How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows, According to an Expert

bride and groom exchanging wedding vows
bride and groom exchanging wedding vows

Heather Waraksa

Have you decided to write your own wedding vows, but feel unsure about where to start? We understand: Summing up your love in a few brief minutes is a daunting task, but it's well worth it. Penning your own exchange not only gives your guests a unique glimpse into your relationship, but it's also the perfect time to share your future dreams and lifelong promises with your partner.

There's no one template for writing your own vows—ultimately, their structure is entirely up to you (that's the beauty of a personalized oath!). Still, most couples appreciate some guidance, which can help give shape any and all ideas.

Related: Your Ultimate Wedding-Planning Timeline and Checklist

Plan Out Your Writing Process

Ahead of the writing process, it's important to put some thought into your vows. First, determine how you want to organize them. Is there anything you know you want to include? This process should begin about six months before your wedding, says wedding vow coach Tanya Pushkine of The Vow Whisperer.

Write a First Draft

Your first draft doesn't need to be perfect. Instead, start a working document that you can keep coming back to as you think of more memories and experiences to add. "Start with a blank sheet of paper and try to dig deep into your memories," Pushkine says. "Think about your amazing experiences, your obstacles—yes, they count, too—how you met, and more," she says.

As you're brainstorming, look inward. "Inspiration comes from the heart," Pushkine says. To dig up what already exists within, it helps to ask yourself a few questions. Consider why you want to marry this person, why you love them so much, how they've made you a better person, and how you see your future.

Determine How Long Your Wedding Vows Should Be

You could talk about the love you and your partner share for hours. But it's important to remember that vows are just one part of the ceremony. Pushkine encourages her clients to think in terms of word count—not minute-based timing—when it comes to length; this framework tends to be easier to understand.

"The sweet spot for vows is around 500 words. Anything above that number, you will lose your audience," says Pushkine. "If you want them really short and sweet, great, but don't go below 300 words. There isn't much you can convey in so few words."

Write Vows Separately

While it may seem tempting to share your vows with your significant other, writing them separately gives your big day added excitement. "I very strongly encourage everyone to keep them top secret—never, ever discuss them," Pushkine says. "Let it be a wonderful surprise." You can, however, confer with your partner on length, as well as the overall ethos of your exchange.

Take Breaks When Writing

Writer's block happens, but don't let it discourage you from writing your own vows altogether. If you find yourself in a rut, there are a few things you can do to unwind: "Take a nice long walk, listen to your favorite music, cook a meal, and then come back in a few days and give it another go," Pushkine says.

Ask Your Officiant for Help

Many couples ask their officiant to take a look at their final vows for feedback ahead of the ceremony. Beyond providing guidance, your officiant can also help coordinate the exchange and make sure all your bases are covered. For instance, is this person going to cue major moments, like the ring exchange, or is that something you and your partner will handle? Looping them into these conversations ahead of time will deliver a better result during your service.

Don't Memorize Your Vows

We get it—you want to make eye contact with your partner throughout the entire ceremony, but when you are reading your own vows, this may not be an option. Instead of memorizing your vows, read a sentence and look up at your partner.

Just because you aren't memorizing them doesn't mean you shouldn't practice. "The more you practice, the better you'll be," Pushkine says. "You could write the most beautiful words, but if you haven't practiced, you'll lose everyone."