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How to Write Your Wedding Vows: Tips, Structure & Advice

Wedding vows are a great way to express your feelings for the person you’re marrying. However, writing them can be difficult. There are so many different ways that couples can write their wedding vows, and it’s hard to choose which one is right for you.

Every couple has their own way of going about writing wedding vows. Some come up with a list of things they want to say and then go through it together; some write them separately and then read them aloud during the ceremony; there are even those who spend months crafting their perfect words.

Planning a wedding is hard work, and it can take a lot of time. But there are some things you can do to make the process easier. First, you should consider writing your own vows to know exactly what will be said on your special day.

The important thing is that you feel comfortable saying what’s in your heart on your big day. It is usually successful for couples to start by talking about how they met and how they knew the other was “the one”.

From there, why not talk about all the things you love about each other? What sets this person apart from everyone else? How do you make each other’s day better just by being around?

At the end of a wedding ceremony, when you are standing in front of your family and friends at the wedding, you may be struggling with this question: What should I say? That’s because most people don’t know how to write their wedding vows.

Some people might not want to put themselves out there and share their true feelings, while others might not even have any feelings at all that they would like to express. It can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be! So here is some advice on what you should do.

Instead of going with an old traditional vow like ‘to have and to hold from this day forward’, why not try something new? Create a personal vow that reflects how you feel about each other.

This blog post will help get those creative juices flowing!

Why Do We Say Wedding Vows?

Let’s get this out the way first – why do you *actually* say wedding vows? Whether you go for traditional or modern wedding vows, their purpose is to make promises to your partner about your commitment and love for them.

Marriage vows started in Ancient Rome when the bride’s father would deliver her to the groom, and the two would mutually vow to marry. Luckily, it’s a little more romantic these days!

The vows we use today date back to the 16th century. The classic ones you’ll know are “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us apart”.

It’s a pretty simple way of saying, “I’ll stand by you for life”. The word “obey” used to be snuck in there for brides, but it started being ditched in 1928.

There are set words you have to say for your marriage to be legally binding, but other than that; you can go wild.

If you want to personalise your vows, so they better reflect you as a couple or your circumstances (maybe you already have kids and want to mention them), you can do that.  All the examples below and tips on how to write your vows will be indispensable.

What Are the Traditional Wedding Vows?

Remember, your vows aren’t about impressing the congregation. It’s about telling the person you love how you feel, truthfully, and promising that you’ll stand with them, whatever life throws at you.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing ‘off-the-hanger’ vows. After all, they’ve stood the test of time for a reason. However, there are plenty of other ways to personalise your wedding.

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How Do You Write Your Own Wedding Vows?

First, decide if this is something you both want to do. Writing your wedding vows can add a lot of pressure, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using the traditional vows. However, if you’re both committed to writing your own vows, then follow these four steps.

1. Get Some Ideas Down on Paper

Head to a park or café where it’s quiet with a pen and paper or your laptop. You might find it easier to write your vows in stages, so start by making some notes.

Here are a few questions you can think about to get you started and give you ideas on what to say:

  • When did you first meet?
  • How did you get together?
  • When did you realise she/he was the one?
  • What little details make you smile when you think of him/her?
  • How do you balance each other out? Is he super-organised, whereas you’re more of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type?
  • Why are you getting married? What does it mean to you?
  • What promises do you want to make for a happy marriage?

Don’t worry about constructing perfect sentences or how things sound to start with; get your ideas down. You may well end up with pages and pages. Great!

Once you have plenty of notes, you can choose the bits that really stand out to you and then polish them up. The reason you’re writing your own vows is to make them personal, so don’t rush deciding what you want to say.

2. Research Other Wedding Vows

Read many examples of other people’s wedding vows and see if you prefer a more traditional or modern style. For example, do you want religious or secular wedding vows? Are they going to be funny or emotional? Will it be promises, or a speech or a poem?

Talk to your partner and set some basic ground rules, like length and tone. You might not want to hear each other’s before the wedding day, but you ought to be on the same page.

You promise to love them on their deathbed versus them vowing not to binge-watch Netflix without you is a little inconsistent. Similarly, are there any words you both disagree on, such as “to obey”? Ask a close friend to read both and see if they complement each other.

3. Whittle Down Your Notes Into Vows

Your vows should only be around a minute long per person. Pick out 5-7 of the most important things you want to say to your partner and use them as the foundation of your vows.

You’ll want a mix of the reasons you love them and some key promises you want to make to them for your life together.

Keep sentences fairly short, and avoid any words that could trip you up. You’ll also want to keep your vows concise enough for you to memorise them (though do have them printed out, just in case stage fright hits).

You can write a longer version of your vows in a letter to give to your partner on your wedding night if there’s more to say.

4. Practise Saying Them

Practise saying them aloud in front of a mirror or a friend, and keep adjusting until you’re happy. Your vows need to ring true to how you feel and how you’d speak.

On the day, it’s nice to have them memorised but not necessary. You’ll find if you practise them enough, they’ll stick in your head so you won’t need a prompt.

Wedding Vow Structure

1. Start by Setting the Scene

There’s no need to overthink or overcomplicate the start of your vows. Begin by addressing your fiance by name. Next, explain how you’re feeling at this exact moment.

Examples:

  • Jordan, when I asked to be your science project partner in 5th grade, I never imagined it would result in standing in front of you today.
  • Kelsey, I knew from the moment we shared our first kiss under the stars that you’d one day become my wife.
  • Theo, standing here with you today, I know that I’m exactly where I am meant to be.

2. Communicate What You Love About Your Partner

The next section of the vow writing structure involves listing qualities you admire in your partner.

Here are a few writing prompts to help you come up with material for this part:

  • What is your favourite thing about your partner?
  • What qualities do they have that you don’t?
  • How do they inspire you?
  • What stands out as characteristics that are uniquely them?
  • What makes you most grateful when you think of them?

3. Describe What You Love About Your Relationship

During this third section of the vow writing structure, explain what you appreciate about your relationship.

Do you two share a special sense of humour? Do you have this unique way of reading each other’s minds? Do you both have a passion for adventure and travel?

Write a few sentences explaining why you feel your relationship is special.

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4. List Specific Promises

Promises are key to making your wedding vows actual vows. We recommend listing three to six specific promises.

The majority should focus on sincere promises that can stand the test of time. One or two of the promises could be more playful and humorous.

Examples of Promises for Your Vows:

  • I promise to laugh at your jokes, even when they’re only funny.
  • I promise to be honest, loyal, and respectful.
  • I promise to support your dreams as my own.
  • I promise to care for you when you’re sick, laugh with you when you’re sad, and carry your worries when you’re upset.
  • I promise to be there for you during all of life’s moments…the ones that will bring us laughter and the ones that will cause us tears.
  • I promise not to keep any secrets.
  • I promise to share my life with you, my heart with you, and my dreams with you.
  • I promise to care for and love your son as my child.
  • I promise to love you for all of my days.

5. Describe Your Vision for Marriage

As we near the end of the vow writing structure, it’s time to describe how you envision your marriage.

How will your supportive nature keep your marriage strong? What shared dreams do you see coming true? How will you two remain close, even though the challenges and changes that will occur throughout your marriage?

Use this section of the structure to provide insight into how you see your marriage looking from now and into the future.

6. Close with a Loving Last Line

For the last section in the vow writing structure, end with a love-filled last line.

Examples:

  • To my soul mate, partner for life, and now my wife. I will always love you.
  • You are my North star, my best friend, my forever.
  • I love you to the moon and back.
  • I will forever be your person.

Just like with the first line of your vows, don’t overthink the last line. When in doubt, a simple but heartfelt “I love you” is a wonderful ending to your vows and the start of your marriage.

Famous & Romantic Wedding Quotes

If you can’t seem to come up with romantic wedding vows to make him cry on your own, seek inspiration through quotes from famous poets, authors, and historical figures of the past.

There’s a reason these words are everlasting, and if someone else has already phrased it perfectly, use it to your advantage.

Consider taking a trip to your local library or go online to find quotes from some of the figures you admire the most. Uncover words of wisdom that will help you create heart-warming vows.

We also encourage you to reach out to your parents and ask what they may have recited to each other on their wedding day. Maybe there is an author or figure that inspired the words at their weddings that could have a touching influence on yours as well?

Here is a collection of some of our favourite famous quotes that would make perfect soulmate wedding vows.

  •  “In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.” —Maya Angelou
  • “The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.” —Julia Child
  • “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” —Mignon McLaughlin
  • “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow—this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” —Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.” —Lord Alfred Tennyson
  • “The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make—not just on your wedding day, but over and over again—and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” —Barbara De Angelis
  • “Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning, a flame was very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.” —Bruce Lee
  • “A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” —Andre Marois
  • “When I saw you, I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.” —Arrigo Boito
  • “When you trip over love, it is easy to get up. But when you fall in love, it is impossible to stand again.” —Albert Einstein

Wedding Vow FAQs

1. Are We Allowed to Write Our Own Vows?

For some ceremonies, particularly religious ones, you may not have the option of writing your own vows.

Civil ceremonies are usually a bit more fluid. However, you will still need to let your officiant know that you’re writing your own vows a few weeks beforehand and discuss any practicalities, such as timing, with them.

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2. Should We Hear Each Other’s Vows in Advance?

It’s really up to the two of you whether you want to wait until your wedding day to hear each other’s vows. Many people love the anticipation of not knowing what their partner will say, while for others, it would just be another thing to worry about.

Some partners write joint vows, which can be a lovely way to start your life together. It also means you can alternate lines, which can help if you feel nervous about speaking in front of everyone.

3. Do I Include My Children in My Wedding Vows?

If you have children, either together or from before you met, you’ll likely want them to be a big part of your wedding, so it can be a lovely idea to include them in your vows. For example, “I promise to love and care for you and Jacob.”

4. Can I Keep All These Promises?

There’s nothing wrong with making some of your vows humorous, but do remember that these are your wedding vows. It would be best if you meant everything you say, so it might not be the best time for flippant promises that you can’t stick to.

Consider how you both might feel if you end up breaking one of your vows because it was impossible to keep; how would it make you feel about the rest of your commitments?

5. How Long Should Wedding Vows Be?

Your wedding vows should be one minute in length maximum. You don’t want your wedding ceremony to drag on, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about your love for each other during the speeches. So time yourself, and if it’s longer than a minute, cut it down.

Traditional or religious wedding vows aren’t for everyone. Sometimes you want something that sounds a bit more up-to-date and true to you as a couple. These example modern wedding vows and the funny vows below are great for just that!

Whether it be lines from a favourite TV show or come from the heart, modern wedding vows have no boundaries as long as they’re meant to both of you.

6. Who Says Their Vows First?

Traditionally, the groom says his vows first, followed in turn by the bride. That said, some couples may choose to express them in unison to each other, and if you’d rather the bride go first, speak to your registrar or celebrant well in advance to see if it’s something that can be arranged.

If you’re having a same-sex wedding, it is totally up to you who goes first. But, again, it’s a case of deciding between yourselves in advance and letting your registrar know.

Whatever you choose, it is tradition for the couple to face each other and join hands to say their vows.

Wedding Vow Advice From Professional Vow Writers

Eric Shapiro of Ghostwriters Central recommends not going too formal, “It’s natural to make your vows elegant and classy, but it’s better to speak in your voice than to try for a Shakespearean approach.

“Remember that you’re addressing your partner and guests at the same time. It’s a public and private moment in one. So don’t go too intimate, and avoid using too many inside jokes.

At the same time, please don’t make it a performance for the audience. Instead, speak mainly to your partner, but let the onlookers know that your vows are for real.”

Angie and Alicia from vowmuse.com advise getting lots of ideas down to choose from, “Write down, in no particular order, reasons why she is great, the moment you knew he was the one, your first date on that Ferris wheel, that goofy story that she always tells about you, and that amazing casserole that he makes.

Just write down things you love about your partner, which, summed up, are a good chunk of the reasons why you’re getting married. Then, after you have a whole list of stuff, start to organise it and flag things that are more important than others.

Remember to write down a variety of things you want to promise to your beloved – a few statements of heartfelt, loving promises are often what makes a set of wedding vows unique and special.

“If you can, try to coordinate with your beloved to ensure that you guys are creating vows of approximately the same length. Make sure to read the words aloud to yourself to see if there are any phrases you’re stumbling over or if there are any parts that could be read better.

Once you’re reasonably happy with the draft, find a trusted friend to read the vows out loud to. This will help you practice the words, but also allow some relatively objective feedback that could help you further improve the text.”

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