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How Not to Mess Up Your Wedding Vows

It's nerve-wracking to pledge your life and love to your partner as everyone who's important to you watches. But staying calm before and during the ceremony is easier than you think. Whether you've written custom wedding vows or are going with the tried-and-true version, here's how to deliver a solid performance, minus the butterflies!

Contributing Writer
Photography by: Weddings by Sasha

Practice saying the vows out loud. 

Remember when you were in school and had to give a speech in front of the class? You'd practice for days, saying every sentence out loud, and by the time you did the speech, you were so comfortable with every word, they flowed naturally, with no hesitation. Well, do that again with your wedding vows. By practicing them over and over, you'll be able to remember them on your wedding day and say them clearly and with feeling. Speak at your normal pace (avoid a monotone) and breathe normally. Great performance!


What Not to Say in Your Wedding Vows

Write the words on an index card. 

It's not cheating! If you're feeling emotional, knowing you have a safety net may calm you down. But don't be like a nervous Oscar winner who pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket and keeps his head down as he reads, never making eye contact and engaging the audience. Glance down at the index card every now and then, to make sure you're on track, and look at your guy as you speak. Concentrating on his loving face will boost your confidence.

Get in front of a mirror. 

Yeah, you may feel silly or self-conscious, but speaking to your own reflection will help you see if your facial expressions are in sync with the sentiments you're saying. Smile, sob—it's all good. Just don't scowl.

Keep sentences short. 

If your personally written vows are comprised of long sentences that you keep stumbling over, rewrite them so they're shorter and easier to remember but still full of meaning and personality.

Let your S.O. calm you down. 

From the moment you start your vows, stay connected to your fiancé. Take his or her hands and hold on tight and forget about the rest of the world. What jitters?

Overcoming a fumble. 

Sometimes messing up breaks the tension and charms the crowd. When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, she inadvertently said his name wrong during their vows. The princess-to-be (and future mother of Princes William and Harry) said, "Philip Charles Arthur George," instead of the correct "Charles Philip Arthur George." It was the flub heard 'round the world and underscored the fact that Diana was human too, which everyone could relate to. So if you flub a line, just ignore it and carry on.

Or laugh it off. 

A bride who accidentally promises to love her newly minted husband "for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in wealth," will get the crowd chuckling. So don't be embarrassed if you make a blunder; instead, be a good sport and laugh at your mistake. And hope that it comes through loud and clear on the video! It's one of the things that will make your wedding fun and memorable.

About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 


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