Traditional Wedding Vows and How to Write Your Own

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Two wedding vow books labeled "his vows" and "her vows" next to a velvet ring box with wedding bands, all arranged on a textured grey surface with a pink ribbon, captured in stunning wedding

Wedding vows can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of your wedding day. Vows are the most anticipated section of your ceremony, and all eyes are on you as you make lifelong promises and declarations to the love of your life. No pressure!

It can be even more stressful to write your own vows. How are you supposed to condense all that emotion into a handful of sentences? The goal of this article is to present you with popular wedding vow options and then give you a format in which to write your own.

Traditional Wedding Vows

Wedding vows are promises couples make to one another. Not all cultures include wedding vows in the ceremony. While they are not legally binding or universal, they are a very special moment you’ll share on your wedding day.

The traditional vows couples recite will depend largely on their culture and religion. In Western culture, the format follows something like this:

In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

Sometimes, depending on your religion or the version of vows chosen, there will be confirmation of consent, I do’s, or I will’s.

Mix Traditional Wedding Vows with Personality

Traditional vows feel very meaningful because of their formality, and for that reason, some couples will choose to include both traditional and custom vows in their ceremony.

Personal vows can happen before or after traditional ones. Vows you write yourself tend to be very emotional (and usually my favorite, especially if I’m filming the ceremony). Writing your own vows is a wonderful way to give guests a piece of your story and personalities more than only reciting the expected ones.

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Writing your own vows is a great option no matter what kind of wedding you’re throwing. Couples commonly choose them for elopements as well. (See more about planning your elopement!) If you’re thinking about writing your own vows, it can get overwhelming trying to fit everything you want to say to your beloved in a time-appropriate paragraph. The good news is, you don’t need to say everything, just what is important to you.

It may help to know that vows have a rhythm and structure. I’ll walk you through them!

Part One: Declaration of Love & Gratitude

Begin your vows with recounting a few of the ways your partner has loved you best or made you feel special. Express love, thankfulness, and admiration. Load this section up with words of affirmation. Let your partner and those in attendance know just how much your beloved means to you.

Phrases to get you started:

  • “You have been…”
  • “When we met…”
  • “I can’t believe…”
  • “You are…”
  • “You make me feel…”
  • “You make me believe…”
  • “You bring me…”
  • “You’ve been there for me when…”
  • “You understand…”

Part Two: Promises

The bulk of wedding vows should be… well… vows! These can include promises about how you will love them, care for them, and be on their team. These promises usually focus on love, respect, support, and sharing burdens. You can also add humor if you feel it appropriate. (i.e. I vow to kill every spider.) You can use traditional wedding vows to guide your path or just make up your own.

Phrases to get you started:

  • “I will…”
  • “I promise…”
  • “From this moment/day…”
  • “When you are happy…”
  • “When you are sad…”
  • “When you are ill or hurting…”
  • “I vow…”

Part Three: Excitement for the Future

With your promises complete, now is the time to share your hopes, dreams, and anticipation for your life together. This section usually focuses on building a family, going on adventures, or sharing life moments together. Express moments you can’t wait to share, memories you look forward to making. Make it all about how that person will bring more fun, balance, and energy into anything you decide to do.

Phrases to get you started:

  • “I can’t wait…”
  • “You will be…”
  • “We are going to…”
  • “Everything will be…”
  • “Going forward, our lives…”
  • “From now on…”
  • “No matter what happens…”
  • “With you…”
  • “Together, we…”

Part Four: Final Promise

Wrap up your vows with final, sealing promise. Just like in traditional Western vows, you can end with a “Until death do us part” or you can insert your own. Some ideas are:

  • “Forever and always…”
  • “I love you.”
  • “As long as we both shall live…”
  • “To the ends of the earth…”
  • “I can’t wait to spend forever with you/grow old with you by my side.”
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