“To have and to hold.” “To love and cherish.” “Until death do us part.” We have all heard the age-old wedding vows. But what if these vows don’t fit what you’re wanting to promise to your beloved? Writing your own vows can seem daunting at first, but never fear. Here is some advice on how to write your own vows.
I recommend writing most of the ceremony BEFORE writing your vows. Save the vow writing for after you’ve discussed all the things about your ceremony so that you know the tone and understand how you’ve set up your marriage contract or thesis (reference part two of this series if you’re confused and writing your own ceremony).
If you’re not writing your own ceremony but writing your own vows, I suggest reading over your ceremony first to get a sense of the overall tone and what’s already being said. No need to repeat all of the same things or agree to always pick up someone’s dirty laundry when the tone of the ceremony is more serious. It will feel really weird.
What are Your Options for Vows
- Write separate vows
- Write vows that have similar statements with some personalization
- Write vows together that say the same thing but swap out your names
Where Can You Share Your Vows
If you are unable to write personal vows to each other and share them during your ceremony (say because of religious reasons in the ceremony or if you’re nervous to share your heart in front of a crowd), then you can share your vows in a private moment. Perhaps share them during the first look, or take a moment after the ceremony to read them to one another.
Where to Start: Agree on the Parameters
Before you even put the pen to paper, I recommend sitting down with your partner to try to figure out what the parameters around your vows will be. Establishing the approximate length and tone ensures that one person doesn’t have five pages worth of content and the other has a half page.
Hopefully you’ve already agreed on the vibe and tone of your ceremony (if not, see part two of this ceremony series). Discussing what might be off limits, i.e. we won’t make inside jokes, or no poking fun at each other, as well as approximately how long you’d like the vows to be is important. It’s really awkward when one partner promises some serious stuff in their vows but the other partner jokes their way through them. It’s 100% okay for your personalities to come through, but keeping a similar vibe is important in my opinion.
You can also discuss if you’d like to both include some of the same things in your vows. Some couples opt to write a few statements they both include and then let each other say a few sentences they wrote themselves.
Another thing to consider is if these vows will be secret from each other or will you share them ahead of time to get feedback? It’s up to you!
- How long should our vows be?
- Should we share jokes or keep things more general?
- Will the vows be more humorous, sentimental, or both?
- Are we going to incorporate any religious or cultural traditions?
- Are we going to say the same vows or include a few of the same statements?
- Will we write separately or together?
- Will we share them before wedding day?
Next: Start with a Brain Dump
After you’ve agreed on the parameters, time to start brainstorming. Depending on how you’ve decided to go about writing your vows, you may do these exercises together or apart. Just grab a piece of paper and start jotting down some notes. Nothing fancy needed.
When I wrote my vows, I started with just writing out some of the reasons I was marrying Josh. What did I love about him? Why did I choose him? Why did I want to spend my life with him rather than someone else?
Then I wrote down some of the things I wanted to promise him. What do I want our marriage to look like? How do I want to treat him? What do I promise to always make sure to do? Why did I promise this?
Once you have some notes, you’ve got a starting point to start writing.
Writing Your Vows
The most important thing is that your vows should come from your heart. I truly mean that. You can always tell if someone feels like they are saying what they think they should say rather than what they actually want to say.
This is the moment to not only tell your person how you feel about them, but more so to make the promises that you intend to keep during your life together. Spend more time on the promises than why that person means so much to you.
I suggest starting with thoughts on why you love your partner and what they mean to you. Sharing an anecdote about how you met or overcoming challenges or why you admire them is a great way to get into the vows. Don’t spend three pages on it, but establish why you have come to conclude you want to marry this person.
Then move into what you promise. You can pepper in some of the admiration and things you love into these statements. If you have a fun loving relationship, by all means make sure the promises reflect that. You are free to promise whatever you want, but remember the parameters you set forth.
In closing, I suggest closing with one final big vow. This can be whatever you want it to be, but try to make sure it encapsulates everything you feel about your partner and everything you promised above. If you’ve started with an anecdote, you can also circle back to that and tie everything together.
A Note on the Length of Vows
We have all been to weddings where the maid of honor speech or father of the bride toast is TOO long. I know you’ve been there. Your vows are speeches during the ceremony. Keep them not so long to make sure that you capture the attention of everyone. They’re not a manifesto, they’re vows.
Other Tips for Writing Your Own Vows
- Do not wait until last minute to write your vows. Don’t try to write them the night before and don’t think you’ll have time the day of. Set aside some time the month before the wedding to work on them.
- Read them out loud. Make sure you read your vows out loud and make corrections before the wedding. They are spoken word so make sure everything sounds okay.
- Don’t try to pile too much into your vows. It’s okay to give the highlights. You don’t have to give a play by play of your relationship in order to make vows special.
- Don’t be cryptic or embarrassing. No one wants to listen to that on a wedding day, no matter how fun of a relationship you have with your partner.
- Read vows online. It’s totally okay to see what other people say and how they organized it. But I recommend NOT copying them and just using them for inspiration. You already know why you want to get married. So say that!
- Make a clean copy for your wedding day. If you don’t want to type them, make sure to copy them cleanly into a vow book. It’s a good idea to give a typed copy to the officiant just in case the vows don’t make it to the ceremony!
Sample Vows & Other Vow Writing Resources
- Vows to Steal and Sample Vows from A Practical Wedding
- Traditional Wedding Vows
- Love Poems to Draw From
- 28 Wedding Vow Examples
- Wedding Vows with Personality from Offbeat Bride
Looking for other ceremony resources? Check out other parts of the ceremony series: