Photo: Johanna Dye Photography

Traditional wedding vows can be — how should we say it — heteronormative? The process of writing gay wedding vows can be challenging as you might need to sort through a variety of templates to find some examples that work for your LGBT wedding. On the flip side, as a queer or trans couple, you have a lot of freedom to craft wedding ceremony vows that represent your identity and your relationship without a ton of worry about tradition. In fact, a majority of same-sex couples choose to write their own wedding vows compared with about a third of opposite-sex couples, according to WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Report.

Read this before you write your gay wedding vows!

Photo: Paul Rogers Photography Limited

Grab some inspiration.

Gay wedding vows, straight wedding vows, bi-curious wedding vows — for this step, it doesn’t really matter. Just find a wedding video (or, attend an actual wedding if you’ve got one on the calendar) and pay close attention to the reading of the vows. This will help you see what style you’re most drawn to (i.e. super romantic and a little mushy or a more straight-to-the-point list) as well as learn how the vows typically flow with the overall timeline of the wedding ceremony. For example, if you choose to have a few meaningful ceremony readings before the vows, then maybe you don’t want your vows to sound like another poem being read. In addition to inspiration from real weddings, check with your officiant, who might have a basic template for vows that you can build from or just read for inspo.

Remember why you’re getting married.

Wedding planning can be incredibly taxing on your relationship, so you might find yourself a little hard pressed for flowery language to describe your BF or GF. Grabbing a quick list like this one will help you to think about the happy, funny and sweet times that you’ll want to have top of mind while writing your gay wedding vows. If you have enough time before your wedding date, you might also keep a notebook or smartphone note where you can jot down memories as they come to you. That way you’ll have some important moments to reference when you do sit down to write your vows.

Conquer writer’s block.

At some point, you’ll hit a wall. The excitement of planning your LGBT wedding may turn to anxiety and harmonious planning may turn to arguments. Ten weeks until the big day will turn into six, then two and then one, and you’ll be even more worried that you haven’t turned out lines and lines of Shakespearean prose about your love. Take a breather — we promise, you’ll get through it! Hopefully you have some memories and funny moments to consult (see above), but even if you don’t, take a day or two to jot down what you want to say during the vows, without worrying about saying it exactly right. As anyone who’s suffered from writer’s block will tell you, divorcing yourself from perfection is the only way to get something on the page. Once you know what you want to say in your vows, put on your editor hat and whittle it down to what you really want to say. Then, you can dress up your words with the help of a thesaurus or some of your favorite love quotes, spiritual text quotes, movie lines and the like.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Easier said than done, we know, but if at all possible, please don’t spend the night before your wedding writing your vows. These are important promises you’re making and, if you hire a videographer, will be preserved for perpetuity, so you want to have a few days to sit with your wedding vows before saying them aloud. Add your vows to your list of planning tasks and be as diligent about them as you are about following up with vendors or communicating with your wedding party — they’re just as important!