How to Write Wedding Vows Like You Give a Damn

Are you ready to write the most important words you’ll ever say to another human being?


Most couples wait until the last minute to write their vows. And it’s no wonder. It seems so freaking daunting! Where to start?!

I’m here to tell you that it’s actually simpler than you think.

Your wedding vows are your mission statement in marriage. They are based on your values — what you personally believe partnership is all about.

When done right, your vows are a living testament to what matters most to you as a couple. They are the core principles that guide how you speak and act with one another. They are guideposts that help you remember what’s important in marriage when life gets hectic.

From this perspective, your vows are less about saying something flowery or cute just for the sake of it. Instead, your vows are so simple and meaningful that you can recall them at will — because you have truly memorized them by heart.

When approached in this way, your vows become a decision-making filter for how you spend your time, resources, and energy as a couple. For example, if you both love the outdoors and enjoy taking hikes in new places together, you value adventure. One of your vows may sound like, “I promise to satisfy our thirst for adventure by continuously seeking epic experiences in nature together.” Knowing that adventure is a core value for you both, you’ll be sure to prioritize making time and money to venture to new places throughout the course of your marriage because you know that’s what makes you both happy.

So...which values should you choose?

Decades of research on couples have shown that there are certain core practices and beliefs that lead to a happy and successful marriage. They include:

  • Gratitude and Appreciation: expressing how much you care for one another
  • Presence: being attentive to your partner
  • Forgiveness and Compassion: seeing your partner for the human being they are
  • Mutual Support: encouraging one another
  • Open Communication: speaking truthfully and in a forthright manner
  • Spirituality: finding deeper meaning in life together
  • Curiosity: continuously wanting to know your partner better
  • Clean Agreements: keeping commitments
  • Passion: exploring desires together
  • Growth: continuously learning how to be better together
  • Personal Responsibility: owning one’s own happiness
  • Dreams: fulfilling lifelong pursuits
  • Cooperation: working together as a team
  • Connection: taking time to check in with each other often
  • Service: offering your gifts to the world together

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. I highly recommend that couples consider any additional values not listed here that may be important in their own lives.

Once you have identified your core values, create a statement that embodies that value. Use words that feel authentic and powerful to you. For example, if one of your values relates to gratitude, you might say something like, “I promise to show you every day how lucky I am to have you in my life.”

For bonus points, you can make an effort every few months or so to have a “vow check-in” conversation to give each other feedback on how you are each living up to your vows. In this way, you keep your vows (and your love) alive for decades to come.

Shannon Hall PhD


Shannon is a sociologist, positive psychology coach, and the founder of Epic Couples. Her mission is to help couples become co-founders of an incredible life together.