Standing at the end of the wedding aisle and professing your love and lifelong promise to ‘have and to hold’ in front of a captive audience, even if they are family and friends, can feel like a daunting task. On the other hand for some, you know who you are, it can be the most exciting and anticipated moment of your ceremony and wedding day....yes, the stage is all yours and it is time to shine, you plan on delivering the best wedding vows ever heard!!!
Regardless of which way you feel about your wedding vows, we can all agree that the vows you will make at your ceremony are undeniably the most poignant part of your wedding day. Ultimately they are the covenants and agreements you make to one another that become the foundations for the life you choose to build together.
But before you even get to how to write your wedding vows, you might be wondering ‘what’ do I say on the day, what are the wedding traditions to incorporate, and what will my wedding vow structure be? Is there a wedding vows template I can use?
You may want to lean towards traditional wedding vows that are already curated and in doing so join the chorus of couples who for generations have promised commitments along the lines of ‘til death do us part.’
You may have a faith-based ceremony in which your vows are formed around the convictions of your beliefs. If this is the case, your religion may already provide vows that both sanctify and bless your marriage.
Or, alternatively you may be looking to pen your own promises to one another and opt for a format that is as unique and special as your own one-of-a kind relationship.
If you're thinking you’d like to write your own wedding vows, but you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, the great news is we’re here to help relieve the pressure. So, whether you are a modern-day Shakespeare or a person of few words don’t miss our step-by-step template, with some expert tips, that anyone can follow to help write their own wedding vows.
Let’s get started by getting on the same page
Before you attempt to write your own vows ensure both of you are equally committed to the process. You may be an eloquent wordsmith but if your partner isn’t as capable as you they may be left feeling very overwhelmed and stressed. If this is the case, there is nothing wrong with delivering traditional based vows or fusing a couple of styles together that best suit you as a couple. You may even choose to start with traditional wording and then elaborate from there. The important thing is to make sure you are both in agreement so you can customise an approach that works best for you.
When writing your vows there are three main way to go about it:
- Share the same vows - Together you write and share the same vows and then repeat them to one another in the ceremony.
Insider Tip: If you want to write your own vows but are nervous about remembering them or falling over your words have the celebrant do the majority of the speaking and perform the vows in a ‘read and repeat style’ or have your celebrant read the vows and you agree with an ‘I do.’
Individual vows and collaborative writing approach - Each person's wedding vows are different, but writing collaboratively and sharing the process together will make sure your unique commitments compliment each other. .
Different vows resulting in a surprise on the day - Each person writes their own vows and presents them on the day to their partner adding an element of surprise to the ceremony.
Insider Tip: While this option is more romantic in nature and adds to the mystery of the day, be sure to agree on a similar word length or timing so your vows flow and match each other ensuring that one person's vows aren’t short and sweet and the other has written an elaborative essay.
Submit your surprise vows to your celebrant beforehand, again, to ensure that they are both in theme with one another. You will want to avoid one partner bringing the house down with their great humor and the other writing serious prose.
Wedding Vows Template
Begin by writing down what sharing these vows mean to you personally and what values you intend for your marriage to be built upon. This will be different for every one and won’t necessarily end up being what you share on the day. Rather treat it as a brainstorming exercise to focus your attention on what the commitment of marriage means to you and why is important to you.
At this point you can start with generic statements or words such as ‘trust’ or ‘co-operation’ or ‘kindness’ or ‘laughing together’ building a framework or blueprint of what you value in your relationship. This will help guide your writing process and will be a great reference point when making the final edits to your vows.
Begin by asking yourself questions like:
Is there something about your partner that you never want to live without?
What was I thinking the first time I said ‘I love you?’
What is something your partner does for you that makes you feel special?
What is it about your partner that inspires you?
How have they influenced or encouraged you to be the person you are?
How have you grown together as a couple?
What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met?
How have they changed your view of the world?
What hard times have you been through together?
What things have you accomplished together?
What do they do that makes you laugh?
When you think about them, what makes you smile?
What are some of your most memorable moments?
What do they do on a regular basis to make you feel loved?
What do you see in your future together?
What was an example of them being humorous/kind/resilient/compassionate/courageous?
What is a mantra you as a couple live by?
What beliefs influence your union?
Who do you look to for advice and inspiration?
In what ways am I going to commit myself to my partner?
What qualities am I looking for in my partner that I want to offer myself?
Don’t be afraid to write as much detail or pen as many stories, emotions and moments as you can. The old adage of ‘less is more’ doesn’t apply at this stage. Having more material to work with will allow you to see themes and common threads that you may wish to weave into the tapestry of your vows.
Get specific, nailing down the details and forming your final vows
1. Start with your statement of who your partner is to you.
2. Choose three key things that you love about your partner - share one short story to give your guests a snapshot into your love story.
Insider Tip: Don’t overshare or get too personal!! Save that for a card to be given and read on the morning of the wedding - the card, not your vow exchange, is the time to share deeply intimate, heartfelt details or memories and inside jokes that only the two of you will appreciate.
3. Share how being with your partner inspires you to be the best version of yourself.
4. Clearly present what you are vowing today to your partner - I vow to, I pledge to, I promise to.
Insider Tip: This can be a fusion of solemn, romantic and humorous pledges but remember there is a serious side to this. This section of the vows voices the lifelong commitments you are making to one another, you can make light of a few things but your goal is not to bring the house down with fits of laughter. Save that for the speeches.
5. Communicate that you intend to be there no matter what - don’t skip acknowledging that successful relationships require work, hard conversations and navigating through difficult times. Voice your commitment to this process and that you intend to stick around when the rubber hits the road.
6. Share a simple act you can commit to in day to day life to help during these times.
7. Share a favorite quote/saying/belief or inspiration source that helps guide you as a couple.
8. Invite support from your nearest and dearest - Acknowledge that no relationship is an island and welcome guidance from your loved ones.
9. Looking forward - mention what you are excited about creating together as a married couple. Mention a couple of specific things you want to accomplish:
With you I….
I look forward to…..
I can’t wait to…..
10. As long as we both shall live - while you don’t have to use this exact wording, emphasise the intention of your lifelong commitment to each other.
Wedding Vow Tips
- Remember to say ‘I love you’
- Flow from the heart - definitely be open to an editing process and reworking your vows but don’t lose the specialness of heartfelt sentiment. You want your vows to feel lovingly crafted not methodically manufactured.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! From seeking the guidance from professional vow writers to running it past a friend who's great with words, don’t be afraid to find someone who can help guide and shape your words into vows.
- Spend time reading through lots of vows for inspiration and find sentiments or styles that resonate with you and incorporate them into your commitments.
- Work on one section at a time and focus on the areas first that feel like they flow.
- While not taking away from the importance of your vows you can lower the stakes a little by remembering that you won’t be able to sum up everything your partner means to you in the couple of minutes you have. Your guests will know this as well - consider this as the highlights reel not the full length motion feature.
- No-one has come to your wedding to criticise the wording and the grammatical flow of the commitments you are making; they are there to witness and celebrate your union.
Try to avoid:
Global language or statements like ‘I will never’ or ‘I will always’, rather focus on the intent of the heart with phrases such as ‘I will endeavour to’ or ‘I desire to.’
Promising perfection, by now both you and your partner know it's unattainable. Instead promise an effort for real and attainable things such as patience, devotion, kindness, compassion or tenderness.
Leave it to the last minute! When planning a wedding you know timing is key! Just like your florist has a deadline, cake flavour decisions have to be decided at a certain point and wedding dress alterations made, you must make a commitment to have your vows written three weeks before your wedding. This will give you adequate time to submit them to your celebrant or trusted friend for proofing and reading over and will allow you plenty of time to practice and be familiar with the content of your vows.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Just in case you missed it, you need to practice your vows. Do not leave it to the last minute or have it be an afterthought in the flurry of the lead up to your wedding day. Don’t trust that it will just come together or flow on the day, with the myriad of emotions you’ll be feeling by the time you arrive at the altar, you won’t want to be relying upon your spontaneous public speaking skills to come to the party and rescue you.
Practice reading aloud with pauses, tone and expression - to avoid rushing through give space when practicing and make allowances for when guests will laugh or for your partner to react and connect with what you are saying.
Say your vows in front of your mirror like you intend to on the day, don’t simply focus on reading through the text. Make sure you look up when practicing and envision the person standing in front of you that you are promising your life to.
Insider Tip: Remember, rehearsed doesn’t equate to inauthentic. What looks and reads great on paper may not flow as smoothly when read out loud, so be prepared to make some changes once you start practicing.
Don’t forget to:
Keep a couple of copies on hand on the day! Have the final copy printed on beautiful paper or card and pass them back to the celebrant at the end of the ceremony to keep as mementos or for your wedding album. Give a spare copy to family members or friends in the front row and have the groomsmen have a copy tucked in his suit pocket.
Alongside modern or personalised vows lie the options of traditional or faith-based vows. While some couples choose to curate vows that are unique to them, others prefer to lean towards vows that may have been expressed and echoed by couples throughout the centuries or may hold significant traditional, cultural or faith based value.
Couples choosing traditional vows may like the idea of having their marriage commitments anchored to the vows of previous generations reciting promises that their parents, grandparents and even great grandparents also made. While deciding upon traditional vows can limit the length and wording options it by no means limits the impact of the words being shared. Many traditional vows beautifully capture the essence of all the significant commitments required for a successful lifelong marriage.
Examples of traditional marriage vows for you to share on your wedding day:
‘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; until death do us part.
‘I,..... , take you,....., to be my friend, my lover, the mother/father of my children and my husband/wife. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.
At the core of many couples' commitment to one another is their personal and combined decision to honor their cultural traditions or their faith in their marriage. As a foundational building block upon which couples choose to build their lives together they can give recognition to these values in their ceremony and in their vows to one another.
When planning a faith-based ceremony (and especially if held in a place of worship) it is always best to chat with your officiant first so they can make clear whether or not you will be required to say all or only part of the traditional vows associated with your religion in the service and have them give you some helpful guidelines.
With a ceremony performed by a Rabbi and held beneath the Chuppah (altar) jewish wedding vows are spoken in Hebrew and the couple often will say to one another:
"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
Alongside the exchange of the rings Sheva B’rachot or the Seven Blessings is recited over the couple often in both Hebrew and English by family members and friends:
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, gladden the beloved companions as You gladdeed Your creatures in the garden of Eden. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who gladdens this couple. Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who created joy and gladness, loving couples, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, loving communities, peace, and companionship. Adonai, our God, let there soon be heard….the voice of the loving couple, the sound of their jubilance from their canopies and of the youths from their song-filled feasts. Blessed are You Who causes the couple to rejoice, one with the other.
We bless God for creating joy and happiness, bride and groom, mirth song, gladness and rejoicing, love and harmony, peace and companionship, and we thank God for letting this bride and groom to rejoice together.
Traditionally, both sets of parents will also stand under the chuppah alongside the bride and groom and rabbi for the duration of the ceremony.
With the ceremony taking place beneath the wedding mandap (an elaborately decorated wedding arbour constructed for the ceremony) the vows are spoken around the sacred fire of Agni. Traditionally known as Saptadi, these 7 vows are one of the most important rituals of Hindu Marriage or Hindu Weddings. Based on sacred Hindu scripture the bride and groom walk seven times around the fire with the groom reciting the first four vows and the bride reciting the remaining three.
1. Let us take the first step to provide for our household a boursihing and pure diet, avoiding those foods injurious to healthy living.
2. Let us take the second step to develop physical, mental and spiritual powers.
3. Let us take the third step to increase our wealth by righteous means and proper use.
4. Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust.
5. Let us take the fifth step so that we are blessed with strong, virtuous, and heroic children.
6. Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity.
7. Finally, let us take the seventh step and be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock.
After reciting the seven vows, the bride who was originally seated on the right hand side of the groom is now seated on the left to indicate that she is now seated closer to his heart.
Muslim Wedding Vows
Traditionally muslim couples will not recite vows during their ceremony. The imam or cleric will rather share words with the couple about the meaning of marriage and the bride and groom's responsibility within the marriage to each other and to Allah.
At the end of the ceremony the couple consents to becoming husband and wife entering the nikah, or marriage contract, in the presence of the congregation who then blesses the union. Some Muslim couples may still choose to recite vows as well with the following being a common recitation:
Bride: "I offer you myself in marriage in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife."
Groom: "I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband."
Protestant Wedding Vows
Almost identical to traditional vows with the point of difference being the acknowledgement of God these well worded vows form the basic structure upon which most modern vows are built.
In the name of God, I,....., take you,....., to be my (husband/wife), 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, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.
Before reciting vows the couple will usually answer three questions asked by the priest:
“ ..... and ....., have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?”
“Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?”
“Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”
The bride and groom either respond with “yes” or “I will”. The couple will then move on to sharing the vows
I,..... , take you,....., to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
In traditional Buddhist ceremonies couples respond to the vows read by the officiant with a ‘We do’ or ‘We will’, essentially offering unified agreement to the covenants read out:
Officiant: and do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration, and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?
Bride/Groom: “We do.”
Officiant: Recognising that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that internally your own minds and emotions will sometimes get stuck in negativity, do you pledge to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help you grow, to open your hearts, to accept yourselves, and each other; and to generate compassion for others who are suffering?
Bride/Groom: “We do.”
Officiant: Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us, do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?
Bride/Groom: “ We do”
Officiant: Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with all beings? To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other’s potential and inner beauty as an example and rather than spiraling inwards and becoming self-absorbed, to radiate this love outwards to all beings?
Bride/Groom: “We do.”
A joyous process, a creative process and a heartfelt process capturing with words the lifelong decrees and promises you speak to each other on your wedding day doesn’t have to be an arduous affair.