Personal vows can be an intimate testament to the love the two of you share – whether they look romantic, silly, or simple.
DISCLAIMER: Whether to write vows or use a scripted ceremony is a completely personal choice. This post is not to convince you in any direction for your ceremony, but rather to supplement the choice you’ve already made.
Here’s some tips for writing vows to stay true to who you are.
1. Talk it over
While the two of you probably have some crazy stories together, start by sitting down and setting guidelines for what can and can’t be included in personal vows. There would be nothing worse than embarrassing or outing your favorite person by sharing an experience they didn’t want talked about in front of family and friends.
Specific details don’t need to be given, this won’t ruin the surprise. Simply touch on topics that should or shouldn’t be left out.
2. Include inside jokes or personal memories
Once you’ve had the conversation about what should be left out, you can now move forward with writing in the personal memories and inside jokes. Many couples feel pressured to leave these items out because their guests won’t know what they’re talking about: but the vows are an opportunity to give insight into how your relationship functions, even if they don’t expressly know the story. Writing personal vows that include things only the two of you know will show your guests the things you find funny, how you share stories between yourselves, and gives a hint at the things you value.
Additionally, the vows portion of your ceremony is really meant for each other anyway – so let this portion be incredibly personal and intimate and meant for just your partner. Your guests will love hearing it, even if they don’t know the story or joke you’re referencing.
3. Write it down
While there are definitely perks to winging it the day-of, if you’re not great on the fly or you want to be able to look back and remember what you said, writing it down is the best course of action.
Besides being able to keep you on track, writing down your vows allows you to remember and revisit them in the future when things get tough (or if you want to print them for the wall.)
But don’t just save them to your phone – physically write them down. Studies on phones have shown they can derail attention spans, and that even the act of having your phone out can subconsciously make guests want to use theirs. Keep the device locked down, stick to paper (or even personalized vow books).
Read. Re-read. Read it out loud. Use a thesaurus. Have a trusted friend look it over. Be sure to edit for flow and content and all of the things that would make your college English professor proud.
While you definitely want your vows to sound like you, chances are you’ll be reading from the paper up at the altar – and you certainly won’t want a typo stopping you in your tracks.
5. Practice, but not too much.
Practice the flow of your vows at least once or twice. Is it easy to read aloud? Are there areas you trip up on that you could edit to be more smooth? Practicing for the flow will help make the process of reading them easier.
Don’t over-practice your vows, however – some folks will practice so many times they become numb to the words and commitment they’re making. Practice just enough to make sure it sounds good, and let your memory of the words lie primarily in saying them at your ceremony – not the thousand times you practiced in the living room.
BONUS: Wait until the day-of your wedding?
If you’re unsure of what you want to say, don’t write your vows in advance. Schedule time the morning of your event to sit and write whatever comes to mind. By doing this, you’ll write vows that accurately describe how you’re feeling that day, and come from a place of in-the-moment honesty.
When not to do this? When you don’t work well under pressure, or you think you’ll be too distracted to pour time into it.
Are there any tips I forgot? What are you doing to write and practice your vows? What suggestions would you give to others in the middle of that process? Let’s talk below!
Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN.
I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.
This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.
Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.
The Autumn Dog Studio
explore the categories:
TIPS FOR COUPLES