How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows, According to an Expert

the bride and groom exchange their wedding vows

Heather Waraksa

Have you decided to write your own wedding vows, but don’t know where to start? We get it: Summarizing your love in a few minutes is a daunting task, but it’s worth it. Creating your own exchange not only gives your guests a unique insight into your relationship, but it’s also the perfect time to share your future dreams and lifelong promises with your partner.

There’s no one-size-fits-all template for writing your own vows – ultimately, their structure is entirely up to you (that’s the beauty of a personalized vow!). Still, most couples appreciate some advice, which can help shape any ideas.

Related: Your Ultimate Wedding Planning Calendar and Checklist

Plan your writing process

Before the writing process, it is important to think about your wishes. First, decide how you want to organize them. Is there anything you know you want to include? This process should start about six months before your wedding, says wedding vow coach Tanya Pushkine of The Vow Whisperer.

Write a first draft

Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Instead, start a working document that you can come back to, thinking of other memories and experiences to add. “Start with a blank sheet of paper and try to dig deep into your memories,” says Pushkin. “Think about your amazing experiences, your obstacles — yes, they matter too — how you met, and more,” she says.

As you reflect, look within. “Inspiration comes from the heart,” says Pushkin. To dig up what’s already inside, it helps to ask yourself a few questions. Ask yourself why you want to marry this person, why you love him so much, how he did you a better person, and how you see your future.

Determine the length of your wedding vows

You could talk about the love you and your partner share for hours. But it’s important to remember that the vows are only part of the ceremony. Pushkine encourages its clients to think in terms of word count – not minute timings – when it comes to length; this framework tends to be easier to understand.

“The sweet spot for greetings is around 500 words. Beyond that number, you’ll lose your audience,” says Pushkin. “If you want them to be really short and sweet, great, but don’t go below 300 words. There’s not much you can convey in so few words.”

Write your vows separately

Although it may seem tempting to share your vows with your partner, writing them separately gives your big day extra excitement. “I very strongly encourage everyone to keep them top secret, never discuss them,” Pushkine said. “Let this be a wonderful surprise.” However, you can discuss with your partner the duration, as well as the general philosophy of your exchange.

Take breaks when writing

Writer’s block happens, but don’t let it discourage you from writing your own vows. If you find yourself in a rut, there are a few things you can do to relax: “Take a nice long walk, listen to your favorite music, cook a meal, then come back in a few days and try again,” says Pushkin.

Ask your officiant for help

Many couples ask their officiant to take a look at their final vows for feedback before the ceremony. In addition to providing guidance, your celebrant can also help coordinate the exchange and ensure that all of your bases are covered. For example, will this person point out important moments, like exchanging rings, or is it something you and your partner will manage? Looping them into these conversations ahead of time will provide a better result during your service.

Don’t memorize your vows

We get it – you want to make eye contact with your partner throughout the ceremony, but when reading your own vows, that may not be an option. Instead of memorizing your vows, read a sentence and look at your partner.

Just because you don’t memorize them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice. “The more you practice, the better off you will be,” says Pushkin. “You could write the most beautiful words, but if you haven’t practiced, you’ll lose everyone.”

James B. Helms