When you write your own vows, you can memorize them if you like, but I don't particularly recommend it. The anxiety and commotion of the wedding day tend to wreak havoc with memories. It is perfectly acceptable to commit the vows to paper and read them to one another.
Nerves will make you think you are speaking more loudly than you actually are. I recommend having a sound system readily available so your guests can hear you. Terribly annoying for your guests to sit there wondering what in the world the bride and/or groom are saying to one another.
Even the most accomplished writers can stare at a blank page and experience a complete loss of words when faced with the task of composing their marriage vows. Don't feel like you have to reinvent the wheel or compete for a Nobel prize in literature. There is nothing wrong with weaving together bits and pieces you have found in books and on-line, or using the help of a friend or professional officiant. No one is going to come after you for plagiarism if you cobble together meaningful vows using other sources. You're not publishing your wedding as original work, right?
If you want to tackle it from scratch there is a simple formula you can use when constructing meaningful vows. You don't have to use it of course, but if you find it helpful, run with it.
1. Express your love for the other person and that you want to be married to him or her.
2. Say a few words about some of your favorite things about the other person.
3. Make some realistic promises that you intend to be the foundation of your commitment. Include some things you wish you could promise, but probably shouldn't if you want a humorous tone to your vows.
4. Include a comment or two about what you consider to be most important about your expectations for your future life together.
5. Reaffirm your love and conclude your vows with "from this day forward" or "until death we do part" or some similar expression of permanency and commitment.
(Name), I love you, you are my best friend and I am so excited to be marrying you today. I love that you are so supportive of me and greet me with your beautiful smile when I come home...usually.
Reading vows to one another is more emotionally intense than repeating vows after your officiant or responding with a simple, "I do." You may very well become choked up and find it difficult to get the words out. Trying to hold back tears of joy results in a decided lack of breathing. Trust me, I see it from less than two feet away. Don't worry about whether or not this is going to happen. Trying to prevent an emotional reaction is the best way to guarantee you'll have one. If it does, simply pause, take a deep breath or two, shake out your shoulders, breathe again, and then resume.
Photo hint: If your partner starts to tear up, reaching forward to wipe the tears from the eyes makes for a great action photo during a ceremony!
Top Left: Florida Beachside Weddings
Bottom Right: Courtyard at the Oaks