Thinking about writing your own 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 to advice to sources of inspiration, here is everything you need to know to write your own wedding vows.
Wedding Vow Template
While traditional wedding vows are usually very structured, you don’t have to be quite as strict while writing your own. Ready to get inspired? This outline is a great place to help you get started.
1. Make sure to say “I love you.” This seems like a no-brainer, but Monique Honaman, wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says she is often shocked at how many couples leave those three little words out of their vows.
Monique Honaman is a wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic.
2. Tell your partner you’ll be there through thick and thin. Most wedding vows—whether traditional or personal—touch on sticking around through sickness and health, through good times and bad times, and for richer or for poorer. “The reality is that all marriages have their cycles of peaks and valleys,” Honaman says. “It’s nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together.”
Guests (and your S.O.) want to hear vows that are real. If you’ve been through bumpy spots…you should express that.
3. Share personal stories. It’s so much more interesting for your friends or family to hear about your odd quirks and personal moments—and don’t be afraid to talk about the highs and the lows. “Many people make the mistake of thinking that vows are only about the highs in your relationship,” says Alexis Dent, founder of vow- and toast-writing company XO Juliet. “But guests (and your S.O.) want to hear vows that are real. If you’ve been through bumpy spots…you should express that.”
4. Actually make promises. Vows aren’t just cute anecdotes—they are a promise, a serious commitment that you’re making in front of a whole lot of witnesses. That doesn’t mean they have to be heavy, though. “You can vow to not only stick by their side forever, but to also be the one to kill spiders whenever they creep their way into your home,” suggests Dent.
5. Acknowledge the support you’ll need from others. You’ve gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but the truth is, you’ll need them just as much during your marriage. So, Honaman recommends you acknowledge “the role of religion or God in making your marriage work, or the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough.”
Wedding Vow Tips
Here are our top tips for writing your own wedding vows.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan to have your vows written at least three weeks before your wedding. Trust us: You’ll be thankful for the rehearsal when those wedding day jitters kick in!
2. Make a list of all your thoughts. You don’t have to try to put everything into sentences right away. Jot down all the things you love about your soon-to-be spouse, what you’re looking forward to most in your marriage and what promises you want to make to your future husband or wife. Revisit these notes later and highlight your favorite items. Use those as the starting point for your vows.
3. Write up to three drafts. Take a few days—even a week—to give you and your vows some space. After you’ve taken time apart, go back and reread what you wrote. If needed, do this one or two more times. But after three times, it’s really time to stop—continuously rewriting will drive you crazy!
4. Don’t try to include everything. It’s understandable to want to fit everything you’re feeling into your vows—but in reality, you just can’t include everything. “It’s impossible to fit every single emotion and memory into your vows,” says JP Reynolds, M.Div., celebrity officiant.
5. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” This kind of absolute language is all but impossible to live up to, in real life. It’s not always going to be easy, so don’t promise perfection.The 9 Most Common Wedding Vow Mistakes All Brides and Grooms Should Avoid
6. Embrace sentimentality and don’t worry about being cheesy. Writing your vows isn’t the time to worry about being corny or cheesy. “If the words are heartfelt, then they’re not cheesy,” says Reynolds. “I’ve never heard vows that made me roll my eyes!”
7. Go after laughter. The ability to make your significant other smile and even laugh out loud during your ceremony will serve you well in your marriage!
8. Get inspired with books, songs, movies, and poems. And don’t discount children’s books, such as Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss’s I’ll Be You and You’ll Be Me and I Like You by Sandol Stoddard. Kids’ books often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences and might just provide the inspiration you’re looking for.
If you have a favorite line from a movie or song that expresses your feelings, use it as a starting point.
9. Practice reading out loud. You’ve got it all down, but the only way to make sure everything sounds perfect is to hear how it sounds. “Reading your vows out loud will help you catch spots where the grammar might be iffy or where you’re missing a word, as well as figure out if the structure is cohesive,” Dent explains.
10. Indicate pauses and intonation. “You’ll want to allow time to laugh or tear up without interrupting your flow,” says Dent. “You don’t want to rush through your vows, and your guests don’t want you to either. For the best comprehension and emotional reactions, take it slow and focus on breaks, pauses and intonation.”
11. Ask a trusted friend to listen and edit. A close friend who is a great sounding board (and a pro at keeping secrets) is an important ally to have. “They can give you constructive criticism and help you improve your vows to make sure you really get that meaning across,” says Dent.
12. Make a fresh copy of your vows for the ceremony. Whether you typed your vows up on your laptop or wrote them on a napkin at a bar, it’s important to think about how they’ll look when they come into view during the ceremony. Rewrite or reprint a fresh copy—or consider reading them from vow books your officiant can hold until it’s time. “Yes, the focus will be on the words themselves, but the aesthetics matter, too,” says Dent.
13. Keep the vows a secret from your partner until the ceremony. “Your vows are a gift to one another, so don’t share them ahead of time,” Reynolds explains. It will make the ceremony all the more impactful and emotional if you’re hearing them for the first time.
Answer These Questions to Get Started
One of the hardest parts about exchanging vows is worrying over how people will react to your words versus your partner’s. Instead of thinking about it as a vow writing a competition, get on the same page about your expectations and come to an agreement about the following.
- How long should the vows be?
- Will you share inside jokes or would you rather keep things more generic?
- Will they lean more humorous or sentimental, or a mixture of both?
- Do you want to incorporate elements of traditional or religious vows into your own?
Wedding Vow Examples to Inspire Your Own
“Gabriel, you came into my life at exactly the right time: when I wasn’t ready, and yet, when I need your love the most. In the past two years, we’ve experienced great triumphs and literal disasters together. These trials have pushed the boundaries of what we thought we could endure, and in the end, I feel more strongly connected with you in a resolve to get up and try again. I love you dearly for all that you are. I am amazed by your inquisitive mind and tickled by your sense of humor. I may not want to admit it, but I even love your awful puns.
You have stuck by me through the best and worst, and loved all that I am. You help me to be the finest version of me that I can.
As your wife, I promise to love you with the same determination and confidence you’ve given me. I vow to support you through more ups and downs. I pledge to commit myself to our family and the good I know will grow from it. I promise this all to you until I am no more.”
“Marissa, I love you with all my heart. I have been thankful for these past two years that you were not the best driver on that fateful day. Stopping in the middle of a busy 90/04 to see if everyone was okay, there I met the woman who is standing before me today. When we started dating, I gained a family, a woman who loves me, and an adorable whippet—both whom I adore with all my heart. We have survived trials and tribulations, from Hurricane Irma to differing political views, we have pulled through.