There are two general types of wedding vows: traditional and modern. Modern couples are forgoing traditional vows in favor of writing ones that are unique and personal. These vows are a way to express deep feelings for the love of your life—and you'll want to get them just right. So how do you go from an idea to a solemn promise? We’ll walk you through the process with some up-to-date advice and tips to make writing your own vows, well, a piece of (wedding) cake.
Meet the Expert
Michelle M. Winner is an ordained non-denominal wedding minister who has officiated weddings for twenty years. She has performed weddings from New York to Hawaii, in barnyards and ballrooms, on sandy beaches, snowy mountaintops and inside the belly of the Spruce Goose airplane. Her specialty is creating meaningful, custom wedding ceremonies with her couples.
Modern Wedding Vow Template
If you are writing your own vows or you are being married in a non-denominational ceremony, follow our easy template.
- List the top three things that you love about your significant other. You can create full sentences later.
- Share how they inspire you to be a better person. Have they opened a door into your soul? Shown you things about yourself and the world that you never imagined? You can expand on how your beloved completes you.
- Make promises for your life together. Include that you will be there for them through life’s inevitable ups and downs. Remember this bit of wisdom: A shared joy is a joy doubled. Shared sorrow is half a sorrow. Use your way of expressing these sentiments.
- Use your own favorite saying or quote. Do you have a favorite quote that guides your life? A favorite song, or a poem with a line that just sparks you both? It may work to include these.
- Incorporate your beliefs and inspiration. If you have a religious base, you can include it. To some, exploring the world’s natural beauty is like going to church. Maybe you feel a spiritual connection when you are hiking together and the sight of a waterfall through a stand of massive redwoods takes your breath away. Incorporate your beliefs and inspirations into your vows.
- Tell them you love them. On your wedding day, the words "I love you" can never be said enough. At the end of your vows, you might add that “I am your husband/wife.”
Modern Wedding Vow Tips
Now that you have some idea of where to go with your vows, it’s time to get them organized and written down. These tips will help you stay on track and be confident in the vows you have written.
- Don't procrastinate. The sooner you write your vows, the better. You’ll have time to practice and send a copy to your officiant ahead of the wedding. You owe it to yourself and your partner to put some time into writing your vows and have them ready. A rule of thumb is to turn in the final copy to the officiant three weeks before the wedding. Some officiants may not require that you send them your vows, but at least you'll have them ready in advance of the busy weeks before your wedding.
- Feel free to edit, but not too much. Always go with your first thoughts when writing your wows, but if you feel the need to make some changes, please do. Don’t worry about your vows being perfect. They are real and they are from your heart.
- Pay attention to length and the style of your vows. There is a sweet spot just before guests lose focus and their eyes start to glaze over. Read your vows to a trusted friend who will give you an honest assessment. Of course, if you are writing an “I do” form of vow, you’ll be limited to writing out a short set of questions to be asked to you by the officiant.
- Delivery and style are essential. Practice reading your vows aloud to get the tone right. Be familiar with your own words. Break phrases up, pausing to make them significant and to take a breath.
- Remember, it’s your wedding and your moment. Take your time speaking and enunciate in a clear voice. Look at the person you are marrying, not the officiant, not the guests. If you’re reading your vows, look up from your paper at them as much as you can.
- Make two final copies on beautiful paper. Your wedding planner or officiant will recommend that you print your vows on beautiful card stock or paper to match the colors in your wedding or use white. Keep one copy for yourself and give the other to the officiant for their ceremony book, or your planner, best man/maid of honor as a backup. Those printed vows make a lovely addition to your wedding picture album.
- Keep your vows a secret. They are the most significant and highly anticipated gift that you are giving your cherished one on your wedding day. Keep them in your heart until you proclaim your love and commitment at the ceremony.
Answer These Questions to Get Started
Modern wedding vows can run the gamut from funny to incredibly moving. To determine which direction to go in, ask yourself these questions. Above all, what’s important is that you write from your heart, wherever that takes you.
- Are you comfortable speaking in front of people? If so, read your vows aloud. If not, you can still write your vows and have the officiant read them for you in the form of a question to you to which you’ll answer "I do" or "I promise." Your partner should use the same format for the sake of continuity, but it's not mandatory.
- What do wedding vows mean to you? Vows are the core of the commitment of your marriage; promises to your beloved that you will renew and live every day. They are a public proclamation of your love.
- Can you include your personal love story in vows? Examples of supporting each other through hardships, sharing a funny misstep during the surprise engagement, or how you first met at the coffee shop, are a modern way to approach your vows. Telling your personal story out loud provides the added benefit of keeping things relaxed. It may elicit a laugh from your audience, or a knowing smile as your account of the mundane becomes a moment to cherish.
Modern Wedding Vows to Inspire Your Own
“I love you—you are my truest friend, where you are is where I belong. Before you, I never believed in that one person who would make me whole. I believe now, and I can't even imagine my life without you. I promise to love you in the mundane, through the extraordinary and especially when it doesn't come easy. I will encourage you, respect you and love you all of my days. Your heart forever has a home in mine.”
“I love your kind heart, your brilliant smile. You understand me, sometimes more than I know myself. Your eyes can tell me things without saying a word. I am happiest when I am with you. You make me realize what the word 'friend' really means. I vow today to love and cherish you; I commit to doing all that I can to make our life together full of discovery, friendship, and laughter and to spend the rest of my sunrises and sunsets loving you."
You understand me, sometimes more than I know myself. Your eyes can tell me things without saying a word.
“When I looked into your eyes at our high school reunion, I was completely taken by you, just as I was in high school many years ago. When we met alone for the first time, I fell in love with you all over again. Tonight, in front of all of our friends and family, I want to give you this ring, as a promise to be your lover and best friend, always. With all my integrity and the truth within me, for the rest of my life, I give my word of honor to keep myself for you and only you. I will be your strength in times of difficulties, your soul mate as we build our future together, and, most of all, your best friend to laugh with on our path of life. I promise as we grow old together, I will always hold your hand in mine.”
“From this day on, I ask you to be my husband. To live with you and laugh with you; to stand by your side and sleep in your arms; to be a joy to your heart and food to your soul; to bring out the best in you, always. To share the joy with you in good times; stand by you in hard times; to mirror you with my soul; to share with you all my riches and honors; to play with you as much as I can, until we grow old, and still loving each other sweetly, and gladly depart from this earth.”
“Do you take Kelli to be your lawfully wedded wife? To live together with her in marriage, promising to take her to all of the Seahawk’s games and Coachella with you? Will you love her, cherish her, give her the last of the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, comfort, honor and keep her? Do you promise to tell her she’s hotter than Ariana Grande, hold her hair out of the toilet in sickness, hike the Pacific Coast Trail in health; share a life of adventures both big and small and forsaking all others, be faithful to her for as long as you both will love?”