw your partner, when you realized you were in love, what you respect most about your partner, how your life has gotten better since meeting your partner, what inspires you about your partner, what you miss most about them when you're apart.
4. Make some promises.
They're called vows for a reason, so the promises are the most important part. Include promises that are broad in scope (like, "I promise I'll always be there to support you," for instance), as well as ones that are very specific to the two of you (like, "I promise I'll always let you watch Game of Thrones on Sundays.")
5. Avoid clichés.
Now that you have your first draft, it's time to make edits. Borrow from other sources but don't let someone else's words overpower your own. You want your vows to sound like you If you find yourself relying on cliché phrases try coming up with a specific example from your relationship that has a similar message. For example, instead of saying, "Love is blind," you might say, "You'll always be the most beautiful person to me even when you won’t change out of your yoga pants.
6. Take out anything too cryptic or embarrassing.
Try to put a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words. You'll want to think about how your vows will sound 10 years from now. If you're okay with sharing your vows beforehand, you can have a friend or family member read it over ahead of time for feedback.
7. Keep it short.
When you say something meaningful, you shouldn't have to say it over and over—so pick the most important points and make them. If yours are running longer than two minutes, make some edits. Put some of the more personal thoughts in a letter or gift to your partner on the morning of your wedding and save any guest-related topics for your toasts.
9. Practice out loud (for real).
It might sound a little awkward, but this really is the best way to prep. Remember to practice, listen to yourself and improve from there. Your vows should be easy to say and sound conversational. As you recite them, listen for any tongue twisters and super-long sentences, then cut them. This is also the time to practice the delivery. And remember: When you're at the altar, stand straight, look at your spouse and use your hands expressively (but only in small gestures).
10. Make a clean copy for yourself.
The paper you read from should be legible, so even if you're working on it right up until a few moments before your ceremony, use a fresh piece of paper free of cross-outs, arrows and notes.