Thinking of ditching traditional vows in favour of something more personal? Here’s our handy guide on how to write your own wedding vows…
Check with your officiant first
You legally may not be able to include your own vows, or it may be required that you perform traditional ones before your personal vows. In a civil ceremony, you’re legally not allowed to make religious references, which means leaving out any mention of God. Check with you registrar, and they will let you know how much you’re allowed to change or add.
Discuss length, tone and style with your fiance
You want to avoid huge clashes in tone and style when it comes to your vows – it can be jarring to hear a short, tongue-in-cheek poem after you’ve just read out a 10-minute heartfelt block of prose! A good time to aim for is 1-2 minutes per person (which is longer than it sounds), and you should discuss with your other half whether you’re aiming for serious or light-hearted when it comes to the tone.
Once you’ve decided to write your own wedding vows, don’t leave it until the last minute to do them! You don’t need that kind of pressure, trust us! You’ll need time to re-read and re-write what you’ve written to get them perfect, so start a couple of months before the big day. Why not keep a notebook with you and make notes when romantic or meaningful thoughts come to you?
Make it personal…
Your vows should be about your relationship, so don’t shy away from making them personal to you. You could mention why you decided to get married, how you have supported each other through hard times, what you admire about them, and what you hope to achieve together. Don’t be scared to include jokes about the two of you, or challenges that you need to overcome to strengthen your relationships.
…but not TOO personal!
Remember that although your vows are about the two of you, you’re still reading them out in front of a congregation! Avoid any mention of your sex life (seriously, your grandparents are going to be there!), or so many in-jokes, nicknames and code words that it stops meaning anything to anyone else listening. If you’re concerned about the cringe factor, run through your vows with your mum or best friend and get their feedback.
Wedding vows are about making promises to one another, so this should be an important part of your personalised wedding ceremony. They can be broad and heartfelt, such as ‘I promise to love and care for you every day of our lives,’ ‘I promise to always make our family’s love and happiness my priority,’ or ‘I promise to be loyal and faithful to you always.’ Alternately, you can include personalised, light-hearted promises that are unique to the two of you, such as ‘I promised to comfort you when Spurs lose, and to celebrate with you when they win,’ ‘I promise to create a life for us of unexpected and strange adventures,’ or ‘I promise to always be your partner in crime, and to never watch ahead on Netflix when you are away.’
Finish with a vow
Finish these promises with a solemn vow, which will round everything off nicely. Examples you could use include, ‘This is my sacred vow to you, my equal in all things,’ or ‘Let us be partners, friends and lovers, today and all of the days that follow.’ If you’re really stuck, then you can’t go wrong with a classic, ‘I love you.’
Practice, practice, practice
Once you have your wedding vows written out, you need to practice reading them aloud! Reading your vows out loud will help you to smooth out any weird clashes or run-on sentences, and will warm you up for the ceremony on the big day. Remember to read slowly and steadily, and to raise your voice so that the congregation can hear your words.
Want more wedding planning advice? Check out our Planning section!