Featured Image via Colin Cowie Weddings
Geoff Woliner, comedian and speech coach, provides some great advice on how to walk the fine line between using humor and genuine emotion to create the perfect wedding vows that will be memorable to you and all your guests.
Searching the internet high and low, one can find a ton of information on how to write great wedding vows. The advice generally ranges from, “Speak from the heart” to “Look into his/her eyes” to “Try not to faint”. And the advice is sound. Your wedding vows are some of the most important and memorable moments of the big day, and you want to make them great. But what if you also want to make them funny? What then?
Making people laugh is a tricky thing under normal circumstances. What if someone gets offended? What if the joke falls flat and draws blank stares from your family, friends and wedding crashers? During your vows, the proposition is even more daunting…”How can I strike the right note that will have them laughing, but also not take away from the sincerity of the moment?”.
That’s where the principle of “humor from the heart” comes in.
Humor from the heart is a way of telling a story that radiates authenticity, connects with your spouse and audience on an emotional level, and engages them in the story of you.
Here’s the process to following this principle:
1. Seclude yourself and start writing:
Go somewhere devoid of all distractions, and start writing down the chronology of your relationship, from your first meeting to the present day. Make notes of the highs and lows, the laughter and the tears, and write them all down.
2. Select a highlight reel:
Now that you’ve compiled your memories, select the ones you want to highlight most. That two-week hiking expedition in the Andes. Your first football game together. Last Thanksgiving when Aunt Mary overcooked the turkey and everyone ended up ordering pizza. Find the stories that jump out at you the most. Any one of these memories can be turned into a humorous anecdote, even the serious ones. “And you were there with me every day in the hospital when I had pneumonia. The food was so bad I actually missed your cooking!”
3. Organize the highlights into one story:
The power of storytelling is the ability to bring events to life and take people on a journey with you. Start from the beginning, i.e., “I knew you were the one when I first saw you at that Taco Bell a block from campus. Any man who looked that good with a mouthful of enchiladas at 3 a.m. was the man for me”, continue with anecdotes, i.e. “You’ve always been there for me through thick and thin. When I lost my first job, and when I lost my first remote” and finish with the present, “And here we are now, about to share everything together. Except the TV during the Dancing With the Stars finale. I will NOT be sharing that!”
4. Finish with genuine emotion:
Vows are unlike all other presentations, and in this case, you want to finish on a serious, heartfelt note after the final joke. “And despite your crazy driving, loud snoring and questionable flannel shirt collection, I love you more than anything in the world. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m thankful every day for the blessing of having you in my life.” This approach will have maximum impact because it will have the audience in a place of joy from laughing, and fill that joy with the raw, powerful love that brought you all there in the first place.
Now that we have the structure in place, here are some tips to follow to get the most out of your vows:
- Take shots at things everyone in the room knows and laughs about. His beat-up Camaro he’ll never part with, her obsession with the color pink, his collection of bowling trophies from when he was 5, her amazing ability to post 50 selfies a day, etc.
- Relax! Remember, the person you’re reading them to is the most supportive one-person audience in the world and they’re rooting for you.
- Take your time. Don’t rush through them. Feel every word of every story and enjoy the moment.
- Don’t throw any miscellaneous jokes in about the weather, the venue, etc. Stay on point with the stories about the two of you.
- Maintain eye contact with your soon-to-be-spouse. You’ll be tempted to look to the audience for approval, but stay focused on the person this is all about.
- SMILE! This is supposed to be fun. Smile throughout. It will invigorate you and kick up the endorphins you need to make this delivery great.
- Don’t venture too far into “roast” territory. Every joke at their expense has to be tied up with, “But that’s why I love you” or something similar.
Delivering funny wedding vows will add a dimension to your wedding that will be unexpected, highly enjoyable for your guests, and will create a special moment that will be yours and your spouse’s forever. It shows a playful side that will remind you both why you’re together in the first place. A couple that laughs together, stays together.
Geoff Woliner, Stand-Up NY’s “Funniest Person from Queens”, is the founder of “Winning Wit”, a service that helps people write and deliver the funniest speeches of their lives. If your wedding party would like a hand writing and delivering their own funny speeches, contact [email protected]
Here are some gorgeous wedding ceremony ideas to get you even more inspired!
Featured Photographer: Colin Miller (via Colin Cowie Weddings)
Featured Photographer: Starla Fortunato (via Colin Cowie Weddings)
Photo via Colin Cowie Weddings
Photo via Colin Cowie Weddings
Featured Photographer: Ira Lippke Studios (via Colin Cowie Weddings)