We’re all about DIY weddings. Over the years, we’ve crafted our way through just about every part of a wedding — from the flower crowns to favors to signature drinks. Really, though, there’s nothing that deserves the DIY touch more than your wedding vows. I got married a few months ago and, even as a writer, I was terrified to write my own vows. But I did it and survived to tell the tale! I learned a few things along the way and have gathered them up to share with you.

1. Create a framework for your vows. Even if you and your partner-to-be are keeping your vows a secret from each other until the big day, it may help to build a framework that you can both follow. That way, you don’t have to worry about one of you writing a novel and the other a haiku. Similar to the above picture, my husband and I settled on a simple framework and then wrote the last few lines of our vows together, which gave our ceremony a cohesive feel. (image via Green Wedding Shoes)

2. Don’t be afraid to get emotional in front of everybody. Saying mushy stuff to your loved one in front of all your family and friends is no easy feat, but that’s not an excuse to tone down your sentiments. It’s the most intimidating part of the day, but it’s also the best. If you’re nervous about losing your cool, just forget the cool altogether. I took solace in the fact that at least I knew I was going to ugly-cry through the whole thing. It wasn’t an unknown to be nervous about, it was just the inevitable science of the thing. (image via Jennifer Moher)

3. Practice makes (almost) perfect. Like any other public speaking opportunity, practice is paramount. Before my wedding, I spent hours reading through my vows and soaking my keyboard with tears. Then I copied the final version in a pretty little card and soaked that with tears, too. (image via Jason + Gina)

4. Borrow from tradition. Writing your own vows allows you to break from the traditional (sometimes stuffy) vows of yore, but it can also be really meaningful to honor your heritage by incorporating ceremony language, poetry or literature from your culture or religion. (image via Green Wedding Shoes)

5. Think beyond that single day. Write them to last forever. Make sure that your vows that will still be as important to you 10 or 20 or 50 years from now as they are on your wedding day. Hopefully you’re already doing this (eternal commitment and all), but it can be surprisingly easy to accidentally make some promises that you just won’t be able to keep. In other words, don’t promise your partner that you’ll never fight — instead, promise your partner that you’ll always fight fairly. (image via Brooklyn Bride)

6. Seek advice. If you have some marriage mentors in your life, ask them for help. Have your parents been happily married for 34 years? Ask them what they think makes a strong marriage and draw some inspiration for your vows there. (image via Jessica Schmitt)

7. Lighten the mood. Marriage is a serious commitment, but be yourself. Make your partner laugh and make yourself laugh. I love how this groom had an adorable surprise message for his bride on the back of his notebook. (image via Jennifer Moher)

8. Write them down in a keepsake. A crinkled up notecard will do in a pinch, but why not copy your finished vows down in a little notebook or a cute letterpress card that you can keep for always? (image via Brooklyn Bride)

9. Beware of the Internet. We recognize the irony, ’cause that’s where you are right now. But really, there are so many example wedding vows, suggestions and ideas out there that it will make your head spin if you try to listen to all of them. When I first started writing mine, I searched and searched, but soon woke up to the fact that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all wedding vows. My advice? Start from scratch and speak from your gut. (image via Style Me Pretty)

What are you going to say on your big day? Share any tips you have on writing wedding vows with us in the comments below.