A Simple Guide to Wedding Vows
A Simple Guide to Wedding Vows
How to write your own
So you've decided to write your own wedding vows! As exciting as this process is, it can also feel daunting; many brides and grooms suffer from writer's block when it comes to crafting their vows. For the latest installment in our Art of Love series, poet and speaker Arielle Estoria wrote a wonderfully non-traditional ‘vow poem.’ A newlywed herself, she describes love as “something that holds all of you,” and what better way to share your feelings with your spouse than through lovingly written words? She’ll join us throughout this guide with advice for writing your own vows.
Our wedding vow guide and questionnaire will help you do the following:
Introduction to Wedding Vows
Why Do We Say Vows at Weddings?
Before you start writing yours, it's helpful to know why vows are a traditional part of the wedding ceremony. Although most states only require you to verbally state that you both freely enter the union, vows are included in the ceremony for two important reasons. First, vows offer the couple a chance to reflect during an otherwise hectic day. Second, they serve as a guide for the type of marriage you want.
Traditional vows will never go out of style, but many couples choose to write vows that better reflect their unique hopes and promises for a modern marriage.
Before You Begin Writing
First, ask your officiant for advice on planning the ceremony and determine how much flexibility you have to write your own vows. A traditional religious ceremony may only allow you to change a few words, while a secular ceremony offers more freedom. Think about your venue and the tone you want to set as you plan your perfect ceremony and vows.
Arielle says, “I’m all about non-traditional vows. I think that instead of tradition, we let our vows and our wedding moments speak to us personally and intentionally.” Her own vows incorporated lines she had written throughout her relationship and ultimately put together the morning of the wedding!
Even if your style is more traditional, you can infuse your personality into the delivery. “Be authentic,” says Arielle. “Vows aren’t for guests or onlookers, they are your dedication and manifestation of the love you will have and a love that will grow over time.”
The BHLDN Love Story Questionnaire
The best wedding vows come from your unique love story. Arielle says, “When I do commission poems for couples, I sit with them and listen to how they met, the moments they fell in love, and the reasons they decided to say ‘I do,’ then I craft a poem that's specifically for that couple.”
The following questions will help you craft personalized vows that reflect the journey you've shared so far and the promise of everything to come. Before you begin, decide if you want your vows to be a surprise (answer on your own) or a shared experience (answer with your partner).
Your Past: Looking Back on Your Love Story
1. What was your first impression of your partner?
To spark your memory, revisit the early days of your relationship through old pictures, love notes, etc.
2. What's a favorite memory you have together?
(Arielle advises, “Use the funny stories, the awful date moment that made you both laugh, and the quirky attributes that hold you together!”)
3. Think of a time your partner put your happiness first.
4. Think back to the moment you knew you wanted to spend your life with your partner. Describe the moment and how you felt.
5. Write down a few of your favorite inside jokes.
Your Future: Looking Forward to Your Marriage
6. Close your eyes and picture the two of you together in 5 years, 10 years, 30 years.
What does your marriage look like?
7. What are some things you can do (emotionally, mentally, physically) to ensure you reach these milestones together?
8. Write down the reasons why you love your partner.
9. Write down the reasons why he or she loves you.
10. How will you strive to be the best version of yourself in your marriage?
Finally, choose up to five words below that hold the most meaning to your relationship:
Trust | Partnership | Challenges | Lucky | Laughter | Growth | Safety | Adoration
Dreams | Sharing | Faith | Soulmate | Family | Best Friend
Write Your Own Vows Step-by-Step
To structure your vows, start with your past before leading into your future. Including references from your past gives your vows context and reminds you of everything that has brought you to this moment. Finish your vows by making promises to do the things that will ensure a long and happy marriage. Don't forget to think about timing as you write; try to limit your vows to no more than two minutes. That gives you plenty of time for meaningful and memorable vows without testing your guests' attention spans. Have your questionnaire handy, grab a fresh sheet of paper, and follow the steps below:
Step 1: Think about the moments and memories you wrote down in questions 1-5. Write down a few sentences to summarize your love story and how you fell in love with your partner.
Step 2: Read it out loud (important!). Did you stumble over any words? Edit these sections to make them easier to read and rearrange if something seems out of place.
Step 3: Next, look at your answers to questions 7 through 10. Try turning these into promises with the following format: I will ___ because ___.
Step 4: Read this section aloud. Try replacing "I will" with "I promise" or "I vow" to see what feels most natural to you.
Step 5: Look over everything you've written and compare it to the theme of the words you chose in the final section. Do they align? For example, if you chose family, perhaps you should include what you will do to build a strong foundation and share your family traditions. Edit the vows as needed.
Step 6: Put everything together and practice your vows! Arielle advises to “speak clearly and loudly so others can hear you, but also make sure to look at your soon-to-be spouse because that's who the vows are for.” If you start to get emotional, don’t worry. “It’s okay if you cry, that’s part of it. Just know that perfect music will be looped over it later in your video and it’ll be amazing!”
Wedding Vow Examples
Looking for a more traditional take on vows? “I love looking at traditional poems and wording and making them your own,” Arielle says. Here’s a classic version to adjust to your own love story:
I promise to always be your best friend in good times and in bad.
I vow to love you in all your forms, even in the moments I don't necessarily like you.
I vow to comfort you, honor you, and care for you in sickness and in health.
I will love you through the tears and the laughter.
I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.
If you’d like to capture the spirit of traditional vows with a twist, there are plenty of modern options! Below are some of our favorite alternative wedding vows:
I take you to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I will respect your integrity and have faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.
I take you as my wife/husband, with your faults and your strengths, as I offer myself to you with my faults and my strengths. I will help you when you need help and turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.
For those seeking an entirely non-traditional option, take a peek at Arielle’s vow poem for inspiration:
When asked what does love look like? I will find the nearest shore, point to the infinite horizon and say, like that
I will climb mountains to get closer to the stars and I will point to them almost as if they were kissing each fingertip and I will say, like that
When asked what does love feel like? I will roll down the window while driving furiously and let the wind and my hands press against one another, dancing their own wild and beautiful movement, and I will say, like this
I will run until I am out of breath and full of adrenaline with my heart beating its own drum inside my chest and press your hand to feel the pulse of my existence and I will say, and like this
When asked where does love exist? I will point in front of me, Arms wide and expansive And say, everywhere