You might want to pass along this book to a groom you know.
It's not hard for couples to feel overwhelmed when it comes time to plan their wedding—but a new book specifically catering to husbands-to-be, is aiming to make the journey to the altar a lot more seamless.
The guide, Stuff Every Groom Should Know ($10; amazon.com), covers topics ranging from a crash-course on engagement ring shopping to tips for handling inevitable wedding-day problems (think: electrical or mechanical issues and wardrobe malfunctions), and is conveniently divided into four sections---Engagement Stuff, Wedding Planning Stuff, Wedding Day Stuff, and After-Wedding Stuff---for easy sifting. Ahead, check out an excerpt from the pocket-sized handbook for mastering the art of wedding vow writing.
Back when tradition ruled the day, couples would recite a pretty standard "to have and to hold" set of vows, and that was that. These days, couples like to be more involved in the process. They want something specific to themselves and their relationship---and that's cool. Just keep these tips in mind.
Ask first. Some officiants and houses of worship won't allow custom vows. Bummer---but better to know before you invest a lot of time into crafting a speech.
Talk to each other. What do you each want from each other? Knowing what you expect from your life together will spark ideas. Also, talk about the tone you'd like to set. Poetic and loving? Funny and witty? Utterly irreverent? All are fine, just decide before you start writing. You don't want her making a heartfelt poetic speech about your partnership while yours is loaded with jokes and puns.
Give yourself time. This is the most important day of your life---you don't want your vows to be a zero-hour rush job. Write early and often, making a few drafts if you need to.
Express yourself. If you're going to do custom vows, make them count. Include something that is unique to you or your relationship. And don't feel like you have to get all highfalutin---something as simple as a list of everything you love about your bride-to-be can be truly meaningful.
Steal. Pablo Picasso said, "Good artists copy; great artists steal." If you hear a fantastic line at another wedding, in a movie, wherever, take it! Just don't get too obvious with your references, else you'll risk sounding tacky (no "you had me at hello" kind of stuff).
Consider the length. You may have a lot to say, but resist the urge to go on too long. You don't realize just how long 30 seconds is until you're standing in front of a crowd of two hundred people.
Say them aloud. Writers often read their prose out loud to ensure it sounds okay. Since you really will be uttering these vows on your wedding day, it's best to try them out beforehand to ensure they sound as good as they read. Practice speaking slowly---seriously, it's amazing how easy it is to rush when you're nervous.
Print them out. It's okay to keep a hard copy of your vows tucked in your tux jacket on the big day. (Because, really, you've got too many other things on your mind to memorize.) Print the vows in a font large enough to read, and leave plenty of space between lines.