Top tips for vows that wow

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Your easy guide to coming up with the wedding vows that express everything you want to say

The most successful way to write personalised vows is to think about the two of you and the things you would like to promise each other.

You may want to emphasise your underlying friendship for each other, or talk about the fun you can cram into the next few decades. If you’ve come together after a period of separation, trust and fidelity are important things to promise to each other. Don’t be afraid to have some fun: you might want to make promises about more light‐hearted subjects, such as sharing the washing up or keeping the house tidy ‐‐ although these are usually more appropriate for a humanist ceremony.

  • Remember that your vows are a public declaration of your commitment to each other. The words should be created for others to witness and not just as a private conversation between you and your partner.
  • Don’t embarrass your witnesses with over‐intimate details or bore them with a lengthy monologue!
  • Keep it short and sweet. The art is to express a lot in a few short, well‐chosen statements.
  • Your vows could include a promise to accept changes and a pledge to grow together during a lifetime’s partnership.
  • Sincerity is the key to meaningful vows. Even guests who are unsure about alternative ceremonies won’t be able to find fault with vows that really come from the heart.
  • Decide whether you want to write your own vows separately or whether you want to repeat the same vows.
  • Think about including responses from your guests after your vows, asking them to give their blessing to your marriage and to support your relationship in the future.
  • Once you’ve written your vows, discuss them with the celebrant who is to conduct your ceremony. They may have helpful suggestions or be able to flag up any potential problems.
  • Practise your vows with your partner or a friend.
  • Make a copy of your vows to have with you during the ceremony or repeat them after the celebrant. Nerves play havoc with the memory and the last thing you want to do is to be worried about whether or not you will remember your words.
  • Remember to speak slowly and clearly. People need to hear what you’re saying.

Exercise your vows

Whether you write your own vows or adapt existing ones, most vows follow a simple format: a declaration from each partner that he or she is willing and free to marry: and a commitment from each partner to love and care for each other, whatever the future may bring.

You can use this exercise to help you work out what you want to say in your vows. You and your partner should complete the first part separately, then swap papers and read through each other’s. Make a note of your favourite bits of both, and use this as the basis for writing your vows together.

Write down the following:

  • Ten words that describe your partner
  • Ten words that describe your relationship
  • A time when you both laughed so much you cried
  • A time when you were unhappy and your partner was there for you
  • How you felt when you first realised you were in love with your partner
  • A short paragraph picturing your life together in 30 years time
  • The names of any poems or readings you like, and what particularly appeals to you about them
  • Any song lyrics that reflect how you feel about your relationship
  • What marriage means to you
  • If relevant, what having a family means to you
  • Note down any themes that recur. These may relate to a second marriage, getting married later in life a particular event that has shaped your life together, or even your jobs.

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