There are heaps of different ways to express your feelings for one another in your wedding vows and many couples are choosing to write their own vows rather than using traditional verses.
Writing your own vows means you can express your true feelings for each other in your own words and is a great way to make your ceremony more personal. It can also make couples feel more at ease (as, after all, saying your vows in front of all your friends and family can be nerve wracking) and is likely to come across as more genuine. Of course, if a traditional vows matches your feelings and you are comfortable using them then great! You can also choose to mix and match - combining traditional wedding vows with your own vows.
Remember that while anything you do should be fine (as there are only a couple of things that must be contained in the vows for your marriage to be legal), it is always a good idea to check with whomever is officiating your wedding to make sure that they have no problems with the vows you have chosen. And don’t wait until the rehearsal to do this - should your officiator have a problem with something, you don’t want to be up all night before your wedding thinking of something else to say on the day!
Spend some time in the weeks leading up to the wedding thinking about the sort of things you would like to say as before you can effectively express your feelings, you’ll need to identify them.
When and where did you first meet?
At what point did you realize you were in love?
What is special about your loved one?
What life goals and dreams do you share?
What have you learned from each other?
What qualities make your love unique?
What qualities will keep it strong?
How has your view of the world changed since you fell in love?
What do you most look forward to about life with this person?
What are some special moments in your relationship?
Have a look at poetry, books, or song lyrics that mean something to you both as a couple. Think about the typical words used in ceremonies like cherish, love, honour, support and come up with your own (see our wedding word thesaurus for some inspiration). There are also internet sites which will give you ideas and samples of what to write or include for your own vows like http://elegantvows.com/ and www.bible.org .
The vows themselves should only take two or three minutes to say to one another. This is a public declaration of your commitment to each other, not a private conversation between the two of you! Be careful not to embarrass your friends and family with details that are too intimate or lengthy. The key is to be sincere and talk from your heart. Any additional thoughts on your commitment to marriage could be included in the main body of the ceremony or in readings or prayers.
It is also a good idea to go over your vows with your fiancé prior to the wedding or at least discuss the style and length of your vows together as you don’t want to prepare a lengthy vow with a classical feel to have your partner turn around and say three words! Sometimes a good place to start is a favourite song or poem that expresses how you are feeling or simply write down what is in your heart and then turn it into a verse. There are no rules for vow writing but it will help to look at the traditional vows (see our examples to get you started) to get an idea of the sort thing that will be appropriate.
Keep a copy of your vows as you may like to have your wedding vows printed and framed or put into your wedding album as a keepsake of your day as it will be a wonderful reminder of the vows you spoke to each other.
Wedding vows, in any form, are the words you speak, before friends and family, of the commitment you are about to make to each other. Whether you choose to stay with tradition, choose your own, or combine the two, make them special!
Click here to see some example wedding vows
Click here for some words and phrases that you can use in your wedding vows