The below article was originally featured in BRIDES
By: Kelli Acciardo
If you know you want to share personalized sentiments during your ceremony but aren't sure where to start, this could be a great solution.
Choosing your date and venue may be some of the biggest wedding-planning decisions you have to make as a couple, but navigating the smaller details can (and should!) be just as important. Band or DJ? Family-style, buffet, plated, or sit-down dinner? And then there are the invitations, seating assignments, and vows to consider, which can oftentimes be left to the last minute when you’re busy checking off a myriad of other boxes on your wedding to-do list.
The experts agree that your wedding vows shouldn't be left until the 11th hour, though—and that's especially true if you want to write custom sentiments. After all, not everyone is a born writer, so putting pen to paper and figuring out how to express exactly what you're feeling can take some time. According to Mindy Weiss, professional wedding planner and the founder of Mindy Weiss Party Consultants, some people don’t know where to begin when it comes to writing their vows. “They have all the feelings but don’t know how to write them,” she says. Luckily, there are experts to help you do just that.
MEET THE EXPERT
- Mindy Weiss is a professional wedding planner and the founder of Mindy Weiss Party Consultants. She's a go-to event planner for celebrities like Justin and Hailey Bieber, Paris Hilton and Carter Reum, and the Kardashian family.
- Katelyn Peterson is a professional wedding vow writer and the owner of Katelyn's Wedding Words.
- Steven Greitzer is the founder and CEO of Provenance, an online company that specializes in helping couples (and guests!) write wedding vows and toasts.
- Rob F. is a professional wedding vow writer at Provenance.
Katelyn Peterson, a wedding vow writer and the owner of Katelyn's Wedding Words, says that there’s nothing wrong with calling upon a professional to help you craft the perfect ceremony promises. “Couples have so much love for their partners but often stress over how to put their emotions into words,” she explains. “That’s where I come in. As a professional wedding vow writer, I work with couples to gather all the details of their love story and I transform those thoughts into vows that represent how they feel and their personality.”
If you’re curious about what a professional wedding vow writer really does, how to go about hiring one, how much they cost, and more, we're here to break it all down. Ahead, everything you need to know about hiring and working with a vow writer.
What does a professional wedding vow writer do?
A professional wedding vow writer does exactly what their name implies: They help couples write heartwarming, personalized vows to be shared during the ceremony. How they work with couples will vary from person to person; some vow writers take an extremely hands-on approach, coaching couples throughout the process, while others will ask the soon-to-be weds to complete a questionnaire or share basic information that they will then use to craft vows on their own.
What percent of couples write their own wedding vows?
Weiss estimates that 80% of couples choose to write their own wedding vows. “Sometimes I have speech writers that will help them, or sometimes I’m the one helping,” she says. If you’re part of the other 20%, hiring a third party can be one of the best decisions you’ll make along the way—especially when there are so many details that go into wedding planning.
What does the process of working with a professional wedding vow writer look like?
If you know what you want to say in your vows but aren’t sure if you’re prepared to write them yourself, enlisting the help of a professional can take some away some of the stress you might be experiencing. Weiss usually recommends Provenance, a site that offers easy-to-use tools and professional speech-writing support to help you create personalized and meaningful ceremony vows and toasts. “They have a great Vow Builder tool that our clients love,” she adds.
Before you start working with your professional wedding vow writer, Weiss suggests making a bullet-point list of all the things you want to mention. “Get your points on paper first, then craft the story," she suggests. “Start with that brainstorming session: What promises do you want to make? What do you hope for in the future? What do you love about the person you’re marrying?"
Hiring a professional wedding vow writer is only half the battle; in general, the couple will still need to put in the work to ensure their vows accurately reflect their feelings and relationship. Steven Greitzer, founder and CEO of Provenance, says there are three points all couples should keep in mind as they work with their writer.
“The best way to avoid cheesy, generic-sounding vows is to incorporate real stories and to share what makes your partner and your relationship unique,” Greitzer says. Skip the over-the-top cliches and leave out words like "always" and "never." “Instead of saying ‘I love how outgoing you are,’ try ‘I love that you pull me out of my comfort zone and become best friends with strangers on every trip—shoutout to Mike and Remi whom you randomly bought drinks for on our cruise last year, and now they are our close friends and are literally at our wedding today.’”
Make sure your vows feel balanced.
“We’ve all been to a wedding where one person’s vows are the perfect blend of sincerity and humor, they pour their heart out for 10 minutes…and then they pass the mic to their partner who stumbles and awkwardly says a few words,” says Greitzer. "To avoid this, our Vow Builder has a feature where you can make sure that your vows are similar in length (and tone) to your partner’s, without seeing what they wrote."
Keep your vows under three minutes.
Greitzer likes to suggest this length and timeline for the best flow. Of course, your professional wedding vow writer will help you with length, but it's a good benchmark to keep in mind. “The first minute (four or five sentences) is a great opportunity for storytelling,” he advises. “You should spotlight moments from your past that highlight what you love most about your partner, what makes your relationship unique, and how you have grown and supported one another. Then, spend the next minute sharing real, tangible promises that are specific to your relationship and your shared future together.”
Who actually writes the wedding vows?
Ultimately, this will depend on the writer you're working with or the service you're using; in general, you'll be sharing the thoughts and sentiments with the vow writer, who will then put everything together. Using a site like Provenance for your wedding vows means access to their vetted list of expert speechwriters, including award-winning poets, comedy screenwriters, former White House speechwriters, and more. “After learning about your personality and your goals in a free consultation, our team will match you with the right speechwriter to reflect your vision,” shares Greitzer. “In addition to the vows, our speechwriters have helped couples and their officiants write their wedding ceremonies, and they have worked with parents, groomsmen, and bridesmaids to help them nail their wedding toasts.”
Provenance vow writer Rob F. employs a series of questions to help guide couples through the process, share their raw emotions, and remember specific stories that help uncover the most beautiful memories. He recalls working with a groom who had an incredible level of emotional honesty, saying, “He had shared that things hadn’t always been easy with his partner and I expressed to him that those moments are what make vows real, so we talked about what those arguments and struggles have taught him about his partner and himself. His vows ended up expressing a level of vulnerability that was true to him, going deeper than the typical ‘for better or for worse.’”
Peterson likes to meet with couples over a video call first, then writes a first draft based on their conversation. “After the client reviews the initial draft, we enter the revision stage which is very collaborative,” she explains. “Couples will share with me what they love and what needs to be reworked; once we finalize their vows, we have another call where they can practice reciting them in front of me and I provide public speaking feedback.” This entire process not only helps you write your vows, but feel confident in how to deliver them when your wedding date approaches.
How much does a professional wedding vow writer cost?
This can vary depending on your writer, the rounds of revisions needed, and any additional services (like practicing your vows). Some writers charge per word while others charge a flat rate. “Our Vow Builder is priced at just $19.99, but packages start at $199 based on turnaround time and the level of support needed,” says Greitzer.