Statistically, couples are less likely to get married in a place of worship now more than ever. In fact, a mere 26 percent of weddings were held in a religious institution in 2016. Where you get married is ultimately up to you and your S.O., but if you choose to opt for a non-religious ceremony, you’ll have more freedom when it comes to your vows. This guide to non-traditional wedding vows will help you put your own personal touch on yours when pledging your love to the person you’re marrying.
But first…when writing your non-traditional wedding vows, try to keep the following in mind!
SEE MORE: Your Guide to Traditional Wedding Vows
Have a Conversation With Your S.O.
Writing non-traditional wedding vows is different for everyone — even two people in the same relationship. Before either of you begin writing, sit down and have a conversation so that there’s a mutual understanding of the expectations. Otherwise, you risk a time imbalance — like you reading 10-minute long vows only for your partner to use a total of three minutes. The two of you might also discuss what you do and don’t want the other to include, whether it’s certain phrases that are special to you or a horror story from your first date.
To personalize your non-traditional wedding vows, start by writing down the answers to the following questions:
- How did the two of you meet?
- What was it like seeing each other for the first time?
- If it wasn’t on a date, what was your first date like?
- When did you realize you were in love?
- How are the two of you different in ways that complement each other?
- What are your favorite things about your partner (be specific!?
- Where do you see the two of you in ten years?
You can then take these answers and insert details throughout your vows. For example, instead of just saying, “I can’t wait to grow old together,” say something like, “I can’t wait to be in our fifties and still ordering Chinese food and watching movies every Friday,” or however you envision the future. This is a simple way to make your vows special for the two of you.
Don’t Think About the Audience
The person you’re trying to impress will be standing in front of you. Try to forget about all of the guests and focus on why you’re really there: you’re preparing to spend the rest of your life with this person. Don’t be worried about what others will think, and don’t try to just be a source of entertainment.
Avoid Dragging On
You should aim for non-traditional wedding vows that can be read within two minutes. Any longer, and you risk repeating yourself. Instead of going on and on, pick out the most meaningful points and stick to those.
There’s nothing wrong with pulling quotes from movies and literature, browsing example vows, or even using a template to write your non-traditional wedding vows.
Here are a few of our favorites.
____, I love you. You are my best friend. Today I give myself to you in marriage. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I promise to cherish you and to always hold you in the highest regard. These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.
Neruda writes, “I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”
From this day forward I promise you these things. I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow. I will share in your dreams, and support you as you strive to achieve your goals. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement. I will help you when you need it, and step aside when you don’t. I will remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health. You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always.
____, the sun smiles on us today, our wedding day, and how can it not, for our love is stronger than forever, and our hearts beat together as one. I promise to be a true and faithful partner, from this day forward, in all life’s circumstances, as we face them together. In the joys and sorrows, the good times and bad, in sickness or in health, I will always be there for you, to comfort you, love you, honor and cherish you, now and forevermore.
I quote the great Dr. Seuss who said, “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” So, let’s be weird together – forever.
_____, the sun smiles on us today, our wedding day, and how can it not, for our love is stronger than forever, and our hearts beat together as one. I promise to be a true and faithful partner, from this day forward, in all life’s circumstances, as we face them together. In the joys and sorrows, the good times and bad, in sickness or in health, I will always be there for you, to comfort you, love you, honour and cherish you, now and forevermore.
____, from this day forward I promise you these things. I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow. I will share in your dreams and support you as you strive to achieve your goals. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement. I will remain faithful to our vows for better or for worse, in times of sickness and health. You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always.
Where there has been cold, you have brought warmth; where there was darkness, you have brought light. Our miracle lies in the path we have chosen together. I enter this marriage with you, knowing that the true magic of love is not to avoid changes, but to follow the path together, hand in hand. Let us commit to the miracle of making each day work, together.
Whatever lies ahead, good or bad, we will face together. Distance may test us for a time, and time may try us. But if we look to each other first, we will always see a friend. For better or worse, richer of poorer, in sickness and health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and to cherish, to be faithful to you alone.