The Complete Guide to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
Published date: 21st June 2021 | Author: Hollie Bond
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Personalised wedding vows are the quickest way to make your ceremony special and unique. Here’s how to write the most meaningful words you’re ever likely to utter
In the midst of all the venue choosing, cake tasting and wedding dress shopping it can be easy to forget to spend time on the smaller, but just as key, parts of the big day.
When you boil a wedding down to the basics though, the ceremony – and especially the wedding vows – really are the single most important part of the day. After all, that’s the moment you go from being an engaged couple to actually being married! If you want to make sure this highlight of the wedding is as special and personalised as possible, it’s a good idea to consider writing your own marriage vows.
A good question to ask yourselves is: when you read through the set wording for wedding vows given to you by your officiant, do they feel personal to you? Do they sum up how you feel about getting married to your partner? Chances are that they don’t. To help you get started when it comes to writing vows that aren’t too cheesy and over the top, but full of heartfelt sentiment and eloquent expressions of your feelings, we’ve rounded up some examples from previous couples and have all the top tips to make your wedding vows as unique as your relationship.
Wedding Vow Tempate
To help you write your own wedding vows, we’ve compiled a step-by-step template to frame your promises to your partner in a beautiful way during your wedding ceremony.
Step one: Say “I love you”
It sounds simple but this is the crux of the matter and all too often that simple sentence can be missed out when couples are writing their own vows.
Step two: Share an anecdote
An anecdote or special story that shows how and why you love and value your partner to family and friends. It can be something simple that shows an admirable trait of their character or perhaps the story of how you met and knew they were the one. Short stories like these will make your vows really interesting for your guests too.
Step three: Explain that you’re in the relationship for the long haul.
This is similar to the “in sickness and in health” and “til death do us part” of the traditional religious wedding vows, but you can frame it in a more suitable way for you. Talk about how your wedding day is just the beginning of an exciting journey that you can’t wait to go on with your partner. Phrases like “I will love you unconditionally for the rest of my life”, “I promise to stand by your side”, “I can’t wait to make a life together” and “I can’t wait to grow old with you” work well here.
Step four: Make your promises.
The promises are an area you’ll really want to focus on when you write your own wedding vows. As well as the promise to love your partner from this day forward you might want to think about some more specific and unique promises that make your relationship special (think about inside jokes like “I vow to always get rid of wasps for you because I know you’re mortally afraid of them”.
You may want to come up with a list that starts each time with “I promise to always…” followed by the sentiment. You can then follow this with a list that starts “I promise to never”… Examples for this section include: “I promise to be patient and forgiving”; “I promise to cherish you”; “I promise to encourage you”; “I promise to support you”; “I promise to respect you” etc.
Step five: Open your vows out to include your family and friends.
The best personalised wedding vows acknowledge that it’s not just about you and your best friend on this wedding day and that it takes a lot more people to make a marriage a success. Mentioning that you’ll rely on the help and support of your loved ones is a beautiful way to make your guests feel included in what can otherwise be a very personal moment between the two of you.
Expert Tips For Writing Your Own Vows
1. Make Sure Your Partner Is On Board
Make sure you’ve spoken to your fiancé or fiancée about your desire to write your own wedding vows, as it will look odd one of you going with the traditional wedding vows while the other doesn’t. If your partner feels uncomfortable about saying personalised wedding vows in front of guests, think about writing letters to each other on the morning of the wedding instead, or perhaps you could do a speech at the wedding breakfast where you include the content you wanted to put in the vows.
2. Know The Rules
While there is a lot of freedom to talk openly and honestly about your love for one another in your vows, there are still some rules you have to follow to ensure they are legally binding.
The first is that at a civil ceremony you are not allowed to include any religious references in the words at all. It depends how strict your registrar is, but some don’t allow words like “angel” and you won’t be able to say things like “I thank God every day that he sent you to me” or “in the presence of God” etc.
3. Include The Official Wording
The only other thing that you legally have to take into account is making sure you “solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, (name), may not be joined in matrimony to (name)”. Your registrar will advise on when and where in the vows these statements need to be included though.
4. Start Early
Much like a speech, the earlier you start writing or at least brainstorming your vows, the better.
Trying to come up with heartfelt words in the panic of the week before the wedding is not going to result in your finest work! Search for examples to help you come up with a structure (see some ideas below) and jot down ideas as and when they come into your head.
5. Take Inspiration From Better Writers
Writing not your forte? Don’t panic, because putting pen to paper can be daunting for a lot of people and sometimes it’s impossible to convey your feelings in simple words.
The good news is that some people are the exact opposite and manage to sum up the most intense emotions in an exquisitely beautiful way. So look to your favourite poets, authors, lyricists and scriptwriters for inspiration. Borrow a line or two from them that shows your other half exactly how important marrying them is.
6. Quote From Wedding Vow Examples Or Pieces Of Romantic Writing
Here are some of our favourites, from famous writers – hankies at the ready!
“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen. Any day spent with you is my favourite day. So, today is my new favourite day.” – Winnie The Pooh, A.A. Milne
“A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be.” – The Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach
“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart.
Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…” – The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
“I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.” – The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
“I revere you. I esteem and admire you above all human beings. You are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half. You are the most amiable, the most perfect of women. And you are dearer to me than language has the power of telling… You are now all my own… How will my soul find room for its happiness? It seems already bursting!” – Evelina, Frances Burney
“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” – Blue-Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas
“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours.” – Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
“You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. And wish from this day forth never to be parted from you.” – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
“You are sunlight through a window, which I stand in, warmed. My darling.” – The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
“Do I love you? My god, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” – The Princess Bride, William Goldman
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.” –
Sonnet XVII, Cien Sonetos de Amor, Pablo Neruda
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.” –
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life.” – Atonement, Ian McEwan
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depths and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and idea grace.” – How Do I Love Thee? Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – When Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron
“So this is love, so this is what makes life divine. I’m all aglow and now I know the key to all heaven is mine. My heart has wings and I can fly, I’ll touch the star in every sky. So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of. So this is love.” – Cinderella, Disney
Perfect for same-sex marriage vows:
“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
7. Don’t Over-Promise
Yes, you’ll be feeling overwhelming love for your soon-to-be wife or husband at this most emotional of times, but don’t get carried away with outlandish promises and over-the-top sentiments that you can’t maintain in everyday life. Promising to cook for them every day or promising to be a perfect wife or husband might sound romantic, but they are completely unrealistic.
8. Write From The Heart
Write about how you feel on a daily basis about your partner, not just on your wedding day. A list of special and personal promises is a lovely way to structure your speech.
9. Keep The Vows Short And Sweet
Just like wedding speeches, the key to successful vows is keeping them short, and memorable. Your registrar might impose a limit anyway, but you only need to say a few lines of carefully composed words to make a real impact here. Time yourself saying them – one- or two-minutes max is ideal.
10. Don’t Make Your Guests Cringe
Err on the side of caution when it comes to being gushy and cheesy. Think about what you’re trying to say and then tone it down a bit if it comes across as over effusive or cringe-worthy. You can always whisper those sentiments to your new wife or husband during your first dance or in bed that night!
11. Make Sure Your Registrar or Celebrant Has Approved Your Words First
When you’re happy with your final draft, email it to your registrar to approve and check that it follows the rules. If you’re having a celebrant, it can be a good idea to send to them too, so they can understand the sort of tone you’re hoping to create during your wedding (if you’ve written funny wedding vows are funny for example, they’ll want to reflect this vibe too).
12. Practise Saying The Words Out Loud
Practise saying your vows over and over. Saying your vows out loud can help you to iron out any strange sentence structure or parts that don’t quite come across as you’d hoped. It’ll also really help on the day when you’re feeling emotional, as your brain will remember what words are coming next.
13. Keep Your Wedding Vows A Secret
You’ll want the first time your partner hears your vows to be at the wedding ceremony so make sure to keep them stored somewhere he or she isn’t likely to find them.
14. Make A Fresh Copy For The Ceremony
You don’t want to be reading off a flimsy coffee-stained piece of paper. Write your vows on a clean piece of paper or consider having vow books or some other special way of presenting them.
15. Turn Your Vows Into A Keepsake
You’ll want to remember your vows for the rest of your married lives, so consider having them immortalised into a beautiful gift that you can give to your new spouse after the wedding (or perhaps on your first anniversary as a paper gift – see more wedding anniversary gift ideas here). There are lots of lovely ideas from prints for your house to cufflinks and handkerchiefs.
If you’re staring at a blank page wondering how on earth to start writing your vows, it can really help to look at some examples from former brides and grooms for inspiration. Here are some beautiful vow examples from real weddings that will help inspire you to write your own heartfelt sentiments.