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Getting hitched: How to write vows your partner will cherish forever

Bride and groom exchange vows.

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Whether you're writing your vows alongside your amour or keeping them under wraps until the day you say 'I do,' there's much to be said for being prepared. Jonathan Hagey, an ordained clergyman and a wedding officiant with All Seasons Weddings in Toronto, offers four key tips for grooms to consider before they utter a word on the aisle.

Know thyself

Your wedding vows are among the most important words you will ever publicly speak; they should be a potent distillation of your most profound feelings. But you don't want to come off sounding overwrought or, even worse, like a stranger. "Speak from your heart and [reflect] who you are," Hagey advises. "If you're a fancy-word guy, use fancy words. If you are more the short-and-sweet type, make it short and sweet."

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… but do compare word counts

"You don't have to say everything your partner says," Hagey notes, "but you do need to know if [it's going to be] a few sentences or a few pages." That means having a talk beforehand – even if the vows are to be a surprise – to ensure that they'll be balanced.

Channel your inner husband

No matter your oratory style, think about what sort of married man you intend to be, Hagey urges. "This is a public promise about who you are going to be once you are married, so [state exactly] what it is you're promising – and feel it, too."

Go easy on the quipping

This is not the time to impress your pals with your sparkling standup. The only person you want to impress – with great sincerity – is your betrothed. "Use language that is respectful, kind and loving," Hagey says. You need to be fully present, fully in love and fully yourself for your vows – and your marriage – to work. And that's no joke.

This is part of a six-part series on getting married in style. Next week, we look at delivering a dazzling speech. Click here for earlier instalments on planning the perfect proposal, planning a top-notch bachelor party and finding that top-notch wedding wardrobe.

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