Thinking about writing your own wedding vows? It's a tremendous undertaking, summing up 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 share meaningful words with the person you love.
It's also intimate. After all, you're really baring your heart to the love of your life, and you're doing so in front of your family and closest friends. If you're up for the challenge, we're here to help along with several experts—author Monique Honaman, XO Juliet founder Alexis Dent, and celebrity officiant JP Reynolds, M.Div.—who offer their own professional insight. From examples and advice to sources of inspiration, here is everything you need to know to write your own wedding vows.
Wedding Vow Template
While traditional wedding vows are usually very structured, you don’t have to be quite as strict while writing your own. This outline is a great place to help you get started.
1. Make sure to say "I love you." This seems like a no-brainer, but Monique Honaman, a wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says she is often shocked at how many couples leave those three little words out of their vows.
2. Tell your partner you'll be there through thick and thin. Most wedding vows touch on sticking around through good times and bad. "The reality is all marriages have cycles of peaks and valleys," Honaman says. "It's nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together."
3. Share personal stories. It's so much more interesting for friends or family to hear about your odd quirks and raw personal moments. “Guests (and your S.O.) want to hear vows that are real," says Alexis Dent, founder of vow- and toast-writing company XO Juliet. "If you've been through bumpy spots, you should express that.”
4. Actually make promises. Vows aren't just cute anecdotes—they are a promise and 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,” says Dent.
5. Acknowledge the support you'll need from others. You've gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but you'll need them just as much during your marriage. Honaman recommends you acknowledge "the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough."
Wedding Vow Tips
Here are our top tips for writing—and delivering—your own wedding vows.
1. Don't wait until the last minute. Plan to have your vows written three weeks before your wedding. Trust us: You'll be thankful for the rehearsal when those wedding-day jitters kick in.
2. Make a list of all your thoughts. Jot down all the things that come to mind about your spouse or marriage. Revisit these notes later and highlight your favorite items to be the starting points for your vows.
3. Write up to three drafts. Take a few days—even a week—to give you and your vows some space. Go back and reread them up to three times, but try to stop there. Continuously rewriting has its own challenges.
4. Don't try to include everything. It's understandable to want to fit everything you're feeling into your vows—but in reality, you just can't include everything.
5. Avoid words like "always" and "never." This kind of absolute language is all but impossible to live up to. It's not always going to be easy, so don't promise perfection.
6. Embrace sentimentality. This isn't the time to worry about being corny or cheesy. "If the words are heartfelt, then they're not cheesy," says JP Reynolds, M.Div., celebrity officiant and author of How to Write Your Vows. "I've never heard vows that made me roll my eyes."
7. Go after laughter. The ability to make your significant other smile and even laugh out loud during your ceremony will serve you well in your marriage.
8. Get inspired by 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. And don't discount children's books or media as they often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences.
9. Practice reading out loud. The only way to make sure everything sounds perfect is to hear it out. “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.
10. Indicate pauses and intonation. "You’ll want to allow time to laugh or tear up without interrupting your flow," says Dent. "For the best comprehension and emotional reactions, take it slow and focus on breaks, pauses, and intonation.”
11. Ask a trusted friend to listen. 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,” says Dent.
12. Make a fresh copy of your vows for the ceremony. It's important to think about how the vows will look when they come into public view. Rewrite or reprint a fresh copy, or consider reading them from vow books. “Yes, the focus will be on the words themselves, but the aesthetics matter, too,” says Dent.
13. 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 will make the ceremony all the more impactful and emotional if you're hearing them for the first time.
Answer These Questions to Get Started
A vow exchange should be an even one. Instead of thinking about it as a writing competition, get on the same page about your expectations and come to an agreement about the following.
- How long should the vows be?
- Will you share inside jokes or would you rather keep things more generic?
- Will they lean more humorous or sentimental? Or be a mixture of both?
- Do you want to incorporate elements of traditional or religious vows into your own?
Wedding Vow Examples to Inspire Your Own
"Gabriel, you came into my life at exactly the right time: When I wasn't ready, and yet, when I needed your love the most. In the past two years, we've experienced great triumphs and literal disasters together. These trials have pushed the boundaries of what we thought we could endure, and in the end, I feel more strongly connected with you in a resolve to get up and try again. I love you dearly for all that you are. I am amazed by your inquisitive mind and tickled by your sense of humor. I may not want to admit it, but I even love your awful puns.
You have stuck by me through the best and worst and loved all that I am. You help me to be the finest version of me that I can.
As your wife, I promise to love you with the same determination and confidence you've given me. I vow to support you through more ups and downs. I pledge to commit myself to our family and the good I know will grow from it. I promise this all to you until I am no more."—Marissa
"Marissa, I love you with all my heart. I have been thankful for these past two years that you were not the best driver on that fateful day. Stopping in the middle of a busy 90/04 to see if everyone was okay, there I met the woman who is standing before me today. When we started dating, I gained a family, a woman who loves me, and an adorable whippet—both whom I adore with all my heart. We have survived trials and tribulations, from Hurricane Irma to differing political views, we have pulled through.
We are survivors and with our perseverance and dedication, there is nothing we can't accomplish or overcome.
I promise to take care of you even when you get food poisoning on New Year's Eve. I promise I will unclog the shower even though only one of us has long hair. Marissa, I love you unconditionally and always will." —Gabriel
"Devin Lee, it is impossible for me to put into words the passionate and infinite embrace you have on my heart. You make me a full person. Committing the rest of my life to you is actually pretty easy because without you I am nothing. As we begin our life together in front of those whom we are closest to, I make the following vows: I vow to wake up every morning and thank God that he gave me you, my perfect woman, and I vow to be your steady rock in turbulent times. I vow to put your needs before my own.
I vow to sell my tacky furniture. I vow to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls and Friends.
I vow to be the man that you inspire me to be and the man that you deserve. Finally, I vow to spend every day I have left on this Earth showering you with a zealous love and a faithful commitment. A love that many waters cannot quench, a love that floods cannot drown." —Jeremy
"Jeremy, I can't say we fell in love at first sight or that I wasn't hesitant to go on a date with a co-worker, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that today, I am marrying my soul mate. A few years back I heard a sermon about love. I learned that, even though I felt ready for the responsibilities of a lasting love, I had to wait. I had to wait for the person God created for me to be ready as well. During our first few months, I learned about your adventures and how you came back home because you were ready—from that moment on I knew my wait was over.
Over the last two years you've shown me what a great love looks like and every morning I wake up and fall more in love with you.
I vow to put us first and make sure we are constantly working to grow together. I vow to love you and honor our commitment when we are near and far from each other. I vow to remember soup is a side—not a meal. I vow to stand by you in life's wonderful moments and when life is difficult. Also, for making me wait so long—I vow to make you wait on me getting ready for the rest of your life. Jeremy, you're the person I waited for and you were worth the wait. Today I become your wife, your other half, and I can't wait for all the blessings we will wait for together." —Devin Lee
"Kristen, as the cliché says, you showed up when I was least expecting you. I intend to love you, hold you, and grow very, very old with you. These are my promises: I promise to always be there when you have troubles, and to know that sometimes simply letting you talk about your problems is enough. I promise to be the most dependable person in your life. I promise you that laughter will always be commonplace in our house. I promise to do my best to age gracefully in body and soul and not to become a cranky old man.
I promise, from this day forward, to live my life as a member of a band and not a solo artist.
I promise to lead and follow accordingly and to keep our relationship in good balance. To quote a favorite writer, 'You fill up all those empty spaces.' For that I am grateful, and every day you will see that appreciation." —Dennis
"Dennis, I am truly blessed to be a part of your life, which as of today becomes our life together. I promise to encourage your dreams because that is what makes you so unique. I promise to celebrate the joy of every day with you. I promise to stand by your side through life's most joyous moments and challenging ones. I promise to be kind, patient, and forgiving. I promise to always honor your passion for hockey.
I promise to always remember that laughter is life's sweetest creation, and I will never stop laughing with you.
But most of all, I promise to be your true companion always, for one lifetime with you could never be enough." —Kristen