While there’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding—from the cake, to the wedding flowers, to the first dance song—one of the most personal choices comes in the form of the vows. The moment when you gaze into your SO’s eyes and promise them a lifetime of love is a big deal. So big, in fact, that it’s one of the components that cause even the most confident couples major stress. Since it’s the ultimate intimate moment, it comes with a lot of questions. We’re here to take away all of the stress and help you create a moment so uniquely you.
Now, first thing’s first: You don’t technically need to write your own vows. While some couples keep it traditional, others use this space to showcase their special bond. If you fall into the latter camp, use this guide to craft your own unique wedding vows without the stress.
When it comes to writing unique wedding vows, think about how you’re going to present them on your wedding day. You can present your vows any way you’d like (they’re yours, after all!), but there are three common ways most couples incorporate them into their ceremonies:
Finally, when it comes down to writing non-traditional vows—whether read monologue style or not—the most important component is making them your own. The only real rule is that it reflects your personal style as a couple. Rap them, sing them, rhyme them, or just say what comes from the heart. As long as they are your own wedding vows, your wife or husband will appreciate it.
In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep your vows somewhere between 30 seconds and three minutes. Any shorter and they might feel incomplete; any longer and your friends’ eyes might start glazing over. Chat with your SO, and pick a general length that you both feel comfortable with.
Funny and honest? Dreamy and romantic? A little bit of both? What matters here is that your wedding vows sound like you and touch upon the points you want to make. Remember: This time is about expressing your feelings to your partner in front of your friends and loved ones, so while you might utilize humor, don’t make entertaining the audience your main objective—this isn’t a standup special. Let your personality shine, speak from the heart, and make sure your personalized wedding vows acknowledge the gravity of the commitment in your own unique way.
A great place to start when crafting your vows is to look at the traditional ones and see what speaks to you and your relationship. Do you love “for better, for worse,” but aren’t as much of a fan of “till death do us part?” You can either incorporate these into your vows or use them as a base to see what really strikes a chord. Then, it’s time to start writing. The best part about non-traditional vows is they’re exactly that: non-traditional. This means you can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. From books to movies, songs to video games, famous quotes to bumper stickers—all that matters is that it rings true for your marriage. Plus, since you’re not publishing or selling your vows, you can quote without attribution to your heart’s delight.
Keep a note in your phone to jot down words or phrases as you hear them in movies, shows, or from friends, and go back through your old pictures to help jog your memory. What did you write on your one year anniversary post? What did you put in last year’s birthday card? Take some time to really think about what stands out in your relationship—both big and little— since the best vows touch on a mix of both. Maybe he was your rock during the loss of a loved one, or maybe she always brings you coffee in bed. Whatever the things are that make your relationship one-of-a-kind are exactly what will make your vows shine. Here are a few places, milestones, and ideas to consider when thinking of vow inspiration:
However you decide to present your personalized wedding vows, it’s a good idea to have a proofreader give your work a once-over, especially if your loved ones and friends will be in attendance.
Entrust a well-spoken friend or your officiant to go over each of your custom wedding vows privately. This will help ensure you’re on the same page length- and tone-wise. Plus, it’s always a good idea to run jokes by someone else first. You might think that inside joke from college will have the crowd giggling, but a proofreader can tell you if it’s too abstract to really land.
Finally, practice, practice, practice! While you don’t need to have your vows memorized, being comfortable reading them aloud is important, so you can glance at your bride or groom as opposed to just staring at words on a page.
Now, if you’ve got your pencil ready and are searching for inspo for your custom wedding vows, here’s a look at three different examples to use in full or as jumping off points that will make your vows truly stand out. Remember: Speak from the heart, touch on the big and little points, and bring it back to what makes your union so special.
The base of this passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières is all about the beauty of love after the thrill of lust wears off. With an added few sentences you can tweak at the end, this is perfect for anyone who loves blunt honesty, a little in-your-face humor, and the joy of appreciating the little things in life.
“When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is [you are] kissing every part of your [my] body. No … don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!” I’m so excited to spend a life of normal, extraordinary, wonderful love with you. Of going grocery shopping and falling asleep too early on a Saturday night. Of overcooked eggs, funny shaped clouds, and standing by each other in good times and bad. I’m excited to love you through it all. I’m excited to love you forever.
This quote from ‘The Wedding Singer’ covers it all, from growing old together to washing the dishes. If you want serious romance, reality, and laughs, all with a subtle rhyming flow, these are the vows for you.
“I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad, carry you around when your arthritis is bad, all I wanna do is grow old with you. I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches, build you a fire if the furnace breaks, oh it could be so nice, growing old with you. I’ll miss you, kiss you, give you my coat when you are cold. Need you, feed you, even let you hold the remote control. So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink, put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink, oh I could be the man (woman) who grows old with you, I wanna grow old with you.”
If you’re looking to mix in your favorite whimsical quotes, these vows with ‘Harry Potter’ passages are sure to make everyone feel the magic.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” And that’s how life with you feels. Magical. But not just because of the big things, like believing in my goals and respecting my needs, but in the little things. I love that you’ll do anything to make me laugh, from sending me middle-of-the-day Memes to dancing with me in the kitchen after work. I love that you’re not afraid to pick up new passions like hiking to gardening. I love that you don’t make me hike and garden with you even more. I promise to always support your dreams, strive to see your perspective, and offer you unconditional love every day of my life. Whether we face clear skies or stormy weather, I choose to take on each new day, each new obstacle, each new success with you. As we experience unimaginable highs and lows, abundance and deficit, joy and grief, let us remember that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, as long as we always remember to turn on the light.” With you, my life is full of light. Together, our life will be full of magic.