Seven Outlines to Get You Started

The first draft is all about jogging your imagination and sharpening your creative instincts. But let's face it; you're probably not going to want to recite it before a hundred of your nearest and dearest. What you need now is structure, and there's nothing like an outline to get your thoughts organized.

Alert!

The right way to compose your own wedding vows is your way. In customizing your own wedding vows, you should let your imagination be your guide. Develop vows that are meaningful to both you and your partner, that say something unique about your love, and that exemplify the way you envision your new life together.

Look at these outlines and examples simply as blueprints geared to get your vows up and running.

Outline One

Initial statement relating to the past.

Statement relating to your partner.

Promise or commitment to each other.

Here's an example:

Groom: When I was a child, I thought nothing would ever persuade me to leave my home state of Maine when it came time to make my way in the world. But that was before I met you.

Bride: As a young girl, I dreamed of a place where I could grow with another, step by step, side by side. I have found that place in your heart.

Groom: Kathy, you have helped me to learn that love is a direction, not a destination.

Bride: John, you have taught me that, when someone is there no matter what, trust and commitment come without effort of their own accord.

Groom: I pledge to you my future. I will share all my tomorrows with you and no other.

Bride: I pledge to you my future. I will share all my tomorrows with you and no other.

Outline Two

Extended statement culminating in a statement of your commitment to one another.

Here's an example:

Groom: The first thing I noticed about Kathy was her radiant smile. We were both auditioning for a show in college, and when I asked her what type of piece she'd prepared, she said she planned to make it all up on the spot — and then she smiled at me. Kathy, your warmth and spontaneity have won my heart utterly. From this day forward, I will stand by your side. You are the one I will be true to always. Let us make our lives together.

Bride: The first thing I noticed about John was his unceasing energy. As he waited for the director to call him in, he couldn't seem to sit still, and when I told him my plans for the audition, he stared at me as though I were mad — but mad in an interesting way. What he didn't tell you just now was that I got the lead role in that show and he wound up in the chorus. But John, from that day to this, and for all the days that follow, you will always be my leading man. From this day forward, I will stand by your side. You are the one I will be true to always. Let us make our lives together.

Outline Three

Opening verse of a favorite song, or quote from a book or poem that is particularly meaningful to you as a couple.

Continuation of cited material.

Promise or commitment to each other.

Here's an example:

Bride: Grow old along with me!

Groom: The best is yet to be.

Bride: The last of life, for which the first was made.

Groom: Our times are in his hand Who saith, “A whole I planned; Youth shows but half. Trust God; see all, nor be afraid!”

Bride: God bless our love.

Groom: God bless our love.

Bride: John, in this assembly of friends and family, I take you today as my husband. I do this in the certainty of my soul, and knowing that you are my true life partner. I will love you, honor you, and cherish you for the rest of our days, so long as we shall live.

Groom: Kathy, in this assembly of friends and family, I take you today as my wife. I do this in the certainty of my soul, and knowing that you are my true life partner. I will love you, honor you, and cherish you for the rest of our days, so long as we shall live.

Outline Four

Bride: Dictionary definition of an important aspect of your relationship.

Groom: Elaboration on this theme, extending into your own interpretation, as a couple, of the word or phrase.

Both: Promise or commitment to each other.

Bride: The dictionary defines love as the attraction or affection felt for a person who elicits delight and admiration.

Groom: For us, as we begin our lives together, that definition is only a beginning. We make a commitment to our love today, and we see it as a willingness to give, to see oneself through another, and to work together to make the best parts of ourselves a reality.

Bride: John, my love for you is the foundation upon which I want to build my life. Take this ring as a sign of my faith.

Groom: Kathy, my love for you is the foundation upon which I want to build my life. Take this ring as a sign of my faith.

Outline Five

Groom: Brief statement acknowledging and celebrating the gathering of friends and family.

Bride: Longer statement continuing this idea.

Both: Promise or commitment to each other.

Here's an example:

Groom: Today we bring two families together and celebrate as one family.

Bride: To all who have come with us to mark our union today, we offer our thanks for your help through the years, our embrace for your support over the weeks and months that led to this day, and our promise that, as new members of this new and larger family, we will always be there for you as you have been there for us.

Groom: Kathy, in joining my life with yours, I give you all that I am and all that I may become. I give myself to you as your husband.

Bride: John, in joining my life with yours, I give you all that I am and all that I may become. I give myself to you as your wife.

Outline Six

Scriptural passage that is particularly meaningful to you as a couple.

Continuation of cited material.

Promise or commitment to each other.

Here's an example:

Groom: From the beginning of creation God made them male and female.

Bride: This is why a man must leave father and mother …

Groom: … and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body.

Bride: So then, what God has united …

Groom: … man must not divide.

Bride: John, today, in the gathering of this honored company, we unite in God's love. I pledge myself to you as your wife, and will be faithful to you for all of our days.

Groom: Kathy, today, in the gathering of this honored company, we unite in God's love. I pledge myself to you as your husband, and will be faithful to you for all of our days.

Outline Seven

With your partner, develop a single paragraph to be recited by both of you. The paragraph should draw on the material you have discussed in your premarital counseling.

Here's an example:

I, John, take you, Kathy, to be my wife. I want to grow old along with you; I want to share the blessings of children and family with you. Today, before these honored guests and beloved family members, I vow to love you and honor you for as long as we both live. I vow to respect you, listen to you, and grow with you, through good times and bad times.

Question?

What is a covenant marriage?

Some couples, like former Arkansas governor and Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet, have a covenant marriage. This is where a couple agrees to engage in special, religious premarital counseling and can subsequently only divorce under extreme circumstances such as abuse, drug use, conviction of a felony, or other serious offenses. It is legal only in a handful of states.

  1. Home
  2. Wedding Vows
  3. Pen to Paper
  4. Seven Outlines to Get You Started
Visit other About.com sites: