If you’re wondering how to write personal wedding vows and you’re sitting with a pen and an empty vow book wondering how to start, then this is for you. Not only am I a wedding photographer, I’m also a writer! I have spent years freelance writing, and years listening to wedding vows.
My husband and I wrote our own personal wedding vows. It was nerve wracking and very emotional, but I’m SO glad that we did it. Hearing the vows he wrote to me from his heart meant so much more than hearing him recite traditional wedding vows. On top of that, our families said that hearing the intimate and personal vows we wrote for each other was their favorite part of our wedding day.
So in this guide I’ll share with you wedding vow formats, ideas, and examples to help you write your own vows that are personal and meaningful.
It helps to look at things from the big picture. The format of wedding vows typically starts with affections, and end with promises. So here’s a sample wedding vow layout:
Keep this structure in mind as you write your vows. In each of these sections, there should be roughly 1-3 paragraphs per section.
The whole point of writing your own vows is to make them deeply personal. So DO NOT worry about making it formal and professional, don’t even worry about being grammatically correct! No one is grading this!
Make the words on the page sound like your real voice. Your vows should reflect how you talk to your partner in real life across the dinner table or in bed at night. Save the “I vow to” and “I promise” sentences for the very end, and fill the beginning of the vows with authentic, meaningful words.
When writing the things you love about your person, be specific and descriptive. Here are some wedding vow examples so you can see what I’m referring to:
Bad example: I love how you are selfless.
Good example: I love how you’ll drop anything to help your family and friends. You always wake up early to make me coffee. You sacrifice so much to help me pursue my dreams.
Your soon-to-be-spouse wants to feel noticed and known. Let them know that you see every part of them, especially the parts that other people might not know about. Show them that you know them deeply and you love them because of it. If you’re still stuck, here are a few examples of descriptive wedding vow lines to inspire you.
As a wedding photographer, I’ve heard lots of wedding vows. The good… and the bad! There’s one particular vow exchange that I will never forget. The bride shared sweet, personal, effortless vows that she wrote herself. Then the groom took the mic and followed with his vows that sounded like a Renaissance poem. I think he actually stole a few lines from Shakespeare! His vows were extremely stiff and eloquent, clearly not how anyone would talk in real life in this day and age. Their vows were completely different from one another and strongly clashed.
This is why I definitely recommend letting someone read both of your vows to make sure they aren’t drastically different!
My husband and I didn’t want to share our vows with each other until the wedding ceremony. However, we knew that we should get some feedback on them to make sure they were roughly the same length, tone, and language. So we both our drafts to my sister-in-law. She took a look at them and gave us each individual feedback. This helped us feel way better walking into our wedding day knowing that we were on the same page!
We also both timed ourselves reading our vows a few times in separate rooms. Then, we shared with each other the average time it took us to read our vows. This helped us to make sure that our vows were roughly the same length.
I highly recommend doing this if you go the route of writing your own vows! Ask someone who knows you both well to take a look at each of your vows, and compare your times to make sure you’re on the same page.
Full disclosure, I’m an emotional mess. I cry at everything! If you hire me as your photographer, there’s a 100% chance I cry at some point during your day! That said, I was super nervous about writing my own vows because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get through them without a few sobs.
The thing that saved me was reading my vows OUT LOUD several times before the wedding day. I did still choke up during the real ceremony, however since I had already read these words out loud over and over again I felt more comfortable and confident saying them. Plus, I didn’t stumble on any of the phrases or sentences.
So practice practice practice, and I promise you’ll feel way more confident in the moment than if you have never read them out loud prior.
If reciting your own wedding vows during your ceremony still feels daunting to you, another thing you can do is write your own vows and exchange them with each other privately at some point during the day. For example, during your first look. A lot of couples opt to do it this way, and it’s totally up to you!
However, saying our personal vows in front of our family and friends was so special. Many people said that their favorite part of the entire wedding day was getting to hear the words we wrote for each other. That said, if it’s something you want to keep between the two of you, then schedule a time in the day to share them in privacy.
In the end, it’s YOUR day. You two have to decide what’s best for you, make every detail personal, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Check out my Planning Tips page for more wedding and elopement advice. Happy planning!!
I’m a destination wedding & elopement photographer with a passion for marriage.
As your photographer, I'll capture images that are natural, authentic, and honestly illustrate your love for one another so that you can always remember exactly why you fell in love.
Whether you're eloping just the two of you, or getting married in your favorite place with all your favorite people, I'd love to capture the photos that will help you to cherish your marriage for a lifetime.
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Michigan Wedding Photographer
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