Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Friday, March 19, 2010

Personalize Your Personal Promises (Vows)

Filed under: Add-on Ceremonies,Personal Promises,Wedding Vows — Larry James @ 6:00 am

Consider writing something very special to read to each other during your wedding ceremony. In my “romantic” ceremony there is a place for you to say something that you would like to express to your partner; they are called, “personal promises.” Some couples I marry say they want to write some of their own vows. What they write to each other are called, “personal promises.” I have written the wedding vows – which couples seldom change – and which are quite different than any others.

This can be a very special part of your wedding ceremony and can have a magical effect on your guests. Your wedding is one of the few times in your life when you can be completely and unashamedly emotional and candid in public. And your guests will love it.

PersonalPromisesThis idea may seem overwhelming. It’s not that tough. It doesn’t take creative brilliance. Start writing early. The only way it may seem that way is if you wait until the last minute to put together the words you would like to say. The minute you lighten up about the process, it will begin to transform from a difficult task on your to-do list to an exciting journey in love and romance.

Sit in silence by yourself and write down all the keywords of your feelings towards your partner. No distractions. Seek a nice, quiet place to reflect and write. Write some romantic phrases that come to mind and perhaps add bits of poetry to highlight love, care, and understanding in your relationship. What special things does your partner need from you? Use your imagination!

Go through and pick out the 4 or 5 points that are most important for you to say. Usually 4 or 5 sentences will work. Short and sweet is good. Don’t overdo it and for the sake of your relationship, don’t make promises you know you cannot keep.

Consider using a line or two from the lyrics of your favorite love song.

Take some time to read through a variety of wedding readings, as well as passages of poetry and famous writings about love. There you may find some special lines that speak to you that you can use when you write your own. Humorous and touching? Poetic and mushy? It’s your call. If you have a world of emotions and feelings that you want to portray in your personal promises but just can’t seem to make it all come together on paper, then share what you are feeling with a friend and ask for their assistance. Your minister has heard hundreds of ways that love has been expressed at weddings so he or she would be a good place to begin.

Another idea is to visit a Hallmark card store. You know the cards I’m talking about; the tall, slim, romantic cards. Find one that says what you would like to say to your partner, buy the card and mix up some of your own words with those in the card and you’re on your way.

Take your time. Don’t rush. This doesn’t need to be done in one setting. Dedicate quality time to preparing what you will say. In the months and weeks before the wedding, jot down your thoughts about the relationship, hopes for the future and the promises you would like to make.

Here is a great tip from the Wedding Channel: “You might be surprised how effectively you can write. It’s the “getting it down on paper” that jams some people up. So don’t sit down to write. Instead, get a tape recorder. Find a private place. Maybe put on some music, but softly, so you don’t obscure your voice on the tape. Then, just speak. Say what you really want to say. Be honest. Don’t worry about the words.

Take your time, talk more than you need to, if that will help. Then replay the tape. Find the phrases or sentences that really work, that communicate your true intent. If something on the tape makes you laugh, cry, smile, it’s a winner. Copy it all down, without worrying about grammar, completeness, or the order of the ideas. You might want to write each phrase on a separate index card. Then begin to determine an order for the cards. You can arrange and rearrange them until you get it just right. Fill in any gaps if needed. Then transcribe it all onto complete pages. Guess what? That’s writing.”

Leave your outline be for awhile. Continue about your day-to-day life, thinking about what you’ve written and elaborating within your own head any new ideas you might like to add. Come back to them when you feel ready. Look at your vows with a fresh pair of eyes and decide where to make edits.

Practice several times by reading what you’ve written “out loud” in front of a mirror. When you feel comfortable with what you have written, re-write the words on an index card and read them to your partner during the ceremony. You’re way less likely to be nervous about remembering them if you know you have an index card backup. Be comfortable enough with the words that you can say them in the most loving way possible.

Your nerves may kick in when the big moment arrives. That’s a good reason to NEVER try to memorize your personal promises. That would be a big mistake. If you are a little nervous, you might forget something or get stuck. Not good. Always read them to your partner.

I repeat. . . always write what you are going to say on an index card. It is a good idea not to tell your partner what you will be saying. Let it be a nice surprise during the ceremony. This is a good place to add a little humor to the ceremony. Your words can be humorous or humorous mixed with some serious promises. Suggestion: Begin with something romantic, then something humorous, and always close with something romantic. It works best if the guests are in on the humor.

You may want to consider writing something together and have the minister either read them for you or read a few words at a time as you repeat a few words at a time to each other.

Make sure your officiant will allow you to write some of your own personal promises. There are certain religions which do not allow tampering with vows and rituals. Catholic and Episcopal congregations, for instance, may require you to recite all or part of the traditional vows.

Here is an example to get your juices flowing: “On this day our two lives become one. The love we have dreamed of and prayed for is ours forever at last. Your sweet love blesses me beyond measure. You are my best friend, you understand me, and you know me like no other knows me. I entrust to you my heart, so filled with love for you. I promise to forever love and care for your heart, never to intentionally break it, never seeking to hurt it, always seeking to love it, for it is precious to me. Today as I give you my life, I want nothing more than to journey down this road together, following whatever path it might lead us on, to be there always for you and with you.”

Some couples I talk with become quite self-conscious when even thinking about writing their own personal promises. Remember, you don’t have to be a creative writer to write what you feel in your heart. Think about your feelings for your partner and your love for each other. Compile your notes, memories and reflections into short and romantic sentences. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to express your love for your partner. Just remember to sneak the words, “I love you” in there someplace. Avoid over-analyzing or second-guessing yourself excessively.

Say what’s in your heart!

BONUS Article: Personal Promises Tutorial
12 Tips to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows


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Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: Cell: 480-205-3694. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

comment2Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. –

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nervous About the Big Day? Feeling Faint? Here’s What to Do.

Time to rise and shine! It’s your wedding day! Take a few deep breaths and take a couple of cat-like stretches. There is a lot going on today so let’s begin by getting rid of any anxiety or nervousness you may have that might affect you during the ceremony. You might have butterflies in your stomach and your legs may feel like they are turning to jelly.

It is only normal for the bride and groom to fell a bit nervous before the wedding. Nervousness is a state of mind: it occurs because of unpleasant thoughts, fears and worries that plague a person. A little nervousness can give you an edge. It can give you the energy you need to dig deep and do a really good job. Accept your nervousness. It doesn’t need to paralyze you.

Diminish all the negative thoughts that dwell in your head, and stop thinking about nervousness itself. What you think about and speak about, you bring about. The more you keep thinking about how nervous you are, the more you will be unable to let go of those feelings.

Focus! Be in the moment. It may not be easy but do your best. Relax. Breathe. Concentrate. With a little perseverance and confidence, you can Just know that everything will turn out fine. Be happy. Avoid medications, caffeine, alcohol and illegal drugs.

nervousbride3Normally we make blunders because we are nervous and we concentrate more on avoiding mistakes rather than using our skills to perform better. Remember, you can’t get anything wrong because the guests have no clue as to what you will be doing. Knowing that should give a boost to your self-confidence. If you make a mistake, don’t call attention to it. The guests are on your side. They want you to do well.

Plan your rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner two days before the wedding not the day before. This avoids two stressful days in a row and gives you a day of rest before the wedding. Often there is a wonderful party atmosphere at the rehearsal dinner and too much booze can really put a damper on the big day.

Planning a bachelor or bachelorette party? If you must party. . . plan your party a week or more before the wedding and behave yourself. You do not want to start your wedding day with a hangover or with the guilt of something that you know you should not have done.

Get to bed early the night before your wedding, or else you may have baggy, puffy circles under your red-rimmed eyes. Lack of food and sleep can also cause your blood pressure to drop. Take good care of yourself. Take a brisk five-minute walk. Sometimes the movement of your body will help release feelings of nervousness. Treat yourself to some alone time and relax with a warm bath and some hot tea. Meditate. Aroma therapy might help. Burn your favorite incense. Close your eyes and see the perfect wedding that you know is possible.

stressedladyEven if you don’t ordinarily eat breakfast, eat a good breakfast and substitute healthy juices for coffee. You’re standing at the alter, about to say your vows, and all of a sudden you hear a growl. Opps! Then it dawns on you that it’s coming from your own tummy. Be sure to have a very light snack before you head down the aisle.

It’s important to keep your energy up. Crackers and cheese and a Pepsi are better than nothing. Eat some fruit, such as bananas, apricots, and nectarines, which are high in potassium. This keeps your electrolytes balanced and helps give you energy. Eat before you dress, or cover up your clothes to avoid any accidental food stains.

It never pays to be undernourished at the wedding. You will look tired and drawn, and you could faint if you don’t get enough breakfast. Eating before the wedding will give you energy for your big day and you won’t feel light-headed.

Groom’s usually sweat buckets while some brides (and grooms) have been known to faint.

guyfaintFeeling faint at the ceremony? Swaying back and forth is one of the signs that someone may be close to fainting. Reach out. Let someone know if you can. The first thing you do is support yourself. Hold tight to the groom or someone nearby. Remember to breathe. This is important. One on the tricks I learned as a professional speaker was to breathe in slowly through my nose and out slowly through my mouth if I was a little nervous during the introduction to my speech. You have to think about breathing that way and when you think about something other than what you are nervous about it has a calming effect that can help you gain your composure. Keep breathing like this a few moments until you begin to feel better.

IMPORTANT: Do not lock your knees. Remember to slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other. Never stand perfectly still. Keeping your legs stiff while standing for a long period of time can interfere with your circulation and cause the blood to pool in your lower extremities. The brain needs the oxygen that the heart pumps to it. Locking your knees slows that process down. If the blood has trouble getting to your brain, you may be in danger of passing out. Keep your knees loose and shift your weight occasionally, especially if you start to feel any numbness. Slight movements will help keep the blood flowing.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, especially if it’s hot or excessively dry. Stick with water, ginger ale, or other clear liquids in case there is an accidental spill. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you and can make you dizzy or light-headed. The effects will be stronger if you haven’t eaten much. Steer clear of caffeine.

Never take any new medication. Well-meaning friends may offer you sedatives or nerve pills to help calm you on your big day, but don’t be persuaded.

nervousbride2Face the minister with your backs to the guest – at least, at first. In my ceremonies, about 8 to 9 minutes into the ceremony I ask the bride and groom to face each other. For those who do not like to speak or be in front of people, this gives them a little time to get used to standing there. Look at the minister or at each other – not at the guests. Enjoy the moment. Savor the connection you’re making with the person you want to be with, and do your best to forget all the rest.

Choose temperature-appropriate clothing. In Arizona, it’s very hot during the summer. Most of the weddings in June, July and August are indoors or in the late evening. Avoid long-sleeved dresses and bulkier synthetic fabrics that don’t breathe.

If you’re getting married outdoors in Arizona, make your attire matches the climate. Go with silk or linen and other light fabrics that let the air in against your skin. Skip the tuxes for the guys and consider linen suits or go with something even more casual.

Read, “Getting Married in Arizona? Here’s the Latest Scoop!

If you are planning on saying some of your own vows, remember this: DO NOT try to memorize them. Write what you are going to say on an index card and when the time comes, have the minister hand you your notes. You may want to write in a little humor. Humor has a tendency to break the tension and help you cope with some of the anxiety and nervousness you may feel.

The butterflies in your stomach usually begin to disappear as you walk down the aisle and see the man of your dreams waiting for you at the altar.

Just for fun, take this quiz from “The Wedding Book” to see what type of bride you are! What Kind of Bride are You?

BONUS Article: Nervous on My Wedding Day
Writing Your “Personal Promises (Vows)”

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 445 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. –

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Add Larry James to your Facebook page:
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at:
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at:
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at:

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