Our Guide to Writing Your Own Vows

Planning to write your own vows? Here's how to declare your love for each other.

No doubt you’ve worked hard to stage a wedding reception with tons of individual style, so why should your ceremony be any different? Get personal, and consider writing your own vows. Don't stress: It’s not as daunting as you might think. Here’s how it’s done.


Photo Credit: Giraffe Photography

What's Your Style?
Decide if you want to say separate vows (you write yours, he writes his), or if you’d rather each recite an identical, all-encompassing vow that you compose together. You can also combine these options: Take turns making personalized promises to each other, and then solemnize these statements by exchanging more formal, traditional vows (“I, Jason, take you, Kimberly, to be my lawful wife, to have and to hold…”) or a variation that you decide on together (“I, Stephanie, promise you, David, to always be your wife, your friend, your lover…”).

What Makes a Good Vow?
Keep in mind that at the heart of every vow is the idea that you’re making a pact. The “agreement” should have these three features, in no particular order: a declaration of love (“Sam, my beloved, I fill my heart with you, to love you until the end of my days”); promises for your marriage (“I pledge to embrace both our similarities and our differences” or “I promise to start family traditions”); and personal touches (“Four years ago, I thought that men like you didn’t exist”). Before you both begin writing, decide on the tone you want to set. Your words may be different,but the style should be more or less the same. A practical note: Be sure to keep vows one to three minutes long.

What Should You Say?
It depends on what you want to emphasize. Maybe it’s fidelity (“I promise to be faithful”); the notion of two people coming together, but maintaining their individuality (“I promise to have the courage to let you be yourself”); or the importance of family (“I promise to create a family with you and to take yours as my own”). Consider where you first met, the first time he kissed you…can you tie any of this in to what you want to pledge? You can be specific, even humorous, about the requirements you plan to fulfill throughout your lives together.

Consult a Pro
Your officiant can guide you through the vow-writing process by directing you to resources and examples from clients. If you’re having a religious ceremony, he or she can help you write vows that pertain to your faith’s conventions, ideals and symbols.

The Big Performance
Things to remember before going live: Practice , but don’t overdo it—speak naturally. And if you become a little emotional? It’s okay to cry!

Writer's Block?
Need some inspiration? These vows appear in the Complete Book of Wedding Vows, by Diane Warner (Career Press):

  • " I acknowledge my love for you and invite you to share my life as I hope to share yours. I promise to walk by your side, to love, help and encourage you. I vow to take time to share with you, to listen and to care. I will share all your laughter and all your tears as your partner, lover and friend. I promise always to respect you and honor you as an individual and to be conscious of your needs. I shall seek through kindness and compassion to achieve with you the life we have planned together."
  • "You are a kind and gentle person, and it is with great joy that I take you as my husband/wife. May our love grow deeper every day of our marriage, and as the days grow to weeks, and the weeks to months and the months to years, may we never forget this joyous day and the vows of commitment we are pledging to each other. I will cherish you and be faithful to you for all eternity."

Also, check out websites like celebrantinstitute.org for more ideas to get you started.