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Wedding Vows

Trying to put all of your feelings into a few simple vows may seem a daunting task for any couple.  And while some may stick to the traditional vows, "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part," for just that reason, others may choose to be both bold and creative by writing their own.  All it requires is a little planning and some research if you're lacking inspiration.

Vow choice, however, is often complicated by other aspects of the ceremony, like religious restrictions or sheer nervousness.  If your place of worship requires a certain reading, or your future spouse feels that he or she may be too nervous to stutter out his or her own vows, then sticking to traditional or common religious vows may be the most practical option.

Making a Joint Decision

Aside from religious regulations, deciding wedding vows should ultimately be left up to the bride and groom.  If neither of you want to write your own vows, but you don't want to stick to the traditional ones either, poetry can be a good alternative.  Take time to browse the poetry resources online or at your local library.  You can find a poem that you both love and read the same or separate excerpts from it at your wedding ceremony.

There are a host of moving wedding vows that you can find floating around on the internet too.  And if neither party minds snagging wedding words from the web, then you have plenty of resources:

If you're looking for something a bit more custom, but still aren't feeling like much of a William Shakespeare, certain companies specialize in writing vows tailored to you for a fee.  Prices range anywhere from $100 to $500.

Writing Together

If you and your fiancé have made the decision to write your own vows, then choosing to write them together may be the next step.  Here are some fun ways that both of you can come up with ideas:

  1. Write down a list of some of your most memorable or meaningful times together, whether they are happy, sad or funny. This has the potential to be a long list, so keep it to a top three or top five.
  2. Write down your favourite quotes or song lyrics as they are related to love, life and/or friendship.
  3. Think about the songs and readings that are already set for your wedding. Do they have important themes or messages that you would want to incorporate into your vows?
  4. Each of you share the brainstorming ideas you gathered from the above prompts.  Try to pick the best pieces from each, or the points on which you converged the most.

Writing Separately

Perhaps you and your fiancé would like the vows to be a surprise on the big day.  If so, here are some tips for writing some secret words for your sweetheart.

  1. Make sure you have set rules for your vows--length, required words, phrases, or religious messages.
  2. Sequester yourself so that you can think of the time when you first met, when you first realized you were in love, the day of the proposal etc. Thinking of relationship cornerstones can often provoke strong feelings that can be best expressed in wedding vows.
  3. Make a list of the descriptive words for good relationships, and see what words best describe your union--i.e. what are your strong points as a couple?
  4. Do you have words or phrases you only say to each other? This could be a great time to share those with others.
  5. Review how traditional vows are said so that you are both aware of the format that makes for the easiest, most effective delivery.

And no matter how you write them, remember that practice makes perfect!  Read your vows aloud to yourself--and perhaps to the best man or maid of honour--to ensure that they sound as wonderful coming out of your mouth as they do on paper.

More Prompts

Here are some other questions and suggestions to get your wedding wheels turning.

  • Don't scour the net for just ideas: scour for inspiration. Read stories of how eloquent vows made for the most magical of wedding moments.
  • Funny anecdotes can lighten the mood while showing genuine affection, but discuss adding humour to the vows with your fiancé first.
  • Use poetry to help you with the format of your vows. Some romantic phrases from popular poetry may fit in perfectly, or certain poems may give you ideas on how to flawlessly transition from one point to the next.
  • What is the greatest thing about the person you are going to marry? How does that make you feel about him or her and yourself?
  • Consult with your officiant about vow ideas. Whether they are religious or secular, they will undoubtedly have previous wedding experience that may be useful to you.
  • What does marriage mean to you? How will your spouse fit into your idea of a meaningful marriage?
  • When you were little, did you dream about your ideal spouse and/or ideal wedding day? How does reality measure up?
  • Will anything change about your relationship when you get married?

Related Guides

Vow Renewals

Wedding Ceremony and Reception

Wedding Guide Resources

Wedding Ceremony Music

Wedding Flowers