The most important day of your life thus far is approaching, and you couldn’t be more overjoyed! However, when you think about writing your wedding vows, your heart starts to race–and not in a good way. How the heck are you supposed to put the depth and breadth of your feelings for your husband or wife-to-be into just a short speech? What words could possibly do justice to what you’ve built? If this is your experience, you’re not alone.
Writing your own vows is not an easy task, but it is a special way to express your love and commitment. If you’re not sure where to start, fear not; we’ve got your back. Below we’ll take you through tips and examples that will have you writing heartfelt, personal vows in no time.
How Do We Write Our Wedding Vows?
Writing your own wedding vows may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Start Early
Starting early gives you enough time to write, revise, edit, throw the whole thing away, start again, and repeat–three times. Just kidding. Well, mostly. In all seriousness, you might not write vows you’re completely happy with on the first try, and you need to leave yourself enough time to go through the whole process. It’s probably going to take a few tries before you get it ‘write’!
Starting early also means less stress and more time to thoughtfully reflect on the relationship. Additionally, it affords you precious time to let your vows sink in and practice reading them (both aloud and to yourself) a number of times before the wedding. On the other hand, if you don’t leave yourself enough time, you could end up with vows that you don’t feel totally capture the feelings you want to express. At worst, it could even mean last-minute panic on the eve of the big day. Don’t let that be you. Start writing your vows at least three months in advance, and aim to have them finalized two weeks in advance.
2. Write from your heart
This cute catchphrase makes it sound so simple, but in reality, writing from the heart is not easy for everyone. Just because your heart has plenty to say about your relationship doesn’t mean your hand does. How can you translate all that emotion into words on a page?
It’s all about the context you set when you sit down to write. First, do something that calms you down and clears your mind. It could be journaling, yoga, meditation, running, cleaning the kitchen, or anything else.
Next, sit down and quietly think back on your relationship. Start jotting down some notes about happy memories, important moments on your relationship timeline, and things you really appreciate about your partner. Call to mind all the love you have for each other and sit in that feeling for a couple of minutes. Then start writing, after you’ve connected yourself to the bodily experience of the love you live every day. Setting the context and connecting to your feelings in this way will enable you to truly write from the heart.
3. Discuss with Your Partner
It seems like a romantic idea to surprise each other with your vows at the altar, right? However, what’s not romantic is when something important is left out, when one person’s vows are much longer than the other’s, when the tone is totally different, or when your promises don’t align. Talk to each other about what you each want to include in your vows and make sure the vows you both make complement each other’s. Writing your vows collaboratively is even more romantic because it fosters connection and provides you both with an opportunity to sit down and set intentions for your marriage.
4. Reflect on Your Relationship
What moments brought you together? What challenges have you overcome? What promises do you want to make in order to create a beautiful future together? What makes your partner special to you, and vice versa? Take the time to reflect on your relationship, answering these questions and coming up with your own. This process will help you to translate your feelings into words and thereby inspire meaningful vows.
5. Make a Draft
Never underestimate the importance of drafting! If you don’t spend much time writing, you might not have a clear idea of the steps involved in the process. Writing a draft (or two or three) gives you a starting point and allows you to organize your thoughts and ideas.
When you know that you’re just writing a draft and not the real thing, beginning the process feels a lot less intimidating. Don’t try to make it perfect; just focus on getting some words on the paper, even if it just starts in the form of a mind map, a list, or even some doodles. The important thing is to get the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper in whatever form works well for you, as long as it’s sincere.
6. Edit and Refine
Once you have a rough draft, then you can go back and start revising and refining your vows over time. Again, this is why it’s important to start early and leave yourself enough time to go through the process thoughtfully and without rushing.
Try reading what you’ve written aloud; this will enable you to see how it sounds and pick up on little grammar errors or awkward-sounding sentences you may have missed. Reading aloud will also help you re-organize your thoughts, cut out unnecessary words, and see where you can add more details and personal touches.
Next, seek feedback from others. Got a writer in the family? Ask them to take a look at your vows. Alternatively, ask anyone who is close to you, especially if they are close to both you and your partner and know your relationship well. They will help shed light on what you might have missed or other angles to explore.
Editing and refining your vows allows you to create a beautiful and meaningful tribute to your relationship that you’ll treasure for years to come, long after the altar.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Read your vows aloud to yourself in front of the mirror–not just once or twice, but regularly. Practicing your vows helps you learn their content well enough that you will be able to focus less on getting the words right and more on the emotional content behind them, enabling you to deliver your vows in a sincere way on your wedding day. Practicing also builds your confidence and reduces nerves associated with public speaking. Additionally, you’ll identify any areas where you might stumble or struggle with your words, which means you have the chance to make adjustments or practice enough to make sure you don’t get tongue tied.
With practice, you’ll deliver your vows with ease, grace, and love and create a truly special moment for yourself, your partner, and everyone present.
Examples of Wedding Vows
Check out these examples of wedding vows for inspiration. Feel free to take whatever is helpful from these, insert your own examples, and mix and match accordingly–we’ll be honored to help inspire some of the most meaningful moments of your big day!
1. Traditional Vows
“I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my lawfully wedded [husband/wife]. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, as long as we both shall live.”
2. Personal Vows
“[Name], from the moment I met you, I knew you were special. You bring out the best of me [in xyz ways]. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you for the rest of my life. I promise to stand by your side through thick and thin, to laugh with you, cry with you, and to support you in all of your dreams and aspirations [insert examples of dreams and aspirations here].
3. Humorous Vows
“[Name], I promise to love you even when you forget to put the toilet seat down, to cherish you even when you hog the blankets, and to stand by you through all of life’s ups and downs. I promise to be your partner in crime, your confidant, and your best friend.”
4. Poetic Vows
“Your love is a melody that fills my heart,
A sweet symphony that has from the start.
In you, I’ve found my soulmate, my forever friend,
My partner in life until the very end.
I vow to love you, to cherish and adore,
To be there for you now and forevermore.
Together we’ll laugh, we’ll dance, and we’ll sing,
And face every challenge that life may bring.
In your eyes, I see a future so bright,
And I promise to love you with all my might.
My heart is yours, forever and always,
And I’ll love you for all of our days.”
While it’s better to write your own poetic vows, use the example above to get you thinking. You might reuse some of the ideas in this poem, use the same meter and structure, and/or use this one as a starting point to create your own structure and rhythm. If you do decide to write some or all of your vows as a poem, think about how you can use imagery and metaphor to express your love and commitment.
Add a Personal Touch to Your Wedding Vows
Your wedding vows are a chance to express the nuances and quirks of your own unique love story and commitment to your partner. Here are our top tips for personalizing your wedding vows:
Share a Personal Story
Incorporate a personal story or anecdote that represents your relationship. This can be a special event or memory that you both share. You might recall a funny story about your first impressions of each other, the moments when you each knew you wanted to marry the other, or about a formative experience in your relationship.
Include a Favorite Quote
Include a quote from a favorite book, movie, or song that represents your relationship or feelings. If this quote or its source is already known and meaningful to both of you or if it’s connected to an inside joke from your relationship, even better.
Using humor in your vows shows personality and adds a playful and lighthearted element to an emotional occasion. Additionally, making your partner and the audience laugh will help the two of you connect both to each other and to the other people present. Don’t be afraid to add some humor to your vows. It’s a great way to show your personality and lighten the mood. That said, be tasteful and don’t go overboard with the jokes. Take care to strike a balance between lightheartedness and seriousness.
Make Promises and be Specific
Make specific promises to your partner about your future together. Promises could pertain to communicating in a particular way, supporting their goals and self-development, being there for them in times of need, providing attention and affection, or anything else which is relevant to the circumstances of your unique relationship.
However, be sure to personalize all of these promises and explain what they mean for the two of you personally. Beware cliches, avoid sounding generic, and be as specific as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wedding Vows
Q: What should I say in my wedding vows?
A: There are no fixed rules to follow, nor is there one set formula you should use. Instead, speak genuinely about your feelings and hopes for the future. Think back on your relationship and the commonalities and experiences that brought you together in the first place. Make clear promises that will sustain and nurture your marriage for years to come.
Q: How long should my wedding vows be?
A: In keeping with the theme above, there is also no set length for wedding vows. Some couples prefer shorter vows, while others want to share more detailed stories and aspirations. Choose a length that feels comfortable for you, and discuss this in advance with your partner.
Q: Should I memorize my wedding vows?
A: While it’s not necessary to memorize your vows, it is imperative that you practice reading them out loud beforehand enough times that you feel comfortable and confident while reading them.
Q: Can we write our vows together?
A: Yes! You should absolutely check in with each other about what will be in each of your vows, and you can even write the vows together if you prefer. This is a great way to ensure that you are both on the same page and that your vows are in harmony with one another’s.
Q: What if I’m nervous about speaking in front of people?
A: It’s totally normal and expected to experience nerves when it comes to speaking in front of a big group of people–especially about such an important and personal topic. In the moment, focus on your partner instead of thinking about the audience. Remember, this is about the two of you, and everyone present loves you and is there to support you. And yes, we’ve said the following again and again, but one more time in case you forgot: Another reason for practicing your vows in advance is because it can help alleviate some of these jitters.
Q: Can we include religious elements in our vows?
A: Yes! If you’d like to, you can absolutely include religious elements in your vows. Including religion or spirituality can make your vows more meaningful so long as you both agree on the importance of the element being shared. Speak with your officiant to ensure that your vows are in line with your religious beliefs and the requirements of your ceremony.
Writing your own wedding vows is a memorable and meaningful way to express your love and commitment to your partner. It requires considerably more time and energy than going with generic vows, but it is well worth the effort and injects an extra dose of intentionality into your relationship. Follow the advice laid out above to make the process smoother and to ensure that your vows are special, unique, and well-suited to the two of you and your relationship.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]