Your wedding plans are in full swing, and a few minor hiccups aside, things are unfolding surprisingly smoothly. That is, until your fiancé suggests something you feared was coming but hoped to somehow avoid: writing your own vows. Not wanting to disappoint, you agree. But as your wedding day approaches, you find yourself waking up in a cold sweat night after night. You imagine yourself staring down at a grocery list instead of your vow script, your guests’ laughter reverberating through your mind in haunting slow motion. Or worse, you’re holding the right script but can’t see the words through your tears, which can only mean one thing—you’re ugly crying!
Before you lose more sleep and start resenting your soon-to-be spouse, put the brakes on your panic attack with a few simple stage fright hacks.
Arm Yourself With Killer Vows
Public speaking may not be your jam, but bringing a mediocre set of vows to the table isn’t going to help your cause. Having confidence in what you are communicating is key to successful delivery. And if writing isn’t your forte, hire a professional vow writer to help you out. There are a number of writers, myself included, who specialize in vow composition. If the vows are composed well, your guests (and partner!) will never know you had a helping hand.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
It may seem obvious, but once you have a perfect script, practice as much as possible. Carry your vows in your pocket, save them to your phone, write them on the bottom of your shoes—whatever it takes to have them handy all the time. If you find yourself in a long checkout line, read them over. Waiting on hold with the cable company? Read the vows to the tune of whatever terrible hold music the company plays. Waiting for the conditioner to work when showering? Recite whatever you can remember. By the time your wedding rolls around, it may not matter if you accidentally bring your grocery list instead of your vows. You’ll practically have them memorized.
Use Giant Font
Even if you think you can recite your vows in your sleep, bring a backup copy. It is not necessary, or even advisable, to recite your vows from memory. There’s always a chance you will freeze, and it’s very hard to regain composure with a blank brain. Choose a font as large as possible. You’re less likely to lose your place if the words are prominent and spaced well. And bonus tip—print on thick (nice-looking) card stock so your paper doesn’t flop, especially if your wedding is outdoors and subject to wind.
Don’t Overthink It
Yes, you might cry. Yes, you might lose your place. Yes, you might grab your grocery list instead of your vows (though this is far less likely if you print on card stock as suggested). But, like anything in life, anticipating the worst scenario isn’t worth all that emotional energy. Remember that your audience consists of your closest friends and family. These people are rooting for you and aren’t going anywhere if you ugly cry.
Have a Backup Plan
Make sure your officiant has a copy of your vows. This eliminates panic over forgetting your script and gives you an out if necessary. Discuss with the officiant your apprehension about public speaking and the possibility that stage fright might win. Ask if they would be willing to read your vows for you if you can’t get through them. Perhaps you can come up with a signal (for example, “If I wink three times, it’s all you”) to ensure a smooth hand off.
Communicate With Your Fiancé
Admitting to your partner that you’re nervous accomplishes two things. First, it gives a heads-up that you might need to have your officiant read for you. You don’t want this possibility to be a surprise. Second, the fact that you’re still willing to put yourself out there—despite all the anxiety that comes with the task—is indicative of your commitment and willingness to do anything for the happiness of your partner. That’s a point for you—not that you’re keeping score.
Writing your own wedding vows is not an easy undertaking, and delivering them can seem even more daunting. But if you nail the script, practice compulsively, come prepared, and take comfort in a backup plan, you will get through them. You’ll likely even receive compliments and accolades—not the slow-motion laughter you once feared.
For more information about professional vow writing, visit the Write Weddings website. Once you fill out a detailed questionnaire, I will turn your memories, feelings, and promises for the future into well-articulated vows. This will start you in the process of delivering your wedding vows with confidence.