Moab wedding, Utah. A young couple share their wedding vows at their Moab elopement. He is smiling as she lets out a huge laugh!

HOW TO WRITE WEDDING VOWS

BY ‘THE OUTLOVERS’, YOUR ELOPEMENT AND SMALL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TEAM

Updated 30 July 2022

Not sure how to write your wedding vows? We share our top 8 tips to make the process pain-free and even FUN!

It’s not an easy task, we know, but it’s a worthwhile one. We absolutely LOVE it when our couples write their own wedding vows. There’s nothing more personal, intimate and heartfelt. We’ve seen MANY tears shed as couples share these special words with each other as part of their wedding ceremony.

We understand there’s a LOT of pressure, trying to put your innermost feelings into suitable words. It may seem like a daunting, if not impossible, task.

Don’t worry, it’s actually not! 

You might just need a little guidance and support. We got ya!

YOUR ELOPEMENT TEAM

Photography, planning assistance, ceremony officiation.

Hey! We’re Chad and Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’. 

We’re an adventurous Colorado and Utah elopement photography team, adventuring with couples across the US and worldwide.

We create epic elopement experiences for adventure-seeking couples who find their deepest connection in the great outdoors. 

How to write wedding vows:

Tip 1: be 100% sure you both actually WANT to!

This may seem obvious but it’s a really important first step. 

YOU might be super excited about the idea of writing your own vows – the inner poet in you is screaming to get out – but have you actually checked in with your partner and confirmed that THEY’RE excited about the idea, too?! 

Hopefully they are ‘all in’ just like you are. 

But it’s possible that they’re actually feeling totally intimidated by the idea of writing vows and are in need of your support. So, have an honest, open conversation. Fingers crossed they just need a little reassurance that they are more than capable of doing this! 

But if, after much discussion, they are adamant that writing wedding vows just won’t work for them, it’s probably best to respect that. It would be very sad for your partner to approach your wedding day with unnecessary worry and stress.

Adventure elopement with personal vows. The bride smiles as she hears her groom share his handwritten vows.

INSIDER SECRET:

If your partner really doesn’t want to write personal vows, you could compromise and share hand-written ‘love letters’ on the morning of your wedding instead. That way you get the best of both worlds: you remove the stress of penning vows but still have something super-intimate to share.

Tip 2: Agree on length and structure

Ok, so you’ve agreed that you DO want to write personalized wedding vows. What next?! Well, we highly suggest taking a date night and discussing an outline for your vows: like what kind of length and format they might take.

This is ESPECIALLY true if one of you tends to be excessively ‘wordy’ and the other is more a person ‘of few words’.

You don’t want to find on your wedding day that one of you has penned a 20-minute essay on all the reasons they love and commit to you, while the other has drafted a quick note that’s over and done with in 30 seconds! Awkward!!

It can help to give yourselves agreed parameters: a time limit or a word count, for example.

It’s also a nice idea to agree what kind of structure you’re going to follow: for example, do you like a flowing letter kind of style, or do you prefer a series of ‘I promises’?
There’s absolutely no right or wrong way to write your wedding vows: it’s just reassuring to start out on the same page as each other.

INSIDER SECRET:

As an example, we wrote our own wedding vows for our own South African elopement. We decided on this outline for our vows: six reasons why we love each other followed by six promises we want to make to each other. We agreed on a mix of sweet, serious and funny! We also made the unusual choice to share our vows at the same time, switching back and forth between each reason/promise. It took the pressure off one person having to share all their vows first before hearing anything from the other person and we LOVED it! We may also have rock, paper, scissored to decide who’d begin, but that’s another story….

Tip 3: Decide whether to write them together or separately

You might love the idea of writing your wedding vows entirely apart and sharing them for the very first time during your wedding ceremony (that’s what we did!). It certainly adds a beautiful level of emotional intensity. 

However, you might find that a little scary and would prefer to write them together. We think that would be incredibly bonding, to go through the entire process together. There is no ‘right way’, just chat it through and do what feels right for you both!

INSIDER SECRET:

If you’re nervous about writing your vows separately and are worried how they will compare with your partner’s, you could always have a third party – a trusted friend or family member – look over both sets and give you both some generalized feedback to help keep them aligned.

Tip 4: Do Some Research. Google is your friend.

If you’re unsure how to write wedding vows – where to start or what kind of content you might want to include – do a bit of research: look at different structures, read examples of other peoples’ vows, check out blogs from real couples who wrote their own. 

By doing this, you’ll get a good sense of what you like or don’t like and what kind of content you’d prefer in your own vows. 

Do you like humor, or do you prefer uber-romantic? 

Do you want anecdotes and stories in there, or do you want to stick to promises for the future? 

Would you like to use a quote by a well know author or poet or do you prefer words from your own heart?

Elopement in Scotland. The couple share vows on a heather-covered rocky mound in the Highlands. She is wearing a thick faux-fur coat to keep warm and he is in a blue kilt.

INSIDER SECRET:

Set a strict limit to your research time. As much as we love Google for research and inspiration, it’s very easy to fall down a one-way rabbit hole and never escape! Don’t overwhelm yourself with endless ideas and never actually get as far as writing your own vows. Remember, this is just a starting point!

How to Write Wedding Vows Tip 5: brainstorm and daydream!

Don’t pressure yourself when you start putting pen to paper. Unless you’re a professional poet it’s unlikely the perfect words are just going to flow from your soul immediately. It’ll take time.

In fact, don’t even try to write wedding vows to begin with!

Instead, just spend some time daydreaming: jot down some of your favorite memories with your partner, try to recall the feeling you had when he/she did something super special for you, imagine what you’d like your life to look together in 50 years’ time.

You could try making some lists: ten reasons you love them or the five things you hope for in your future life together.

Once you’ve got a few ideas, start to make a SUPER rough draft. Take some of these ‘daydreaming ideas’ and slot them into the structure you’ve already agreed with your partner.

INSIDER SECRET:

At some point, you have to bite the bullet and just START WRITING. Don’t aim for perfection, don’t worry if the ‘right’ words aren’t there yet. Any words are good at this stage! Just get anything on paper: it helps to clarify your thoughts and feelings to see them written down.

Tip 6: Take your time and slowly refine.

We highly recommend starting the whole vow writing process early: weeks, if not months, before your wedding day. 

This way, you can work with several rough drafts and take time to reflect on them, perhaps even giving the whole thing a break for a while as you mull your thoughts over. 

Slowly but surely, you’ll refine those rough drafts into something you feel confident with and proud of. 

You’ll be EXCITED to finally share them!

INSIDER SECRET:

Unless you are someone who works at your best under EXTREME pressure, we do not recommend writing your vows on the morning of your wedding! You’d be amazed/horrified how many couples end up doing this by mistake as they haven’t prioritized writing their vows and lost all track of time in the lead up to their big day. You want to feel calm as you prepare to share vows, not stressed and panicked!

Tip 7: Read your vows aloud!

This might sound strange but you want to be sure that your vows actually sound like YOU when you speak them. 

The written language can be quite different to spoken language. What WRITES well, may not SPEAK well. 

So, read them aloud! 

Are the words ones that YOU would actually use? Does it flow easily from your tongue? Do you feel comfortable speaking the words you’ve chosen?

INSIDER SECRET:

Don’t over-practice! Yes, you want to be sure you’re familiar with the vows you’re preparing to share, but you don’t want to read them aloud so many times that they end up sounding wooden and stale. By keeping it a bit more natural they will still be charged with feeling and emotion when your wedding day comes around.

After their same-sex wedding, two brides in flowing white dresses cuddle close together and look out over a lush green forest in North Carolina.

How to Write Wedding Vows Tip 8: Find something nice to write the final version in

You’ve taken all this time and made such an effort to pen your perfect vows. Don’t just scribble them on a bit of paper and shove it in your pocket the morning of your wedding! 

Treat yourself to a nice set of vow books and show your promises the love they deserve. 

Not only will it help you to feel deservedly proud of them, it will look a lot more special on the day AND you’ll be able to hang on to them as a keepsake and re-read those sacred words once in a while.

INSIDE SECRET:

We LOVE personalized, custom vow books, especially ones that are handmade just for you and are a little unique. Etsy is a great place to start looking!

Ok, there you have it! Our top tips on how to write wedding vows. 

We know writing wedding vows can feel intimidating and overwhelming but we hope this guide has inspired you to tackle the challenge head on. 

Chat to your partner, agree on your approach, and slowly but surely start to get words on paper.

We know it can be daunting, but trust us: when your wedding day comes around and you’re standing face to face ready to share those special words…. Oooooft…. It will all be SO worth it.

You got this! 

We would love to create an epic elopement experience for you! We provide planning assistance, photography and officiation for adventure-seeking couples across the US and worldwide. Get in touch to start brainstorming with us!

Chad & Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’

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