Are you thinking about writing your wedding vows? It’s a tremendous undertaking, as you sit down and attempt to sum up all your love, dreams, and promises to your partner in a few short minutes. 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 to share meaningful, sweet words with the person you love.
It’s also intimate—you’re really baring your heart to the love of your life, and you’re doing so in front of your family and closest friends. If you’re up for the challenge, we’re here to help. From examples and advice to sources of inspiration, here is everything you need to know to write your own wedding vows.
Wedding vows are promises a couple make to each other during their wedding ceremony. Wedding vows are often reflective of various religious practices, but are not legally required for a marriage service, nor are they included in all religious or traditional marriage ceremonies.
In contemporary Western society, wedding vows are a common inclusion in wedding ceremonies and are generally regarded as the most beautiful, intimate, and heartwarming portion of the ceremony. Spoken aloud from one partner to the other, wedding vows describe the love felt between the couple and voices their intentions—in front of a room full of witnesses—for how they plan to think, feel, and act towards each other during their marriage.
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How Do You Choose Your Wedding Vows?
There are many different types of wedding vows to choose from, including varieties for all types of religions and denominations. Couples should consider these three different levels of authorship when thinking about how to approach their wedding vows:
Using traditional wedding vows exactly as written, according to their religion (or whichever set of traditional vows speaks to them).
Using portions of traditional vows, but personalizing them with their own words or modifications.
Writing totally original, personalized wedding vows on their own.
For some couples, the type of wedding ceremony you have will determine the type of wedding vows you can choose from. If you are getting married in a house of worship by a priest, minister, rabbi, or other religious leaders, then you may be required to use the traditional marriage vows of that religion. If you choose to have a civil ceremony, however—officiated by a justice of the peace or an individual ordained to perform marriages—then you have more freedom to choose the wedding vows that speak to you.
If you have your heart set on a particular set of vows, or would really love to flex your creative muscles and write your own, but plan to get married in a house of worship (like a church, synagogue, or mosque), talk to your officiant. The policies surrounding wedding vows might not be strict, or he or she may be willing to work with you to come up with an arrangement that feels right for you.
When it comes time to actually choose your wedding vows, sit down with your partner and discuss what types of vows you’re most comfortable with. Look through the examples below, think about the vows you’ve heard at weddings you’ve attended, and decide whether you want to use (or modify) a set of traditional vows or write your own. If you’re modifying traditional vows, draft up a version of the vows you’d like to use and share it with your officiant.
If you decide composing unique wedding vows is for you, read our article on How To Write Your Wedding Vows.
Writing Your Own Wedding Vows.
Yes, writing your own vows can feel daunting. Yes, it’s normal to experience a bit of writer’s block. And yes, there are plenty of tips and tricks to writing the perfect wedding vows for your big day.
Our top 10 tips when writing your own wedding vows:
Decide on tone and length.
You want your vows to reflect your unique personality; after all, that’s why you’re writing them yourself. But this is ultimately a celebration of who you are as a couple, so you’ll want to make sure you approach your vows from a similar mindset. You can go humorous, serious, romantic, and religious whatever feels right to you both. You should also agree on a general length (we recommend one to two minutes each), so your vows feel even to your guests.
The best way to kickstart your vow writing? Look to other vows you love for guidance and inspiration. Don’t be afraid to lift lines from your favourite poems, quotes, religious texts, or other vows you’ve read or heard that resonate (we don’t recommend a full copy-and-paste job, but borrowing a line or two is totally appropriate). You’ll start to identify commonalities in the expressions you’re drawn to, and that will help shape your own vows. To help get you started, check out some of our favourite wedding vow samples.
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Start with some notes.
Before putting pen to paper, take a moment to think about your relationship, favourite memories, moments, and milestones. Think back to when you first met your future husband or wife, or how you felt after your first date. Think about trips you’ve taken together, times when you took special care of each other, any challenges you’ve overcome, what makes you both laugh, times you’ve been particularly happy, what you admire about your fiancé, what your hopes for the future are. These notes will give you those all-important details to pull from when you’re ready to draft your vows.
Make some promises.
The crux of wedding vows is the promises you’re making to one another the “to have and to hold” part. You can pull directly from those traditional “I do” recitations, include them after you’ve delivered your own vows, or put your own spin on these promises entirely. But these promises are what cement your commitment to one another, so pick one, two, or several to deliver and commit to. These can be broad (“I promise to love you every day of our lives together.”) or specific to your unique relationship (“I vow to always let you have the last blueberry pancake.”).
Write your first draft with time to spare.
You have your notes, you have your promises—you’re ready to start putting them all together. You can find some wedding vow templates online (also here) to help give your ideas shape, but generally, you’ll want to include: what has brought you together, what you love about your partner, your promises, and a look to the future. And get to writing this draft early—you don’t want the added stress of last-minute vow writing. Aim to have your vows written at least three weeks before your wedding to give yourself ample time to practice.
Remove inside jokes and embarrassing anecdotes.
Do you want to be funny? Great. Loving? Of course. Silly? Why not! But while you’re first and foremost reading your vows to your soon-to-be-spouse, you’re also reading them in front of your family and friends. You want them to enjoy this moment, too, so filling your speech with references only your fiancé will understand isn’t the best way to go. Even worse is embarrassing them in front of your guests (no references to exes or messy college days, please).
Watch out for those clichés. Clichés are a bit trickier to detect (and remove).
After all, they’re clichés for a reason—they’re great, but overused, expressions. If you see a number of these in your draft, try writing the same sentiment, but in a way that brings in specifics of your relationship (e.g., “It was love at first sight” could become, “I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I first saw you walk into that restaurant in downtown San Francisco…”). Can’t think of the perfect replacement? No worries—one cliché won’t make your vows any less meaningful.
Practice reading them out loud.
This. Is. Crucial. Reading your vows out loud is not only important for perfecting your delivery and boosting your confidence, but it’s also a great editing tool. What reads well in your head may sound a bit clunky out loud, and you’ll be able to more easily find places to edit and adjust. Bonus points: record yourself reading them. We know, we know, but being able to hear your own vows—and see yourself reading them—is a great tool for fine-tuning your delivery.
Print out a few copies.
Unless you’re getting married in your own backyard, you won’t be able to access your vows if you don’t have a printed copy on the big day (and reading off your phone is not ideal). This can be a simple printed piece of paper, a nice note card that matches your wedding colours or stationery, or hand-written note. Whatever you decide, just make sure it matches your partner’s. (Tip: After the wedding, turn your vows into an art print to hang in your home such a meaningful keepsake.)
Give yourself time when it’s time.
The moment has arrived! When it’s your turn to speak, give yourself a moment to compose yourself: take a deep breath, make sure you’re standing comfortably (no locked knees!), and look your partner in the eyes—they’re your person, and their supportive look will provide you with comfort. If there’s a microphone, make sure it’s close to your mouth, and go! The first few words will be the hardest and don’t worry if you trip up a bit. No one will remember that—not even your beloved.
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Tips For Writing Wedding Vows
If you’re having trouble with steps 1-10, don’t worry. Keep the following tips for writing your wedding vows in mind while going through the steps above:
- Start early. Begin crafting your vows early so you’ll have plenty of time to find inspiration, to procrastinate and to enjoy thinking up all the reasons you are saying, “I, Do!”
- Talk vows over with your fiancé. You’ll want to keep the final product a secret and a surprise for your wedding day. Although, it can help you feel more comfortable getting started if you and your partner agree on a certain style, format or tone for your vows. Will the two of you incorporate some of the same promises as traditional wedding vows? Are you going to stick to romantic promises or incorporate a more light-hearted tone? Some couples even decide to share their vows with each other before the wedding day. The best part is that the two of you get to decide what you prefer!
- Surround yourself with memories. Whether it’s old photographs, your first love note or special keepsakes, these items will remind you of all the moments the two of you have shared with one another. One moment may remind you of another which, may lead to that one time and the next thing you know it, you’ll have too many ideas.
- Make a list. When you first sit down to write your vows, don’t be stressed about writing complete sentences. Start jotting down everything that comes to mind.
- If you get stuck, answer a few questions about your relationship.
- Why did you decide to get married?
- What did you think when you first saw him/her?
- When did you realize you were in love?
- What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met?
- How has she/he changed your view of the world?
- What do you miss when you’re apart from each other?
- What hard times have you gone through together?
- What makes your relationship tick?
- Get inspired. You can look through different wedding vow examples, including the ones featured below. You’ll be able to find plenty of inspiration. You can also pull inspiration from your favourite poets, authors, o romantic movies, as long as you don’t let someone else’s words overpower your own. Once you’ve found a few ideas you love, determine what it is about those vows that you are drawn to and try to incorporate that into your own.
- Avoid anything too personal or embarrassing. You’ll want your guests to be able to follow along with what you’re saying and be a part of this special moment. Limit the inside jokes and any words you second guess as you re-read what you’ve written. You can also have a friend read through your vows and make sure you didn’t miss anything.
- Take a break. Sometimes your best writing happens when you come back to it the next day. If you need a break, then take one. This is the reason you started early in the first place.