Do I really have to write my own wedding vows? I don't know where to start!
Updated: May 26
Writing wedding vows can reduce a grown person to tears.
How can you possibly capture the very essence of your relationship – your love - and your promises for the future - in a few sentences? The pain is real. I’m going to give you some tips on how to write your own wedding vows. Here’s a summary:
Don’t over think it – see the guide below for more detail.
1. Open with why you love your partner: What makes them your person. What would you miss the most if they weren’t in your life? Tell them.
2. Next - a little story or memory to illustrate what you mean – thoughtful things they do – even if it is buying your favourite brand of food – waiting for you so you can watch the next series on the Netflix together– or letting you sleep in when they are a morning person. Tell them.
3. What are you promising to bring to your marriage? To love them, support them and always be there for them. Write it how you would say it - in your words. Then add light, heartfelt and relevant extra promises – like always removing spiders, always feeding the fish because your partner forgets, or not leaving empty milk cartons in the fridge. Add anything – as long as it is real – and about your relationship. Tell them.
4. Don’t include anything you wouldn’t say in front of your parents – best to avoid ex-partners and the your boudoir department.
5. Don’t forget to tell your partner you love them. “I love you” can be how you start or finish your vows!
Now - I’m also going to suggest you don’t need to write your own wedding vows - if you don’t want to.
I’m not a celebrant who insists you write your own killer vows. That’s just way too much stress. Your wedding should be how you want it to be – especially if you’ve decided to get married in another country. You’re already unique! The wedding purists may have other ideas but I’m not going to get all “judgy” about that.
Before you grab your pencils and paper - I want to put your wedding vows into perspective. I feel the pressure couples are under to write their own swoon worthy vows. There is no law that says you need to write your vows – and if it’s not for you - don’t!
I’m granting you permission to have your wedding the way you want it to be.
I’m not being a negative Nancy or suggesting you shouldn’t write your own personal wedding vows – because if you take the time – and follow my tips – they will be a highlight of your wedding day.
But let’s be real, folks. You’re going to be married for a long, long time. Many couples are surprised (and possibly secretly, disgusted) I cannot remember what I vowed on my wedding day, twenty years ago. Yep – no idea.
When you marry –you are vowing to “be there – through thick and through thin”. That’s it.
As the years pass – the thick comes - the thin comes - and you stick together and fight together - for what you have and what you want to hold on to.
That’s the vow – living your life together every day – honouring your relationship and each other – when it’s so much fun you want a double serving and when it’s so awful you want to run as far away as possible.
You can capture all that in simple, traditional vows.
PS: I’ve never seen anyone gasp in horror when people have not written their own vows. I have seen people cringe when couples have – in an attempt at humour – said something a bit “off” during their vows. Hint: I don’t recommend including any mention of the boudoir, any ex’s or what might happen when you divorce – ever- unless you are very, very certain of how your guests and significant other, will react.
So here are my tips on writing your own wedding vows.
1. Don’t leave it to the last minute. You should try and have them finished at least 2 weeks before the wedding. In the lead up to your wedding there’ll be enough chaos and mayhem (and hopefully a bit of fun) to keep you well occupied.
2. If you are both writing your own vows – get some agreement about length and tone (will it be romantic, light, humorous, not too heavy etc). I always recommend my couples provide me with a copy of their vows for two reasons:
- So I can have an extra copy on the day in case you forget them
- So I can check the content to ensure they are both in keeping. Why? I once had a bride completely roast her husband in her wedding vows – only to make the most romantic and heartfelt speech at the reception - because she misunderstood the concept.
3. Brainstorm – get a piece of paper or your laptop or favourite gadget and make a list:
Everything you love about your partner – why they are “the one”.
All the quirks, habits, qualities that make you feel like you are at home
What are you grateful for?
All the differences: how are you different – habits, quirks, hobbies and characteristics?
Note down all the things you would miss if your partner was no longer in your life
You’ll probably notice a theme emerging: the reason you want to get married and spend the rest of your life with your particular human. You can use that to create a sentence or opening sentences about what your partner means to you – what you love about them, your funny differences as a couple and why you’d be lost without them in your life – that you will be there – no matter what.
“Partner’s name, today I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Not only did you come into my life – you agreed to marry me. I cannot imagine my life without………all the amazing things they are…
4. Do you have a story(s) or anecdote(s) that makes you smile or feel grateful?
It’s likely to highlight most of the reasons you have listed in your brainstorming above. You can include this story to make your vows personal and heartfelt. If you have had some difficult times already – include them. You don’t need to put a downer on your vows by going into detail but you should acknowledge the hard times and you’ve come out the other side – and you will be there when the next challenge arises (because, trust me. It will.)
Your marriage is real and makes you who you are. Your guests (and your special person) will love to hear about your special story and why it makes you love them. It might not be one story – it could be lots of little different things.
Something like: “All the things we do together: the big things – the small things make me smile. I remember when – or when I think about (insert special thing) (how did it make you feel) and reminds me just how much I am grateful for you and how much I love you.
This doesn’t need to be Gone With The Wind. It could be a story about the time a big hairy spider came into your bedroom and one of you came to the rescue – or something like that. It’s not the story – it’s about how everyday things illustrate the qualities we love and value in our partner.
5. Think about what your marriage means to you?
What are you most looking forward to about being married?
What are you promising to do for your relationship and your partner the rest of your life?
Why do you want to be with your partner for the rest of your life?
Now we are getting to the vow part – look at the theme that emerged from your
brainstorm. Stick with that them. Essentially this part is about promising to be there – no matter what – and – to say “I love you”
You can simply start with “(Your partner’s name), I love you. Today in front of our friends and family, I promise..
Remember – you don’t need to write award worthy vows - you only need to write your vows – from your heart. They don’t need to be all love and gush – you can also promise to always fuel the cars and always put the rubbish out. Or whatever it is you do in your relationship. A bit of love and light in your vows is certain to wow your guests.
If you aren’t quite sure you can always ask me for help.
6. Reminder: Don’t forget to say “I love you”
7. Don’t include anecdotes that you wouldn’t say in front of your mum (or other significant relative). No one needs to know what happens in your bedroom or about ex-partners.
PS: DON’T OVER THINK IT
If it is all too much, I have a big kit bag of handy little vows ready for consideration.
Leanne Summers is a wedding celebrant based in Vietnam. She officiates over destination weddings for couples from all over the world. You can reach her on Leanne@weddingcelebrantvietnam.comor www.weddingcelebrantvietnam.comor whatsapp +84 702734291