First of all, bravo on being so brave! Thinking of writing your own wedding vows shows that you care about that special moment when you stand up in front of everyone and declare your devotion to each other.
It can be a great way to personalize the promises you make that will set the tone for your wedding and your marriage.
Second, if after reading this you feel like sticking with the more traditional route of having an officiant do the vows for you, then that’s also cool.
The most important thing is that this day is comfortable and enjoyable for you. Adding extra stress just because you think you should do something in a specific way is not going to help you relax and be present at your own wedding - you’ll miss out on all the fun!
So, read on, talk it over with your fiancée, answer the questions that come with each section below, and then decide what you want to do.
We recommend you do this when you are in a good mood and in no rush.
Tip #1 – Call Your Officiant
If you are having a religious ceremony, make sure you ask the officiant if they allow couples to write and perform their own wedding vows. And if they do, they still might need you to say specific words or use a specific format. Make sure you write down what those are so you can incorporate them later.
Even if they allow you to do as you like, it might be a good idea to know how they do it. That way you can keep their style as a reference for structure or inspiration while writing your vows.
Now that you know what your choices are, ask yourself:
Does it feel better to do it myself or would I enjoy it more if I take the traditional route?
Tip #2 – Discuss With Your Partner
This might seem a little strange, but some couples do decide to write their vows together, as a sort of team challenge. They like setting a specific intention and maintaining a similar style.
You might find this takes away from the romance, or you might find it to be a very romantic process. It could be a point of frustration or a point of bonding. It’s all in how you play it.
Question for each of you to ask yourselves:
Does this feel like a task that would bring us closer together or will it just add to our stress?
Tip #3 – The Promises You Make Are For Real
Wedding vows are actual vows; they are the promises you make and intend on keeping. That is why they are the cornerstones of a traditional or religious wedding.
They are not just a romantic gesture or a performance for entertainment purposes. They are the foundation on which your new life together will be built.
So make sure they are genuine. Promise things that you know you can deliver. Keep your promises aligned with your own personal values and ethics so you know that you can keep them even during the most difficult times.
Do not make a vow just because you think it’s the right thing to say or what is expected of you. Really let this come from your core.
When you have your list of promises, go through each item and ask:
Is this a promise I can keep even on “one of those days”?
Tip #4 – Know Yourself
You don’t want to write vows that you think would sound good, you want to write vows that are true to you while also respecting your partner’s needs.
The most important rule is to stay sincere.
So think about your personality. If you are the serious, formal type, don’t try to crack jokes or get cheeky with your vows. If you’re the light-hearted, casual type, don’t get all Shakespearean with this.
Maybe you want to start out with something light and funny then end on a more serious note. Or maybe you want to make it simple and earthy so you can focus on delivery. Whatever it is, it needs to be aligned with who you are as a person.
And, please, don’t add words you don’t normally use. That never works out well with speeches, conversations, emails and especially wedding vows.
Question to ask yourself while reading what you wrote:
Does this sound like me?
Tip #5 - Know Your Audience
The point of this exercise is to find that sweet spot where your style and your fiancée’s style meet.
Don’t be afraid to ask her what she needs or would like to have you say. And also what she doesn’t want you to say.
She might not want you to mention how drunk she got the night you proposed to her, or she might be totally open to you telling that story of how you knew she was “the one” after she spit her cola all over the table from laughing that one time.
You might also want to keep in mind the overall atmosphere of the wedding: is it a classic one with structured steps or is it a more casual one with a loose flow?
Questions to help you get in her shoes:
How do I want her to feel when I say my vows? How does she want to feel hearing these vows?
Tip #6 – Take A Walk Down Memory Lane
This is a great romantic idea for a pre-wedding date with your sweetie, but also the perfect way to get the creative juices flowing for writing vows or speeches.
Look over some old photos, think back to your first few dates, read old emails and texts and talk with her about those special moments. Anecdotes and little stories will make it all much more personal and colorful.
Need a little help? Here are some questions that will remind you:
- How did you first meet?
- Was it love at first sight?
- How and when did you ask her out? Or did she ask you out?
- What did you do on your first date?
- What was your first kiss like?
- When did you realize that she is the one?
- What was it like meeting her family?
- How did you propose?
- How did you feel when she said yes?
- What was the most amazing thing she ever did for you?
- What do you love the most about her?
- How does she make you feel on a day-to-day basis?
- Did you have a time when you didn’t think you would make it? How did you turn it around? What made you realize that it was worth fighting for?
- What is she like when she doesn’t know you’re watching?
- What was the most romantic/funniest/craziest moment you shared?
Tip #7 – Envision the Future
This is the opposite of the previous tip, but just as romantic and useful.
Envision what the future holds for you as a couple. Think about the lifestyle you’d like to have, the evolution of your love, what growing old together means for you. Think about the different kinds of shared experiences you would like to have with your future-wife. Think about the family traditions you want to instill, or the adventures you’d like to go on.
Also think about what you most want for her. It could be things like happiness, love, stability, laughter or comfort.
Question to help you visualize:
What do you dream of when you think about the next five or ten years?
Tip #8 – Get Inspired
You do not have to write your wedding vows from scratch. It is perfectly OK to use vows that have been tried and tested, and just customize them. That doesn’t mean they will be any less beautiful or meaningful. We all need a little inspiration to create!
You can read through poems, sayings about love and marriage, famous quotes, or maybe religious texts that are close to your heart. You can also watch videos of wedding ceremonies or wedding speeches.
The options are endless; so don’t worry that you’ll be a copycat. Just avoid the really obvious clichés and make sure what you use is aligned with your heart.
Question to cut to the chase:
What is the most touching thing I’ve ever heard, read or seen about love and marriage?
Tip #9 – Put It All Together
Now comes the fun part. Take all the bits and pieces of the work you’ve done so far and put it all together. And don’t forget anything that the officiant recommends or requires.
Once you have it all, it’s time to get ruthless. That is what editing is all about – cutting out anything unnecessary. And when you have cut it down dramatically, cut it down even more. What you want to get to is the purest, cleanest essence of how you feel.
Your vows should not exceed one or two minutes. This is good for you and for everyone else involved. Short and simple rules the day here!
Question to ask yourself when you’re editing:
Has this word earned its place?
Question to ask yourself when you’re done:
Does this feel right, sincere and complete?
Tip #10 – Practice & Perform
Use your own, natural voice to speak. You don’t have to use a “romancer” or “charmer” voice.
Try recording yourself - it will be quite an eye-opener. When you hear yourself you’ll be able to notice any fluff left over, anything that doesn’t sound natural, and anything that is confusing or lumpy.
Then adjust accordingly.
When you’re ready, get a few friends and recite it for them. This will give you a taste of what it will be like to do this in front of others, and you will get great feedback. Just make sure you choose friends who will give you real, heart-felt constructive criticism and encouragement.
Question to ask your friends:
Does this sound like me?
Last question to ask yourself:
Do I feel comfortable saying this in front of everyone?
Ready? Write It Out!
Now that you’ve got your vows down to a T, write them out nicely! It’s really true - you don’t have to memorize your vows. Write them or print them, making sure that the font size is big enough to read it while holding the paper at chest or waist level.
You can take it an extra step and do this on really beautiful material so that you can frame it later.
So, now you’re ready for the big day! Please keep in mind that you can and should pause in between words or sentences, make eye contact with your love, connect with your center and feel the sincerity in what you’re saying.
And don’t forget to breathe.