Lots of couples leave writing their wedding vows until the last minute because let’s be honest, it’s not easy! Trying to express just how much you love this person and the ‘us’ you make with them…it can be hard to find the right words.
Here we cover everything you need to know to turn your thoughts and feelings into deeply personal vows that celebrate the past, present and future of your relationship.
Whether you work on your vows together or individually, we’ll help you create a stress-free plan to get them done and make them sound as good out loud as they do on paper.
Want to write your own wedding vows but don’t know where to start, what to include and most importantly, how to make it sound good? Our step-by-step guide How to Write Your Personal Wedding Vows contains EVERY vow starter and thought prompter you need to draw the words out of your heart and on to paper (no generic promises here!). In an hour you’ll have your own heartstring-tugging wedding vows that will make you both laugh and cry.
“I’m SO happy with the vows I wrote using this guide. I loved that the words were coming from me, instead of the internet. I felt like they couldn’t have been written for anyone else but us. And best of all, they made my partner laugh!”
1. Decide whether your vows will be the same or different.
You may value each having your own voice, or prefer to speak shared promises.
My husband and I did a combination of both for our wedding ceremony!
To acknowledge our partnership, we chose to make the same commitments to one another by exchanging the same promises. And to acknowledge our individuality, we each expressed what we valued most in each other and our relationship from our own perspectives.
2. Decide whether you’ll write your vows together or separately.
It does take some pressure off and make for a memorable experience to work with your partner on what you’re going to say in your vows. But there’s also less of a surprise as to what words of love will be spoken, which adds its own special aspect to your ceremony.
If you want the best of both worlds, you can always write your promises together and declarations of love separately.
3. Decide whether to share your vows with each other before the wedding or keep them secret.
There are a few things you need to think about for this one!
If you’d like your vows to be similar in structure, length and tone, you might want to see each other’s vows before the wedding. This also gives you an opportunity to help each other out if you get stuck.
But there’s a chance comparing vows might make you second guess what you’ve prepared. In this case, it’s important to remember that the words you’ve written represent your genuine feelings and experiences, so they can’t be wrong!
If you do want to keep your vows a secret, you can always share them with your officiant or a loved one who can review both and provide some feedback individually so your vows come together harmoniously on the day. This option means nothing is given away.
Sharing your vows with each other before the wedding might mean you miss out on the big reveal, but not that the moment will be any less emotional during your ceremony. So this decision really depends on what matters most to you both. You know each other best!
4. Set a date for when you should have your vows written.
Whatever you do, don’t leave writing your vows until the last minute or try to wing it on the day!
Many couples have stared at a blank page until the morning of their wedding thanks to writer’s block. But no one comes up with their best vows on their first try with a looming ceremony start time. You need time to think, jot down your initial thoughts, turn these notes into vows, review them to make sure you’re happy and read them out loud to see if there are any difficult combinations of words to say. Then you can feel confident you won’t stumble over your words on the day. None of this can happen without at least a couple of weeks to prepare.
Having them finished at least two weeks before your wedding day means you’ll have enough time to transcribe them into a beautiful vow book. You’ll also be able to practice a couple of times so you’re completely comfortable saying your vows on the day.
5. Set a word count for your vows.
Personally, I think if one person is a born poet and the other just gets to the point, there’s no need to force a partner to say more or less than they want to. As long as it’s from the heart, the length doesn’t really matter.
You may want to set a maximum amount of words though. Usually a 300 word limit or about two minutes long is a good guide for this part of your ceremony.
Going through the process of writing your own vows can call out a huge number of things you wish to tell your other half. If you feel like it’s getting too long for the ceremony, or there are some things you’re not comfortable sharing publicly, consider writing it in a letter to give to your partner the morning of the wedding.
6. Discuss what tone your vows will take.
Again, I’m in the camp that vows should naturally be different in style if they’re being written by different people.
If one of you is known for their witty jokes and the other for their sentimentality, you don’t want to feel like you need to be someone you’re not and say something you wouldn’t just so your vows are similar.
But I do get that some couples might be worried they’ll give their guests emotional whiplash if it’s all belly laughs for one and all seriousness for the other.
It’s about finding a balance that feels right for you. Just like there will be highs and lows in your journey together, you can have some light-hearted words amongst more solemn ones in your vows.
Jokes are a great way to share the fun side of your relationship, show how well you know your partner and bring a smile to their face, which can help relieve any nerves! But all things in moderation. If you choose to use humour in your vows, here are some things to think about:
- While your vows are exchanged in front of friends and family, don’t feel like you need to put on a show to draw laughs from the crowd. Put that quick wit to work for the speeches instead!
- Always keep in mind where hilarious ends and embarrassing starts. Consider whether your partner would want that funny anecdote shared with everyone, even if you laugh about it together in private.
- If you’re getting to some third-tier inside jokes that no one else will follow, or starting to make not-so-subtle references to your bangin’ sex life, that might be better saved for a letter to your partner the morning of the wedding.
- You still want your partner to know the promises you’re making aren’t a joke. It’s a good idea to finish with a final heartfelt promise that reflects your sincere, unwavering commitment to them.
7. Check what you need to include in your vows for legal or religious reasons.
There are certain phrases you must say verbatim during your ceremony to make your marriage legally binding or reflective of your faith. If you factor these into your vows as you’re writing them, they will flow more naturally.
8. Set a structure for your vows.
If you want to keep your vows under wraps until you speak them at the ceremony, creating a structure for both of you to follow is a simple way to keep the length and tone similar between your words.
Like all great stories that finish in “Happily Ever After”, your vows should have a beginning, middle and end:
The Past: How We Got Here
What brought you together and what experiences you’ve shared since that have strengthened your bond.
The Present: Why I Choose You
What you love about your partner and what they bring to your life.
The Future: What I Promise You
What your hopes, dreams and commitments are for your future together and what everyday actions you promise to take to nurture your relationship.
9. Write your vows.
When you finally put that pen to paper, don’t overthink it at the start. Everyone communicates how they feel in a different way, and you shouldn’t be afraid to share your story in your own voice.
Your vows also don’t have to be completely original to be personal. Songs, movies, books, poems, quotes and other couples can all be sources of inspiration for your wedding vows.
It may be that not every word they’ve written is the right fit for your relationship, but if a sentence or two really speaks to you, use it as a starting point for your own vows. If you feel like you couldn’t have said it better yourself, don’t try to!
10. Decide how you will say your vows during your ceremony.
There are three main ways your personalised vows can be shared during the ceremony:
Reciting them yourself
No, you don’t need to memorise your vows! It’s totally okay to have a written copy of your vows in hand as a prompt. Even if you’re usually uber-calm or an experienced speechmaker, it’s a highly emotional day, so taking the back up security of notes is a great idea.
This is when your officiant states the vows you’ve written line-by-line so you can repeat after them. Perfect if you still want to say all of your own vows but are worried you’ll spend more time looking at your notes than your partner if you have to read them.
This is when the officiant reads the vows you’ve prepared and you confirm your commitment to them by saying, “I do” or, “I will”. A great option if you’re both uncomfortable with public speaking or concerned the emotion of the moment will overwhelm you.
Many couples worry about how they’ll get through their vows on the day without the tears rolling, but these are a natural reaction no one should feel embarrassed about. They show how much you care about this special person and the promises you’re making to them.
Even if you need to pause part way through your vows to gather yourself, it’s a beautiful thing to be vulnerable in this moment. When you’re looking into your partner’s eyes as you share your heartfelt words, I guarantee you won’t be thinking about anyone else.
What to Say in Your Wedding Vows
Your wedding vows are a public love letter to your partner. It doesn’t matter if the words you choose are serious, sentimental or a little bit silly. What matters is that they’re true to your personality and relationship.
Whether you’re inspired to write a few sentences or a few paragraphs to convey what this next step in your journey together looks like, we can help you get those words flowing freely.
The hundreds of questions, prompts and ideas in How to Write Your Personal Wedding Vows will help you tell your love story in your own words to make your vows truly special. There’s no other guide that makes it THIS easy to express what you’re feeling in your heart.
“I wish I had this guide when I was writing my vows! It’s super easy to follow and there are so many great ideas. They would’ve taken me way less time to write and been even more personalised.”
You’ll revisit cherished memories from your relationship, revel in the love that brought you to this point and explore your hopes and dreams for your future together. How to Write Your Personal Wedding Vows will take you on this journey and bring you to your destination, your wedding day, where you share your promises with the one you love.