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    Love Letters Inspire Wedding Vows

    howardTo paraphrase Forrest Gump’s mama: Weddings are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Weddings are flavored by the couple as well as by the officiant. I encourage couples to customize their ceremony, allowing their personalities to shine through during their ceremony.

    I enjoy working with couples, helping them to write their vows. There is very little that is legally required when it comes to vows. I therefore ask couples if they would like to write their own vows. Most people don’t have a clue on how to start. I share with couples that I have difficulty every month when I sit down to write a column. Even if I have a general idea for my topic, the first line or the first paragraph is the most difficult for me to write.

    I have heard some experienced writers suggest that a writing project can be started in the middle and then the opening can be added later. I suggest that couples begin with the four words, “I love you because…” and then see where their thoughts take them. Even if they delete that opening phrase, it helps to get their emotions and their creative juices flowing.

    I suggest that rather than focusing on the vows, brides and grooms think about writing a love letter. This helps them to be authentic. It doesn’t have to be all mushy. They can include humor if that is their style. Most of all, they should share part of themselves. They can write whatever they want their partner to hear at the moment they’re about to get married, and whatever they feel comfortable sharing with their family and friends who are present.

    While I always offer to edit what people have written, in most cases, no editing is required. I always strongly recommend to couples that they try not to commit what they have written to memory. In my experience, even the most comfortable public speakers get emotional at their wedding. It is then safer to have their written words in front of them. I print 18-point font so the words are easy to read in any light, and through many tears. I keep a handkerchief in my back pocket because it’s often needed. Oftentimes I will read aloud the vows of those who cannot say anything other than “I do” through their tears.

    Whether you think you will be speaking your vows, singing your vows, or crying through your vows, start writing. Many of my couples have told me that procrastinating from starting was one the biggest humps that they needed to get over. And yet, written and spoken, their vows were the item couples remembered most from their weddings…after their lover’s smile.

    Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator based in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.SFHoward.com