Writing your own wedding vows: where to start and what to include.
As a North Wales wedding celebrant, I specialise in creating and delivering modern, magical and bespoke ceremonies for weddings, micro-weddings and elopements. As a result of this I frequently get asked by couples what they should include in their wedding vows. The process of putting in writing your love, promises, hopes and dreams to one another can make some couples feel overwhelmed or intimidated. To help you conquer this, I’ve put together a super helpful guide to give you some ideas on how to go about it.
Before I get into the details - remember you don’t have to write your own wedding vows. You may want to use traditional wedding vows which have stood the test of time – and, that is absolutely fine. Remember, it is all about you and what you envision for your special day - do what makes you feel most comfortable.
However, if you want to create something more personal, reflective of your relationship, I say go for it! But, decide together, because if you are going to get creative and write the wedding vows yourselves, you both need to be equally committed to the process.
We are writing our own vows - where do we start?
Firstly – remember you are not alone. If you are using a celebrant, then often, they are often happy to support you with writing your vows. I always say to my couples, I can’t tell you what to say, but I can ask insightful questions that will help you think about why your relationship is special and unique, as well as helping to structure your thoughts.
It is good to create balance in the ceremony, therefore, a good starting point is to decide how you will both approach writing your vows. While traditional wedding vows are quite structured, you don’t have to be quite so rigid when writing your own. Here are some pointers to get you started:
Consider long you would like your vows to be and agree that between you. You might wish to choose 6-10 statements or sentences. A minute per person is a good length.
Consider if you want the vows to be funny, romantic or more generic.
Do you want to incorporate any traditional or religious elements into your vows?
Do you want to use particular wording such as “I promise to”, “I vow to”, “I will always” or “I commit to”? This is optional – you can also completely freestyle the wording, reducing the formality of the vows.
Consider how you want to deliver your vows. There are four main ways of delivering your vows which may affect how your write them:
Read your own vows: your vows are printed out in a nice large font and your celebrant passes them to you at the right moment.
Repeat after the celebrant: your celebrant reads out your vows for you to repeat after them - a few words at a time.
Just say “ I do” : this is a good option if you think nerves or emotions will overwhelm you and you just can’t speak at all! Your celebrant will read the vows out for you to respond “I do”.
Any combination of the above: choose some personal words and/or a repeat after the celebrant and/or an “I do section”.
What should we include in our wedding vows?
This is the bit that many couples find more challenging. To get you started I’ve put some ideas below on different elements you can include. Pick the bits you like, then think about personalising your words:
1. Start by talking about how you started your journey together and how that made you feel e.g. “When I met you, I didn’t think I was ready for a relationship, but………”
2. Are there any quotes or songs that you feel represent your relationship? Use a quote or line from a song, either as an opener, or in the body of the vows, to express how you feel.
3. Talk about the ways your partner has helped you or improved your quality of life e.g. “Since meeting you…….”
4. Talk about any hard times you have overcome together.
5. Think about things you have always wanted to say to your partner, but never have, or things you don’t say enough. Say “I love you”.
7. What has your partner taught you? What qualities do they have that you admire? “You have taught me to be more selfless ….”
8. What do you want to pledge or promise? e.g. “I am blessed to be part of your life and today I promise to be kind, patient and forgiving, I promise to encourage you in all your dreams……”
9. Consider finishing your vows with a forward-looking statement or commitment e.g. “Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I love you and I can’t wait to call you my wife and spend the rest of our lives together”.
Writing your wedding vows – top tips!
So, we’ve covered, how to get started and what to include, now here’s some top tips to help you do this!
Get started early. Aim to have the vows finalised 4 weeks before the ceremony to allow time to practice and reduce pre-wedding stress.
Jot down notes about how you feel about your partner and/or marriage whenever they come to mind. These thoughts could be reflective, thinking about the past, in the moment, or looking forward to your future life together. Return to these notes and highlight the words that most resonate with you.
Be authentic and heartfelt. It doesn’t matter how sentimental or soppy you think it sounds. This is the time to share your true feelings for one another.
Practice reading your vows out loud. This will help you catch spots where it doesn’t flow, words are missing or if the structure works. It will also help you include pauses and intonation.
Ask your celebrant or a trusted friend for their opinion.
Include humour – if you feel comfortable. The ability to make your partner laugh will lighten the atmosphere and serve well in your marriage!
Don’t try to memorize your vows. If you reading them yourselves, have your celebrant print them on card and hand them to you at the appropriate point.
Remember, there are no rules in a celebrant led wedding. The above pointers may help or they may not. Its you day - do whatever makes you feel most comfortable
Finally, keep your vows a secret from you partner until the actual ceremony. Your vows are special and keeping them a secret will make the ceremony more emotional and impactful if your partner is hearing them for the first time.
I’d love to know if you have any top tips of your own! Let me know if the comments!