Wedding Ceremony 101: Writing Your Vows
At the very heart of every wedding are the wedding vows - your and your partner’s declaration of love for each other and the promises you’re making for the future. It’s a reminder to the two of you why you are committing the rest of your lives to each other, as well as a reminder to your friends and families about why they’re celebrating with you today.
You may have decided to stick with traditional vows that have stood the test of time. Or you may have decided to write your own personal vows. Either way, these tips and examples will help you craft the perfect promises for you and your partner.
Talk with your partner and your officiant. First of all, talk to your partner to see if they want to write their own. Then, talk with your officiant to see if writing your own vows if even an option. In some religions or houses of faith, this may not be allowed, or they may at least require you to include certain phrases and/or promises in your vows.
Agree on a tone and structure. Are you going to write your vows together or separately? Will you be sharing them before the wedding day, or keeping them a surprise? Will you be reading/reciting them on your own or repeating them after your officiant? These are all questions that are helpful to answer. Also, even if you’ll be writing them separately, you might want to agree on a general tone so that one of you isn’t writing soul-bearing declarations of love while the other is promising not to hog the sheets.
Research wedding vows. Start with traditional ones from various world religions (I’ve provided a few below), but don’t be afraid to pull from poetry, movies, books, quotes, etc. Write down any words or phrases that jump out at you and don’t be afraid to incorporate them into your own vows.
Think about your partner and your relationship. When did you know you loved your partner? Why do you want to marry them? What are some of your favorite memories with your partner? Even if you don’t think you’ll use the answer to these questions, write them down. It might help to get things started.
Come up a few promises for the future. Vows are first and foremost promises made to your partner for your future together. So what do you want to promise to your partner? These can be quite general (“I promise to always love and support you.”) or very specific (“I promise not to watch Game of Thrones without you.”) And, just as important, what don’t you want to promise? (i.e., You may not wish to include the word “obey”.)
Edit for tone and time. Once you have it all written down, now’s a good time to go through and look for any tired cliches, private stories that your partner may not want to share, or too many inside jokes ( one or two are fine, but too many can isolate your guests). As for time, try to keep it under a minute. Trust me, that’s a lot longer than it sounds. I recommend reading your vows out loud - to yourself or a friend - to help you time your vows and gauge their tone.
Be prepared. Memorization is not required, but you do need to practice! You’ll feel a lot more comfortable on your wedding day if you’ve read or recited your vows - out load - at least a few times. Also, make copies of your vows and give one to your officiant. Even if you want to recite them from memory, it’s good to have a copy in case nerves get the best of you.
Preserve them. If it’s in your budget, consider have a calligrapher write out your vows for you. Or even type them up on nice paper and frame them! Having your vows on display in your home is a great daily reminder of your vows and wedding day.
I’ve created a FREE workbook to help you and your partner put your promises to each other into words.
Examples of Traditional & religious wedding vows
In the name of God,
I, Jordan, take you, Elliot, to be my wife/husband,
to have and to hold
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.
I take you, Elliot, to be my wife/husband,
and I promise before God and all who are present here
to be your loving and faithful husband/wife
as long as we both shall live.
I will serve you with tenderness and respect,
and encourage you to develop God's gifts in you.
Elliot, in the name of God,
I take you to be my wife/husband from this time onward,
to join with you and to share all that is to come,
to give and to receive,
to speak and to listen,
to inspire and to respond,
and in all our life together
to be loyal to you with my whole being,
as long as we both shall live.
I, Jordan, take you, Elliot, to be my wife/husband.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
Elliot, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
I, Jordan, take you, Elliot, to by my wife/husband, and these things I promise you:
I will be faithful to you and honest with you;
I will respect, trust, help and care for you;
I will share my life with you;
I will forgive you as we have been forgiven,
and I will try with you to better understand ourselves, the world, and God;
through the best and worst of what is to come, as long as we live.
I take you, Elliot, to be my wife/husband.
I promise before God and these witnesses to be your faithful husband/wife,
to share with you in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health,
to forgive and strengthen you, and to join with you so that together we may serve God and others as long as we both shall live.
I have come to commit my love for you in the covenant of marriage. Although I come with an imperfect love, I promise to love you as Christ has loved the church. I promise to cherish you in times of joy and despair, to care for you in sickness and in health, to hope with you now and forever, to protect you and not to harm you, to love you and to forsake all others. I will continually strive to allow my love for Jesus to spill over onto my love for you. I will always be honest with you, kind patient and forgiving. I promise to be here when you need me. But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. Before our friends and family, before you, and before my Lord and Savior, I commit these promises to you. I love you.
I stand before you today, honored and excited, to become your wife. You are my best friend. I promise to love you with an eternal and unconditional love. I will honor and respect you, encourage and inspire you. I will comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. May I bring you good, not harm, all the days of my life. As your wife, I will continually strive to allow my reverence for Jesus to spill over onto my respect for you. I will be with you in sickness and in health, whether we are rich or poor, and during the times when we are filled with joy and when we are filled with sorrow. I will not leave you. I will be yours alone as long as God allows us to live. I love you.
In the presence of God and these our friends I take thee to be my husband/wife, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife so long as we both shall live.
Harei at m'kudeshet li b'tabaat zo k'dat Moshe v'Yisrael.
Behold, you are consecrated for/to me, with this ring, according to the religion/tradition of Moses and Israel.
Let us take the first step to provide for our household a nourishing and pure diet, avoiding those foods injurious to healthy living.
Let us take the second step to develop physical, mental, and spiritual powers.
Let us take the third step to increase our wealth by righteous means and proper use.
Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust.
Let us take the fifth step so that we are blessed with strong, virtuous, and heroic children.
Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity.
Finally, let us take the seventh step and be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock.
I offer you myself in marriage and in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Koran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife.
I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of growing in happiness each day.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of using whatever arises in our relationship for our own awakening and for the awakening of all beings.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of receiving everything in our relationship as teachings meant to open our hearts.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of revealing ourselves fully in our relationship, striving toward complete vulnerability and honesty.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of listening without judgment.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of feeling and releasing all obstructions to being fully present in each moment.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of protecting life.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of taking only what is offered.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of cultivating loving-kindness and honesty as the basis for speaking.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of using sexuality wisely and using it to protect our commitment to each other.
Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine with each other and with all beings, we undertake the practice of avoiding substances or practices that may cloud my perception of the present moment.