If you’re writing your own vows, you’ve chosen an incredible and meaningful way to personalize your wedding ceremony. 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 can also be a pretty challenging task because it’s so intimate—you’re really baring your heart to your fiancé, and you’re doing so in front of your family and friends.
There’s no one template for non-traditional wedding vows, but there are a few pointers that’ll help you craft them. Whether you’re searching for phrasing inspiration, looking for formatting examples, or have specific questions (“How long should wedding vows be?”), we’ve got you covered. Your wedding vow structure is entirely up to you—that’s the beauty of a personalized exchange. Still, most couples appreciate some guidance, which you can find ahead.
Before you take the plunge, remember this: Wedding vows are important because they’re a concrete symbol of your union and commitment. The promises you make to one another on your big day will set the tone for your entire marriage.
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 approaching day and also give you 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!
When you’re ready, schedule some alone time to work on your vows independently. Even if you’re planning on having your a coordinated exchange, you don’t want to influence each other’s words just yet. We recommend starting about one month before the big day. By then, all your planning and decision-making will be nearly finished, and you can focus your mind and heart squarely on the day’s emotion.
Ask Yourself Questions
You have to stay true to yourself and your loved one. Ask yourself questions like “Why have I chosen this person to be my partner? What do I love most about him or her?” Take time to really think about the answers, and translate them into a vow. Open your heart and write your feelings on the paper, we promise you, it’s the easiest way!
Look for inspiration
Once you’ve gathered your own thoughts, feel free to start looking for external inspiration. Some brides and grooms consult movies, books, or other couple’s vows. Go ahead and borrow a favorite quote if you’d like. You can also mix traditional wording with personalized phrasing.
Who says you have to stick to prose? Go ahead and draft a poem, a song, or a list of why you love your future spouse. That being said, you can also pull from the past, or simply rehearse an updated version of tradition. For example, you might want to replace “till death do us part” with “as long as we both shall live.”
Stay True to Yourself
Don’t feel the pressure to write something that sounds formal. Speak from your heart and describe your emotions. Then edit the text so that it stands the test of time—consider whether you will feel moved by these words when you look back on them later. If comedy isn’t your thing, then don’t try to be funny. Your vows are about you, so don’t force anything unnatural. Does that mean saying something sappy, instead? Go right ahead.
Consult Each Other
Eventually, make a date to sit down together to share your thoughts. If you want your specific words to be a surprise, at the very least, ensure you both agree on each other’s length or format. We also advise getting permission before sharing something especially intimate about your partner or relationship.
You may also decide to have multiple versions—one for your public ceremony, and one to share privately. Discuss this option, too.
You’ve worked too hard not to have a copy forever. We like keepsake vow booklets for this purpose. Alternatively or additionally, honor them in other ways, like as décor at your reception.