"Destiny definitely stood out amongst other photographers because we absolutely loved how involved she was from the very beginning. She really wants to get to know you- which makes for really intimate photos! She asks tons of questions, which is awesome because you feel like you know her before even meeting her! And once you finally do, she is so so sweet!!! Destiny is so great at communicating and being really involved in every detail! She captured every emotion and detail perfectly, whenever I look at our wedding pictures, it brings back every feeling on our special day. TEARS!"
Writing vows for your wedding can be a daunting task. There is so much pressure to write vows that are heartfelt and genuine, but also memorable in some way. You might find yourself wondering if you should open with a poem, or maybe a joke, and everything you’ve written down feels awful. But the truth is, you don’t need to worry about those things. You just need to write your own wedding vows that reflect who you are and what’s important to you as a couple. Try to take away all of the pressure you feel to impress and just write what you’re feeling. And if it doesn’t come naturally at first, there are some ways you can help get the words flowing!
This blog is intended for couples who want to have an intentional wedding experience. If you’re planning an elopement or small wedding then this blog, and others like it, is for you. I wrote this blog from a personal perspective, not one of religion, repeat-after-me ideas, or other pop-culture themes.
Learn some other tips for having an authentic wedding experience here.
What Are Wedding Vows?
Wedding vows are a set of promises made by the wedding couple. They can be said at any point during the ceremony, before or after exchanging rings, or after your unity ceremony. Vows often include personal moments, promises, and a dedication to your partner.
Wedding vows are an obligation between two people. They give confidence that you’ve committed yourselves to each other. They are the spirit of the marriage. No pandemic, budget, or changes to your plans can ruin that specific part of your wedding day. Sometimes, with all of the other things you have to remember when wedding planning, this part gets forgotten. But the wedding vow is where you intentionally connect back with the reason you’re doing all of this: your love.
How To Write Wedding Vows
The hardest part of preparing the vows is getting the words out. Ignore the pressure to infuse it with personal jokes or a beginning, middle, and final phrase of your original script. Just releasing thoughts allows you to tweak, rephrase and add what you think is missing. Try not to leave the vows to the last minute because you’ll want the extra time to edit them.
When I first sat down to write my own wedding vows I had no idea where to begin. I had just graduated college with a creative writing degree so I thought this would be a really simple task. I knew all the fancy words, tons of famous writing references, and was used to putting words down on paper, but this was something different. Bringing emotion into your writing is hard. And if you’re not used to bearing those emotions, this could be quite a difficult task for you.
But don’t worry, I’ve got some simple tips you can use to help get those love letters flowing and I’ll share both my husband’s and my own vows for you to read and listen to. After all, sometimes reading those words out loud is the greatest fear.
3 Steps To Writing Your Own Vows
The first step in writing your wedding vows is to plan them out. Jot down some ideas that you might want to include in your vows. If you have a favorite lyric or scene in a movie, write it down too. Think of this step as creating your own mood board for your wedding vows. Gather up all the inspiration you can so that when you get stuck (and you will), you will already have the ultimate list to go back to.
Pro-tip #1: make sure you write your vows in the first person and imagine yourself speaking them to your partner on the day of your wedding. The vows are for you and your partner only so having a little bit of tunnel vision isn’t a bad thing here!
Second, speak about how you feel today – not what led up to this moment or a speech for an occasion that will never come with words like “I feel happy today.” Sure, you can talk about your journey to this moment, but you want to make sure you’re speaking about what it makes you feel right now. Use specific details, not basic phrases. For example, “I will always remind you that I love you” is a very generic line and not as powerful as “When we were dating I would make funny jokes about how much I loved you, but now when we fight, I will hold you tight and remind you that I love you.”
Write it down, and then edit
Lastly, you’ll want to edit. After you’ve written your first draft of your vows, set it down and walk away. Give it a few days before you go back to it and read it through before editing anything. Don’t worry if you feel like you have to scrap huge chunks – you’ll figure out exactly what feels right in your soul. Promises to your partner can feel like the most simple and most complicated thing at the same time. When you write your own wedding vows, you don’t want to rush it. Perfection takes time!
Once they seem okay, then say them out loud. I know that feels super silly, but just trust me. Reading your vows out loud gives you practice saying them and it also lets you hear the rhythm of what you wrote. That rhythm is more important than you might expect.
Things to keep in mind when you write your own wedding vows
– Consider what you’re looking for. What do you hope your vows will say about the person standing next to you? Are they funny, introspective, reflective, or emotional? Figure out who these vows are going to represent and write from that perspective.
– Next thing’s most important: love! Whenever you’re writing vows, it’s important to remember why this person is the one for you. Think of all of the best times and the hardest times you’ve gone through together. If it helps, write them down. While you’re writing, pay attention to what you’re feeling. Passion, gratitude, awe, maybe a little nausea? Use these feelings and put them into words.
– Finally, keep your vows short and sweet! You don’t want them dragging on or coming off as too stiff. Remember that they are vows of commitment – so have a little fun with how you present them!
Pro-tip #2: use the circular writing trick. This trick is where you begin and end with the same idea. You can flip the idea by the end and use it in a new way or simply reference it again and come full circle with your speech. You’ll see in the example vows below how they both use this trick in a different way.
Wedding Vow Template
There isn’t a perfect order for writing your vows, but there are a few key things you’ll want to include. Including as many of these as possible will help your wedding vows feel more substantial, true, and meaningful. Add in a few tears, a heartfelt glance, and you’ll have the makings of an award-winning declaration of love.
- Tell your partner you love them. Be as simple or as complex as you want.
- Say actual vows. Begin with “I vow” or “I promise” and fill in the rest. Include 2-5 vows within your speech.
- Explain how you’re feeling. Get all mushy gushy and share some things you might not have told them before.
- Describe a past memory with your partner. If the memory helps explain what you’re feeling, share it.
- Acknowledge that you know marriage isn’t perfect. Tell your partner how you’re prepared for this.
Frequently asked questions about writing wedding vows
How long should wedding vows be?
Your wedding vows shouldn’t be longer than a few minutes. Humans have short attention spans and you don’t want to lose your “audience”. You also don’t want to only say a few words as that can feel rushed and impersonal. The number of words on a page can seem like a lot, but remember that you talk faster than you read.
Do my wedding vows have to be written?
Not necessarily, but there’s something about actually bringing pen to paper that makes you feel more connected to the words you’re reading. Reading your vows off your phone distracts from the day and your wedding ceremony.
When do you say your vows in an elopement?
You can say your vows whenever you want to during your wedding day. If you’re having more of a traditional ceremony then they come after your officiant talks about your relationship and before you exchange rings.
Wedding Vow Examples
If you want your wedding vows to feel genuine to you, then there are a few ways to set those vows apart from the other vows out there. You don’t have to promise to love, talk about health for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, or reference the rest of your life to create meaningful wedding vows.
I went through so many drafts of my vows that I lost count. The first version I wrote down was NOTHING like what I ended up saying and I think that journey with myself was really important. I knew I loved Therin with my whole being, but it wasn’t until I was trying to put it into words that I truly discovered why.
Pro-tip #3: hand write your vows in a vow book. I was super extra on my wedding day and actually made the paper and bound our vow books together. If you want to be that extra then I already love you. If not, there are so many cute little Etsy shops online where you can purchase your own books to keep. Having these books makes sure you’re not trying to read through scratched-out drafts. The vow books also give your photographer another detail to photograph. Make sure you shop small!
Wedding vow examples #1
My wedding vows to my husband:
“I’ve had your heart in my hands every day for the past six years. I try my best to hold it gently, to not squeeze it too tight, even when strong emotions threaten the tips of my fingers. Sometimes, I pick up too much. Sometimes I allow too many things to fall into my hands, pollute the skin I’ve tried to leave open for you, and if I’m not careful, it shoves you away too. I come clinging back, clutching for what was there and you’ve always given it to me, even when you weren’t so sure what you were giving.
“Your trust in me inspires me every day. It hasn’t always been the same heart. The vessels have changed and morphed. I’ve watched it grow larger as you care for more people and shrink when others are no longer here. I’ve watched you flourish with intelligence and admiration for the life around you, never stopping or slowing down for too long before making new goals. This has been my greatest accomplishment, my biggest adventure, always watching my hands making sure you’re secured in just right, not too hard or too soft, and trying not to run into any walls along the way.
“You know there isn’t a user manual for this, no pre-drilled holes or A1 and B1 that fit together nicely. We’re just T and D, at opposite ends of the alphabet, coming together to make an A.
“I vow that I will always cherish and choose my time with you, whatever way I can get it. I vow, that whether our souls were meant to be together or not, I will work diligently to keep the love alive. You’re my person, and I vow to respect you, challenge you, and surprise you in every moment.
“I don’t know what is to come yet, and I don’t want to. I love you, Therin. And I will always love you, every morning, afternoon, and night.”
You can listen to me struggle through saying my vows with this audio clip. Therin was pretty sniffly 🥺
Wedding vow examples #2
My husband’s vows to me:
“Destiny, I don’t believe in soulmates. I don’t believe in love at first sight. And I don’t believe we were brought together by fate or design, but I do believe that sometimes you meet someone, as I have, someone so intelligent and passionate, and fierce, and generous. Someone who challenges you to think differently, who inspires you with her drive and determination. Someone who has unparalleled energy for making her life a better one to live. A someone who, for all of that energy, has decided to devote so much of it to loving you back. And when you meet a person like that, you realize that it’s now your job to work every day to become her soulmate. Because when you meet a person like that, you realize that’s the least of what she deserves.
“So I vow to always be chasing — chasing, not you because I know, for whatever reason, you’ll always love me back, but chasing a better version of myself so that I might one day become the person you deserve to spend the rest of your life with. In doing so, I vow to always remember why we’re here, why I want so badly to marry you, which is that you make me at peace. That isn’t to say that the rest of our days will be without their problems, but that no matter what, that innermost part of me will never be restless or uneasy.
“I vow that I will never allow complacency and routine to make me take you for granted. I vow never to see you as an expectation but as a gift. And I vow to never give up — never give up the pursuit of a better life, of a better self, and of a better marriage. But most importantly I vow to never stop believing in you — believing that you are that someone. That someone whose soulmate I one day hope to become.”
And my beautiful, sweet, emotional husband here.
You can find a ton of other tips and examples of wedding vows online, but I think most of them are pretty corny. Nothing is going to feel right unless it’s coming straight from your heart. You won’t regret writing your own wedding vows. Saying these vows to your partner will be one of the most intimate parts of your day.
Feeling the love? Book your elopement with me here. I can’t wait to hear the vows you write!
Black Salt Photography is an elopement photographer and intimate wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Photographing in the surrounding PNW areas and traveling often for destination love stories. Specializing in intimate candids and editorial portraits to craft a one-of-a-kind wedding day for every couple. Her moody photography style plays with natural light and shadow, laced with raw emotional moments, to create an authentic narrative experience. She photographs you as you so you’ll love your photos authentically.