Planning a wedding comes with a lot of questions—you’ll wonder about everything from attire, to food, to decor. But one of the most important components of the actual wedding ceremony comes in the form of vows.
In contemporary Western culture, this is the most intimate part of the ceremony. If you’re trying to figure out whether or not you actually have to write your wedding vows, or if you need them at all, we’re here to break down all of your vow-related questions to take the stress out of saying “I do.”
The long and short of it is: Vows are promises. During a wedding ceremony, a couple uses their vows to describe the intentions of their marriage to each other. Generally, this is considered the most intimate part of modern weddings—the vows are spoken aloud, in front of guests, and usually elicit at least a few tears.
While they’re a big deal on your wedding day, they’re not included in all religious or traditional marriage ceremonies, so chat with each other and your officiant to determine if this portion will be included in your big day.
While some form of a wedding vow is often utilized in various religious practices and ceremonies, they’re not legally required for a marriage service or elopement. They’re also not a part of some traditional ceremonies, so depending on your house of worship, writing your wedding vows might not even be an option.
In many contemporary Western weddings, however, the vows are a vital part of the marriage ceremony. Spoken aloud, they can be written individually by each partner, written together as a couple, selected from a variety of traditional vows, or assembled from a mixture of the above, depending on the denomination of the service.
While there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing your own personal wedding vows, the main purpose of them is the same: To publicly declare the promise of the relationship to your future spouse in front of witnesses.
After deciding whether or not vows will be a part of your ceremony, the next step is to figure out what, exactly, you want them to say (and how you want to say it). As previously mentioned, if you’re having any sort of religious ceremony, there might be particular words, phrases, or passages that need to be used for your wedding vow. Chat with your officiant or another leader at your house of worship for more details and to see if there’s any leeway in the restrictions if you’re eager to add your own words to the mix.
Once you know if vows will be part of your wedding ceremony, how do you decide whether or not you want to create your own? Have an open and honest conversation with your future spouse to figure out what you both feel comfortable with. Here are some things to consider when deciding how you’d like to present your promises for marriage:
Depending on your responses, your conclusion should be pretty clear. But if you’re still on the fence, consider different formats or options that might feel better for your ceremony, such as:
When it comes to deciding whether or not you want to write your own personalized wedding vows—or if you even want vows to be a part of your ceremony at all—the important thing to remember is that this day is about your love story. Whether you read your vows aloud to each other in front of your guests or have a private moment, it’s a very personal choice. However you choose to share your promises, there’s no wrong way to celebrate the start of your life together.