One of the most memorable parts of a wedding ceremony is when the bride and groom recite their own vows to one another. The words they choose are deeply personal and set the tone for how their marriage will be shaped. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on what to include in your wedding vows so that they’re meaningful and heartfelt.
What are your thoughts when you hear the words “wedding vows”“? Do you think of love, commitment and a lifelong relationship? With these thoughts in mind, it’s easy to see why writing your own wedding vows can be so meaningful. In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to write your own wedding vows and what makes them so special.
Wedding vows are a big deal. They’re the most important part of your wedding, and they’ll be what you remember on your anniversary years from now. As such, it’s worth putting a lot of care into writing them- which is why we’ve put together this handy guide!
Whether you are the bride or groom, writing your own wedding vows is a wonderful opportunity to personalize and create something that will make this day unique. But, with so many tips and suggestions out there, it can be hard to know where to start. So we’ve done some of the work for you!
We have everything you need to write your own wedding vows. This includes some basic tips and tricks for writing a heartwarming, memorable ceremony that will be cherished by all who attend.
Here are some quick tips on how to write your wedding vows.
Know why you’re writing your own vows
Decide whether writing personal vows is right for you both, be it because you aren’t religious, aren’t a fan of simple civil vows, or because you’re natural wordsmiths.
To start, get to the root of why you’ve opted to express your commitment to each other in your own words by considering what’s missing for you in the standard options out there.
You’ll be able to best pin down your ideal tone and ceremony style by honing in first on what you don’t want for your ceremony, be it a more meaningful touch, something that’s unique and all your own, something non-religious, or something funny, witty, and anecdotal.
This should also serve as the time to pinpoint what traditional elements you want to ensure cut, from readings of your choice recited by your loved ones to a mix of both your own and traditional vows, etc.
Only do it if you’re in it together
A ceremony where one of you says a few words and the other repeats after your officiant doesn’t send the message that you’re independent; it hints that you’re not on the same page. Decide as a duo to pen your wedding vows or let the officiant do the talking for you and repeat after him or her.
Tips for Writing Your Wedding Vows
Overwhelming as it can be, it’s well worth it: It’s a chance to tell your story, give guests a peek into what makes your relationship tick, and share meaningful words with the person you love.
It’s also intimate. After all, you’re baring your heart to the love of your life, and you’re doing so in front of your family and closest friends.
1. Read lots of vow examples for inspiration on how to write wedding vows
Start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows from your religion if you practice a certain faith and others as well, to see what strikes a chord with you.
Incorporate these samples into the original words you write or use them as a jumping-off point. Then, once you’ve found a few you love, consider what it is about the style that draws you to those vows in particular.
2. Agree on format and tone with your partner
Decide how you want your vows to come across. Do you envision them as humorous? Poetic and romantic? Go over the logistics too. Will you write them separately or together?
Will they be completely different, or will you make the same promises to each other as you would with traditional vows? Some couples do a little of each. Finally, will you share them or keep them a secret until the wedding day?
3. Jot down notes about your relationship
Take some time to reflect on your partner. Think about how you felt when you first met, what made you fall in love and when you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together. Then, write it all out to get your creative gears turning.
Ask yourself certain questions and think about things like why you decided to get married, what hard times you’ve gone through together, what you’ve supported each other through, what challenges you envision for your future, what you want to accomplish together, what makes your relationship tick, what you thought when you first saw your partner when you realized you were in love, what you respect most about your partner, how your life has gotten better since meeting your partner, what inspires you about your partner, what you miss most about them when you’re apart—and so on.
4. Come up with one or two, or many, promises
They’re called vows for a reason, so the promises are the most important part. Include promises that are broad in scope (like, “I promise I’ll always be there to support you,” for instance), as well as ones that are very specific to the two of you (like, “I promise I’ll always let you watch Game of Thrones on Sundays.”)
5. Include a story that demonstrates your love
Everyone loves to hear about how two people in love first met. Were you out grocery shopping at midnight? Did a friend set you up on a blind date?
Or, perhaps you worked together for a year before romance sparked. But, no matter what your love story is, here’s a quick tip for how to write wedding vows––even if your friends and family have already heard it, this is the perfect place to retell it.
6. When writing wedding vows, write it all out
Now that you have notes, you’re ready to establish a structure and write your first draft. Again, it’s helpful to break it into a four-part outline: Affirm your love, praise your partner, offer promises and close with a final vow. Another way to organize it is to start with a short story and then come back to it at the end.
7. Avoid clichés
Now that you have your first draft, it’s time to make edits. Borrow from non-religious poetry and books, and even from romantic movies, but don’t let someone else’s words overpower your own. You want your vows to sound like you and relate to your relationship, and that won’t happen if every word is borrowed from other sources.
And if you find yourself relying on cliché phrases (you know, those sayings that have been used over and over so many times they no longer sound genuine) to get your point across, try coming up with a specific example from your relationship that has a similar message.
For example, instead of saying, “Love is blind,” you might say, “You’ll always be the most beautiful person to me, whether you’re in sweatpants or dressed to the nines.”
8. Take out anything too cryptic or embarrassing
You’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included at the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.
You’ll want to think about how your vows will sound ten years from now. If you’re okay with sharing your vows beforehand, you can have a friend, or family member read it over ahead of time for feedback.
9. Remember that things may get tough
On the day of your wedding, it may feel like your marriage will always be perfect. But the reality is that your future together will likely include challenging times. So when writing wedding vows, you might want to include a nod to this possibility––and the ways the two of you plan to cope.
10. Include a reference to the future
Of course, your future will also include some wonderful times. So what do you envision for your life together? Perhaps you plan to travel the world, get a dog and then have children. If you want to share your plans, consider this when deciding exactly how to write vows.
11. Shorten your vows to one to two minutes, max.
Your vows are important, but that doesn’t mean they should drag on. When you say something meaningful, you shouldn’t have to say it over and over—so pick the most important points and make them.
If yours are running longer than two minutes, make some edits. Put some of the more personal thoughts in a letter or gift to your partner on the morning of your wedding and save any guest-related topics for your toasts.
12. Practice out loud (seriously)
It might sound a little awkward, but this is the best way to prepare. Remember to practice, listen to yourself and improve from there. Your vows should be easy to say and sound conversational.
As you recite them, listen for any tongue twisters and super-long sentences, then cut them. This is also the time to practice the delivery. And remember: When you’re at the altar, stand straight, look at your spouse and use your hands expressively (but only in small gestures).
13. Make a clean copy for yourself
The paper you read from should be legible, so even if you’re working on it right up until a few moments before your ceremony, use a fresh piece of paper free of cross-outs, arrows and notes.
And give some thought to the presentation, too, because it’ll likely end up in the photos. You can handwrite it in a sweet journal or vow book or cut and paste the computer print to fit within that. And it also makes a nice keepsake to hang in your home later on.
Also, have a backup plan. For example, if you find yourself too emotional to speak (it happens!), you can have your officiant either prompt you by quietly saying the vows first or read the vows on your behalf.
14. After writing your own vows, ask your friends and relatives to hold you to them
Although writing wedding vows can be difficult, it’s got nothing on actually following through on them. After all, marriage isn’t always rosy.
The good news is that since your closest friends and family members will be there to witness your commitment to each other, you can ask them to remind you of your wedding vows if you are ever tempted to break them.
How to Write Wedding Vows to Always Remember
So, you’ve decided to write personal wedding vows. But, first and foremost, you’re not alone. Many modern couples are opting to customize their wedding ceremonies by penning their exchange. Despite their increasing popularity, however, almost every pair who decides on them wonders how to start.
That’s where we come in. Through years of experience working with couples, our hearts have melted at several unique wedding vows. Here, we offer our best tips for tackling the task, supplemented by advice from real officiants.
There’s no one template for non-traditional wedding vows, but there are a few pointers that’ll help you craft them. Whether you’re searching for phrasing inspiration, looking for formatting examples, or have specific questions (“How long should wedding vows be?”), we’ve got you covered.
Your wedding vow structure is entirely up to you—that’s the beauty of a personalized exchange. Still, most couples appreciate some guidance, which you can find ahead.
Before you take the plunge, remember this: Wedding vows are important because they’re a concrete symbol of your union and commitment. The promises you make to one another on your big day will set the tone for your entire marriage.
While they certainly give guests insight into your special bond, primarily, they’re for you and your partner. That’s why we recommend catering to each other. That could mean making him cry with emotional sentiments or making her laugh with funny wedding vows.
Do what feels best to you, your future spouse, and your relationship. With that in mind, you really can’t go wrong.
1. Anecdotes are best kept short
Stories of how you met, proposed or knew the other was always welcome, but make sure they don’t drag on.
Your guests will only follow for a few fleeting moments if your memories include an abundance of “he said, she said,” nor will they be able to grasp private jokes that only make the two of you smile but are harder for a larger audience to grasp.
Remember, ceremony vows (like wedding toasts) are not roasts; wit and sarcasm are appreciated, but snarky is not.
2. Read the classics
Give traditional wedding vows a read for inspiration. Give the classic readings you plan to skip for a more quirky touch a read while you’re at it, too.
Think of the classics as a blueprint to base your renditions on. For example, you might find that while “I take thee…” feels a bit stuffy, modern takes on “to have and to hold from this day forward” feel fresh when reworded in your tone.
3. Make it Personal
Whether you opt for humour or are likely to bring your partner (and guests) to tears, write your vows as though you’re speaking only to your spouse-to-be.
This, unlike a toast or typical public speaking, should be looked at as more of a one-on-one conversation and dedication than a performance. While we suggest, you use stories, jokes, and language most can understand, inserting truly personal moments will make your vows different from all others.
It’s the tone, specificity, and yet the simplicity of vows like these that make hearts melt and make your spouse feel like they’re the only person in the room. Take the time to balance meaning with wit, simplicity, and everyday monotony with grand verbal gestures and your hopes for the future.
4. Keep it short
Your intentions can easily get lost in length. So keep your vows to a maximum of 2-3 minutes, and don’t be afraid to write down your thoughts to keep your vows concise and focused.
Maintaining eye contact with your partner whenever possible keeps the mood intimate, but don’t risk rambling by preceding your notes altogether unless you’re an experienced public speaker.
If you’re having trouble editing your thoughts down, put the rest in a private note to your partner to read before (or after) the ceremony.
5. Vulnerability is a virtue
This is your time to be vulnerable. Your ceremony (and your wedding on the whole) is a space free of judgment, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
So even if you aren’t the overly sentimental, romantic type, surprise your partner with sensitive touches to your vows that make them feel unique from any other time you’ve professed your affection.
6. Write it all down—then edit
Start by simply putting your thoughts down on paper. Ignore the pressure to infuse wit, private jokes, or a beginning, middle, and end to your first draft.
Like any writing venture, simply getting your thoughts out will allow for you to tweak, reword, and, as you do, add what you think might be missing. The hardest part of writing wedding vows is getting started—skip that stress.
Take your time, and despite the pressure, try not to leave your vows to the last minute; you’ll appreciate having the time to rework them as time goes on, and you fall more and more in love with your partner.
7. Practice out loud (literally)
Says Rosenstein of her wedding vow prep, “I practised reading my words out loud in the shower where my fiancé couldn’t hear me.
I wanted my vows to feel incredibly intimate and personal to our relationship so that when I was reading them, it felt like I was truly talking to just him and not the crowd.” Reading your words to yourself works in the editing process, but reciting them aloud to make sure the words flow easily, is highly recommended.
8. Insert a list of promises
A vow, if nothing else, is a promise after all—and the most definitive list of pledges, vowing “to have, hold, love, and cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part” may not be your style.
Still, it’s key to land on your version, making sure you bolster any humorous moments with genuine sentimentality. Matt Rubin capped off his vows to Olivia Fleming with a personalized list of promises:
9. Be authentic
No two relationships are the same, and some are downright different. Jenna Rosenstein and her husband, Kobi, share a love of Star Wars, and her vows reflected their passion for the series’ galactic themes.
Between references to the stars in the sky, the moon, and beyond, Jenna repeated numerous reasons why the love that she and her husband shared was “cosmic” in her vows. The thematic language was neither over-the-top nor hard to understand but hinted at something they love and enjoy together.
While a flair for words isn’t required to pen your own vows, we suggest also having a backup plan. Provide your officiant with a copy of your vows in case yours are forgotten, tear-stained, or you find yourself too overcome with emotion to get them out on your own.
Types of Wedding Vows
1. Traditional Wedding Vows
Consider these traditional wedding vows a jumping-off point. For classic couples, these vows are certainly beautiful enough to stand on their own, but if you’re a creative couple who wants to write your vows, these will serve as fantastic inspiration.
2. Personalized Wedding Vows
Personalizing your wedding vows is a great way to reflect upon your relationship. These are great examples, although you could certainly get more personal. In fact, they might inspire you to write your own.
3. Religious Wedding Vows
For religious brides, grooms, and families, a church ceremony is something truly sacred. So incorporate your faith into your vows for a special ceremony you’ll never forget.
If you’d like to personalize your religious wedding vows, check with your officiant before you get started. Every faith has its own wedding traditions and practices, so ask your officiant what his or her preferences are.