Everyone wants their wedding to be the especially meaningful. And for some that comes in the form of writing their own vows. What follows are a series of questions to think about before you get started as well as some sample vows to give you an idea of what I think has worked well.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Will you repeat the same vows or will you each make up your own? This is really just personal preference and the symbolism is roughly equivalent. There is charm to both the personal promise and the promise that you both agree on together.
Will you write the them separately in secret, or with your partner? There is something suspenseful and authentic about vows that your partner only hears for the first time in the ceremony. But writing your vows with your partner’s help can make you feel more connected to each other leading up to the big day. So choose what works best for you as couple.
Roughly how many words should each of your vows be? Traditional vows are only a couple dozen words. So it’s hard to be too short for what your guests are expecting as long as it’s meaningful to you. And frankly, as long as what you are saying is meaningful and heartfelt, it’s hard to be too long. After all, this promise is going to be the most important words you are ever likely to speak. And this is why you are having guests, getting dressed up and decorating the place with flowers. This is your moment. Say what you need to say. But that being said, if there are sections that are not significantly meaningful and heartfelt, revise them or pull them out.
Okay, now that you've figured out your basic theme, about how long it should be, who is saying what when, it's now time to think about what you're going to write. And there's no better place to start that process than understanding what your objective really is...
What is a vow? A vow is a promise. And meaningful promises, the ones you should be promising in a wedding, are ones which require sacrifice. For instance, promising to enjoy every kiss is probably not much of a stretch. It may sound romantic, but isn’t really anything more than what you would do anyway. But that being said, promises like “I promise to take the trash out” while perhaps a sacrifice, are not really appropriate for a wedding. So think about things that bond you as a couple and make you a better couple: “I promise to listen before I speak”, “I promise to calm you when you are stressed” or “I promise to help your family as I would my own.” In this vein, think about the verb you are promising. In these cases to listen, to calm and to help. If you are looking for more guidance, think about other verbs you could use like these and perhaps check out a thesaurus to find new ones.
When a vow isn’t just a vow. Sometimes it’s really poignant to add some context to a vow by means of a preface or a story. For instance, “For all of the times you get lost and can’t figure out which way to go, I promise to hold your hand and guide you.” or “Remember our third date when you had a drink or two too many? For those nights and all those nights to come, I promise to drive you safely home”. The story can be even longer too. For example, “There was this one time when I couldn’t find my sunglasses. I had torn apart the couches, pulled open all of the kitchen cabinets and even looked in the tank of the toilet I was so desperate to find them. But when you came home you found them for me. They were on my head. We are always better together and I promise to always bring my problems to you as when I do we solve them so much faster.”
When vows aren’t vows at all. Sometimes the format of a vow doesn’t really allow you to say what you want to say. You may want to take a moment during this special time to affirm your love or praise your partner or say a special personal prayer. This is still the right time in the ceremony to do all of those things. It’s your turn to say what you have always wanted to say. So go ahead and tell everyone how much you love your partner and how they are special and endearing to you.
Hit with writer’s block? Okay, so you liked all of the ideas above, but still can’t make it work? Try answering these questions to jog your mind.
Why do you think this one is THE one? What makes them special?
What have you had to overcome to win their love?
What challenges do you think the future holds and how do you want to overcome those challenges with your partner?
How will your dreams change now that you’re going to be married?
What did you think when you first saw your partner?
How is your life better now that your partner is in your life?
What do you respect most about your partner?
What are you inspired to do now that your partner is in your life?
What do you miss most when you're apart?
What qualities do you most admire in your partner?
Pay most attention to the verbs you were using. See if you can use these as vows. Look at the topics you brought up. Is there a good story in there? If so, use it.
Do you have any favorite quotes, poems, love songs or movie scenes? Now is the time to start mining some of those awesome lyrics or scripts for all things deep and meaningful.
After you've looked over the written vows samples below, you could also, search the infinite sea of knowledge (e.g. the internet) for vows. Don’t be afraid to borrow from others and if you feel bad about that, spin some of the words around for your own personal twist.
Still stumped? Well, now it’s time to bring in the cavalry. Ask your officiant or your friends and family for help. Ask them questions to get an outsider’s perspective. Ask them about their favorite stories about the two of you or what vows they would write for the two of you. At this point, if you’re still at a loss and haven’t brought in your partner yet, it may be time to sit down and do this together or even choose from some of the more traditional wedding vows. There’s no shame in tradition. After all, that why we have weddings in the first place.
Written Vow Samples What follows are four samples of written vows that I've collected and changed a little to show you what you can do. The gender identity used as titles below is used to provide some context.
Her Vows #1 As you know, from the very first time I met you, I knew we would be life long friends. I didn’t realize how deeply and quickly two people could fall in love and that it would just keep getting better and better. You have taught me how to love and also how to be loved.
Like I’ve told you, I honestly didn’t realize that someone could love that much but you have absolutely shown me what real love is. I’m so thankful for you and all of the things you do to make me feel special. Most of all I’m thankful for your loyalty to God, our family, our friends and me. You are such a genuinely good person, I don’t know what I would do without you.
I would probably have a lot less laundry without the 3 outfits you wear a day but then what fun is that? We have such a good time together and I’m excited to continue traveling and laughing and being in love with my best friend. In the next chapter of our lives I promise to be a loyal and loving wife and to try to always find ways to better myself (like, maybe not be on my phone as much). I promise to be more patient with you and the kids, especially when it comes to me interrupting you when you’re talking and also when you are going to sneeze. :-)
I promise to be sweet and caring when you get sick or have another surgery and to try to be healthier along side you both mentally and physically. I promise to be completely honest about all aspects of our lives, especially about hair, Nails, Lashes or any other beauty appointment I have. Most importantly, I promise to respect you and love you for the rest of both of our lives. I want to hold your hand when we are 80 and say ‘we made it!’
Her Vows #2 Soulmate. “ A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner” this is the definition. However, when I think of this word with my heart, it means something more. It means that my soul was not complete, it was alone, it needed a mate and found it in you.
Rock bottom- Definition “ at the lowest possible level” That is where my soul was when you found it and picked it up. I had lost two people so close to me and I was starting to see my world collapse. My universe felt dark.
That is the thing about the universe though, it feels this, it has a way of sending you what you need, when you need it. That, my love, was you. I can tell the story over and over and each time it will have a new meaning, a new memory, a new tear will be shed for what I lost, but what I gained was the antidote that my heart needed to start to heal. It all comes back to the fact that you and I are without a doubt meant to be standing here on this day, in front of all who are here witnessing this union. Our reunion story is not one of high school sweethearts reunite, but I will say that I was reunited with my high school crush. Of all the schools you could have come to, of all the classes you could have been in, then after high school of all the offices you could have delivered to… it was mine on all occasions.
Say what you will about FB but seeing your name pop up that day and my decision to message you is THE best decision I have ever made. I don’t think I have ever had more butterflies then when I saw you that first date night. The rest, we will call history.
Fairy tales are just that, tales of imaginary fabricated stories and unrealistic expectations. We did not get to this day being in one. Reality is reality and with good times, fall bad times, disagreements, and arguments, and what doesn’t’ kill you really REALLY does make you stronger.
We have made each other stronger with everything we have endured, good and bad, on our own and as a team. But being a team means you have someone by your side helping each other with the bad so you do not have to face it alone and gives you the ability to enjoy the good because of what you overcome. Our team, I want to be on forever.
Thank you. Thank you for treating me with kindness, love, admiration, and respect . Thank you for bringing joy back in to my life. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and what I came with. Thank you for always having my back and making sure I am taken care of and happy.
Thank you for being the most honest and real person. Thank you for loving my friends and my family as much as you do. Thank you for always being the calm when I create the storm. Thank you, for waking up each day and standing by myside in this life and always wanting nothing but the best for me. Thank you for being who you are. Although, I may not be your sunshine every day (especially in the mornings) I will always be a rainbow in your clouds.
Perfection by definition is the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. You, my most handsome king, are my perfection.
His Vows #1 Whoever says love is easy doesn't know what love really is (to me) the struggles and hardships that we have endured have made this bond strong and unbreakable, I wouldn't have wanted to go thru this journey in life with anyone else.
You've shown me what it really is to be in love and not just have love for someone, you have made me feel more loved than I ever thought possible. When your not with me I feel like A piece of my soul is missing, but as soon as you are in my presence I feel at ease.
I don't know what spell you have put on me but I love it, and I know I'm stubborn but somehow you're the only person that can get me to apologize for something you should be apologizing for.
You have helped me grow as a person and helped me open up and flourish and become the man that I was destine to be, and I love and respect you for that. You being a beautiful person inside and out, being compassionate, loving, caring, your persistence and drive, not always the nicest person (but I know that's only because you have to deal with me and my ways) but these things and more makes it easy to love you.
I knew after the night we sat in your front yard after not seeing you for more than ___ years, and we just talked all night that I knew you were going to be mine and look at us now. As I sit back and think about it, God had a plan for us and it was our destiny to be here today, from high school crushes, to the downtown run ins, to facebook friends for some reason we were meant for each other and now we stand here today to say we will be together forever.
As I stand here today I look at you and say to myself I'm the luckiest man in the world I get to marry and spend the rest of my life with my best friend.
I vow to love you until my last breath, I vow to give you my all and never hold anything back from you. I promise to stop eating your food and I will stop being a procrastinator
With this ring, I give you my word (promise) that from this day forward I will give you my all and love you unconditionally, you will never walk alone because I will always be by your side.
May my heart be your shelter and in my arms you feel protection and safe.
Today I join my life with yours, wherever you go I will go, whatever you face I will face with you. I promise to cherish you and hold you in the highest regards, these things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.
My life was like a puzzle and you know what you were that one missing piece but I found you and now I'm complete.
His Vows #2 This might sound a bit cheesy or corny but, its where it all started-I’d say about 6 months before I met Katie. I had been a fairly lonely guy. I decided to put myself out the by joining an online dating website. It involved making a profile with a picture and installing an app on my phone.
I completed this task and quickly forgot about it all. I never logged in. Never checked my messages at all. But the app remained active on my cell phone. Then months later I heard my phone make an odd noise I had never heard before. It was a notification. A notification from that forgotten dating up I had installed so long ago.
That odd noise my phone made was from Katie. Who very quickly became the most lifechanging person I had ever met. Skip ahead a few wonderful years and I was down on one knee asking for her hand in marriage. Who would have thought that odd little bloop noise that came from my phone that day would have such a huge and significant impact on my life Our lives! You are my drive. You keep me going in the right direction-my guiding light, my north star, shining so brightly in to the path that is our future. I couldn’t imagine a life without you-you complete me!
I promise to always keep us safe in the face of anything in our path I promise to make whatever sacrifice necessary to ensure our future is beautiful and seamless I promise to always be your rock in times of need I promise to always listen with my heart and put your needs and feeling ahead of my own
I promise to step up and be a man and take care of business regardless of the situation I promise to always be your best friend as well as husband and your partner in crime I promise to always look at you with that same youthful lust and love no matter how old and wrinkly we get I promise you me, all of me and nothing less for as long as we may live And most of all I promise you the world!