Wedding vows are a romantic, personal part of any ceremony, usually accompanied by the exchange of rings and tears. Many couples choose to recite the traditional “…to have and to hold, from this day forward…” on their special day. But, just like wearing a white dress or having a wedding party, tradition is the perfect opportunity to personalize your wedding. Instead of doing what the many do, you can make the moment yours. And writing your own vows will do just that.
Even if you aren’t writing your own vows, the traditional vows we recite in the Western Hemisphere are unique in their own right, too. They seem common to us, but they’re specific to Western Christian cultures. Other religions don’t use them—including Eastern Christianity. So when you recite the wedding vows you’ve had memorized for years, they’re still personalized based on where you live.
As with any wedding decision, the most important thing is that you make the right decision for you and your partner. Wedding vows are romantic and personal—but they’re not legally required. You don’t need them in your ceremony, so you may decide to skip them altogether! (Reading love poems to each other is a great alternative to reciting promises back and forth.) The decision is always yours, and we’re going to help you decide by looking at the pros and cons of writing your own vows.
Pros of Writing Your Own Vows
They’re personal and unique
As nice as traditional vows are—they aren’t personal. Those memorized words are used at thousands of weddings each year, and they’ve been used since 1549. Plus, pre-written vows have nothing unique to your relationship or your spouse. Writing your own vows comes with promises to kill spiders in exchange for unclogging the shower drain. They cause tears when you promise to follow your military partner around the world on deployment or detail the first moment you knew you were falling in love. If you’re writing your own vows, you can add as many personal anecdotes as you want.
You can use them as keepsakes
Websites like Etsy have lots of unique ways to display parts or all of your wedding vows—making their display just as personal as their words. Yes, we know that you can frame traditional wedding vows. But it’s more personal when you frame hand-written vows instead! You can make them the centerpiece of your wall photo collage or add them to the wedding photo album you’re working on. Even if you didn’t handwrite your initial vows, writing them together post-wedding is a fun date night idea while you choose which photos to print.
Guests will pay closer attention
We all have at least parts of traditional wedding vows memorized. They’re used at weddings in person, in movies, and on TV. We’re not saying that your guests will tune out the traditional vows, but they will pay closer attention to your custom ones! They’ll laugh when you laugh and cry when you do, too. It’s a simple way to engage your friends and family in the ceremony and share the special moment with them a little more intimately.
Cons of Writing Your Own Vows
Everyone will hear them
Remember when we said that writing your own vows was personal? While that’s a nice touch for a wedding, you’ll still have to recite your vows in front of friends and family. So they’ll all hear any inside jokes or personal stories that you include. For private couples, that may be too personal for the ceremony. Plus, speaking in front of an audience can be intimidating—it’s much easier to repeat your vows after the officiant than to recite or read your own.
Vows are hard to write
Let’s face it—even the best writers struggle with writers block. Writing is difficult, especially when it’s something so personal and important. You have to strike the right balance of sentimental without being too personal, and genuine while being in front of your closest friends and family. On top of that, how do you express that you love someone? Is killing spiders for them really how you define love? And if not, what is? On top of planning a wedding, the added stress of becoming a writer may be too much.
You may have different styles
You and your partner are compatible, but that doesn’t mean you’re the same. What if your partner writes silly or cheesy (but genuine) vows, and you go serious and somber? Or what if your partner overshares or make it impersonal? Of course, some couples choose to read the vows before the ceremony so there isn’t so much pressure (or tears!), but that’s too late to make adjustments if your styles don’t align. You can certainly establish a style before writing your vows, but you have to make sure that it aligns with both of your personalities.
Ultimately, traditional vows aren’t right or wrong, nor is writing your own. Like all of the other wedding decisions, it’s up to you and your partner to make the best decision together. No matter what vows you exchange on your special day—don’t forget to practice reciting them out loud! It will help you keep your composure at the ceremony and help fight off any stage fright.
Are you writing your own vows? Why or why not?