There are a million reasons to write your own wedding vows. Maybe you aren’t religious and don’t want the churchy stuff. Maybe you are of two different faiths, and couldn’t agree on which vows to use. Maybe you just want your wedding to be extra personal, or for the ceremony to be extra quick.
Whatever your motivation, writing your own vows can feel incredibly daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t worry if you failed twelfth grade English. You don’t have to be a professional poet to write your own beautiful, meaningful vows.
Here, we’ve got a wedding vow to-do list to make sure you’ve said everything you need to say in this big moment.
Start by taking the pressure off. Don’t sit down with the intention to write your vows. At least, not yet.
1. Instead, sit down with an empty paper and make it your only mission to write answers to a few basic prompts:
What is the single thing you love most about your future partner?
It might be their steadfastness, or the way they’re always up for anything. It might be their intellect, kindness, or resilience when things don’t go their way.
For me, it’s my husband’s playfulness, and the way it reminds me to laugh, to not take things too seriously, to truly grab each moment and enjoy each day. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you treasure most about your partner, or what you’d miss most if something happened to them.
Don’t judge your answer. Just be honest. Write about it. Explore it.
What promise would you like to make to them, and how can you make it specific?
Instead of saying, “I’ll always be there for you,” maybe promise that no matter what you have going on, you will hit pause if they ask you to. The idea isn’t to make your language beautiful and flowery. Your goal is to make your language sincere.
Be sure to think not only about the kind of promise you’d like made to you (that can be great place to start), but instead, about what kind of promise you think will mean the most to your partner.
One person might want to know that you’ll try anything with them once, while another person may want to be told that they’ll be heard, that you’ll make time to listen to them, even if it’s 3am and you work the next day. Think of what they need, and think of what you would like to offer. Your promise is your gift. Make sure it’s one you feel great to be giving.
Was there a moment when you knew you loved them?
Were there other moments, that reminded you of just how much you loved them? These moments are perfect stories to tell them when you exchange vows. Sharing personal stories lets every one of your guests feel like they know you both a little better, and they can be a great way in as you struggle with how to start your vows.
Once you’ve filled up your sheet(s) of paper, take a look at examples of traditional vows, while you think about what you’ve written. Traditional vows offer a great template. Usually, they start with you, taking them, to be your lawful wedded husband or wife.
2. When you're writing your own vows, start by using your partner's name.
3. Then, take your prompts above and shuffle and reshuffle your answers until you have a sequence you like.
Example 1: You may start by telling your partner exactly why you are marrying them. “Jason, you are the ____ est person I’ve ever known.” (from prompt 1).
Tell a short story that let’s your guests see this quality in your partner.
Then move onto when you knew you loved this person and wanted to spend your life with them. (prompt 3)
And finish with your promise. (prompt 2)
Example 2: Again, start with your partner’s name.
Then tell him or her when you knew you loved him, (prompt 3).
Share a story about the next time you were reminded of how much you love them, and maybe even the time after that. If there’s any way to build some comedy into it, go for it!
Then, sum up your story by telling them the quality you adore most about them, and what that quality brings to your life each and every day. (prompt 1).
Then, finish by telling them exactly what you promise them. (prompt 2)
Example 3: If what you promise is surprising, start with that.
Sometimes the most meaningful vows are self-deprecating and sincere. You could always start with a promise, then acknowledge that that might not be the promise they were expecting.
Then, use your answers from prompt 1 and 3 to tell a story about all the things your partner already is, how incredible they are, and why the promise you’ve made is exactly the promise they need, whether they realize it or not.
4. No matter how you shuffle your prompts, finish by telling your partner you love them.
It’s basic, but you’d be shocked by how many couples forget those three magic words, and if you and your partner remember nothing else from your day, you will both never forget looking into each other’s eyes, in front of all your closest friends and family, and being told that you are loved by the very person you love most in this world. So, don’t forget these words. They’re the three most important ones you’ll say all day.
5. Once you’ve written exactly what you think you want to say, read your vows to yourself, out loud.
Seriously. It’s so important that you hear what you’ve written before everyone else does. Words that are extraneous and redundant and sentences that are jumbled up and awkward to speak will become obvious the moment you hear them out loud. They’ll jump out at you in a way that they can’t when they’re left on paper.
So practice, out loud, to yourself, your best friend, or even your cat. Just don’t let your fiancé hear you!
Then sit back, and pour yourself some bubbly. You deserve it. Another huge job done. You’ve got this.