A Guide to Writing Modern Wedding Vows

This is the 21st century, after all.

bride and groom exchanging vows

Photo by Jacqueline Benet

For couples who are planning to say a few words at the altar, there are two general types of wedding vows that typically get recited: traditional and modern. And while traditional vows (one's that are recited by an officiant) have been a standard in the wedding space for many years, couples are steadily choosing to write their own vows that are unique and personal to their union.

Why? Well, modern vows not only serve as a moment to express the deep feelings you have for the love of your life, but they're also a way to highlight the bond you and your partner share in front of friends and family. However, for those who aren't great at expressing their inner thoughts, we understand that it can be hard to turn an idea into a solemn written promise, especially if you're feeling nervous leading up to the big day.

If that's you, and you're unsure of how to write non-traditional vows, don't worry, we've got you covered. Ahead, here are the best tips and advice to follow in order to make writing your own vows, well, a piece of (wedding) cake. 

How to Write Modern Wedding Vows

If choosing to write wedding vows that are non-traditional, there are several easy steps to follow in order to craft the perfect sentimental speech for your big day. First, start by listing the top three things you love about your significant other (just a list, as you can create full sentences later). Next, once you begin to start writing down your feelings, share how they've inspired you to be a better person, while possibly mentioning how they've opened a door into your soul. For example, have they shown you things about yourself and the world that you never imagined? Talk about it! Third, make promises for your life together, and mention that you will be there for them through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

What's more, consider using a favorite saying or quote throughout your vows. Do you have a motto that guides your life? A favorite song, or a poem with a line that just sparks you both? It would be great to include these in your vows. After that, be sure to incorporate your beliefs, inspiration, or religious background into your notes. Lastly, and most importantly, tell them you love them. On your wedding day, the words "I love you" can never be said enough. Also, at the end of your vows, you might want to add the phrase “I am your husband/wife.”

bride and groom exchanging vows at the altar

Photo by Alessia Franco for David Bastianoni Studio

Modern Wedding Vow Tips to Follow

Now that you have a few ideas of where to go with your wedding vows, it’s time to get them organized and delivered with the below easy-to-follow tips. Trust us, you'll be glad you followed our advice.

Don't procrastinate.

The sooner you write your vows, the better you'll feel. That's because getting your ideas down early will give you the time to practice and send a copy to your officiant ahead of the wedding. You also owe it to yourself and your partner to put some time into what you want to say, and not quickly throw something together ahead of the big day.

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 vows, but if you feel the need to make some changes, please do. You shouldn't worry about them being perfect, though, since they're meant to be straight from the heart.

Pay attention to the length and style of your vows.

There is a sweet spot just before guests lose focus and their eyes start to glaze over. Therefore, read your vows to a trusted friend who will give you an honest assessment of timing.

Delivery and style are essential.

Practice reading your wedding vows aloud to get the tone right. Make sure you're familiar with your own words, and break phrases up, pausing to make them significant. Also, don't forget to take a few moments to breathe!

Remember, it’s your wedding and your moment.

Take your time speaking and enunciate in a clear voice. What's more, look at the person you are marrying, not the officiant or the guests. If you’re reading your vows, look up from your paper in order to make eye contact with your partner from time to time.

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 of your wedding. If you choose to do this, 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, to boot.

Keep your vows a secret.

Wedding vows for non-traditional weddings are the most significant and highly anticipated gift that you're giving your partner. Therefore, keep them in your heart until you proclaim your love and commitment at the ceremony.

two grooms reciting wedding vows at dodgers stadium

Photo by Anee Atelier

How to Determine Your Writing Style

Modern wedding vows can run the gamut from funny to incredibly moving. And to determine which direction to go in, answer the below questions in order to gauge your personal writing style. However, above all, write from your heart, wherever that takes you.

  1. 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 in question form, to which you’ll answer "I do" or "I promise." Your partner should also use the same format for the sake of continuity, but it's not mandatory.
  2. What do wedding vows mean to you? If you believe that vows are the core of the commitment of your marriage, write one that serves as a public proclamation of your unconditional love.
  3. Can you include your personal love story in your 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 all modern ways to approach your vows. Telling your personal story out loud also 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 Vow Examples 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 soulmate 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 love 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?”

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