Kirby and I talked a lot about our ceremony during the year and a half leading up to our wedding. We said the whole time that we wanted it to be special and to represent us. As much as we were excited about the reception, the dancing, the dress, and our favorite people in all the world being at our wedding, we knew the reason we were celebrating was because we were getting married. We didn’t want to breeze through the ceremony and just get on with it. We wanted to tell each other and our friends and family who surrounded us how much we meant to each other. We wanted it to mean something, to be special.
I think the most compliments we received were about our ceremony, and I couldn’t believe it! I knew that it was perfectly tailored to Kirby and I and what we wanted, but it made me so happy to know that everyone saw how much we put into it. I compiled a few tips about how to write your own vows because when we first started we felt a little lost. 1.) Create a relaxing environment I finalized my vows two days before the wedding after I got a massage. I was relaxed and excited about the wedding, and it was the perfect time to collect my thoughts. They let me sit in front of the fire and have tea, and I actually got teary while I finished writing. I know not everyone can do this, but if possible try writing your vows when you’re calm. Maybe have tea in bed and put on some calming music or pour yourself a glass of wine and sit on your balcony (I don’t have a balcony, but you might!) Point is, try to avoid writing your vows during your stressful wedding week. It takes all the fun out of it. You want to be able to enjoy the process as much as possible.
2.) Get a feel for the tone and length of your partners vows We wanted ours to be a surprise to each other, but some couples decide to write them together, which is totally fine! However, I felt the same way about our vows as I did about our first look; I wanted it to be a complete surprise during the ceremony. We went back and fourth about how long our vows would be. We wanted to make sure they weren’t completely different lengths (ie one of us going on for half and hour and the other one simply saying ‘I love you’). Being that Kirby and I are both kinda wordy, we agreed upon about one page single spaced in order to keep us from going on too long. Also, ask yourselves this: Do you want your vows to be funny, serious, light hearted, or a mix of all three? Discussing tone is important because you don’t want it to seem like you’re on completely different pages. It’s good to know what your partner has in mind.
3.) Don’t worry about what other people think This is for you, not anyone else. Yes, your family and friends are there to support you, but this moment is about you and your soon to be spouse. Once we realized we both had a lot to say, we kept worrying that we would bore people and go on for way too long. Eventually we decided to just not care about what other people thought and just go for it. The ceremony was for us and about committing our lives to each other; it’s not a time to rush and worry about what other people think. Because we stopped worrying about other people, our ceremony came out exactly how we wanted it, and we had no regrets.
4.) Take your time! I added sentences and ideas to my vows for months and months. I didn’t end up using half of them, but I didn’t want to look back on the ceremony and wish I had said something else. Sometimes I would be sitting at work and a random thought would pop into my head and I would immediately add it to my list of ideas so I wouldn’t forget. It was so nice to have so much material to work with once I was finalizing my vows.
5.) Read other vows and get to know what you like and dislike. Even if you’re a good writer, you (most likely) don’t write a declaration of your love for your partner everyday. It’s a different style of writing and it takes some thought. Give yourself enough time to make sure you’re really saying what you want to say. Both Kirby and I read a bunch of other vows to get an idea for how we wanted to put ours together. I realized there are so many different styles! Some people read famous poems, some people turn it into a comedy act, some people say a few simple sentences. Find out what you like best and what seems the most ‘you’.
6.) Practice. After you’ve written your vows, practice them several times. Just because what you’ve written comes across well on paper doesn’t mean it will feel natural once you’re reading them out loud. I made quite a few edits once I started reading my vows to myself and imagining saying them to Kirby. I wanted it to feel like I was talking just to him, not making some fancy speech.
Also, decide if you want to memorize them or not. I practiced enough to where I was really familiar with my vows, but there was no way I was gonna try to memorize them and hope my nerves didn’t take over. We both read from our vows, but we knew them well enough so we could make plenty of eye contact with each other. You want to be able to look into your partner’s eyes, not just down at a piece of paper. Also, read through them several times so you know where to pause and take a breath. There were several parts where I knew I just wanted to pause, look into Kirby’s eyes and take in the moment.
7.) Have them written out and give them to your officiant. Even if you think you have them memorized, have them there just in case. Our officiant had asked for them the day before the wedding so he could have them ready for us. It was really nice not having to run around saying “Who has my vows? I don’t want to forget them!!!”
8.) Read them again! One of the most memorable things I’ve ever done was reading our vows to each other again on our honeymoon. We made sure to bring them with us, and we were able to truly soak them in and say them to each other without feeling any pressure. I cried through the whole thing! We vowed to read them to each other every year on our anniversary.
Here are our vows so you can see what we came up with:
Kirby- Our wedding day is finally here, and as we stand up together in front of our closest friends and family, I want to tell you how thankful I am to be marrying you today. You are my best friend, confidant, teammate, and my one true love. I think often about how lucky and blessed I am to have a man like you. You are the same person behind closed doors that the rest of the world sees, and you are a good, honorable, ethical man. You have so much integrity and you live your life with such honesty. I love the way you treat your friends and family and how you always have everyone’s backs. You are truly an incredible person, and there is never a doubt in my mind if this is meant to be. Ever since I was a little girl my mom told me again and again, “to thine own self be true.” I really took her advice to heart, and I know I can truly be myself when I am with you. I am able to be authentic with you, and I love that we can be silly together and we laugh with each other, not at each other (at least most of the time.) I take so much comfort and honor in the fact that you honestly and whole heartedly love me for who I am. Kirby, you, more than anyone, know my vulnerabilities, insecurities, and weaknesses, and yet you have never made me feel judged or inadequate, and you love me without reservations. You have helped me become the person I am today, and I look forward to growing with you, learning with you, and doing our very best to live fulfilling, happy lives. I adore how you always want to find new and exciting things to do whether it being trying a new food or seeing a new place. You make me laugh in all situations, and you help me keep perspective on the important things in life.
When I look back to before we were together, I realize I have always loved you. I respected the person that you were, you made me laugh harder than anyone else, you gave me butterflies that wouldn’t go away, and I trusted you like a dear friend. Now, 9 years later, our love has grown and now I get to tell you how I feel instead of just writing about it in my high school journal. We have been through a lot. We have grown close to each other’s families, gained many amazing friendships, and have traveled far and wide. You have held me up, encouraged me and coached me through some of my most difficult times, and I am so thankful to you for that support. I am aware that life will be full of ups and downs, but I feel we have already shown each other that we have each other’s backs, that we know how to work things out, how to forgive, how to laugh things off and how to support each other when life gets challenging. I look forward to many more nights of cooking dinner with you, days spent on the beach, riding bikes, and travelling to new places. I can’t wait for more inside jokes, times spent with family and friends, and making a family of our own. I wouldn’t want to grow old with anyone else.
Today Kirby, I join my life to yours. The decision to commit to sharing my life with you is one I make joyfully, easily and with total confidence in our love, and one that I’ve been looking forward to for a really long time. I promise to always make sure our relationship is strong, healthy, and fun. I promise to live life to the fullest with you, and always do my best to keep you happy, to have fun with you, to laugh with you, cry with you, protect you and love you with all of my heart. I promise to mix things up, try new things, and always do whatever it takes to keep our love as strong as it is on this day. I promise to stand with you in the good times and the bad, including rough Sharks, Giants, and 49er seasons. I believe in us, the people we will grow to be and the couple we will be together. With my whole heart, I take you as my husband, acknowledging and accepting your faults and strengths, as you do mine. I promise to be faithful and supportive and to always make our family’s love and happiness my priority. Kirby St. John, I am so excited and thankful that today I have the honor of becoming your wife. You are my best friend — my love and my life, today and always. I love you
Emily- An actress named Loretta Young once said, “Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.” And when I heard that, it really stuck with me because I can’t think of a better way to describe how all of THIS came to be.
I met you on your first day at Soquel High. You hadn’t even walked all the way through the door of Mr. Myers’ class when I first saw you. I was struck by your beauty, of course, but there was also something about your presence that felt different and special to me. You chose a seat right next to me, so really, you found me. I didn’t do a thing. As we’ve talked and joked about many times, there was an instant chemistry between the two of us. Never dull, always engaging, and often hilarious. If someone would have told me five minutes after I met you that I was going to commit my life to you in marriage, my answer would have simply been, “Ya, okay!” Now, it wasn’t just all downhill from there. We’ve had other relationships and experiences, partly because you kind of avoided me after our first date and you turned me down for the winter formal, but our friendship kept us close and that chemistry we had from day one always seemed to gravitate us to each other. When we first started “officially” dating in college, I remember having this sense of comfort and of my mind being at ease. It probably sounds a little intense to a lot of people, but you and I started talking about sharing our lives together pretty much from day one. And the beautiful thing was that there was never any doubt or fear in either of us. We weren’t searching for a sign or a feeling. We knew love had found us.
The most amazing years of my life have been the last six. We’ve shared a home together, traveled together, grown together, grieved together, dreamed together, and been pieces together. Being engaged has been fun and exciting, and using the word “fiancé” has even grown on me a little, but now, I am sooo ready to call you my wife. You are so stunningly beautiful today, and every day, and when I think about the way you brighten my world with your smile, your laughter and your love, I know how lucky I am and how happy you will make me throughout our life together. I promise to forever do my best to return the favor. I will always be not just your partner, but your best friend. I promise to hold your hand whenever you want, even if you squeeze a little too tight. I vow to help shoulder your challenges and nurture your dreams. I will always strive to better your life, whether that means tickling your arm when you’re falling asleep, or taking you to every corner of the world. I will always cherish what makes you you, like your made-up songs and your impromptu dances around the house. I will never stop trying to make you smile or laugh. I promise to always enjoy the little things in life with you. I will always be honest and trust your honesty with me. I promise to treasure the experience of growing old with you, because you are the love of my life, and I know that a love like ours will only find us once.
And last but not least, our ceremony video!