30 Tips for How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows

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Thinking of writing your own wedding vows? We've put together a list for you.

Many couples decide to write their own wedding vows for their big day, and this is something that we’re totally behind.

Wondering how to write wedding vows for your Yarra Valley Wedding? It's a tremendous undertaking, as you sit down and attempt to sum up all your love, dreams and promises to your partner in a few short minutes. Overwhelming as it can be, it's well worth it: It's a chance to tell your story, give guests a peek into what makes your relationship tick, and to share meaningful, sweet words with the person you love.

It's also intimate—you're really baring your heart to your fiancé, and you're doing so in front of your family and friends. If you're up for the challenge, we're here to help. We've rounded up 24 tips that will help you write your own wedding vows.
Here are some tips on how to write your own wedding vows, perfectly!

1. Talk About it First with your partner

When you and your fiancé decide to write your own wedding vows it’s essential that you both talk about this first! You two should think about tone and format because that last thing you want to happen on your wedding day is for the one you love to have written a novella-length tome as wedding vows while you’ve written a short, laugh-inducing poem.

You can also talk about whether to print them separately or together. Some people have a tough time expressing themselves, and writing them together doesn’t take away from what they mean. In fact, the process of vow writing together can be an intimate and beautiful memory to share before your big day. A lot of couples who choose to write their own vows do a little bit of each… in that, they write some of it together and some of it separately.

One of the hardest parts about exchanging vows is worrying over how people will compare your words to your fiancé's.

Were hers longer? Did he get more sentimental?

Did she make everyone laugh?

Did he make everyone cry?
Instead of considering vow writing a competition, get on the same page about your expectations.

2. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

Plan to have your vows written at least three weeks before your wedding. This will give you time to write without the added pressure of the coming day and also provide you with time to practice reciting your vows in front of the mirror.

Trust us: You'll be thankful for the rehearsal when those wedding day jitters kick in!

3. How long will the vows be?

Will you share inside jokes or would you rather keep things more generic?
Do you want to incorporate elements of traditional or religious vows into your own?
Consider these starter questions—but don't hesitate to ask you're significant other if you're stuck on anything else. Once you two have a game plan in mind, writing will be more comfortable.

4. Find a Quiet Place to Reflect on Your Feelings and Write from the Heart

Don't plan on writing romantic vows while your fiancé is in the other room with the TV blaring or when you have a work deadline on your mind. Find the time when your stress level is low, and you can really spend a few quiet minutes thinking about your relationship.

To help the ideas start flowing, consider propping pictures of you and your fiancé from throughout the ties around your writing space as inspiration.

5. Make a List of All Your Thoughts

You don't have to try to put everything into sentences right away. The first step to writing your vows should be creating a list. Jot down all the things you love about your fiancé, what you're looking forward to most in your marriage, and what promises you want to make to your future husband or wife.

Set the list aside for a day or two, then go back and highlight your favorite items on the list. Use those as the starting point for your vows.

6. Read Examples

There are SO many types of vows out there that a great place to start to even see what you both might be into is to read examples. You should start by looking at traditional vows from your religion or religions to see what is written there and what you’d like to incorporate from those into your own.

Then move on to more non-traditional wedding vows and see what tones, lengths, and forms you both love. Use all of this as a jumping off point for writing your own wedding vows!

7. Take Notes

Brainstorming is always an important process when writing your wedding vows, especially if you two have been together for a long time. Take a trip down memory lane and see what really stands out, what made you fall in love with him or her, and when you knew that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with this person.

Take notes! These notes will really help you pull together your wedding vows and write them in a way that’s meaningful to you both. A few things to brainstorm about:

  • How do you support each other?
  • What do you expect to accomplish together?
  • When did you first realize that you were in love?
  • What makes your relationship special?
  • What inspires you about your partner?
  • What qualities do you admire in your partner?
  • How has life improved since you met them?
  • When you’re apart… what do you miss most?

 

8. Make Promises

Vows are vows for a reason. The word VOW literally means ‘solemn promise,’ so think of a few that you’d like to make! Rotate between a promise that’s broad in scope such as ‘I promise to always support you in your new endeavors’ to promises that are more specific to you both as a couple such as ‘I promise to always make your tea with brown sugar instead of white’ will make for beautiful, and personal Melbourne wedding vows. Put as many ‘vows’ as you want into your vows!

I once heard vows that consisted literally of promises like these that ranged between general to specific like the examples listed above and I’ll never forget them as they were so heartfelt and perfect.

“A common hiccup when people write their own vows is that they only tell cute anecdotes, turning the vows into glorified love letters,” Dent describes. But a vow is so much more than that: It’s a promise, and a serious commitment that you’re making in front of a whole lot of witnesses. That doesn’t mean they have to be heavy, though. “You can vow to not only stick by their side forever, but to also be the one to kill spiders whenever they creep their way into your home,” suggests Dent.

And if you really want to express your feelings to your partner, consider writing separate love letters to one another to share before the ceremony.

9. But Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

Seems obvious, right? But the earth-shattering, mountain-moving, and reality-defying declarations of love belong in a Mary J. Blige song—not in your wedding vows, and certainly not in your expectations for marriage.

"Stop promising perfection," says psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel. "That's a de facto lie. Promise humility, humanness, compassion, empathy or at least the effort at those things. People fear realistic means boring and drab, but that's not the case.

You don't have to promise each other heaven rather than good (and less good) ole fun on earth."

110. Avoid Cliches

Once you have a first draft of your wedding vows, take a look back over them and make some edits. Borrow as needed, but don’t ever let someone else’s words, whether they’re a poet or lines from ‘your song’ – don’t ever let someone else’s words overpower your own! If you find clichés in your wedding vows, take them out and use words of your own.

When you find a cliché in your wedding vows (such as ‘love is blind’), find a way to say what you want to that’s personal to your relationship such as, ‘I love you whether you’re dressed for one of our beautiful date night dinners or waking up in the morning in your favorite wrinkled college t-shirt.’

11. Remove the embarrassing or too personal stories.

If you have a special inside joke remove it from your vows. It’s special because it’s just between the two of you, plus, you don’t want your guests who are listening to your vows to be confused and miss the rest of what you are saying to each other.

A wedding is literally an invite for everyone you love and cherish to witness your promises to each other… so limit the inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes, and be sure to think about how your vows would sound if you re-read them at your 10-year vow renewal ceremony.

12. Don’t Over Do It

In the lead up to your big day it’s really hard to not want to write a novel about how much you love your husband / wife-to-be. But think about the most powerful phrases and poems about love, they’re not overdone! So, try to cap your wedding vows to a minute or two. If you find yourself going over two minutes, then you’re probably saying something over and over again, and it really only needs said once, in the best way possible.

13. Write Up to Three Drafts

Once you've made your list, done your research, and written your first draft, walk away. Take a few days—even a week—to give you and your vows some space. After you've taken time apart, go back and reread what you wrote. A little separation from your words will do a whole lot of good and allow for you to fix anything with a clear head. If needed, do this one or two more times. But after three times, stop. The bottom line is that you wrote from the heart, and continuously rewriting will drive you crazy! Don't put that pressure on yourself.

14. Say "I Love You"

This seems like a no-brainer, but Monique Honaman, wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says she is often shocked at how many couples leave out this little three-word phrase from their vows. "Isn't that why people are getting married?" she asks. "Yes, we assume that's a given that we must love someone if we are willing to stand by them through thick and thin, but it's always nice to hear and emphasize."

15. Tell Your Partner You'll Be There Through Thick and Thin

Almost every vow we've ever heard touches on sticking around through sickness and health, through good times and bad times, and for richer or for poorer. They're sentiments are repeated so often, Honaman says, "We can become immune to what they really mean." So when you express your intent to stay by your spouse's side, it's smart to say what that means to you and how you'll go about it. "The reality is that all marriages have their cycles of peaks and valleys, not always based on huge dramatic changes in life, but just because life gets busy," Honaman says. "It's nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together."

16. Acknowledge You'll Need Help and Support of Others

You've gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but the truth is, you'll need them just as much during your marriage. So, Honaman recommends you "use your vows to acknowledge that you need others to help your marriage be successful," she says. "This may mean acknowledging the role of religion or God in making your marriage work, or the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough. I believe it's helpful to know the two of you aren't in this alone."

17. Share the Highs and the Lows

“Many people make the mistake of thinking that vows are only about the highs in your relationship,” says Alexis Dent, founder of vow- and toast-writing company XO Juliet. “But guests (and your S.O.) want to hear vows that are real. If you've been through bumpy spots, spots where you thought you wouldn't make it as a couple, or spots where one or both of you had physical or emotional hardships, you should express that.”

Your guests know that no relationship is perfect, and you and your partner know it, too, because you’ve been there. “Perfect relationships don’t even exist in fairy tales. Look at Cinderella: That relationship was two steps away from not happening!” Dent emphasizes. So while positive vibes are a must-have on your wedding day, skipping the trying parts—you know, the moments that made you realize your partner would be there for you through it all—could create a lack of realism that alienates your guests. “Of course, it shouldn’t be to the point where people are wondering why you’re getting married! But sprinkling the lows among the highs will confirm what everyone wants to hear and feel at a wedding: that love is not simply a feeling but a choice, and that you and your partner are choosing to love one another.”

18. Don't Try to Include Everything

It's understandable to try and fit everything you're feeling into your vows — but another pro tip for how to write wedding vows is resisting that to include literally everything. "It's impossible to fit every single emotion and memory into your vows," says JP Reynolds, M.Div., celebrity officiant. (That is, of course, unless you want a ceremony that's hours long!)

19. Acknowledge that You're Perfectly Imperfect

"How would it sound, if at some point in your vows, someone just said, ‘I’m going to f*ck up'?” Perel asks. "That would get people’s attention. And, there is nothing more hopeful than promising your imperfection. It’s the opposite of what people think, but it’s like, 'We are resilient. We’re not beginners. We’ve already gone through some stuff, and this is the affirmation of our strength.'"

When you marry at 30-something, don’t pretend you’re still an insecure 17-year-old. "Self-esteem is the ability to see yourself as a flawed person but still hold yourself in high regard," says Perel. "A very good homeopathic medicine is to be honest and accountable for your shortcomings, and to actually predict all-out mistakes and flops.

Invent your imperfections in your vows. It's like, 'I have no doubt that at some point I’m going to drive you crazy, and I hope when you bring it up, I won’t be defensive and try to justify why I should be able to continue what I do. I hope when I mess up, I own it. I won’t just blame you to hide my failures better.'"

20. Feel Free to Mention Super Specific (and Even Slightly Weird) Stuff

We're not saying to air out all your dirty laundry, but we are saying that it's so much more interesting for your friends or family to hear you acknowledge your odd, but lovable, quirks in your wedding vows.

"When you break the narrative, and you begin to tell more personal stories, people listen more," she explains, "because it’s so unusual to do vows that are not just puppy-eyed and starry-eyed, and that actually put the couple in the front of the community and say, 'You guys are our friends. You know us. You know damn well what happens between us.'”

21. Avoid Words Like Always and Never

This kind of language has already set you up for failure.

Perel suggests thinking about it like this: "It's not, 'I'm always going to be great. It's 'I'm going to do my best when I'm usually pretty subpar, because you, the love of my life, make me want to be better.'"

You can, however, promise to strive for constant self-improvement, and acknowledge that it’s not necessarily your spouse's responsibility to fix your mistakes.

22. Go After Laughter

The ability to laugh at yourself will serve you well in marriage and vow writing. "Humor can show a lot of relational self-awareness," says Perel, "and that you take yourselves seriously, but not too seriously. It's an acknowledgement of the fragility, sensibility, and vulnerability, and can help make your vows real."

23. Get Inspired with Books, Songs, Movies, and Poems

If you have a favorite line from a movie or song that expresses your feelings, use it as a starting point. Also, browse through some children's books, like Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss's I'll Be You and You'll Be Me and I Like You by Sandol Stoddard. Kids' books often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences, so they can provide some inspiration.

24. Embrace Sentimentality

Writing your vows isn't the time to worry about being corny or cheesy. "If the words are heartfelt, then they're not cheesy," says Reynolds. "I've never heard vows that made me roll my eyes!"

25. Feel Free to Use Other Vows as a Template

It can be helpful to start out with a set of standard vows and then personalize them. If you're looking for a good starting place, 15 Traditional Wedding Vows to Inspire Your Own offers vows from different cultures and faiths around the world. They can be a helpful guide for anyone who is struggling to write their own wedding vows.

26. Practice Reading Out Loud

You’ve got it all down, but the only way to make sure everything sounds perfect is to hear how it sounds. “Reading your vows out loud will help you catch spots where the grammar might be iffy or where you’re missing a word, as well as figure out if the structure is cohesive,” Dent explains.

“It might sound great in your head, but hearing your voice saying the words will highlight anything that might be off. There's a reason we learn in grade school that, if we read our writing aloud, we can better edit it properly and ensure that it will make sense.” So while your S.O. is at work or the gym, read your vows out loud…and then do it again.

27. Indicate Pauses and Intonation

Unlike writing a letter, vows are a speech and require moments to pause, breath, or emphasize words and phrases differently. “Not every line will be the same. In one line you might be talking about a funny moment when your partner laughed so hard they peed their pants, and in the next you might be referring to a struggle the two of you overcame to end up at the altar—which require very different emphasis and tones,” says Dent.

Other moments also deserve a pause, allowing your guests to process the emotions you’re conveying. Dent continues, “You’ll want to allow them time to laugh or tear up without interrupting your flow.

You don't want to rush through your vows, and your guests don't want you to either. For the best comprehension and emotional reactions, take it slow and focus on breaks, pauses, and intonation.”

28. Practice - Ask a Trusted Friend to Listen and Edit

We’re not joking here. Practice reading your vows! Listen to what you’re actually saying and fine tune from there. Plus trust us, when you’re standing in front of all your friends and family with your stunning bride or groom-to-be in front of you with all the wedding day jitters and excitement present, you’re going to be SO GLAD that you practiced your vows!

“Many couples want to keep their vows secret before their wedding day, but that’s not always a good idea—particularly if you’re uneasy in the writing and public speaking department,” says Dent. “Once you’ve rehearsed out loud and made notes about where to take a breath, it’s time to practice with an audience.” You might know exactly what you’re trying to say, but that doesn’t mean your guests (or your partner!) will hear the same thing or really get it. A close friend who is a great sounding board (and a pro at keeping secrets) is an important ally to have. “They can give you constructive criticism and help you improve your vows to make sure you really get that meaning across.”

29. Make a Fresh Copy of the Vows for Your Ceremony

First of all, you need to give a copy to your officiant for a multitude of reasons including the fact that you might get totally teary-eyed and have a hard time reading your vows for yourself, or you might misplace your copy! Aside from that though you need a clean copy because it’s going to end up in all the photographs. Use a fresh piece of paper to write out your final version of your wedding vows or even better, especially if your handwriting isn’t the best and a typed and printed copy feels not-so-personal,  get it professionally handwritten so that you can give as a keepsake afterwards.

Whether you typed your vows up or wrote them on a napkin at a bar, you might think having them down on paper is enough, but think how they’ll look when they come out of the best man’s jacket pocket at the ceremony. “Yes, the focus will be on the words themselves, but the aesthetics matter, too,” says Dent. “Do you really want to watch your wedding video and see yourself holding a crumpled and stained piece of paper?” Instead, copy your vows neatly into a notebook or onto a clean piece of paper (that’s neatly folded!) to use during the ceremony. “Plus, this way you’ll be able to frame them and hang them in your home when your wedding is done!”

30. Keep the Vows a Secret From Your Partner Until the Ceremony

"Your vows are a gift to one another, so don't share them ahead of time," Reynolds explains. "It really doesn't matter if one person's vows are longer than the other's. Let them be your words, and don't worry about whether or not they're perfect."

Don’t forget that writing your own wedding vows is a very personal thing. So long as you talk to your partner about it and do your best to make them special (which they will be!), your wedding vows will be perfect!

 

 

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