The word “vow” means “a solemn promise.” It’s also a word that has become synonymous with marriage.
That’s because when it comes to wedding ceremonies, your vows are what make them both special and official. And while we’re all well-versed in the classic “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health“, modern couples are getting more creative and sentimental with their ‘I Dos’. No matter how full of love and sentiment we are, so many of us still struggle with how to write wedding vows when the time comes.
While there certainly isn’t a wrong way to write vows to the the person you love the most, we do have some helpful tips and inspiration to organize your thoughts and find words from the heart. After all, it is one of the most important moments of your life, right?
Take a look at our ideas for how to write your own wedding vows, and you’ll feel confident and excited to start working on your own words for the big day.
How to Write Wedding Vows
Types of Wedding Vows
The first step in writing wedding vows starts with knowing what vows are, and what style you’d like to follow. Your beliefs and ideas for how to write wedding vows may align with one or several of these genres, so figure out what you like, and get creative.
Traditional Wedding Vows
We all know the most traditional version of wedding vows, “I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” You could stick to these words verbatim, but you could also add some embellishments and personalization to this original string of words.
Examples of Traditional Wedding Vows:
• “I, _____, take you _____, to be my beloved husband/wife, to have and to hold you, to honor you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this from my heart, for all the days of my life.”
• “I, _____, take you _____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do us part.”
Religious Wedding Vows
For many couples and families, getting married in a church is a sacred tradition. In doing so, many couples will write vows to one another that include cherished religious verses in line with their faith.
Examples of Religious Wedding Vows:
“I,_____, take you _____, to be my husband/wife, and friend. We shall bear together whatever of sorrow and adversity life may place upon us, and share together whatever of joy and fulfillment life may hold in store. I commit my life to you; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope and eternally made anew.
“I pledge to you a life of giving and of hoping, of growing and of loving. I shall be with you in your tears and in your laughter, just as I shall bring to you my own joys and my own sorrows. You will be my husband/wife, as long as love remains. My commitment is made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope and eternally made anew.”
Inuit Love Song
“You are my husband/wife
My feet shall run because of you
My feet dance because of you
My heart shall beat because of you
My eyes see because of you
My mind thinks because of you
And I shall love because of you.”
Personal Wedding Vows
Modern ceremonies have shifted from solely religious to more personal, intimate gatherings—and so have the vows written for them. Many couples write their vows to reflect their partner’s specific qualities or traits, special memories, and even inside jokes.
Examples of Personal Wedding Vows:
“[Name], today I become your (husband/wife) and you become my (wife/husband). I will strive to give you the best of myself while accepting you the way you are. I promise to respect you as a whole person with your own interests, desires, and needs, and to realize that those are sometimes different, but no less important than my own.
“I promise to keep myself open to you, to let you into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams. I promise to grow along with you, to be willing to face change as we both change, keeping our relationship alive and exciting. And finally, I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give and all that I am, in the only way I know how — completely and forever.”
“I promise to forget to stack the dishes on the right and leave stagnant water in the sink.
I promise to always drive the speed limit, even on the freeway.
I vow to snuggle you as often as possible.
I vow to make you really laugh out loud.
I vow to always try one bite of any meal you create.
I vow to be the best parts of me that fit perfectly with the best parts of you.
Although I will be imperfect, I pledge to be sensitive and respectful of your unique talents, abilities and quirks.
I pledge to lend you strength for all of your dreams.
Through our union we can accomplish more than I could alone.
I believe in you.”
Poetic Wedding Vows
Whether you’re quoting Shakespeare or your sweetheart’s favorite novel, adding in some words that aren’t your own is definitely okay. Even non-poetry buffs can take an afternoon to look through some literature and find someone else’s words that eloquently explain their own feelings.
Examples of Poetic Wedding Vows:
E.E. Cummings, i carry your heart with me
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”
Kiersten White, The Chaos of Stars
“And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”
Tips On Writing Wedding Vows
Start around a month before the wedding. Giving yourself a few weeks to prepare your vows means you have plenty of time to work on them before the big day. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to make a note in your phone or in a small notebook whenever something special pops into your head. When you do start compiling them and working on the real thing, do it on your own. You can go over them with your fiancé later, but it’s best to start separately and keep your ideas your own.
Ask yourself questions about your relationship with your partner. How did you meet? When did you know that he or she was the one? What has been a defining moment in your relationship? What are you most excited for for the future? The specific answers to these questions almost always evoke some personal, sweet responses.
Consult the experts. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, browse poems and literature. You might find a quote that explains your feelings a bit more eloquently.
Consult your officiant. Seasoned marriage celebrants have heard a lot of vows and watched a lot of people nervously recite them. They can offer you plenty of advice for writing sentimental vows, and presenting them in front of your spouse (and a crowd) with ease.
Show your spouse. Write a first draft with your favorite thoughts to your spouse in a letter, and exchange them a few weeks before the big day. From there, you can both offer advice and make adjustments to your own. And save those letters – they’re a great engagement keepsake.
Keep it short and sweet. Anything that you write should get the edit pen, and your vows are no exception. You may start with a bunch of ideas and avenues to take your vows, but narrow down the best points into a special few lines. Less really is more.
Tips On Reciting Your Vows
Once you’ve written your swoon-worthy vows, it’s essential to dedicate time to practicing them and presenting them with the affection and love that they deserve. Beside keeping your knees from locking, here are a few other tips for reciting vows.
Memorize them. Memorizing your vows makes you more likely to speak with ease on your wedding day, and makes the vows you worked so hard to write seem more sincere and, well, ‘by heart.’
Write them down. No matter how well you know your vows when reciting them in the shower, give yourself a bit of insurance for the big day. Tuck a small note card in your pocket, and pull it out at showtime. That way, they’re there to jog your memory if stage fright hits.
Speak only to your spouse. It should go without saying, but focusing on your partner while you’re reciting your vows is vital. When speaking from memory, it’s natural to look upwards in an effort to remember your next line. But focus on keeping your eyes on the one you’ve written these words for in the first place.
Compose yourself. If you find yourself getting emotional, don’t hesitate to take a few seconds to take a deep breath. Once you’re ready, pick up where you left off (and keep breathing!).
Slow down. We’ve all listened someone nervously and inaudibly rush through a speech. To avoid speaking too quickly, practice taking a breath at any sentence end or natural pause in your vows. If you know you’ll still rush in the big moment, add /’s to your notecard in places where you need to stop and take a breath.
Traditional or religious, personal or poetic, there’s no wrong way to write your marriage vows to the one you love. Keep them simple, sweet, and personal, and you’re sure to make everyone in the room feel the same love you do.