While there's nothing wrong with sticking to the tried and true "to have and to hold," many couples nowadays are opting to express their unique love for one another by writing their own vows. In fact, nearly half of all women surveyed in the annual Brides American Wedding Study said that they wrote their own vows.
But what if you're not sure where to start? Enter professional vow-writing companies, such as Write Weddings, Vow Muse, or XO Jane, all of which promise beautifully written vows that are customizable to your taste, voice, and personal love story. Below, we consult an expert for everything you need to know about this wedding service—and why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you’re struggling with penning your promises to one another (it's hard!).
Meet the Expert
Katelyn Stanis is the owner of Wedding Words, a vow writing company founded in 2017.
Vows Themselves Are Changing
If you’ve attended a wedding in the last few years, it’s likely you’ve heard a few instances of the traditional “til death do us part” vows. But more often than not, you probably witness couples making pledges that provide specific insight into their day-to-day life, or reference special experiences and values that have great meaning to them.
Katelyn Stanis, owner of Wedding Words—a vow writing company founded in 2017—says that it’s a direct response to weddings becoming more personalized. Couples want specifics in their ceremony that reflect their own one-of-a-kind relationship. “The words in traditional vows not custom to the couple," she explains, "[and] perhaps to many people, [traditional vows] sound a bit outdated and don’t really resonate with how they feel or capture their relationship style."
Personalizing your vows is a chance to lay out what you want your marriage to look like in your own words—and to avoid feeling dictated by how someone else defined marriage generations ago.
Why Couples Hire a Professional Vow Writer
The idea of writing your own vows may sound appealing, and you may even have an idea of what you’d like to say, but when you actually sit down to write, how do you make it sound both personal and professional? Stanis says that couples often feel like their writing isn't good enough, and a vow writer can use their skills as an interviewer and writer to help pull the language and emotions out of what an individual or couple is trying to get across.
“I always think that a couple should seek out vow writing services when they have strong emotions they want to convey to their partner but are stressed and overwhelmed with how to articulate their thoughts into words,” she says. If writing the actual vows isn’t a problem, but you're worried about your delivery of them, professional vow writers also assist individuals and couples with public speaking advice.
“I go over specific tips for each individual on how to deliver their vows with impact,” Stanis explains. “So, for example, 'Be prepared after you read this line because your guests might giggle a little, so pause before you proceed forward.'”
Overcoming the Stigma
Now that personalized vows are becoming more commonplace, couples are feeling the pressure to perform. But if you’re not a naturally gifted writer and you hire a professional vow writing company, there’s often a fear that others would call that cheating. Though professional vow writing isn’t for everyone, in a lot of ways, this service is very similar to hiring other wedding vendors, such as a photographer or florist—and no one would expect you to be embarrassed about your inability to put together a stunning bouquet or to take your own photographs.
How It Works
Professional vow writing companies all operate in slightly different ways, but you can typically expect a phone interview during which you answer questions about your relationship, and go through at least a couple of email drafts back and forth in order to polish the vows to your liking. Ideally, by the end of the service, you’ll have a completely unique set of vows that sound like you.
In terms of cost, vow writing services can range from about $400–$2,000, depending on the kind of package and customized service you choose. Can’t afford that? Look into DIY kits from vow-writing companies that offer tips on writing vows without the heftier price tag of the one-on-one consultation.
Traditional Vows Have Their Place
Not into the idea of writing your own vows or reading them in front of others? Don’t worry. Traditional vows still have their place—whether you are having a religious ceremony or you just like the idea of reciting the same ones your parents and grandparents did.
You can have the best of both worlds by saying traditional vows during your ceremony and then reading your own vows to each other in private, and even have your videographer capture the experience.
“To me there is no wrong or right, as long as it's what feels best in your heart and speaks to you and your relationship,” says Stanis.