A Fail-Proof Guide to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

wedding vows
Photo by Maggie Fortson

While you love your partner with all your heart, sometimes it’s tough to put it into words how much you truly feel for them. Writing your own wedding vows can be tougher than you think, and reciting them in front of your closest family and friends can be even harder. But deciding to come up with your own vows can be a rewarding and heartfelt way to show your future spouse and your guests how much you love each other. Here are some tips on how to write your wedding vows and say them out loud with as few hiccups as possible!

You Are Both In This

First and foremost, discuss with your fiancé if they like the idea of writing their own wedding vows, or if they’d rather go the more traditional route. While you might be more than excited to write your own wedding vows, he or she might not be a big fan of the idea, or feel strongly about reciting the vows from their religion. The bottom line is, BOTH of you should be committed to taking the time and effort to doing something as personal as writing your own wedding vows.

Check With Your Officiant

Before you start writing your own wedding vows, make sure to confirm with your ceremony officiant that it’s OK to do so. For example, the Catholic Rite of Marriage does not have an option for personalized wedding vows, and while there is no official exchange of vows during a traditional Jewish ceremony, your Rabbi might be open to it. While many wedding officiants are starting to embrace the idea of couples personalizing traditional wedding vows or going a separate route altogether, some might not be. Your officiant may also want to review your wedding vows if you have written them, so be prepared for that. If you’re not able to write your own wedding vows, another alternative is to incorporate them into a speech at your reception or include something personal in your wedding program.

Make an Outline

First, you’re going to want to decide if you want to write your vows separately or together. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and both have their advantages. If you choose to work together, you can compliment each other’s vows and make them flow one after the other. If you decide to work on them separately, it can be more of a surprise (which is always fun).

Whether you decide to work on your wedding vows alone or together, make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page when it comes to tone, length, and structure. Do you want your wedding vows to be funny or serious? Do you want them to include personal stories or have them be straight to the point? The sooner you can decide on an overall direction, the better!

And most importantly, make sure to decide on a deadline that is preferably not the day before (or of) the wedding! Trust us, this is not something you want to leave to the last minute. You should ideally give yourselves a deadline that is at least a few weeks before the wedding so you can have time to rehearse and not stress!

Reflect on Your Relationship

Now that you’ve decided to writing your own wedding vows, make sure you set some time aside to reflect on your relationship with and without your fiancé. Set up a “reflection date” to simply talk about your relationship and what you love most about it. Think back on the first time you both said ‘I love you’ or how you first met. You can also talk about some of your favorite memories that you’ve shared. Bill Cochran, a wedding officiant and pre-marriage counselor, says that by going over some of these questions with your partner, it will help you “remember why you are going through all this bother of getting married anyway.” 🙂

how to write your wedding vows

After you’ve taken a trip down memory lane with your partner, the real work begins. The key is to realize that this is not always easy, and it’s OK if you get writer’s block. “Don’t judge yourself, and give yourself time,” Alicia and Angie from Vow Muse–a California-based speechwriting company–told Weddings Illustrated. “One of the most difficult things about experiencing writer’s block as you pen your wedding vows is that you start to be self-conscious about why you’re having a hard time. ‘Why can’t I think of anything to say about Justin? Don’t I love him? If I can’t articulate my feelings, what does that mean?'” said Vow Muse. “This does not benefit you at all, and it doesn’t mean anything negative about you or your feelings toward you partner.”

Instead, get inspired by asking yourself some of these questions:

– How has your life changed since being with your significant other? Are you more patient? More adventurous? More willing to try new things?

– What do you love most about him or her? Is it their positive outlook on life or the way they laugh?

– When you think about your future with your partner, what are you most excited about?

– When was the moment you realized you couldn’t live without him or her?

– What is something about your partner that is different from anyone else you’ve met? Do they just ‘get you’ in ways that no one else could?

Promise…and Appreciate

Vows are essentially promises, so it’s helpful to think about what you think is most important to you, your partner, and your relationship. Think in terms of broad AND specific promises. For example, “I promise to always support you” (Broad) and “I promise to hold your hand when you bravely kill a spider, even though they terrify you.” (Specific).

Here are a few promises to help get you started:

– I promise to always stand by your side.

– I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and comfort you.

– I promise to always remind you how much you mean to you.

– I promise to love you the way you have always loved me.

PhD Candidate in psychology Samantha Joel, who specializes in the science of romantic relationships, incorporated decades-long evidence from science’s healthiest relationships into her own wedding vows. By saying “I promise to respect, admire, and appreciate you for who you are, as well as for the person you wish to become,” Joel was sharing how much she “appreciates” her partner, which she believes is an important factor.

“Research on positive illusions shows that it’s helpful to see romantic partners in a positive light — to appreciate their positive qualities rather than ruminating about their flaws,” she wrote on The Huffington Post. “‘Not only does this sunny outlook lead to better relationship satisfaction, but positive illusions help partners to feel better about themselves.” While scientific research isn’t necessarily the most romantic tool to help you write your wedding vows, it can’t hurt!

Get Feedback

After (hopefully) a few rough drafts, read it aloud to yourself in front of the mirror. Once you feel happy with it, ask your parents or closest friends to give it a listen. Do they laugh at your jokes? Do they feel those heartfelt moments like you do? While wedding vows are first and foremost for you and your spouse, it doesn’t hurt to get an opinion from someone you trust, especially if there’s a part or two in there that potentially crosses that TMI line.

Memorize It? Forget It!

If you can memorize your vows, awesome. If not, don’t worry about it! This isn’t a Presidential debate…nobody is expecting you to memorize your points. Instead, recite it enough times so you feel comfortable with it, then write it (NEATLY…better yet, type it!) on a nice piece of paper or notecard that a bridesmaid can give you or that you can keep folded up in your hand. Then be sure to keep your vows in a safe place afterwards so you can frame them or include them in your wedding album.

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