As long as marriage has been around, so have vows. There are countless traditional vows to choose from. Almost all of these hold a religious element (see below for secular wedding vows.) Talk to your partner about his or her preferences. In either case, ask parents and close friends about their own vows for examples and inspiration. The people closest to you will be able to explain how and why they chose their vows. Even if the exact words don’t speak to you, knowing their reasons will help you think of what matters to you.
The first step is to decide if a religious element is important to either of you. Once you have come to an agreement, seek advice. For a religious vow, family members or friends of the same religion will be a great source for vows. A religious leader or other members of your faith’s community may also have suggestions. For those marrying someone of the same religion, this may be the easiest choice of your entire wedding. For those of separate faiths, take time to discuss your options with your partner.
For the non-religious, there are plenty of options for vows. The best part of breaking from tradition is a chance to write your own vows from scratch. There are also pre-written secular vows that can be found online, but take this chance to do some soul searching and think about what your relationship means to you and your partner. The only caveat: make sure you run your vow past your wedding officiant. This will also be a chance to ensure your officiant is on the same page and comfortable with breaking from tradition.
There are plenty of websites out there cataloging vows word for word. In your search for the right words, you’ll want to consider the mood: serious or relaxed, serene or humorous. Your vows are your gateway to the rest of your life with your partner, so consider words that characterize your relationship.
Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
In case your creative spirit yearns for original vows, the sky’s the limit! As before, start by asking those closest to you for inspiration. As always, if all else fails, the Internet has your back. Read examples to get an idea of what vows look and sound like. Jot down your favorite words to give yourself a starting place.
Some Ideas for Writing Vows Personal to You
Next, make it personal. Your vows should reflect your relationships’ values, history, and aspirations. Here are a few things to consider incorporating:
How you met.
The highs and lows of your relationship.
Your favorite things about your partner.
How much you appreciate their love.
The most important promises for your relationship.
Your greatest hopes and fears for marriage.
If you still need ideas, include quotes, lines from poems, verses, or song lyrics. Pull from the first movie you ever watched with your partner, the song you listen to most together, a book you both bond over. Insert words from a second language special to your heritage or other homages to your culture.
Including Loved Ones in Your Vows
Also consider including a word or two about others who play an important role in your relationship. If you emulate another couples’ long-lasting marriage, speak of that loyalty. If either of you have children, include them in your vows as well as other ceremonies. Or, if you and your partner have a fur baby (dog, cat, hamster, etc.) mention their name in the family you have already created together. Above all, these vows are all about you, your partner, and your love. Whatever that means to you, use those words to make your marriage official! And whatever you decide, practice so that you know what to say in the midst of the emotions and excitement of the big day.