Are you and your husband-to-be planning to exchange letters on your wedding day?
If you’ve ever watched a wedding video featuring the contents of letters the bride and groom have written, cried, then wondered how yours will measure up, you aren’t the only one. But in short, don’t wonder.
Just as you, your future husband, your love story, and relationship are unique, so too will be the matters the Lord brings up in your hearts in the days leading to your wedding. That’s a good thing! Trust, therefore, that when you write to your spouse in a spirit of prayer and honesty, your words will be significant simply because they’re your own, and perfectly suited to each other’s needs at the present moment with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Yet the task often still feels daunting; on the first day of your life together, rich with all the emotions and anticipation surrounding your marriage, it’s natural to feel like the pressure’s on.
Here, our advice for ridding yourself of any sense of pressure, comparison, or obligation and getting the words deep in your heart up to the surface and onto paper.
Write freely. Literally.
Freewriting is a technique wherein you write without stopping, getting your thoughts down stream-of-consciousness style, for a designated amount of time. For the moment, you can ignore spelling, grammar, and organization. If, during the time period, you can’t think of what to write next, you keep your pen to the page or fingers to the keyboard anyway. Repeatedly writing a short phrase, drawing a continuous line, across the page, or tapping the keys at random are all effective ways to do this; the underlying idea is that so long as you remain in the mode of writing, words will eventually come. And they do!
A freewrite (consider trying it before the Blessed Sacrament) can be immensely helpful in producing a first draft of your wedding letter. Because you’re continuously writing, there’s no time to feel paralyzed by what to say next or to worry that each paragraph need be perfect before moving on to another idea. From that raw material, you can then order your thoughts and revise for style and word choice.
Make peace with your expectations.
If the last-minute pressures of planning have taken a toll on your emotional and spiritual state, don’t push those feelings aside; enter in, and dare to express them. A wedding letter filled with nothing but bridal bliss might sound ideal, and that’s wonderful if it’s what you’re experiencing. But if you aren’t, rest in the knowledge your husband-to-be isn’t interested in an idealized version of you, but the reality of you. Know that it’s alright not to feel constantly happy and free from stress. Be honest about your struggles, and state your hopes for the ways you and your husband will support and pray for each other throughout your marriage, particularly during times of difficulty.
Consider writing a prayer.
Your letter can take the form of a prayer for your life together, and can be as formal or informal as you’d like. You might consider what values and missions you’d particularly like to embody in your marriage and script a prayer you can read or say together before your Mass and on into your married life, one that will become a part of your family culture. Alternatively, if you enjoy journaling as a form of prayer, consider sharing in your letter some of the musings and intentions you’ve recently written about, or address your letter to God as a prayer of thanksgiving and intercession for your spouse.
Don’t worry about the word count.
Did you ever find yourself with a five-page college writing assignment, max out at page three, then struggle to fill the rest of the requirement, knowing all the while you were weakening instead of strengthening your paper? Some of us are more loquacious, others less wordy. Remember that your wedding letter is the furthest thing from a graded assignment, so strive to feel comfortable with however much or little you’d like to say. If, for instance, you express all you’d like to within just a paragraph or two, rather than the long missive you might’ve initially envisioned, be at peace. When you don’t feel like anything is missing, you’ll know you’ve written the right amount for you, however long or short your letter might be.
Above all, as you compose your letter, remember the Word himself, become flesh for the life of the world. Earthly marriage, too, makes real his incarnate love; a reality so profound the Word can leave us speechless.