How to Write Wedding Vows That Mean Something (and Say Them Perfectly!)

How To Write Wedding Vows
Photo by Debbie Neff Photography

Are you and your spouse planning on penning your own wedding vows? If so, you’re not alone. Close to 50% of couples choose to write their own wedding vows. And while that’s not always possible if you’re getting married in a church or temple, a venue that allows you to write you own vows is an invitation to create a meaningful and memorable moment for you, your partner, and your guests. While that all sounds great, writing your own vows can be SUPER nerve-wracking. What are you going to say? What’s your spouse going to say? What if you mess up? Or forget? What if your partner doesn’t like them….let alone the guests!?

Figuring out how to write wedding vows doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow a few basic guidelines with help from these experts, and your vows will totally wow both your audience and the love of your life!

Meet the Experts

Katelyn Peterson is a talented speechwriter and the owner of Wedding Words, a leading wedding vow and speech writing service. In addition to her work with Wedding Words, Katelyn is also a trusted expert for Zola, where she shares her insights and expertise on all things wedding-related.

Tanya Pushkine is a highly sought-after wedding officiant and the founder of The Vow Whisperer, a wedding vow, toast, and speech coaching service. With a background in acting and a passion for the art of expression, Tanya has become an expert in helping couples put their love into words on their special day.

“Stop Trying to Write Your Vows”

While working with an expert will help you overcome writer’s block when it comes to your wedding vows, Katelyn Peterson says the best thing you can do if writing them on your own is to “stop trying to write your vows.” Instead, start by writing a list.

“List out what you love about your fiance, what you appreciate about your relationship, what kind of spouse you wish to be for them, and what makes you excited for your future,” says Peterson, who helps couples write completely custom wedding vows. “When you’re done, you’ll have lots of material to work with. Then it’s just a matter of polishing those notes into vows. Suddenly, the task of vow writing becomes a lot less daunting.”

Vow Thought Starters

When working on your list, try these questions out: Why do you love your partner? How did you meet, and what initially attracted you to them? What was your first date like? Did you always know you’d marry them one day? What are you imagining life with them to be like? What kind of parent do you think they’re going to be? How did you feel when he got down on one knee and proposed? Scribble down some initial thoughts that you can then translate into some vows. Your vows should have a few sentences affirming your love for your partner, and you can take inspiration from milestones in your relationship.

Agree on the Tone

Do you and your partner want to write wedding vows with one another beforehand? If not, it’s essential to discuss what type of tone you’re going for. Discuss if you’re going to go the humorous, sweet-and-subtle, or not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house route. Also, decide if you’re going to simply have notes or the entire vows written out. Trying to memorize them is just adding more pressure to an already stressful moment.

Stick to the Template

“You could spend hours googling and drive yourself crazy, because there is more online than you could imagine on how to write your vows, but it’s really simple,” says Tanya Pushkine, who has helped hundreds of couples write (and say) meaningful wedding vows. Instead, it comes down to this: “Basically, why do you want to marry this person, what do you love so much about them, what have they done to make you a better person, what do you see your future like, and what do you want to promise?”

Make Specific Promises

Katelyn Peterson says one of the biggest mistakes couples make in their wedding vows is not including specific promises.

“Vows in their most simple form are promises,” says Peterson. “And yet, many couples end up writing a love letter focused on what they admire about their partner and relationship and overlook the vows part.

She suggests including 3-6 specific promises and make sure they will stand the test of time “rather than focusing on current inside jokes.”

Practice Makes Perfect

“It may sound simple but the best thing you can do to lessen your nerves is to practice and keep practicing,” says Peterson. “Practice reciting your speech out loud at least three times before the wedding day,” she says, suggesting you focus on speed, tone, and eye contact. 

And yes…the focus is on saying them OUT. LOUD. “Practicing by silently reading to yourself will do absolutely nothing for you,” says Pushkine. “You have to hear yourself, because in hearing yourself…you’ll catch things like, ‘I don’t really like the way that sounds,’ or, ‘I think I need to cut that,’ or, ‘I’m sounding really monotone.'”


Practicing your vows is a great opportunity to time yourself. Open up a recording app on your phone and practice saying your vows out loud. Aim to have your wedding vows be around 1-3 minutes each.

If you don’t mind someone else hearing them before your spouse, read them to your maid of honor and get some feedback. Things can read very differently out loud than they sound in your head! Practicing will also help you speak slowly and clearly on your actual wedding day.

“When most people are nervous, they speak too quickly,” says Peterson, so slowwwwww down. She also tells couples to vary their inflection throughout the speech to avoid a monotone delivery. “And don’t forget to look up at the couple and guests at natural points throughout the speech.”

Looking for more help with your wedding vows? We also have these helpful guides below:

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