Writing your own wedding vows is the perfect way to personalize your wedding! Depending on how you want your ceremony to feel, you can add some comedy that will have your guests roaring with laughter, or go in the opposite direction and pull on the heart strings – the stage is yours to do what you wish!

While personalizing your vows seems like the obvious choice, it can get overwhelming pretty fast. How long should they be? What should you talk about? How personal is too personal? The struggle is real. If you’re recently engaged, and currently having trouble writing your own vows, we’ve got you covered! We asked some of Toronto’s top wedding officiants to weigh in on 10 tips to help you get started. Happy writing!


1. Start writing early

Give yourself some dedicated time and maybe a deadline to ponder and write your vows. I suggest having your ceremony, including your vows, finalized 3-4 weeks before your wedding so you’re not feeling rushed and can actually enjoy the experience.

Martin FrithOfficiant
Ceremonies with Choice
 

2. Get inspired

Fresh inspiration can be found everywhere. Online research, quotes, a loved joke from a your favourite comedian, lyrics from a retro song, a romantic ballad, a scene from a favourite rom-com... what about asking your parents what their wedding vows were?

Sarah Bunnett-GibsonOfficiant
Sarah Bunnett-Gibson Wedding Officiant

We find inspiration in many places. You can read what others have captured, and I also encourage couples to look at some of their own material. For example, letters, anniversary cards or notes you’ve written to each other are great reminders about why you want to spend the rest of your lives together.

Martin FrithOfficiant
Ceremonies with Choice

I help my couples write their vows and I also supply samples and templates. Look for an Officiant who is willing to share their experience. There are also a lot of ideas on the internet to get your juices flowing!

Beth MacKenzieOfficiant
Weddings for Everyone

 

3. Do some research

If you’re struggling to find the right words, buy a thesaurus. It’ll help you to avoid repeating yourself. Words such as ‘love’ and ‘honour’ are naturally popular, but there are plenty of other terms you can include as well. Still stuck? You can always ask your Officiant for a list of vows to choose from, or look vows up on the internet to inspire you. Once you narrow things down, you will be surprised at how easily they come together.

Maureen McLellanOfficiant
Rev. Maureen McLellan - Wedding Officiant

Do some research. There is no specific formula for vows, though they should reflect the uniqueness of the couple in tone, wording and style. Some couples may be more sentimental, others playful, or traditional. In the case of one couple, they were both list keepers, so their vows were in three parts which they did responsively; ‘What I love about you’, ‘What I love about us’, and then they finished with a traditional vow.

Martin FrithOfficiant
Ceremonies with Choice

Heartfelt VowsPhoto Courtesy of Purple Tree Wedding Photography

 

4. Establish tone

Begin by discussing the tone of your vows with your partner. If one of you writes serious, traditional vows and the other's are humorous, the humorous vows could seem disrespectful or dismissive. Therefore make sure that you are in agreement if you want your vows to be poetic, romantic or a mix of both with a little humour included.

Rinette EmersonOfficiant
Enduring Promises

Discuss together the style you want your vows to be. Will they be serious, spiritual, silly, sentimental? How about romantic and elegant, quirky and unique? Your vows are truly the heart of your whole ceremony.

Sarah Bunnett-GibsonOfficiant
Sarah Bunnett-Gibson Wedding Officiant

 

5. Talk about your relationship

Include how you met, what you love about them, what you love doing as a couple, their habit that drives you crazy. Talk about something funny that’s happened and/or something that was very meaningful in your relationship. Talk about your past, present and future. Speak of common ideas, hopes and dreams.

Beth MacKenzieOfficiant
Weddings for Everyone

Share some highlights from your journey together; how you met, when you knew he/she was the one, your proposal, etc. Tell your partner what you really like about them. Speak about their character - not just their physical features - such as honesty, compassion, dedication, love, gentleness and strength of spirit.

Martti PajunenOfficiant
Kettle Creek Weddings

Vows should most importantly be representative of the couple. Vows are not one size fits all. They should speak to who you are, and what you imagine. If you love to have fun, let that be reflective in your vows. Romantic? Let that be the overall feeling; and so on. This is one part of the ceremony which is easily personalized.

Maureen McLellanOfficiant
Rev. Maureen McLellan - Wedding Officiant

 

6. Speak from the heart

What made you fall in love with them? I had vows spoken where the groom told the bride he has loved her for X minutes - it was something like 6 million minutes. It was priceless and he used it a few times during his vows. Make it heartfelt to all and bring it with a touch of humour. What does your spouse do that makes your heart skip a beat, laugh until you cry, and make you want to wake up beside them for the rest of your life? Be comfortable with the words you choose. Tell your spouse what they have done to make you a better person. Be real, be yourself. Let your guests feel the love you share together through your words.

Beth MacKenzieOfficiant
Weddings for Everyone

Be aware of your feelings and how you can express them through your vows. Remember that this is your special day, your heart is full, and you are about to begin a new chapter with your loved one.

Jonny BelinkoOfficiant
Jonny Officiant

Heartfelt VowsPhoto Courtesy of Alicia Thurston Photography

 

7. Come up with a few meaningful promises

The true essence of your vows are the promises you make to each other – so make them as meaningful and realistic to both of you. They are meant to reflect the commitment you are prepared to make to each other as you enter married life.

Jonny BelinkoOfficiant
Jonny Officiant

Whatever you decide to promise your partner, go with your strengths. If you are naturally light-hearted, then combine some humour with your life-long commitments. However, if you are a more conservative couple, traditional promises may work best. The best advise I can offer, however, is to try and stay calm. If you make a mistake, laugh it off, and keep going, you won’t be the first or last to do so. And if emotions get the best of you that’s okay, because if you don’t show some real emotion on your wedding day, something’s wrong!

Rinette EmersonOfficiant
Enduring Promises

 

8. Avoid being too cliché

Try to make your vows as unique and reflective of your own personalities as possible. Avoid using borrowed phrases that may sound nice but will ring hollow with people who know you – i.e., the attendees.

Jonny BelinkoOfficiant
Jonny Officiant

This moment of the wedding day is really about you both, who you really are. It's okay to include an inside-joke hidden in your vows; it's fine that your guests may not understand it. Adding some humour can help save you from tears and running mascara; enjoy a little good natured laugh instead.

Sarah Bunnett-GibsonOfficiant
Sarah Bunnett-Gibson Wedding Officiant

 

9. Keep it simple

Consider vows as the ‘public personal’; you don’t need to bare your soul. A simple formula is to include 3 elements; past, present, a future. For example, when we met, I could not have imagined the joy you’ve brought to my life and I look forward to growing old with you. Remember, it’s impossible to capture all you appreciate about the other or the complexity of your relationship, so pick just a couple of qualities you appreciate the most and weave them in.

Martin FrithOfficiant
Ceremonies with Choice

 

10. Practice out loud

Practice saying your vows aloud. Sometimes, we write things that look good on paper but are awkward when spoken. Hearing it will help you know what they will sound like to your fiancé and wedding guests. This will also give you a chance to time how long it takes to say your vows.

Rinette EmersonOfficiant
Enduring Promises