Thinking about writing your own wedding day vows? You’re not alone, self-written vows are becoming more and more popular, with couples looking to create a personalised touch to their ceremony. If you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve put together a little guide to help get you started…
Know the legalities of self-written vows
First things first, if you’re looking to have a civil ceremony, legally, your vows cannot include any references to religion. Civil ceremonies must also include the statutory declarations during the exchanging of vows which is the following: ““…Solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, (name), may not be joined in matrimony to (name).” We’d always recommend that you speak to your registrar when writing your customized vows; they will be able to advise you of any potential problems before it gets too late. No one wants a last-minute panic.
Before you hit pen to paper, it’s always a good idea to read as many different types of wedding vows as possible – from the very traditional to the highly personalised and perhaps even those from different faiths. The more variety the better – it will give you a general sense of what you like and don’t like so you can start considering the style that’s right for you.
Decide on a tone and stick to it
You’ll need to decide quite early on what kind of tone your wedding vows will take. Do you want something with a pinch of humour or will they be simple and romantic? You’ll also need to consider whether you’ll write them together or separately. If it’s the latter, will they be kept a secret until the Big Day?
If you’ve been struck with writer’s block, take some time out to write about some of your best and most memorable moments together. Perhaps a special holiday or spontaneous road trip, maybe the first time you made each other laugh-til-it-hurt. If you’re still struggling, give each other a task of jotting down 10 things you love most about one another. It’s often those unedited, less-well-thought-out lines that sound best of all because they’re completely honest. When you do start writing try not to be too gushing or intimate, some things are best kept behind closed doors. You know what we mean…
Do a practice run and time it
Of course your vows are important but no one wants to listen to you going on for 10 minutes, no matter how good they are. We’d suggest aiming for two minutes max and time yourself running through them. If they go over, start editing out the least important bits. At this stage it might be worth running them through with a friend who can give you another perspective on what to keep and cut. Don’t forget, you have a day of speeches and toasts so anything that doesn’t work in your vows might work better later in the day.
If you’d love to secure a lower price but don’t know where to start, here’s my guide on how to negotiate a discount with your wedding venue to get the price you want to pay.
Not every wedding venue will be able to offer a discount, but there are some who are only too happy to negotiate as they’d simply rather have the booking than an empty venue, especially during times when there are fewer weddings on the horizon.
Some people like to haggle and won’t give up till they get what they want while many of us are prepared to pay the full price and won’t even think to ask for a discount, whether out of pride, embarrassment or just plain fear. If you do want to pay less though, it is always worth asking; here’s how:
Confidence is Everything
The first rule of negotiating is to show no fear. If you are confident, you can ask for almost anything. Don’t, however, ask for the impossible or you may not be taken seriously – you are never going to get a million pound mansion for a fiver. If you are shy and find asking for anything very stressful, then it will help you to prepare.
First, you need to know exactly what to ask for. You may want to ask for a 10% discount, removal of one or two items from your package to lower the price, or for a substitution in the package that will give you a better deal (for example, fewer drinks for more food).
How Low Can You Go?
From the venue’s advertised price list, work out how much you could ask them to reasonably lower the costs. Asking for ten or even up to twenty percent off is acceptable and larger venues may be able to take off more – if they are willing. A word of warning on the ‘feel no fear’ however – don’t start off with a price that’s too low and say you’re not moving because you may end up having to walk away. Similarly, if you start off too high and they instantly agree, you might kick yourself for not asking for more off! There always needs to be room for negotiation, up and down.
Alfred Woodward at Winterville Tower Hotel told us, “We expect a couple to negotiate. Whilst we have set prices for our wedding packages across our wedding venues, experience tells us every wedding is different. Personalisation is key. Couples crave it. We work as flexibly as possible to ensure we offer value for money and a day that each couple and their guests will remember for years to come”.
Understanding why and when a venue will come down in price should help you to get the best discount. A Saturday during peak season will never be hard to fill, and in previous years they might have had several couples asking after the same date. The best times to negotiate a lower price are for days when the venue has considerably less interest – that’s usually weekdays and weekends out of peak season.
Peak season for most US venues tends to be from June to September, around Christmas, and of course, Valentine’s Day on February 14th is also likely to get booked up fast.
Dianne Holby, the in-house wedding coordinator at The Wayne Gardens in Sacramento, said: “It’s definitely key to book out of season to get great deals on your wedding.”
We all dream of bright, sunshiny summer weddings where our photographer will make the most of our stunning surroundings and we can mingle with our guests in the late evening light, but it is worth bearing in mind that we will pay extra for it! The weather is never guaranteed in this country though and you could book your dream venue in July or August and still have heavy rain. So, if you want to save hundreds, consider planning your wedding on a Friday in March rather than a Saturday in June. Getting married on a Friday also means there’s the potential for a three day celebration, not just two!
Venues Offering Late Availability Deals
Many venues now offer deals for couples looking to book at short notice. Late availability deals can be had if you are planning your wedding in a matter of weeks rather than months, and it can pay dividends to marry out of season. An early spring or late autumn wedding can cost half as much as a mid-summer or Valentine’s Day wedding. Summer is, of course, more popular for the good weather and for more outdoor photography opportunities in gorgeous settings.
How to Ask for a Discount
Do your research first. Ask around to see if anyone you know has managed to negotiate a discount locally. Visit three or four venues and discuss exactly what they offer and for what price. Ask if they could substitute any parts of the package such as offering room hire without in-house catering for less. That way you could save on fixed-price catering charges and bring in cheaper outside caterers. Ask about corkage fees – could you use their caterers but bring in your own wine for less?
A recent groom told us:
“When we were looking for venues we would find out where the venue made its money and investigate if they were open to letting us arrange the other aspects ourselves, saving on their prices for extras. The venue we booked was run by a catering company who made their money from the food and corkage and were very happy for us to do our own decor. Another venue we spoke with subbed out the catering so would have been happy for us to save money by bringing in outside caterers. I found it essential to keep the negotiation open and avoid ultimatums as when it’s kept positive, and both parties are actively engaged, the result is better for everyone.”
Once you’ve done your research on other venues in the area, you’ll be in a stronger position to know what is possible. You could start your negotiation by saying how much you have in your budget, how much you’re hoping to pay and then how much their competitor down the road has quoted you. You could put the ball in their court and ask what kind of a discount they could offer you but in taking this approach, you are giving them the control and once they’ve given their offer they might not budge on it. Better to ask them for your preferred price and see what they say even if you end up haggling up and down a little.
An Important Point to Remember
Once you have agreed a price, ask to have it confirmed in writing from the venue. Only pay the deposit up front, never the full amount and always take out wedding insurance to secure your deposit.
And finally, if you’ve fallen head over in heels in love with one venue and will do anything to get it, but know you can’t really afford it, be careful how much emotion you show. If the venue manager can see you have your heart set on it, they know you’ll be less likely to walk to away even if the price stays high. Play it cool, and you could get your dream wedding venue for less than the usual asking price. And the good news is your venue may be only too pleased to make a booking on a day they might otherwise have been empty, making it win-win when you negotiate a discount with your venue.