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Inspiration » Wedding Planning » How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows (With Examples)

How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows (With Examples)

by Allison Hata
A man in a suit holding his wedding vows as a woman in a dress looks on

Every marriage begins with a promise. Some couples may recite wedding vows that lean heavily into tradition. Some may share their hopes and dreams for the future. Others may take a more playful approach, opting for laughter over tears. How you write your wedding vows is up to you — but after conducting a survey, Joy found that 89% of respondents found it at least somewhat overwhelming to begin putting pen to paper for their wedding materials. 

You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write your own marriage vows. Nor are you required to express your love in this deeply personal way. But if you want to create personal vows and are struggling to find your creative muse, you’re not alone. This comprehensive guide to writing your own wedding vows can help you overcome even the worst case of writer’s block. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions, plus wedding vow examples for every type of couple. 

1. Talk about the structure of wedding vows you’ll exchange

A pair of gold wedding bands on top of a dictionary entry for marriage

While traditional wedding vows typically have a set structure you may be required to follow — especially religious wedding vows — you’ll have more flexibility when writing your own. But before you can begin writing wedding vows, sit down with your partner for a heart-to-heart conversation about the format your promises will take. Are you traditionalists who want to add your own spin to the classic “repeat after me” structure? Or are you freewheeling spirits who want to craft original, personalized vows? Talk through a rough outline you want to follow so there are no (unwanted) surprises during your wedding ceremony. For example, do you want both of your vows to begin with a meaningful quote? Will you use a series of “I promise” statements and fill in the blanks with your own words? Do you want your vows to have a similar flow, or will each set be unique to your own style?

2. Discuss tone and inspiration with your partner 

Writing your own wedding vows is a chance to be your most authentic selves. But, if your most authentic selves are two opposite sides of the coin, it can create a tug-of-war of emotions on your big day. The last thing you want when you’re standing in front of your officiant is to crack a few jokes after your partner shares a tearjerker memory from your love story. Get on the same page now to spare yourselves the headache later. Will you be wearing your hearts on your sleeve with romantic prose? Or will you take more of a lighthearted yet still heartfelt approach with funny wedding vows? Whatever you decide, make sure your vows strike a similar tone. You can also discuss inspiration for your vows, such as if you want to rely on personal stories or share an inspirational quote that captures how you want to spend the rest of your days together. 

3. Decide on length for your wedding vows — and stick to it

You and your partner are the obvious stars of the show on your wedding day. But even the most excited guest doesn’t want to hear you wax poetic about how you’re soulmates for 20 minutes. The best wedding vow length hovers somewhere between one to three minutes. Decide how long your vows will be in advance and don’t deviate from the plan. If you have more to say, you can always put your thoughts down on paper. You can have your wedding party deliver them before the ceremony — plus, a handwritten letter is a great keepsake. 

4. Make a list of what you’ll need to include in your wedding vows

A blank notebook for writing wedding vows surrounded by a ring box, florals and a silver pen

While your wedding vows can be endlessly personalized, most comprise the same basic elements: a statement of love (including your shared values), personal stories, a vision for your future and a promise. This is a great starting point for creating your vows. Use this list (in no particular order) as a template of sorts for organizing your thoughts and you’ll have all the foundational pieces to start writing. 

5. Jot down what you love about your partner

There’s no wrong answer here. Go back to the beginning of your love story — what initially drew you to your partner? Whether it’s their stellar sense of humor, the way they wrap their arms around you in a giant bear hug when you’re sad, or the tiny crinkle around their eyes when they smile, write it all down. You can pick and choose your favorite things later on in the process. 

6. Write down your shared values

These are your fundamental beliefs that guide your day-to-day lives together. It’s not just limited to religion and politics — your shared values could be centered on your ideas about family and finances, or forgiveness and respect. Make a list of the things that are foundational to your relationship, from trust and communication to authenticity and intimacy, and how they’ve made your love stronger. 

7. Remember your favorite stories

A groom holding his partner at their wedding

Take a walk down memory lane. Did you have a swoon-worthy meet-cute? Did sparks fly on your first date? Do you remember the first time you said “I love you”? Think back on milestones like your engagement, as well as the quiet nights spent together at home. Start writing down dates and memories, including what you felt and why it was an important part of your relationship journey. Let the words flow freely — you’ll go back later on in the process and choose the most vow-appropriate stories! 

8. Envision your life together

This isn’t a job interview, so don’t feel like you need to come up with the perfect answer. But what will your lives look like a year from now? Five years from now? In your golden years? Write down your hopes and dreams for the future. These thoughts may not make it into your final draft but will get you in the right mindset for the next step — making the actual vows to make these dreams a reality. 

9. Make a list of what you’re promising each other

No, not just that you’ll take the trash out every night — though feel free to include this, if your vows are taking a more lighthearted tone. Think back on those shared values. What are some promises you can make that will help you uphold those values? If one of your values is commitment, your promise may be to always stand by their side. If a sense of wonderment is important in your relationship, you might vow to treat each day as a new adventure and tackle challenges hand-in-hand. Don’t just focus on the good times, either. Marriage is a long and beautiful journey, with inevitable ups and downs. When you write your wedding vows, think about the hard times as well. How will you support your partner in times of struggle and sadness? This can be a powerful way to speak about your strength and resiliency as a couple.

10. Review and refine your notes

A woman in a wedding dress reading wedding vows to a man in a suit in front of an officiant

No matter how hard you try, there’s just no way to cram an entire relationship’s worth of stories into one minute. Go back through all the things you love, your shared values and stories. Group these notes into similar columns until you start seeing themes emerge. Once you have a few different themes, you can evaluate which fits best with the tone you decided on with your partner and use these notes to create your first draft. 

11. Write a first draft of your wedding vows

Time to let your creative juices flow. Follow the template we laid out — what you love about your partner, your shared values, a personal story, your vision for the future and a promise — to write your wedding vows. Then fill in the other blanks based on the structure you discussed with your partner, such as opening with a meaningful lyric that captures your feelings. Remember, this is just a first draft. What’s most important here is getting your thoughts on paper. 

12. If you’re stuck, use Joy’s Writer’s Block Assistant

How to write wedding vows with Joy's Writer's Block Assistant

Writer’s block happens to the best of us. In our survey, we found that one-third of respondents would consider using an AI service like ChatGPT to help start the writing process. Enter Joy’s Writer’s Block Assistant — a simple tool for couples in need of just a bit more inspiration. Is it a great idea to use AI-generated vows word for word? Probably not. But by entering a few key details you’ve already jotted down during the vow-writing process, you can get a nudge in the right direction. Just select “wedding vows” from the dropdown menu and choose the tone of your draft, from formal to sentimental. Within a few seconds, the tool will create a first draft that you can use for inspiration or edit with more personal details about your love story. 

13. Edit and write additional drafts, if needed 

Whether you wrote your own wedding vows or used an AI assist, now it’s time to fine-tune your first draft. Evaluate what’s working and what needs more work. Did you follow the format you and your partner discussed? Is the story you chose to share too personal? Did you balance any humor with heartfelt sentiment? Is there an actual promise in your vows? And most importantly, do your wedding vows sound like you? If you used our Writer’s Block Assistant to get started, make sure you’ve found ways to integrate your own voice — perhaps one of your signature phrases or an inside joke to make the draft your own. Don’t be afraid to break out the red pen. This step is all about rewriting until you create a draft befitting your special day. 

14. Read your wedding vows out loud

A woman in a lace wedding dress reading her wedding vows out loud

Sometimes even if words on paper read beautifully, they fall flat when spoken out loud. Take a breath and read your wedding vows from start to finish. This will help you understand where to take a pause or where an inflection may help emphasize your point. You can also determine if there are any words or phrases that cause you to stumble over your words. The last thing you want is to get tongue-tied in the middle of your wedding ceremony! 

14. Workshop your draft with a family member or friend 

Ultimately, your vows are promises you’re making to one another for the rest of your lives. But by making the decision to write your own wedding vows, you’re also offering family members and trusted friends a glimpse into your love connection. Why not bring one or two loved ones into the process early on? Getting a second opinion on how your vows are received can be invaluable. Your family member can tell you if a lighthearted joke comes off as callous or if the promise you’re making to your partner is getting jumbled in the storytelling. Try out a few of your revised drafts to see which one is received the best and make final revisions from there. 

15. Practice makes perfect

You don’t need to memorize them word for word, but spend more than a little time practicing before the big day. This is why you should never wait until the last minute to write your own wedding vows! Don’t forget to print out a clean copy for the ceremony so you don’t have to read through any notes on your draft. 

A man sliding a wedding ring onto an outstretched finger

Wedding Vow Examples

If you can’t find the right words, borrow some of ours — we promise we won’t tell. These sample wedding vows will have your family members crying, laughing and cheering you on as you make the ultimate promise to one another. 

Traditional Wedding Vows

When we met five years ago, I never could have imagined building a life with someone as amazing as you. Your strength and resilience inspire me, and I love your unwavering optimism even during the hardest of times. Our love has been a beacon of light, guiding us through hospital corridors to literally the top of a mountain. The day you got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my days with you was the most significant moment of my life, until now. 

I, Alex, take you, Jake, to be my partner for life. I promise to celebrate your wins and comfort you in times of loss. To grow with you and continue to create a life built on a bond of hope, communication and gratitude. I promise to love and cherish you, in both good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, as long as we both shall live. 

Funny Wedding Vows

Lia, there are a few things I’ve learned about love during my 34 years of life. 

The first is that you’ll find love when you least expect it. This is true. Neither one of us was looking for a forever kind of love when we both swiped right, but after one date I was hooked. You were brilliant. Gracious. You had the biggest smile on your face when you told me about your family. I could tell immediately you had a huge heart. And I like to think I dazzled you with my ability to list all the U.S. presidents in chronological order. 

I’ve also learned that love is patient. So I patiently waited an entire week for you to respond to my text after our first date. I’m glad I didn’t lose hope in that painfully long seven days when you were deciding if you really wanted to hear another date’s worth of questionably accurate useless trivia. Without patience, we wouldn’t have had the greatest love story of all time. 

Before we start our life together as husband and wife, I want to share one last cliche about love. Love is kind. So I promise to always show you kindness. I promise to plug in your phone if you fall asleep scrolling Instagram. I promise to never add my shows to your Netflix queue because it messes up the algorithms. And I promise to love you truly, madly, deeply for the rest of our lives. 

Simple Wedding Vows

Trevor, you are my best friend. My partner in crime. You have taught me so much about how to love and how to accept love in return. Because of you, I have learned to open my heart and that sharing my feelings is an exercise in trust. You have shown me a side of myself I never knew existed and brought warmth and compassion into my life. I am a better person because of you. 

I vow to never stop telling you what’s on my mind. To fill each day with conversation and laughter and hugs. I will love and cherish you for the rest of our lives. I love you so much, today and always. 

Personal Wedding Vows

“Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because — because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep. 

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because then the little drops of anguish will all run together, the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift into me, choking my lost heart.”

Ashley, one of my favorite memories is sitting side-by-side reading Pablo Neruda’s words during our first Christmas together three years ago. You were glowing in the light of the fireplace. As you spoke those verses out loud, with so much passion and emotion, I knew then that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. 

You challenge me to look for meaning in everything. Your selflessness inspires me to be the best version of myself, and to care for others as deeply as you do. And together, we’ve built an incredible life filled with love, hope and trust that has carried us through even the most difficult times when our work meant we had to be apart. 

Whatever the future may bring for us — whether it’s a career change, a cross-country move or some other exciting opportunity we can’t pass up — I am certain that every second will be an adventure as long as we’re together. I vow to love you unconditionally for the rest of my days and to support you in everything you do, personally and professionally. My love will never leave you, not even for a second, my dearest.

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