Wedding vows are confusing — I’m not even going to beat around the bush. The average person has at least one moment of confusion or uncertainty when it comes to wedding vows and that is totally normal. Considering most people will only exchange vows once or twice in their lifetime, it’s not something that couples getting married are expected to be experts in from the outset.
With a little bit of research, a chat with your officiant, and with our advice, you should feel confident in your wedding vows before it comes time to exchange them in public. During the run up to your wedding, you should not only have a clear idea of what wedding vows actually are, but you should also give yourself time and space to work out what kind of vows are right for you and your partner.
What Actually Are Wedding Vows?
If you looked up wedding vows in a dictionary, you would get a very basic and standard definition — something along the lines of solemn pledges and promises declared. (I’ll come back to the ‘solemn’ part further along in this article.) Depending on where you are in the world, within a legally binding ceremony there may be wording which you are obliged to say which forms part of the legalities of the ceremony. It might be a question asked of you that you have to respond to or words that you have to repeat.
Legalities aside, most ceremonies (including almost all non-religious and some religious ceremonies) allow for couples to, in addition to any legal wording, do their own thing and say their own crafted-from-the-heart words to each other.
How To Write Vows that Suit You Both
Now that we’ve established that personal vows are a very normal, welcomed part of the ceremony, it’s time to work out what kind of vows work for both of you. This may be news to you, but there isn’t just one way to exchange vows and as you will soon see, vows do not need to be solemn despite what the dictionary or anyone else says. They can come in any form that allows you to best express yourself, whether that comes with humour or not. Funny vows are no less meaningful.
Personal or Private Wedding Vows
Let’s start with the most common form of wedding vow, a pledge vow, which sees couples writing personal expressions of love and promises to each other. Couples that choose this type of vow, usually write their statements separately and hear what each other says for first time during the ceremony. However, personal vows don’t just have to be a series of promises and pledges, they can be a mixture of sentiments, gratitudes, compliments, and niceties with promises added in, too. These can include;
The qualities that you love about your partner.
The ways your partner has helped you or improved your quality of life.
Things you’ve always wanted to say to your partner but never have, or things you don’t say enough.
The things about your partner that drive you insane but that you love all the same (yes, really!). Your partner’s lovable quirks and habits are what makes love real.
So let’s look at an example of this type of personal vow, which includes all that I mentioned above.
“My beautiful Beyoncé, you have no idea how much you have helped me to be the man that I am. Your quiet reassurances and strong and caring guidance have helped me grow with confidence.
You are such an amazing woman and I know you’ll be everything I could possibly ask for in a wife, lifelong partner, and team player. Whether it’s working on our business, caring for our children, or simply planning our next vacation, you give it 100%.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be without you and there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not thank the universe for bringing us together.
Thank you for all that are you. I promise to always strive to be the best version of myself and to respect you and care for you in exactly the same way that you do for me.
I promise to be your support unit, foot massager, bag carrier, coffee maker, spider catcher, and anything else that you need me to be, now and always.”
Jay Z did not write these vows, by the way, I did! A good starting point for writing vows like this is to answer a series of questions about your partner and let what you say be the basis for shaping your personal vows.
What made me fall in love with you?
What do I love about you?
What things do I love most about you?
What annoys me about you?
What do we have in common? How are we worlds apart?
What have you taught me? What do I think I’ve taught you?
What do I want to pledge or promise?
When you’ve finished, hopefully you’ll start to see your vows come alive.
Joint Alternating Line Vows
Before I finish up, and if your mind isn’t too blown, I just want to run you through an alternative to the popular personal vows as outlined above.
This alternative to personal vows isn’t really radical in any way, it’s simply about a different way of delivering personal vows. Instead of each person writing their own completely independent and separate vows, the couple writes vows which will work well together in tandem. They will also actually deliver the vows so that they say them line by line, one after the other, rather than one person saying their whole entire set of vows, and then the other following.
The easiest way to demonstrate this is with an example:
Portia: I love you because you push me to try new things,
Ellen: I love you because you share everything with me,
Portia: You have such a great outlook on life,
Ellen: Of the way you are with animals and children,
Portia: You let me read Facebook over your shoulder,
Ellen: You still want to pinch my butt after 14 yrs,
Portia: Of the cute noise you make when you throw a tantrum,
Ellen: You still dance with me in the kitchen,
Portia: Of your big heart and how you cry at everything.
Ellen: You still make me laugh.
Portia: I have no doubt I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
Ellen: When you hold me everything is alright.
Ellen: I promise to remind you of my love every day.
Portia: I promise to hold your hand for the rest of our lives.
Ellen: I promise to get better at reading maps,
Portia: I promise always help you with directions,
Ellen: To accept that I will never get your cup of tea right,
Portia: To keep your food hot when you get delayed,
Ellen: To never stop working to make us stronger,
Portia: To always make you feel safe when you are scared,
Ellen: To continue to be your fashion consultant and travel rep.
Portia: To be your personal chef and gardener,
Ellen: My heart is yours to keep,
Portia: To appreciate the little things,
Ellen: To worship and adore you for the rest of my life.
Portia: To love, support, and honour you forever more.
As a couple you will decide to write however many sentences you want. You may set yourself a number, but might find that you’ll end up writing more. The key is to have the same number each. If you did six vows, you could decide that three are going to be lightheaded and three are going to be more serious. You can then decide to alternate the fun/serious vows in whichever way you choose.
Both of you will work in the same way when it comes to structuring your vows, so that when it comes to saying them together on the day they work well nicely together. What’s fab about this way, too, is that you can still work on your vows separately and only hear what the other is going to say during the ceremony itself. This alternative construction and delivery is a great idea for couples who are a little shy or who don’t like public speaking but still want to say meaningful vows to each other. Doing it this way means you can support each other through your vows, but still retain that lovely element of surprise.
One little tip for this approach, if you’re worried about how your vows will work together have your officiant or a friend look at your vows to check they flow together nicely in their awesome alternating way. Or alternatively, as in the above example, this couple worked on their vows together, so they were able to make them fit and flow nicely. Either way, they’re special and awesome, right?
So there you have it. Personal vows are basically what you want them to be and you don’t have to stick with the standard delivery of them either. We good? Good!