Picture at Santa Margarita Ranch, CA

Taken at Santa Margarita Ranch, CA

When you decided to write your own wedding vows you probably thought it would be a simple task; however, as your wedding is approaching you might find yourself in need of some inspiration. Don't worry, we've got just what you've looking for. From questions to just how intimate you should make the vows, how long they should be, and even what to say, we've got you covered!

How intimate should I make my vows? 

This is a difficult question because the reason you are personalizing your vows is so they can be...well, personal! However, it's always important to remember your audience because after all, you will be saying the vows in front of a large group of your friends and family. Part of having a ceremony in front of them is so that you can share your love, so don't skimp on the core values of your relationship; however, do ditch the thousands of inside jokes.

You don't want your vows to end up being a laundry list of the inside jokes you share. I guarantee Half-Baked Ben and Jerry's ice-cream and funny infomercials aren't really the cornerstones of your relationship!

Instead, tie in all the little details and inside jokes to a larger theme that you want to carry through your marriage. Maybe the fact that you both watch funny infomercials and 3 am shows that you are always on the same page, or maybe it symbolizes the sense of humor you share. Relate your anecdotes to a larger theme and then you can use them to lighten up the vows. For example,

"You are the only person in this world who shares my same sense of humor and will stay up until 3am with me to laugh at infomercials."

How long should I make my vows?

First, make sure you speak with the officiant just to get a brief timeline and see what she/he will allow. In most cases, the vows last around 2 to 3 minutes per person...and trust me, this is longer than it seems! The key to reaching this time frame is rehearsing your vows before the big day.

First, write out everything you want to say without any consideration of time length and then try saying it out loud with a timer running. If you find yourself with a very short vow, don't add more just to meet the "timeline" instead try slowing down your pace. Also, keep in mind that it is common for people to speed up their speaking pace when they are nervous, so make sure you practice your pacing beforehand.

Taken at the Cairo Estate | San Juan Capistrano, CA

Taken at the Cairo Estate | San Juan Capistrano, CA

What Should I Say? 

Typically, the vow can be divided in three distinct parts...

1. A declaration of your love. Some people opt for famous quotes or Bible versus to begin their vows. Others might opt for something simple and heartfelt such as, "John, my beloved, since I met you my life was filled with happiness because you are my one true partner, the hand I always want to hold, my best friend, and my true love." If you want to use quotes, here are some that are not too cheesy and easy to relate.

"When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew." - Arrigo Boito

"The minute I head my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, they're in each other all along." -The Essential Rumi

"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." - When Harry Met Sally

"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

"God is a great matchmaker." - Jewish Proverb

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." - George Sand

"A good marriage is that is which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude." - Rainer Maria Rilke

"Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." - Robert Browning

Taken at Holman Ranch | Carmel Valley, CA

Taken at Holman Ranch | Carmel Valley, CA

2. Promises for your future marriage. This is where you get to truly dig deep and think about all the beautiful values you want to embrace and always maintain through your marriage. For example, "I promise to never leave your side and work at our love every day." These can also be a bit "lighter", Jennifer Anniston promised Brad Pitt she would always make his favorite banana milkshakes! Just remember not to get lost in the laughs and still include the things that really matter to you.

"A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day." - Andrew Maurois

Taken at the Valentino Estate| Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Taken at the Valentino Estate| Rancho Santa Fe, CA

3. Personal touches. This is where you would add in some of your inside jokes (with the caveat discussed earlier) and where you should really think about the little details that make you love unique. One of the most beautiful "personal touches" is that of Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul. He had singer Keith Zarriello from The Shivers personally sing "Beauty" to his wife-to-be Lauren Parsekien. Because it is her favorite song, he even had the entire audience learn the words so that they could sing along and form one grand serenade. Part of the song sings,

"I give my love and all my love to you, my love
I feast on love, a beast for love, release my love
you're scared and unprepared for love, don't care my love
cause youre the only woman I've been dreaming of
I swear to god I'm loving you for life
I swear to god I'm making you my wife
and if you ever leave me I never will be sore
I'll love you 'til you're lonely
then I'll love you some more just before... "

Taken at Edgewood Ranch | Nicasio, CA

Taken at Edgewood Ranch | Nicasio, CA

Despite the "structure" of the vow, the most important thing to remember is to speak from the heart. Sure, there are thousands of tips and quotes to draw from but in the end, saying what you mean is what really matters. So, don't worry and don't stress because your vows are sure to turn out wonderfully!

Your turn... 

What are some of your favorite quotes about love and marriage that you would incorporate into personalized vows?