An Expert Guide to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

The ultimate guide to crafting promises you'll cherish forever.
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Senior Editor, Weddings
  • Hannah writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a focus on real wedding coverage.
  • Hannah has a passion for DE&I and plays an integral role in ensuring The Knot content highlights all voices and all love stories.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hannah was the Social Media Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Updated Nov 09, 2022

The promises you make to your partner on your wedding day are one of the most important aspects of the entire celebration. If you've decided to write your own vows, as opposed to exchanging traditional wedding vows or religious wedding vows, knowing exactly what to say can feel like a big challenge. With insights from some of our favorite wedding experts, we're taking a look at everything you need to know when writing your own marriage vows. From frequently asked questions to an outline to follow and even real examples you can copy, consider this your ultimate guide to writing custom wedding vows you'll cherish forever.

In this story:

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing Your Own Vows

Before diving into writing your wedding vows, keep these FAQs about how to write wedding vows in mind as a guide.

Am I allowed to write my own wedding vows?

Yes! The promises you exchange on your wedding day should come from your heart. And what better way to ensure they're deep and meaningful than to craft them yourself? Whether you're having an intimate elopement or a big wedding with all of your closest friends, feel free to write personalized vows for the celebration.

How long should wedding vows be?

Your partner probably knows more about you than anyone else, so it can be easy to go on and in about all the reasons you love them. However, save the lengthy monologue for a wedding card and keep your public vows short and sweet. 2-3 minutes is a good length that will allow personalization, without going overboard.

How long does it take to write your own wedding vows?

Although the final product should be short, the process of writing personal vows needs to be a bit longer. Waiting until the last minute isn't the way to go here. Give these promises the attention they deserve and start on them at least a month or more before the big day. It's a good idea to sit down and scribble out some initial ideas, but then take a break and come back to your draft a few days later with fresh eyes. Wedding planner Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning notes that "it's important to start writing these months in advance as they will take much longer than you expect." Wedding planning expert Jaclyn Watson concurs, noting that "writing vows can be a daunting or a very meaningful task and the best way to start is by doing it sooner than later. Waiting until the last minute leads to a more stressful writing environment.

Can I get help writing my vows?

Absolutely! If you find yourself struggling to articulate your feels in words, then tapping a writer for help is a great option. Many officiants are willing to help you iron out your vows, but there are even specific vow-writing companies you can hire for this very task. Your wedding vows are a proclamation of your love for your partner and a collection of promises you're vowing to adhere to within your marriage. With custom wedding vows, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, but that's the beauty of penning these words yourself. "Help is available," explains Vows & Speeches founder Brian Franklin. "Even great writers will struggle to sum up their love in a minute or so. It's too close to the heart to be easy. Our business exists to provide professional help to make sure what's in your heart actually comes out the way you want it to."

Where should I write my wedding vows?

Initially, jotting down ideas as they come to you is a good idea for a first draft. However, once you've finalized your wedding vows, you'll want to transcribe them into a vow book so you have a keepsake to read from on the wedding day, instead of reading from a sheet of printer paper or a cell phone. "Keeping a notes section on your phone is an excellent idea as anytime you think of a verse, you can jot it down for when you are ready to write everything formally," says Brooks. "It's important to invest in a vows book, so you are not reading off your phone or a scrap piece of paper during the ceremony, not a good look for photos! Have your officiant read each of your vows to ensure they are of similar length and tone, as you don't want one to be the complete opposite."

How can I overcome writer's block?

First and foremost, take a deep breath—don't let yourself get too stressed about your wedding vows. "Couples should avoid feeling like they have to summarize their entire relationship in their vows," says coach and officiant Maureen Cotton of The Soulful Wedding. "The most essential vow is your commitment to the marriage, which is covered with your 'I do.' Your marriage will change so much over the years, and you can renew and even change them in the future. It's not a concrete summary of your relationship; it's the beginning of a promise that is alive and will grow as you do."

Cotton goes on to share that "I think it's best to start deeper and aim higher than all of the formulas out there. I tell my couples to start by asking themselves this one question: What is something that only you can say to your beloved? On your wedding day, your officiant will be telling your love story, family members and best friends will give toasts celebrating you—they are sure to talk about your chemistry, how you balance each other or enjoy life together. Your vows are your chance to go deeper so you don't have to repeat all that: What is one thing that only you can say to your beloved? Answer that and you'll have unique vows from the heart."

Expert Tips for Writing Wedding Vows

When it comes actually sitting down and writing your vows, keep these expert tips in mind as a jumping-off point. This expert-backed advice will help you craft wedding vows for your soulmate that you absolutely love.

1. Read plenty of examples.

Look to examples, both real and fictional, for inspiration. That could look like consulting friends and scouring the internet, plus our own favorite examples below. But that could also mean watching the marriage scenes from your favorite movies and TV shows to see how Hollywood writers wrote vows for your favorite fictional characters.

2. Agree on a tone and format with your partner.

If you're leaning into a comedic, lighthearted feel for your vows, but your partner had been envisioning sharing more stoic words instead of funny wedding vows, the disconnect between the two vibes might make the wedding ceremony feel slightly disjointed.

3. Include stories, but avoid embarrassment.

When it comes to humor and jokes, bear in mind that all your loved ones are listening and you ultimately want your vows to feel uplifting. "There's being funny and then there's making jokes that distract from or diminish the ceremony," advises Franklin. "It can be a fine line, but the first rule should always be to avoid anything negative that could make the other feel sensitive or embarrassed."

4. Practice aloud.

Like you would prepare for any other public-speaking event, take some time, ideally in front of a mirror or trusted friend, to say your vows aloud ahead of the big day. You don't want your wedding day to be the first time you're saying your vows aloud. Nerves will likely be running high on the wedding day, but adequate practice ahead of time is a great way to make sure you don't trip over your words. "It's so important to practice your vows to ensure you can capture the tone and speed you want as you will be nervous on the big day and want these to be perfect," advises Brooks.

Wedding Vow Template

This is your step-by-step roadmap to writing marriage vows that will be as memorable as they are meaningful. Use this template to write out your wedding vows from beginning to end.

Step 1: Voice admiration.

You've gathered your most beloved friends and family to celebrate your marriage—now is the time to get a little sappy and gush about your partner publicly.

Step 2: Vision cast for the future.

What kind of home do you want to build? What do you want to be true of your lives together as a couple? Paint an image for your partner of the life you can't wait to build with them at your side.

Step 3: Share stories.

While you want to avoid too many inside jokes (leave those for a private wedding card), picking one or two stories that illustrate your partnership is a good way to add some personality to your vows. Pick ones that wedding guests will be able to resonate with, even if they weren't present when the events of the story first took place.

Step 4: Make solid promises.

Life together won't always be easy and breezy, and your promises should reflect that. As you're writing your wedding vows, think both about the great heights you want to aspire to with your partner, but also your enduring love that will bind you together in the hard times. Voice the commitments you want to stick to for the rest of your life from your wedding day forward, throughout both the good and the bad.

Step 5: Connect with audience and conclude.

Like any good essay or article, you need a section to wrap things up. You can use these last few sentences to briefly reiterate the parts of your vows that feel most poignant before neatly tying things up with a bow.

Wedding Vow Examples to Copy

Reading sample wedding vows of what other couples have said during their own nuptials is a great way to get inspired for your own nuptials. In addition to the words below, take a peek at some of our favorite wedding vows from real weddings to inspire your own.

David to Diana: You probably want to ask me what I'm thinking about right now. I'm thinking of you, always. From the first day we met, I've thought of you. Laying there that first night, I wondered what was your story? But after all this time together, it has become our love story. We've rowed through rivers, dived the skies, and ventured to beautiful lands. But these experiences only tell one part of our story. It is every day that we continue telling it. Waking up to coffee, feeding the little ones, or sitting on the couch waiting to feed our bellies. These are moments that we grow together, like two vines twirling together, blooming flowers of happiness. I vow to continue to grow with you, to think about our story, always. From beginning, middle and to no end. Forever.

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