Writing your own vows can be a creative, sweet, and thoughtful way to personalize your wedding ceremony. But let’s say you aren’t much of a writer — or let’s say you are, but that means you really want to research and compose the best vows that you can — where does one even begin? We’ve taken the time to compile advice from the internet at large, as well as some brides and grooms who were kind enough to share their experiences with us.

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What Resources Did You Find Most Helpful

I didn’t really use any resources — may have browsed the internet briefly, and I think as part of the wedding planning process and being on various wedding websites a lot at the time, there’s things that I absorbed without really noticing. Ultimately, I spent a lot of my day dream time going over the words in my head before I even started to write them down, to see what really stood out and what stuck as important. -Meg F.

We did a lot of searching online — my husband’s culture doesn’t have wedding vows, so we looked at a lot of different websites to find sample vows just so he could get the idea. After that, we started searching specifically for secular vows to get an idea of how to make things sound wedding-worthy without religion. -C.S.

I honestly just wrote them from my heart, corny as it sounds. -Maxwell S.

I  did do a little research, mostly because it never occurred to me that I would ever get married, and as a feminist I had a lot of questions and internal conflict. I looked around online for unconventional vows, not having any married couples in my immediate circle whose union reflected what I’m aiming for. I did a couple of broad searches and then ended up writing most of it ourselves. There were a few drafts… It’s hard to settle on what you can commit to for the rest of your life! -Gina

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Why Folks Choose to Write Their Own Vows

Every couple is unique, and we’re definitely not very traditional as a couple: we come from different countries, cultures, religious backgrounds, first languages, etc. So using traditional or pre-made vows didn’t make sense for us. Writing our own vows let us reflect who we are as a couple and tailor  them to the things that have been the foundation of our specific relationship in all its non-traditional-ness. -C.S.

We got married young, in a fairly traditional Catholic ceremony. I am not Catholic, and I felt like writing our own vows was a way to put our own personal stamp on the day, and say things to each other that we truly meant, promises beyond just to have and to hold, for richer or for poorer. I also think our vows were a way for us to express how we loved each other now, not just the promises we were making for the future. -Meg F.

Among the benefits [of writing our vows] was really getting in touch with why we wanted to get married in the first place, and what that meant to both of us as individuals. -Gina

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Challenges of Writing Your Own Vows

Editing! I am sometimes too wordy and want to say too much, and I tried my best to keep them concise while still infusing them with the essence of everything I wanted to convey. -Maxwell

Honestly, although we talked and researched and brainstormed them for a long time, we didn’t actually put them together until the day before the wedding, and I was surprised at how non-stressful it was. -C.S.

The structuring of the actual ceremony was probably the most challenging part for us. I definitely checked out what others had done and [tried to] pare it way down. -Gina

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General Advice from Our Expert (!) Panel

There are lots of unique samples of nontraditional vows, so you can use those as templates like we did, and I’m so glad we did. Out of everything in the wedding, our vows were my favorite part because they reflected our relationship so specifically. That’s something you never forget. -C.S.

Include as much or as little as you want, be true to yourself, your partner, and your relationship (don’t worry about what anyone else is going to think), and pick ONE friend to proofread/edit after you’ve written them. -Maxwell

I would say just to remember your vows/ceremony can be whatever you want! There’s no need to adhere to a paradigm that doesn’t apply to your life. -Gina

My husband really liked looking at sample vows online, and then personalizing where he could. For me, it was about seeing what sentiments bounced around the longest, and sticking with them. -Meg

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Because our panelists are the best, some of them have been so kind as to share their vows with us. Here are some of the bits that made us get teary-eyed:

I’m not religious, and I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in soul-mates. People who work so perfectly together that they SHOULD be part of each other’s lives. I know that the universe didn’t conspire to get us together, but the number of things that had to happen in just the right way so that we could find one another is incredible. It’s as if we were part of some giant Rube Goldberg device, filled with toasters and bowling balls and boots strapped to ceiling fans. But instead of it making breakfast or launching a dog into space, the end result was that we fell in love. -Maxwell

I promise to always be a friend to you, first and foremost. I promise to laugh with you, and cry with you, and to try to make you laugh when you are crying. I promise to be an open ear and an open heart to you, and to always be your soft place to land. I promise to be your partner, and stand beside you through the good times and the bad. I promise to always reach for your hand when things get tough, and to hold your hand when we’re walking down the street together. -Meg

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What kind of vows do you want? There’s some guidance and ideas out there for everyone! Are you and your partner geeky, romantic, traditional, scientists, jokesters? Try to come up with a theme of what you’d like your words to evoke and go from there. The best writing for reading is simple, with words you use in your every day language. Your vows aren’t the time to pull out the thesaurus — it’s time to be YOU and express your particular brand of love.

Did you write or are you writing your wedding vows? Share your tips with readers in the comments!