One question engaged couples get asked again and again -- besides, of course, "What are your colors?" -- is whether or not you'll write your own vows.
Vows are, obviously, a big deal. I'd argue that they're actually the most important part of the wedding. And as weddings become more personalized and tailored to each couple's characteristics and idiosyncrasies, writing your own vows is becoming more and more the norm as well.
But, there is more than one way to DIY your vows. (In full disclosure, this statement is coming from a writer who's choosing to say traditional vows rather than write my own.) For some couples, saying what they feel deep in their hearts in front of a crowd of people (even if said crowd is a collection of lovely people you care about), can be daunting. For others, writing isn't the ideal means to express themselves.
So, for all the couples out there who want to write their own vows... but don't actually want to write their own vows (*raises hand*), here are some alternative ideas that will be just as meaningful.
1. Write Each Other Letters
Rather than say them during your ceremony, shyer or non-writerly couples may opt to jot down their feelings -- what they would have said in their vows -- and exchange these letters the night before the wedding to be read the day of before the ceremony. My fiancé and I plan to do this and I think it will not only allow us to express our love privately (without the pressure or possible censorship of doing so publicly), but it will get us even more excited to marry each other, too.
2. Put It on Scraps of Paper
About a year ago, I saw a cute idea on Pinterest in which a wife collected things she loved about her husband on little pieces of paper and then presented them to him in a jar. I think this idea would work really well for engaged couples: A few months before the wedding, cut up an even number of paper scraps for both of you -- 25 is a reasonable number -- and then spend the weeks before the wedding filling up a jar with them. Write down everything from reasons you're excited to marry your partner to promises you want to make to him or her. Then, the night before the wedding (or a few days before if you're sleeping apart), tip over the jar and take turns reading the pieces of paper aloud to each other. Kinda like saying vows before the vows, eh?
3. Sing a Song
If writing isn't your thing -- and stage fright isn't either -- do as Justin Timberlake and John Legend did and serenade your sweetheart either during the ceremony or at the reception. This heartfelt gesture would go a long way, especially if you are musically talented and could write a song just for your soon-to-be spouse. Just be sure that you have the right acoustics (you want to make sure everyone can hear you) and that you practice (a lot) before the big moment.
4. Create a Piece of Art
Whether it's a painting or a sculpture you can unveil and display, or a film for your guests to watch at the reception, a surprise work of art can express what your words may not be able to. Your beloved will be touched by the time and commitment you put into your project and your creation would be something you can both cherish for years to come.
5. Read Something Special
You and partner may decide to choose readings that have significant meaning to your relationship, like a poem, a passage from a book you love or even song lyrics that speak to your feelings. Even though the words themselves aren't original, the depth of your emotions will be clear when you say the words.
A version of this blog originally appeared on Robbins Brothers' Fully Engaged blog