Want to write your own wedding vows but don’t know where to start? Then this episode is for you!
The vows are one of the most beautiful parts of the day, but they can be one of the most difficult to plan. How do you craft vows that express to this person exactly what they mean to you? That’s where our recent podcast guest comes in! We had the pleasure of welcoming Tanya Pushkine, also known as the “vow whisperer” to chat about your wedding ceremony. In this episode, she shares with us what she does for couples, as well as her tips for planning the ceremony of your dreams!
Tanya: I have quite a few services, and as we speak there are more coming into play. I started out as a vow coach, and that is something I still do more than anything else.
Couples want to write their own vows but they don’t know where to start, they get inundated and overwhelmed, or they are terrified to speak in public. I help them get those words out.
I am not the writer. I believe that it has to come a million percent from your hearts, not mine. I don’t know what you’re feeling. All I can do is try to get everything out of you, your memories, your anecdotes, your stories, your promises; every little one of these details. I take your words and craft your vows using them. This way it is as genuine as you can get.
There are some vow writers that interview you and then a week later hand you your vows. That’s not how I work at all. I like to dig really deep, starting with a questionnaire that forces people to go back in time and relive so many of these amazing memories they have had together.
It takes time, and is extremely collaborative because we go back and forth and edit the vows together until each person is happy with them. I work with each person individually so that the vows stay top secret until they are standing at the altar.
Once they are happy with the vows, we start practicing. This part is extremely important because you can have the most beautiful words in the world, but if you deliver them in monotone, no one’s going to pay any attention.
When we practice, I will catch if you are mumbling, swaying side to side (which people do a lot), or dropping the ends of your sentences. It’s all about the presentation and how you sound, it has to be engaging and memorable. You have to keep people excited with these vows.
I’m not saying that you have to become an actor and perform this at Academy Award level. No, not at all. But these are 3 or 4 minutes of your time. I want you to own it and stand there so confidently. After all, you are expressing this love letter to the person who’s about to become your spouse!
Tanya: One thing that became really big during the pandemic and is still popular is to ask a family member or friend to perform the ceremony. It’s lovely, but it’s a huge task because they also have to write the ceremony. On top of that, it’s a public speaking situation, and not everyone is comfortable with that.
I come in and train and coach these people to run the ceremony like a pro. I also take the biggest burden off their shoulders and write the ceremony so they do not have to do it. I write it in conjunction with the couple.
I really believe that a couple needs to be in complete control of their ceremony. They need to know what’s being said. They need to choose the readings and decide: how do they wanna exchange rings? How do they want marriage to be spoken about? How do they want to be pronounced at the end? All of that is so crucial in building a ceremony. I really believe that the couple should be as involved as possible.
I help them coordinate every minute of performing the ceremony by giving all of the stage directions, like announcing for guests to please be seated after the procession. Move the microphone, take the vow book out of your binder, etc.
Tanya: Of course, it happens sometimes where one person is just not as well written and will ask for extra support. In these situations, I will interview them and write down everything they say. It makes it easier for them because they don’t have to write anything, they can just speak from the heart. After interviewing them I will write a full set of vows that come directly from their words. It’s not my business model to write your vows for you without any context.
Tanya: Humor brings a lot of warmth. It’s wonderful to add a funny, cute little story to your vows. Most people naturally include it in the vow questionnaire, I think because my questions help them remember some of these funny stories. We will absolutely use them, it can do so much!
At my own second wedding, my husband faced the guests almost as much as he faced me during his vows. He didn’t act like it was a comedy show, but it was just so affectionate and warm and funny. It really put everyone in such an amazing mood. When you look at photographs of the wedding, they are mostly just people laughing and laughing. It was so wonderful and now I can help recreate that feeling in other ceremonies.
Tanya: Yes, I do officiate. It came about when one couple asked me to, so I became one! I don’t do it as much anymore because it would mean being gone every single weekend. I have performed ceremonies in some truly beautiful places though, and enjoy doing them.
My biggest pieces of advice would be:
My goal is always for the guests to walk away and say, “that was so them!” Those 30 minutes reflect who you are as a couple, and whether it’s a reading you include or a story you tell, you want it to completely reflect your personality. Make it fun!
Tanya: Absolutely! Getting to know my couples really well is a priority for me. We spend so much time together while I’m working with them that I learn a lot. We will have gone for dinner and drinks, and hung out. So if we’ve worked on the vows and I’m marrying them, it’s the perfect scenario because they are not getting married by a stranger, they are getting married by a friend at that point. I really love that part of what I do.
Tanya: One of my first clients was very memorable. On the questionnaire, I have a question that asks “when did you know for sure that he or she was the one?”
Not only did this couple write about the same moment, but they used the same words! I couldn’t believe how in sync these two were, and I didn’t want to change that.
I just thought this was so extraordinary the way they described it. It was a very poignant story about how his father had become ill very quickly, and they had only met two weeks earlier than that. The father lived in Texas and the woman said, I’m going to go with you to see your dad. They barely knew each other, but she apparently was so extraordinarily supportive and wonderful. They both spoke of that moment, knowing for sure that they were meant to be with each other.
The photographs of when one of them started telling the story and the other one just got this look of “oh my!” was incredible. It was an absolutely beautiful moment.
I just want to add to the topic of public speaking. When we practice with each other, where we really simulate “I’m the person that’s about to become your spouse”, people can start to get nervous. The trick to gaining confidence and getting over your fear is to practice. You have to practice out loud and as often as you can. If you do that, you are going to shine, and your vows are going to be fabulous!
When you are working with me, I can catch all sorts of things during practice that you don’t realize you do. Those things don’t matter though, as long as you practice.
We loved everything Tanya shared with us in this conversation and we hope you did too! What were some of your biggest takeaways from this conversation? Let us know in the comments below!
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