Questions about writing my own wedding vows.

I’m getting hitched this summer, and my fiancee and I are toying with the idea of writing our own vows. <<Mushy>> In my mind, the traditional vows are not nearly enough to express the love that I feel for her so I want to say what’s in my heart. <<Mushy>> I’d like to get a jump on this so I have ample time to gather my thoughts and rehearse it a few hundred times.

My dilemma is this: I have no idea what the format for custom vows is. Is it more of a pledge? (e.g. I will love you forever, I will always be faithful, I will always be there for you.) Or is it more of a narrative of the love that I feel. Or perhaps a combination of the two?

Have any of you written your own vows, and if so what format did you follow? Do you recommend writing them or just going with the old stand by? Any thoughts?

Here’s the most important consideration: Don’t make the vows sound like something from a sappy romance novel! Also, your wedding vows are not the place for you to try your hand at love poetry. Trust me.

My wife and I just customized the standart vows to something that was ours alone. We actually bought a book of wedding vows and picked and chose phrases we found appropriate, and added some of our own, and wound up with vows that were simple and complete.

Look around at some existing examples and find the words that express what you want them to. Then go with it. Just remember that after the wedding you won’t remember anything you said unless someone videotapes it. Most people don’t.


Wiggum, think about this—no one wants to hear you and your intended get all mushy about how you looooove each other and all the oceans and universes and your favorite bits of poetry and pop music . . . I get ill just thinking of it. Remember, no one else there is going to feel what you’re feeling, so there will be much eye-rolling and mental putting-fingers-down-throats.

The reason for the usual vows is to put a nice official, customized and non-nauseating pledge in there. Nothing the two of you can write will be more appropriate. Or if you think it is, say it to each other IN PRIVATE, where no one else will be able to poke fun at it.

I’m reminded of the episode of the Newhart show where Dick and Joanna decide to renew their vows, reading the same ones that they composed for their wedding when it originally took place. Problem was that they originally got married in the early 1970s or so and at the time of their renewal–late 1980s or so–poor Dick has to say something like, “Joanna, you’re really far out and I groove to your vibes.” Of course, only Bob Newhart could give it the correct comic spin, but you get the idea.

Our minister was pleased that we wanted to compose our vows, but he also supplied us with a few different sets of vows that he had on file. They weren’t all formal and stodgy; some were actually quite nice. Like Kilt-wearin’ man, we ended up taking an existing set, customizing it a little, and using that. It was just as meaningful, wouldn’t be dated (like Bob Newhart’s example), and because of the small changes we made, unique to us.

If you’re going to memorize them (both my wife and I did), I’d advise the following:

  1. Don’t make them overly long. You don’t want to stand there in the middle of a long speech drawing a blank over what comes next.

  2. Practice a lot before the big day. You’ll be too busy to do any last-minute studying of a cheat sheet.

  3. Hi, Opal!

Congratulations, WIGGUM! All the best to you and your fiancee!

Well, my opinion differs slightly from Eve’s. It’s your guys day, man. If you want to write the sappiest, most choke on sweetness vows ever, then by all means, do so. As long as it makes the two of you happy.

I wrote my own vows, and my ex-wife had someone write her’s for her, so… I didn’t think they were sappy and after the ceremony I had a lot of people compliment me on what I said. I also managed to make just about everyone there cry. But, I really didn’t care about any of that. I just wanted to profess my love and make my promise that I would cherish her forever as my wife, and that made us both happier than anything, and that was the most important thing.

So, my opinion is, write whatever you want. Say what you want to say to one another… and to hell with what anyone else thinks. You two are a couple, and this is the day of your joining as such, a very very important day. Don’t let it be anything less than that for the both of you.

And also, congratulations! :slight_smile: I wish you many happy years as a husband.


I hate that. /me slaps himself repeatedly in the head chanting his mantra… “Preview… preview… preview…”

Sorry, I now return you to the thread… already in progress…


Whatever you do, DON"T invite Eve to your wedding.

Mrs. Zebra and I wrote our own vows. We weren’t given a choice. The Priest said ‘Write you own vows you lazy bastards.’

We kept them short and secret from each other before the ceremony. Even with this we both wrote them in the form of a pledge. (mine was better) We also both on our own decided to not write them down. We later chose to not write them down and they are a ‘You had to be there’ sort of deal. People later expressed how much they liked our vows and although I’m sure some people probably didn’t care for them they kept it to themselves.

That’s what my husband and I did - I’ve never met anyone else who did that! We discussed them ahead of time, and each of us checked them with our officiant to make sure they wouldn’t sound weird next to each other. Each one had a couple or three promises, and ended with a question, the gist of which was “will you wear this ring, yada, yada?” The officiant told everyone that we hadn’t told each other what the vows were going to be, and then we said them to each other and did the ring thing. Spectators reported an intense force field centered between us during this part of the ceremony. :wink:

Write your own!

Make them simple and honest. Ask your officiant for guidleines (mine and mr. beefy’s had to include “a promise to stay together till we’re dead,” in not so many words of course).
Discuss whether you think it’d sound “uneven” for you each to write your own - I had a thing for symmetry so we wrote them together (via e-mail, while we were supposed to be working, in true gen-x multitasking style) and just each repeated the same phrase.

Good luck, enjoy it and HAVE FUN. Oh, and congrats on finding someone wonderful to spend the rest of your life with!

I’m going to straddle the fence between Eve and Simetra.
I think you should write your won vows and say them to each other quietly. I think you should write your won vows because many people do not think about what they are actually promising to do. If you cannot write your own vows, take the standard ones and re-write them in your own words and make sure those are the things you want to say. <needless personal anecdote> I was engaged once, and the reason I broke the engagement was because when I tried to write my own vows I discovered there wasn’t anything meaningful I actually wanted to promise that person. </needless personal anecdote> I think you should share them quietly with each other (perhaps while the organist plays or the singer sings so your guests don’t get bored) because the public vows that bind you as a unit before the community have probably already been said. These will be your vows only to each other.
Congratulations and good luck.

“I’m going to straddle the fence between Eve and Simetra.”

OK, Simetra—you grab one leg, I’ll grab the other. Now, make a wish!

Ow! Hey! Stop that!

I completely agree with Eve on this. If anything, I think she is understating it a bit. The wedding is the public part. The love is the private part. It’s what you do within that private part that makes it last and really mean something.

When I attend a wedding, and the two participants start making loud public avowels of their neverending love, I start doubting how strong this love really is. It reminds me of the fellows we used to get overseas who would brag how brave they were going to be when they entered combat. You learned really quickly to trust the quiet ones when the shooting started.

If you really love one another, do you really need to share the specifics with Aunt Ethel from Keyokuk? or Uncle Ned from Petaluma? No, of course not. Only one person needs to know how you feel, and if she loves you, she probably knows already.

As I said, the wedding isn’t for you too. It’s for Mom, and Dad and sister Whitney and grandpa: In other words, the public. If you haven’t said the important things to one another yet, you should, but it should be said between you two, not among a herd of family, friends, aquaintences, photographers, caterers and assorted hangers on.

If you’re playing to the house, you’re getting married for the wrong reasons.

When my friend Rob got married, they wrote their own vows, and also wrote the minister’s part. Instead of saying “till death do you part” she said “for all your time together.”

The marriage lasted about a year.

Short and sweet slacker vows.

Minister: You guys game for this?

Bride: Yeah, yeah …whatever.

Groom: 'skay.

Minister: I now pronounce you offically hooked up. Group hug.

Five makes a good point, people will remember what you say. Just like people who admit wanting a boy or a girl while pregnant, these phrases will be used against you in the future. My personal pet peeve is people who say “as long as we both shall love” as opposed to “as long as you both shall live”. It sounds like they are deliberately leaving an escape clause. Using non-standard vows will cause your more traditional relations to be discussing exactly what it all meant during the reception. Of course, this could be a good thing if normally all they talk about is disagreements from 20 years ago.

Being a PK (that’s preacher’s kid), I’ve heard them all. Everything from couples pleading wth my mom, ‘please tell us what to say,’ to pages of sappy doggerel that my mom could not convince them not to use. And I mean PAGES. Per spouse. And my mom had to coach a few of those through endless minutes of vows per person. She recommends listening to the officiant if they suggest an edit…

Some of the ones that were fully hand written (rather than modified for personal use from a more standard form) were fine or even stunningly beautiful and perfect, but many were cringe-inducing on first try. My mom offered to help edit/rewrite some (she’s a decent writer, fortunately), or offered tips on how to simplify for others. Eventually most people came up with something pretty nice even if the starting point was … um… questionable. (She met with a lot of couples in our house, which is how I came to overhear some of these - plus they were often so proud of them they asked me to read them, too! AHHHH!)

So, my advice?

  1. Ask the officiant for some guidelines - there are legal requirements for the vows, did you know that? You have to identify yourself by name, you may have to identify your proposed spouse by name, and you have to agree out loud to the marriage. Other than that, pretty much anything is possible. But check the local rules, they vary by state.

  2. Stick with simple. Fewer loopholes, and fewer explicit things you might regret later (“I promise to bring you hot Kona coffee in bed every morning for the rest of our lives” was actually in one of the vows sets I overheard… AHHHH!). Avoid long poetic descriptions of each other’s salient features, of your physical reactions when you see each other, and so forth.

  3. Go for ideals. Don’t get bogged down in what you anticipate to be true. You are making a vow - a promise of intent. It isn’t a love letter or a description of why, exactly, you want to marry each other. Skip the ‘because your eyes are so beautiful’ parts, and just go for the glory - the highest of what you aspire to promise each other, in the simplest and most direct of terms. Yeah, many people fall short in reality, but that doesn’t mean you should set out planning to fall short. Skip the ‘while love lasts’ and ‘so long as you remain faithful’ and go for the lifetime commitment to your highest marital goals with everything you’ve got. I suspect you won’t have a problem with the ‘life’ thing, but just thought I’d be specific. Defining the highest-level goals can be tricky, but it is a nice exercise.

I like the Quaker vows, myself. We customized slightly (using Divine/Spirit instead of God), but otherwise, kept to form. Much easier to memorize if they are short. And with Quaker weddings, you don’t have a choice on memorizing - no minister to prompt you if you forget. Mine:

“In the presence of the Spirit, and these our friends, I take thee, <name> to be my husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife so long as we both shall live.”

We also added something about the rings, along the lines of “I give thee this ring as a symbol of my vow” - and added what the rings were engraved with. But that part was less important, in my mind, than the vows themselves.

Loving and faithful covers everything you can think of that you want to promise, or at least everything I can think of, which is why I like it. Can you think of anything that doesn’t fit? Anything else you want to add or elaborate on you can put in a reading elsewhere in the ceremony. People can be moved by it, and will not wonder what you were thinking including that in your vows. Just in case Eve is coming to the wedding, you know (in the form of a grandmother, say). :slight_smile:

I also like a set of old Scottish vows I ran across when I was researching possibilities for ours (from about 1200 AD?), but they might be a bit much: He: I promise to worship you with my body. She: I promise to be bonny and buxom in bed and at board. According to the source, the text was a church record, and in the margins a priest (presumably) had noted that ‘bonny and buxom’ was local dialect for ‘chaste and obedient’… yeah, whatever they told you, Father.