The Ultimate Guide on How to Write your Vows

Write your vows

Do you and your partner plan to write your own vows for your wedding ceremony? You’re probably feeling a touch overwhelmed right now. Afterall, how can you turn the beautiful whirlwind of emotions and memories you have with your other half into one short piece of text?

You want them to be perfect. To capture your bond in a seamless, extraordinary way.

But… you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry. You certainly aren’t alone!

How do you write your wedding vows? Your promise to your partner will be personal to your unique relationship, and so however you choose to write your vows, they will represent your shared story in a meaningful way.

There is no ‘wrong’ way to write your vows – whatever special words pour out of your heart and onto the paper will be flawless. However, there are ways to break through the writer’s block and uncover the gems of your relationship, ready to share with all your loved ones.

Read on to discover our four step guide (and top tips!) on how to write your vows.

Step 1 – Create a plan

Start off with a plan for your vows.

This is your opportunity to map out the main points you want to cover within your vows and how you want your vows to be structured. Don’t worry about eloquence at this point – let the ideas flow freely and then you can come back to tweak them later.

Take a notebook, sit yourself down in a quiet, calm place and dig deep into your wonderful relationship.

Questions to ask when writing your vows

With so many shared experiences, you may find it hard knowing where to begin when exploring the different moments you want to mark in your vows. A few questions to get the cogs turning include:

  • When did you first meet?
  • How did you get together?
  • At what point did you realise they were the one?
  • How do you balance one another out?
  • What never fails to make you smile when you think of them?
  • What do they mean to you?
  • What are your hopes for your married future?
  • What promises will you make to them?

You may also want to consider – perhaps alongside your partner – whether you want to include inside jokes (or keep things generic) and if you would like the vows to be more comedic or sentimental… Remember, there’s nothing wrong with both!

Can I include traditional or religious elements in my personalised vows?

Yes… and no.

If you have a Humanist Celebrant lead the wedding ceremony, you will not be able to include religious content in your vows. However, if not, you are free to include anything you want in your promise to one another… spiritual, traditional or void of any religion.

How long should the vows be?

You should aim to write no more than two minutes worth of prose – roughly, this equates to 260 words. This is important as you want your vows to be engaging, well articulated and concise.

Editing isn’t easy! Especially when there is so much you want to say. If you’re finding it difficult to keep your vows to the word count, you could try:

  • Removing words that don’t add to the overall point; ie, if the sentence makes sense without the word, then get rid of it
  • If a sentence is repeating a point in a slightly different way, get rid of that one too
  • Delete any points that feel too cryptic
  • Remember – you can always add any parts of the vows that you’ve had to omit into a letter for your partner. You could even give it to them to open on the wedding morning

Step 2 – Get inspired

Now you’ve started to tease out some ideas, it’s time to gain inspiration to turn those ideas into beautifully formed sentences.

No matter how much you adore your partner, we all need a little inspiration; not least when you’re writing your vows!

Inspiration can be found everywhere… you could listen to music that holds a precious meaning to you both, you could watch a feel good film, peruse old photo albums, read a love-filled book or go on a date night. Keep a pen and notebook handy, as the key is to free-write your innermost thoughts whenever the inspiration strikes!

Alternatively, you could read other people’s vows, quotes or love poems to get the creative juices flowing. 

Inspiration for your wedding vows

I will wake you up early
even though I know you like to stay through the credits.

I will leave pennies in your pockets,
postage stamps of superheroes
in between the pages of your books,
sugar packets on your kitchen counter.
I will Hansel and Gretel you home.

I talk through movies.
Even ones I have never seen before.

I will love you with too many commas,
but never any asterisks.

There will be more sweat than you are used to.
More skin.
More words than are necessary.

My hair in the shower drain,
my smell on your sweaters,
bobby pins all over the window sills.

I make the best sandwiches you’ve ever tasted.
You’ll be in charge of napkins.

I can’t do a pull-up.
But I’m great at excuses.

I count broken umbrellas after every thunderstorm,
and I fall asleep repeating the words thank you.

I will wake you up early
with my heavy heartbeat.
You will say, Can’t we just sleep in, and I will say,
No, trust me. You don’t want to miss a thing.

Sarah Kay

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Dr. Seuss

“I pledge today to have all the patience and passion that love demands. In the laughter and in the silence, I’ll be forever by your side.”

Step 3 – Put pen to paper

Are you ready to write?

Pick the 5-7 points that feel most important to your relationship and use them as the building blocks of your vows. 

Don’t rush it – give yourself a good amount of time to work on your vows… it’s highly unlikely that your first draft will be the final one! Let the words marinate. Write them and then leave them for a few days. Come back; refine, tweak. You’ll probably want to write around 3 drafts – but no more or you’ll find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of edits!

When it comes to writing your vows, a few tricks to refer back to are:

  • Keep your sentences short
  • Avoid any words that you may trip up on
  • Allow time for pauses – especially if there are humorous points (give people time to laugh!)
  • Write how you speak; keep the tone natural and use words that you would in daily life

Can my Celebrant help me with my vows?

If you are having a Celebrant-led wedding, don’t forget you can always turn to your Celebrant for advice; it’s what they’re there for!

In addition (and this is something our Celebrants always recommend!), bear in mind that your vows do not have to be 100% romantic. Let’s face it, no relationship is 24-7 sunset strolls and candlelit picnics. Why not talk about the authentic parts of your partnership that make up your day to day? The Netflix binges, the adventures that didn’t quite go to plan and the sneaky Friday night takeaways. 

There is no cookie cutter template to follow – make your vows undeniably you.

Step 4 – Practice makes perfect!

Finally, you want to prepare for the big day. This step is particularly important for anyone suffering from a case of butterflies in anticipation of reading their vows out in front of a crowd.

Practice, practice and practice again. Read your vows out in the mirror – consider where you want to pause for effect, and how to read at a pace that is easy to understand and comfortable for you. 

Even better, read them out to a trusted friend or family member and ask for constructive feedback. You could also read them to your Celebrant if you want someone who is one step removed from your inner circle.

Many couples we work with record themselves reading out their vows. The aim isn’t to be self critical, but rather to catch any nervous habits that you may not even realise you’re doing.

The more you practice, the more confident you will feel for the big day. 

Do I have to memorise my wedding vows?

The choice is entirely up to you – and there are pros and cons of both.

Although memorising your vows will allow you to be more fully in the moment, it can add unneeded pressure to an already nerve-inducing moment. We recommend that you try to memorise them (and really feel them!) but print out a fresh copy of your vows to have to hand just in case you do need them!

And while you may want to simply read them from your phone – do not do it! The glow of your phone will not be well received from your photographer, and the last thing you want is technical issues on the day. Opt for traditional. You could even treat yourself to a beautiful bound notebook to write them out in.

Still looking for some extra inspiration? Read our interview with some of our top Celebrants where they reveal all on wedding vows!

Are you looking for a Celebrant who can help and guide you on your personalised wedding ceremony? Browse our Celebrant Directory to find your perfect match.

Photographer Credit: Ariele Chapman, Alisa Roberts

Jennifer Claire is the Founder of The Celebrant Directory and lives and breathes all things ceremony! After officiating big days for 10 years, she now focuses on giving you the tips you need to create your perfect celebration.

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