30 Tips for Writing Personal Wedding Vows

  1. Firstly, make sure your partner actually wants to write their own vows. Some people do like the traditional ones.
  2. Decide how much you want to write yourselves - you may like to use the traditional vows with a few lines of your own at the end. Or, use the traditional vows and take out and alter the bits you don’t like and add in anything extra that you want to say. This can alleviate some of the pressure, since you only need to write a sentence or two yourselves.
  3. Get the all clear from the celebrant.
  4. Set a target date for when the vows have to be finished by - the last thing you want is to be rushing to get them done on the morning of!
  5. Work out what you actually want to promise to one another.
  6. Take some time alone to each write down some ideas to start with.
  7. Exchange letters with your initial thoughts. This can not only be a great way to see where each other’s heads are at, but can also make great keepsakes for you to return to on anniversaries.
  8. Make an outline or a plan for the basic structure of the vows that you can both easily follow, so that you know they will be a similar length and style.
  9. Decide on a particular tone for the vows. Are they going to be romantic? Or do you prefer to take a light hearted approach?
  10. Make a list of all the words you associate with love or romance to use as a reference.
  11. Remember that you have an audience. Don’t include anything too personal that no one will understand - avoid pet names or cryptic language. You want your loved ones to be included.
  12. Do include something specific to your partner. For example, that you love them despite that strange habit of theirs, or a memory of a time when you knew that you really wanted to marry them.
  13. frTake your time. Rushing means you may forget to include something important.
  14. If you are having trouble knowing where to start, ask yourself a few questions about the relationship. Things like when you realised your partner was ‘the one,’ and where you see yourselves in 50 years are good starting points.
  15. Other questions to ask yourself are:
  • What does marriage mean to you?
  • Why do you want to marry this particular person?
  • What is going to keep your marriage strong?
  • What would life be like without them?
  • What is your favourite memory with them?
  • Is this what you dreamt life was going to be like as you grew up?
  • Take parts of the answers to your questions and mix them in with phrases, sayings or quotes from your favourite authors, poets - even movies.
  • Think about what personal details define your relationship. The point of writing your own vows is that you can make it more specific to you as a couple.
  • Do you have shared goals for the future? These are good to include, as well as shared bonds or experiences.
  • Sentiment and humour combined make for captivating vows. Try to include at least one amusing reference.
  • Keep things positive - while tough times may have got you to where you are today, your wedding vows are not the time to relive them.
  • If you are really stuck and nothing sounds right, try simplicity. Sticking to traditional phrases like ‘honour and protect’ or ‘love and cherish’ are good places to start.
  • Include something you love or respect about each other. What is your partners best quality?
  • When you get writers block, just remember that Google is a researcher’s best friend. Try looking at vows from a variety of religions for inspiration, or don’t be afraid to borrow from movies and books if you find they say it perfectly.
  • Don’t forget to edit - you may have lots to say but you can always tell some of the most personal things to your partner another way, like in a letter. Remember that the vows are mostly about the promise you are making to each other through marriage - not a recap of your whole life together.
  • Write lots, and then cut it down. Keep it to a minute at the most or it will start to get boring. Long winded speeches are best kept for the reception.
  • Give a copy to a friend to read through to see if they have any editing suggestions.
  • Try your vows out on close friends and family. An outside perspective is always a positive thing.
  • Memorise your vows for the big day to avoid fumbling with notes.
  • If you have to use prompting cards, type them up on a computer in a font large enough to easily read.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This includes on a live audience, in the mirror and even as you are driving to work.
  • A guide to help you

    If you’re not sure how to start, it’s a good idea to go chronologically, almost like a story.

    Start with a reference to how you met, and how you felt. This is a great spot to include an anecdote or story to bring it to life. Next, include something that you love about your partner.

    Then include some promises that you are agreeing to in marrying them. You could include a mix of serious and humorous promises. For example, start with ‘I promise to look after you when you are sick’ and then include ‘I promise to laugh at your jokes (even when no one else does).’

    Then look to the future - mention what you are looking forward to in the new chapter of your lives as a married couple.

    This outline, combined with the other tips, can create beautiful, personal vows, without a lot of stress.


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