So yeah, we got married recently. I think pretty much all of you are aware of that by now. It’s been two weeks since that amazing day, and I’m still reeling from the sheer magnificence that was our ceremony. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it almost feels like a dream. Everything about it was just perfect. And it was packed to the brim with so much love and positivity that we still can’t watch videos or even hear songs from that day without getting emotional…
One part that especially gets me every time I watch is our vows. It also seems to be a part that also sticks out in everyone else’s mind whenever we talk to other people about that day. We knew very early on that we would be writing our own wedding vows. In fact, there’s not a whole lot about my wedding that I’ve been picturing since I was young, but writing my own vows was definitely one of them. I think I can speak for Will when I say that he felt that way too. Not to knock traditional vows by any means, but it just felt right to have our wedding vows be an opportunity to speak directly from the heart, and tell each other and everyone else present just how much the other one means to us. So while the decision to write our own vows was pretty simple, the task itself became pretty daunting before long. I mean, not to sound pompous, but these vows are likely one of the most important things I’ve ever written. It goes without saying that they had to be absolutely perfect, and so beginning the writing process was more than just a little bit nerve-racking.
To get past that, the first thing I ended up doing was literally googling: “how to write your own wedding vows”. Luckily, there were more than just a few blogs willing to dispense advice on the subject. It didn’t take me long to learn that weddings are something that the DIY/Pinterest crowd gets super wet for, which certainly helped me out. Thing is, telling someone how to write their wedding vows is kind of like telling someone how to do their job or something. Sure, a little bit of guidance is great. But the whole point is that it should come from you and from the heart. So if someone tells you what to do then it’s almost like they’re writing it for you. There are some tips, though, that I did find useful when it came to finding inspiration:
- Start early. Like, as soon as you decide you want to write your own vows, get to brainstorming. The months leading up to your wedding will be chaotic, there’s almost no question about that. So the earlier you can get started gathering your thoughts, the more time you’ll have and the better you’ll be able to articulate your feelings.
- Read examples. This tip can be a tad risky, because there’s a fine line between inspiration and copying. Granted, a lot of people will tell you that, since they’re your vows, you can borrow and steal from wherever you want. But again, the whole point is for it to come from you. So when you’re reading examples, think less about what sentences and phrases you might want to borrow, and look more for examples that help you better express the feelings you have inside.
- Agree on a few basic rules. We agreed that we wanted our vows to be a surprise to everyone at the ceremony, including and especially each other. This carries some risk, since you don’t want your vows to be too different in structure or tone or anything like that. So while we didn’t share our vows with each other ahead of time, we did at least agree on a general length and structure that worked for both of us. And since i finished my vows first, I got to set those rules. So again, start early.
- Aim for tears. Will and I joked that our wedding vows would be a contest to see who could get the other one to cry sooner. This was a joke, but only partially. At least for me it was. I found that the simple goal of “tell Will how you feel” was simply too broad, since there were six years’ worth of material to draw from. So I had to search for a specific objective that was a little more focused. Will isn’t much of a cryer, so I knew that, if I could get tears out of him, that I had truly accomplished my goal. Turns out I accomplished that and then some. As a matter of fact, I even had trouble keeping it together as I was reading those vows aloud. Which brings me to…
- Read them back to yourself. Out loud. I can’t stress this enough. There’s a difference between stuff that’s meant to be read and stuff that’s meant to be heard. This is the latter, so you need to make sure that everything rolls off the tongue with relative ease. The only way to ensure that is to try them out ahead of time.
- (Optional) Throw in some Easter Eggs. It goes without saying that you and your soon-to-be spouse probably have a handful of inside jokes or isms that you both share. It’s part of what’s helped bring you two together! So why not throw one or two of those in there as a way to surprise and endear them? If you listen carefully, our vows both had a couple of references in them to Harry Potter, Pokémon, and even Eminem lyrics.
In the interest of Tip #2, I thought I might include both of our vows. First off, here’s Will’s, as taken directly from his Tumblr blog:
As you know, I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. I can usually remember most of my dreams, sometimes having a difficult time separating them from reality. For example, there’s this recurring dream I’ve been having for a while now and it all started 6 and a half years ago. It was a warm day in September, and in this dream, I walked into the LGBT Center on FSU’s campus and ran into the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life. My breath caught somewhere between my chest and my mouth as I fumbled for the words to introduce myself. My knees were weak and my arms were heavy as I tried to muster the courage to say something, and I’m so glad I did.
The dream started off with me spending most nights with this boy, scared at the uncertainty of what the future had in store for us. I didn’t know if anything with this guy was meant to go anywhere, but I did know that I liked him. That adoration that grew inside me pushed aside any doubts I had, filling me with hope, and more importantly, happiness.
Flash forward a few months and we’re meeting each other’s parents for the first time, both of us considerably more freaked out than the parents appeared to be. And then the families confirmed what I had been thinking for a while: it wasn’t by chance that I had ran into this boy, this was meant to be.
More moments flashed by in a whirlwind of memories: Harry Potter World, moving in with Kasey, swimming in the waters of St. George by moonlight, moving across the country and saying goodbye to Florida, adopting the best dog a person could have, and finally, getting married. So many reasons to smile and so many reasons to be happy.
RJ, you took a hopeless boy and gave him hope again. You found me when I had almost given up, and gave me a new reason to smile. Looking back on the videos we’ve made, I’m reminded of all the laughs and tears we’ve shared. Every tear and every chuckle is precious to me. Looking forward, I’m excited and honored at the opportunity to share with you what you’ve already shared with me for the rest of our lives.
I promise to do whatever I can to breathe life into our dream the same way you breathe life into me. When you find yourself to be the victim of fate, I’ll do what I can to defend you. When you’re sick, I’ll bring you Nyquil and ramen, when you’re hungry, I’ll bring you Chipotle, when you’re sad, I’ll bring you Dobby, and when you’re happy, I’ll know my work is complete.
I would be a liar if I didn’t do everything I could to own my happiness, and that is you. You are my happiness. You are my reason. You are my purpose. You are my everything. I love you RJ Aguiar, for now and for always.
And now here are mine!
William, you wonderful boy. You brave, brave man. The past 6 years, 6 months, and 28 days have been an incredibly exciting, exhilarating, challenging, enlightening, and rewarding journey. And there isn’t a second of our time together, good or bad, that I would change, because all of them have brought us here together. You’ve enriched my life in ways I can only begin to describe. You stimulate me, entertain me, challenge me, intrigue me, and inspire me every day. You bring such incredible joy into my life, and you continually help me strive to be the best version of myself. I’m in love with you, and I’m in awe of you. I could not have asked for a better teacher, lover, friend, companion, and partner to walk the with on the rest of my journey. William Ross Shepherd, you are the sun in my sky. Sure it gets in my eyes sometimes. It even singes my skin every so often. But I can never imagine life without its warmth and light. My best times have been brightened by your presence, and my worst times darkened by your absence. And so it is my honor and privilege to take you as my lawfully wedded husband. In doing so, I promise to love you, cherish you, comfort and console you. I vow to be by your side in all your triumphs, troubles, trials, and tribulations. I promise to be there for you as your husband, your lover, your best friend, your confidant, your partner, and your biggest fan. I take you as you are, and as the man you’ll be in all your days to come, asking only that you take me as I am here now and as I will be in all my days to come. We can’t choose our fate, but we can choose others. And so I say before everyone here with us today, in person and in spirit: I choose you. Always Will.