Writing your own wedding vows is certainly no easy task. The thought of verbally expressing your love for someone in front of hundreds of people can be quite intimidating, even for the most outgoing of people. But we promise that the effort will be well worth the reward. There will be nothing quite like seeing your future spouse’s face as you share your feelings about them as well as your hopes for the future, and hearing theirs in return. For the smooth, stress-free process, follow these 15 tips on how to write your own wedding vows!
1.) Agree on tone with your partner.
After you two have decided that writing your own vows is the way to go, be sure to also discuss the tone. Will they be serious and heartfelt? Will you both try to insert a little bit of humor? Will you write them together or separately? Will you keep them a secret from each other until the wedding ceremony? Make sure you both agree on a few things before you get to work.
2.) Start early.
Perfecting exactly how you want to express your love for your partner takes time and patience. This is not something you want to leave until the week of your wedding. You should aim to have your vows mostly written 3 – 4 weeks before the wedding. As the day approaches, you can work on fine tuning them so that they are absolutely perfect for the main event.
3.) Look for inspiration.
The hardest part of writing your wedding vows will likely be getting started. Poems, movies, literature, music, notes or cards written to you from your future spouse, and even photos of the two of you can all be sources of inspiration. If you are having trouble knowing where to begin, getting in the “mood” and getting your head in the right place may help the words start flowing.
4.) Gather your thoughts.
Take some time to reflect. In a bulleted list, jot down everything that comes to your mind when you think about your fiance, your relationship, and your future marriage. Think very broadly at first and don’t worry about having too many points or expanding any of them just yet. This is your time to brainstorm; editing will come later.
5.) Keep it short.
While it might be easy to go on and on about why you love your fiance, remember that people’s attention spans aren’t that great. Exchanging vows with your partner will be a sacred time that you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives, but they shouldn’t drag on and on. If your vows are running more than 2 or 3 minutes, try to make some edits to keep your words concise. You can always include more in a love letter given to them the morning of the wedding.
6.) Include a story.
Maybe it’s the one of how you met, or the exact moment you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your life with that person. Or it might be about one of the many times your partner demonstrated their love for you, or the time you overcame an obstacle together. Whatever it is, select a meaningful, memorable story to share in your vows. Even if your friends and family have already heard it, this is the perfect time to retell it.
7.) Tell your partner what you love about them.
This should be the easy part. Think about the many reasons why you love your future spouse. Maybe it is the way they never take themselves too seriously, or how they always go out of their way to help others. Or maybe it is the ease with which they connect with children or how they always think to bring you a cup of coffee in the morning. Big or small, the things you love about your partner are bound to be plentiful and now is the time to mention them. Also, it may seem like a no brainer, but make a point to include three very important words: I love you.
8.) Make a few promises.
They are called vows for a reason, so promising a few things to your partner is very important. Speak to your future together and what you intend your marriage to be like. However, be careful with words that express absoluteness. Marriage isn’t always easy and you will surely experience some tough times at some point, which makes words like “never” and “always” extremely difficult to live up to.
9.) Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Now is not the time to worry about being too cheesy. Tap into your emotions and don’t be afraid to express yourself openly and honestly. We have never seen anyone roll their eyes during a wedding ceremony, so remember that your friends and family aren’t there to judge you. It’s ok to be romantic, bear your heart, show your sensitive side, and surprise your fiance with sentimentality.
10.) Think about pauses.
Throughout your wedding vows, there may be times when your fiance is crying and needs to compose themself or when your guests laugh at a joke you’ve made. Try to anticipate these moments and remember to pause for them. Slow down, breath, allow emotions to be experienced, and focus on your intonation so your words have the greatest impact possible.
11.) Edit, edit, edit.
In college, you may have written papers and turned them in without proofreading, but that just won’t do here. The first draft of your wedding vows should never be your final draft. Read them, then reread them, then say them aloud. Be sure that you are expressing yourself clearly and succinctly. This is another reason why we recommend starting the process well in advance. It will take some time to perfect your vows and get them wedding ready.
12.) Have a trusted friend read them.
When it comes to finalizing your vows, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a close friend. They can be a sounding board and let you know if your points come across well or if some things fall flat. Just make sure they are good at keeping secrets.
13.) Practice reading them aloud.
Words always sound differently when you hear them versus when you read them in your head. You should give your wedding vows a few dry runs before the wedding day anyways, but especially if public speaking stresses you out. Saying your vows aloud to yourself or where your fiance can’t hear them will allow you to get more comfortable with your words, as well as ensure they all flow well.
14.) Prep your vows for the ceremony.
Traditionally, your officiant would ask you to repeat after them, thereby leading you to exchange wedding vows with your partner. Things are done a little differently when you write your own, however. You will be expected to either memorize or read them aloud independently. We highly recommend the latter as all of the big day jitters and nerves could impact your ability to recite your vows by memory. In this case, think about from where you will read your vows. Reading from your phone definitely won’t look good in photos, and note cards aren’t really appropriate. We recommend printing them on nice paper with a heavier weight or investing in a beautiful vow book. If you choose the former option, remember to enlarge the font and double space to make for easier reading. Finally, give a backup copy to a trusted friend just in case.
15.) Keep them a secret until the big day.
Your vows are a gift to your soon-to-be spouse, so they should be kept a surprise until that very moment when you can read them aloud. Their reaction is bound to be filled with emotion, which will be more sincere if they are hearing them for the first time during the ceremony.