The ‘love letter’ is a method you can use to write your vows. As well as a chance to express and explore your love for each other, it is a precious gift both to give and to receive. Though you have obviously explored and expressed your love for each other already, the love letter exercise helps you to enter into the marriage relationship with your eyes and hearts wide open. It is affirming, supporting, empowering and fun. It also provides essential ingredients that can be used in the ceremony, especially the vows. Enjoy!
Your Wedding Vows
The Love Letter
Write a love letter to your partner using the following prompts. This letter is only to your partner and not for everyone at the wedding to hear so don’t be shy and don’t hold back. We’re exploring feelings here and looking for inspiration so ignore that little voice in your head telling you, ‘I can’t say that!’
I suggest you each do this on separate sheets of paper. Remember to keep them as part of your wedding ceremony keepsakes.
Begin with a heartfelt opening:
‘Beloved …’, My dearest …’, or any other term of endearment you might have for your partner.
Complete the following statements:
- ‘What I love and appreciate about you is …’
- ‘You are …’ (five loving words to describe your partner)
- ‘The highlights in our time together have been …’
- ‘I know we can traverse the ups and downs because …’
- ‘My life is richer because …’
- ‘As your partner in marriage I vow …’
- ‘I look forward to …’
Remember, this may or may not be used in the ceremony, so allow yourself complete freedom to ramble on, or put your ideas in point form.
To close your letter, finish with words of love and gratitude for your partner.
Come back together and exchange your letters – don’t discuss them yet. Just take the time to read through your partner’s love letter to you.
Observe how you are feeling, and enjoy this gift. Be present with the joy, be present with the tears, and be present with whatever arises. Now, discuss with each other any thoughts or feelings that have come about from doing this. Listen fully to each other in turn. Is there anything you would like to use in the ceremony, and in the vows in particular?
When you are finished go back through your partner’s writings and underline or highlight any favourite words or sentences that reach out to you.
At this point, using the feelings and words you have discovered above, you can start assembling your vows.
In addition to what you wish to say to each other, the vows will also need to include the legal vow – ‘I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A B (or C D), take you, C D (or A B) to be my lawful wedded husband (or wife)’
You can word your vows according to your personal beliefs and values. They can be the same for each partner or you might like to write different ones. However, you may want to agree on a specific length for the vow.
You may choose to use the traditional vow and add your own personal touch at the end.
The traditional vow
I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, Jonathan Blake Whitmore, take you, Catherine Eloise Sutherland, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, and thereto I give you my pledge.
Followed by your personal vow
If you find you are getting stuck and that you need a break from the process by all means take one. Take some time to reread your love letters, go for a walk, even sleep on it, before you resume the vow writing process again. This will help you to recapture those all-important feelings that will contribute to writing heart-felt vows.
The vows are the most enduring part of your ceremony. Long after the cake has been eaten, your vows, the promises you have made to each other, will remain a part of your marriage. Spend as much time as you are able to and as much time as it takes on the writing of the vows.
Even if you decide to copy your vows from elsewhere, which is just fine, do spend some time discussing them together. Go over each word and make sure they apply to your unique relationship. Other vows may sound beautiful and poetic but it is the meaning behind the words that is most important.
After you have completed the love letter it may help you to get started on your first draft if you write your names into the following sentences and see what happens:
I, _____________take you _____________ to be my husband …
I, _____________take you _____________ to be my wife …