These days, couples are increasingly ditching the traditional "to have and to hold" vows for more personalized versions that make you go "aww" and quote “The Office.” In fact, nearly half of all women surveyed in the annual Brides American Wedding Study said that they wrote their own vows, which was up from 42 percent in 2017.
While this is unsurprising in a generation who grew up writing personal and deeply revealing Xanga and Facebook posts, what happens if you and your partner are not exactly wordsmiths? Enter, the professional vow writing companies, such as Write Weddings, Vow Muse or XO Jane, that all promise beautifully written vows that are customizable to your taste, voice, and love story.
But should you hire a professional vow writing company? Is it technically cheating if you get someone else to do this work for you?
Here’s what you need to know about this increasingly common wedding service—and why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you’re struggling with penning your promises to one another.
Vows Themselves Are Changing
If you’ve attended a wedding in the last few years, it’s unlikely you’ve heard many of the traditional “til death do us part” vows. Instead, you probably remember pledges more like, “I promise to always go to Disneyland with you” or insight into a couple’s day-to-day life with something such as, “I appreciate when you make dinner when I work late.”
So, why are couples choosing to 86 the vows their parents and grandparents took in favor of vows they write themselves? Katelyn Stanis, owner of Wedding Words—a vow writing company she started 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vows are not only tradition and therefore not custom to the couple, but perhaps to many people, they sound a bit outdated and don’t really resonate with how they feel or capture their relationship style,” Stanis says.
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, does everything seem to come out wrong? Stanis says this is an all-too-common occurrence, and a vow writer can use their skills as an interviewer and writer to help pull the language and emotions out of what you're trying to get across, but can't seem to get down on paper yourself.
“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 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 says. “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.
“Wedding vows are very personal and people feel like, 'If I can’t articulate these things into a written piece that’s two minutes long—a very specific format—then I am not feeling those feelings; they're not authentic,’” says Angie Sommer, of Vow Muse—a vow writing company she started in 2010 with pal Alicia Ostarello.
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 bouquet or take your own photographs.
As to whether or not you should keep your professional vow writer a secret, Sommer says that while they encourage personal communication with your partner in general, the choice is up to you.
“We don’t know who the other person is so there’s no danger of us talking to him or her," she says. "It’s totally fine if we help and [our client] takes the credit. That’s what we’re here for."
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 to 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.
“There’s no Mad Libs behind the scenes," Sommer says. "It’s literally from scratch every single time [we help] with wedding vows, a speech or a wedding ceremony.”
Vow writing services can range from about $400–$2,000, depending on the kinds of packages and customized services 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 also have the best of both worlds by saying the traditional vows during the ceremony and then reading your own vows to each other in private, perhaps allowing your cinematographer to capture it.
“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.