Friday, June 12, 2015

Meet Daniela VillaRamos of Once Upon a Vow

Daniela VillaRamos founded Once Upon a Vow in 2014, leaving her career in non-profit grantwriting, fundraising, and report-writing. She had written toasts and speeches for friends over the years, and she decided to start a new career which allowed her to focus on her love of writing--and of love. For a better idea of Daniela's work, check out some samples of her wedding vows and wedding toasts and speeches.

1. What inspired you to start Once Upon a Vow?

When I got married in November 2008, I was at the altar listening to my husband's not-so-put-together vows, and I thought to myself: “Hmm, I probably should've helped him edit those lovey dovey, unorganized words." For me, writing my vows was easy, but that's not the case for everybody. There's just too many emotions, too much history, and way too many thoughts running through your mind, like HOW IN THE WORLD are you going to express to your other half everything you feel in just the few short minutes it takes to say your vows?

Couples who want to write their own vows choose to because traditional vows don't fully encompass their quirks, their one-of-a-kind love, or their unique promises to each other for their marriage. Vows have evolved from "richer or poorer" to include everyday promises like "I will admit when you're right and let you forget when you're wrong." Because, let's be honest, it's the day to day moments that make up a marriage along with the big life-changing events.

At first, most couples are filled with excitement to make these promises, but as time passes some find it challenging to articulate. What was once a beautiful idea has turned into this huge ordeal and the closer the date approaches, the stronger the whirlwind of stress comes with it. There are countless things couples agonize over when planning their wedding: the music, the food, the unwanted family drama, and the list goes on and on. Expressing your love and devotion shouldn't be on that list.

That's why I started Once Upon A Vow, to express love when it's challenging to find the right words.

2. Would you tell us a little bit about your collaborative process and how you work with couples to write words that "sound like them"?

Whether couples need help writing their vows, fine-tuning their drafted speech, or creating a wedding ceremony script from scratch, the collaborative process is the same. We chat, I write, they review, and I'll revise until they're so flippin' happy with the finished product that they can't wait for the big day! More specifically, I speak with couples for about an hour to gain some insight about themselves, their relationship, and the promises that matter most to them so that I can express their heartfelt feelings. Our conversation is recorded, when permitted, and I take notes throughout so I can capture their stories, quirks, and adorable nuances in the way they speak. Through a series of pointed questions, our intimate conversation helps reveal their innermost thoughts, transforming them into touching vows to be remembered throughout their marriage--in good times and in bad.

3. In addition to wedding vows, what are other writing activities you help out with for weddings?

Aside from writing wedding vows, I help couples craft the pages of their wedding website, create a unique ceremony, and write their thank you speech. I can also become their own personal wedding journalist where I write about the details of their wedding day. But couples aren't the only ones that need a little extra help during the wedding. I also help the important members of the wedding party, like the Parents, Best Man, and Maid of Honor, draft their speeches and toasts so they can confidently articulate their love and well-wishes.

4. Do you have some general ideas or templates that you share with couples as a starting point for vows?

Definitely. Vows come in all lengths and phrases. Some couples want to say their vows in tandem, while others want to take turns sharing their vows. Couples usually come to me when they don't know where to start so besides showing them my own work, I share my Love Inspired Vow Pinterest boards that have a mix of epic love quotes, song lyrics, and real vows to get an idea of what they'd like to say on the day.

5. What is your best advice for couples to create a wedding that fits the uniqueness of their relationship?

My best advice for couples is to follow the beat of their own drum. Don’t let yourselves be bullied by your families, friends, or the do's and don'ts typically found in wedding articles. The LGBT community has been revamping traditional ceremonies to highlight their personalities and love stories and I think all couples should do the same. There's no reason to try to fit into this non-existent, uniform, wedded box that couples unfortunately feel they must fit into. If you feel like having a short 20 minute ceremony with a ring blessing, a painting ceremony, and a reading of some epic Queen lyrics with an exit song of "We are the Champions," then go for it! This is the time to embrace every quirky bit of your personalities and your story in order to truly make it your day extraordinary!

Thanks, Daniela!

Note: The image in the post is from Maria Vicencio Photography.

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