The words below are my opinion. Do with them what you will. Every wedding officiant has an opinion. My goal is to help to inspire you to make your wedding ceremony your own. If this is not this path to perfection for you, no worries! You don’t have to write your own vows and I have plenty of material already written you are welcome to use. A few years ago, I received the question - How do we write our wedding vows? I had never really given any thought as to how to write your own wedding vow. The words and ‘vows’ you share with your partner on your wedding day are thoughts and feelings that come from the heart. There is no right or wrong. What they were really looking for was an outline to help them collect and organize their thoughts. When I’m helping a couple personalize their wedding ceremony they often ask if I need their vows ahead of time or if I need to check them and make sure they are OK. I don’t. I’m happy to read them over if you want me to but I would never correct you. You can’t get it wrong - ever. I’m certainly in no position to judge your heart! Coupes are sometimes afraid their vows won’t ‘match up’ with their partner’s vows. I think that’s impossible. We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves and, by your wedding day, you probably already know enough about your partner to know each other’s hearts and intentions. I will always remember a wedding I officiated where the groom had pages of vows. We were all in tears listening to him express his love for his wife and her son. When he was done, the bride took out a small sheet of steno paper and said exactly the same things in just a few sentences. It was sincere and perfect. What exactly are wedding vows?
Essentially, a vow is a solemn promise to do something. During a wedding ceremony, as your officiant I ask “Do you take this person to be your husband or wife?” That’s what the law requires. Are you promising to fulfill the contract of marriage? There is a feeling of classic romance when I ask these questions - at least I think there is. Beyond the Basic Vow
I think when many couples are wondering about writing their own vows, they are thinking beyond the basics. They want to say heartfelt, charming, and fun statements mixed in with the words of undying love. Saying “I promise to love you, honor, respect, make sure we have gummy bears in the house, and not bother you when the Colts are playing the Patriots,” is probably what more people are looking to create as part of their wedding ceremony.
Do I have to say Obey?
If you want to promise to “Obey” that’s up to you. What the two of you agree to in your one marriage is between the two of you. If you choose to use the statement, that’s something you can write into your own vows. ;-) Some couples want to quote the vows they have heard over and over again while watching their favorite movie. I will love you to Infinity and Beyond! Or, “you and me, we’re in a club now…” Sometimes, everything I’ve written above is all a couple needs to hear and their imagination is sparked enough to take it from here. Others, appreciate more direction. Below is my direction.
Write Vows for YOU
When the question “do you want to write your own vows?” comes up, so can anxiety! Many couples very much want to personally express their love for each other on their wedding day, they just don’t want to share it with the 150 people they invited to the wedding. That is ABSOLUTELY OK!!! Many couples will write their vows for each other and share them privately, before the ceremony. They may do it during their first look, or, they will read the letters they’ve written for each other alone - with a photographer catching the moment. They may use those letters as part of a unity ceremony during their actual ceremony creating a memory box or a wine box. You do NOT have to share your intimacies with everyone! Give yourself permission to be honest.
Keeping in mind that you don’t have to share your heart with the world, just your spouse, give yourself permission to be honest. You are sitting down by yourself and thinking your thoughts and feeling your emotions. It’s part of a process, it’s not necessarily the final draft. Life is a process! Marriage is a process! Enjoy the process!
The (Not so) ULTIMATE Wedding Vow Writing Guide
Here is the guide I have put together. It’s a guide to help you to do you. Please feel free to make it your own. These are some questions I ask couples when we start personalizing their ceremony. They help me to get to know a couple and come up with ceremony ideas that match the tone of their relationship. They help serve as a way for you to collect your thoughts about your relationship. Sometimes, we get caught in day to day life and we don’t think about our relationship because we are too busy living our relationship. These questions can help you focus. No one is ever required to answer the questions. There might be one question that sparks all of your feelings and emotions. Or, it may just be fun to answer them all.
1. What are your hopes for the future? 2. What are three pivotal moments in your relationship? 3. Tell me about your first official date. 4. Tell me about the first time you met. 5. What is (or was) your favorite date? 6. When did you fall in love? 7 Why do you want to get married? 8. Favorite way to spend the day together
Now that your juices are flowing, here are some ways to take the thoughts and put them in some sort of order.
Who is this person to me?
It could be something like “You are my best friend, partner in crime, mother to my children…” "My True Companion, my soul mate." What do I love about this person?
It could be one of the 3 pivotal moments in your relationship that made you see that this person is “The One.” You might tell stories about your relationship here. “When she made BBQ nachos and started lamenting the end of football season, I knew she was the one for me.” Or, “when my cat was sick, he took us to the vet and took care of us.” One groom had moved in with the bride’s parents while he looked for a job in the city the bride had found her dream job in so he could help her pay her rent until he was able to afford the move!
What are you promising?
Some people may just want to be funny, romantic, or serious. You may want to discuss this ahead of time. Maybe the two of you agree, you just want to be funny. You may want to incorporate a little of everything. “I promise to support your dreams.” “I Promise to march alongside you in protest to support the rights of the underprivileged.” “I promise to support your team - unless they are playing my team.” “I promise to kill the spiders.” “I promise to love your children as my own.” “I promise not to steal the covers.” (Pro-tip: I’ve been married for 30 years. SEPARATE blankets are a very good idea!)
Share your hopes and dreams for your future together.
What do the two of you dream of? (Don’t feel bad if you don’t!) You are going to buy land and build a house. You are going to travel through South-East Asia and eat all the bugs sold in the marketplaces. You are going to work hard to retire by 50. You are going to have a house, 2 kids and a dog. You promise to grow old together, getting to know each other a little more each day…
In Good Times and Bad, In Sickness and in Health.
You may want to elaborate on the traditional wedding vows. Some couples say “for richer or richer!” because they never want to be poor - or they KNOW who of them is high maintenance and they LOVE that about them! COVID has changed a lot of families and relationships, mentioning that could be a poignant moment. Taking care of each other during pregnancy might be a topic too.
End with a bang!
This may be to recite the actual traditional wedding vows with feeling, emotion and gusto! “I take you as my spouse to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part! You may change these for you. You may say “for as long as love shall last.” or “Forever and Always.” or anything else you may choose to say. (Pro tip: Don’t use “for as long as love shall last” unless you have already agreed on that!)
Now, take what you’ve learned and make it your own.
Now that you’ve read the guide, make it your own. The two of you may want to discuss how you want to approach this together. Maybe you want to keep it light? Maybe you want to be very serious. You may want to put some guidelines together as to how you want to approach this part of your ceremony as a team. You may not want to share personal stories or anecdotes. That’s perfectly OK. Don’t do anything that embarasses the other person or makes them feel uncomfortable. Some couples don’t want their ceremony to be personalized in such a way. That’s perfectly OK. Just agree on it ahead of time.
It’s OK to look for inspiration!
I’ve collected and share vows from all over. The one thing I will say is this. Don’t just use someone else's vows as they are written. If your partner really wants to write their own vows, they will probably have read many examples. Don’t just use one of those examples and try to pass it off as your own as it’s already written. It shows you really don’t care. At least say something like, “I’m really not good at this, but I’ve been inspired by the words of others to help me express myself…”