How to write vows? A lot of couples struggle with this – it can seem impossible to put feelings into words. The best way to get started is to think of it as a private letter to your partner.
The beauty of an elopement is that you can be open, authentic and vulnerable with your partner, without having to share your heart with an audience.
I like to help eloping couples with how to write vows by telling them that it’s like a private letter to your partner.
When photographing, I keep my distance so I can’t hear all of what you’re saying, and even if you have guests present at your elopement, you can stand at a distance in order to keep your words relatively private.
You can know deep in your bones why you’re marrying your partner, and still not know exactly what to say. But here are some ways to make it a little bit easier to put how you feel into words.
Things to keep in mind when writing your vows:
- Bring your earlier memories together back into focus. Whether it’s how you met, when you knew you were in love, or when they challenged you to grow and become a better version of yourself – describe your view of these events and what stands out most in your memories about them. Maybe you remember your partner’s hands around your waist the first time they said “I love you”, or how grateful you are that they challenged you to become a better person during your first argument.
- Talk about surviving the tough times while also finding peace in the good times. Your vows don’t have to be either funny or sentimental – you can include as many different sentiments and feelings as you want.
- Talk about your future together. What you’re most excited for, challenges that you see yourselves approaching together as a team, dreams that you hold for your relationship – anything that you’ve envisioned or dreamed about for your future together.
Remember – there are no hard and fast rules about how to write vows. Just be yourself and be as open as possible.
- Tell your partner what qualities you love most about them. Don’t be afraid to go deep here – you can tell them how you cherish their commitment and loyalty, admire their love of family and traditions, or how their quiet reserve in tough moments helps you to stay strong. You can also add some lighter, funnier points here if you want to make your partner laugh, like adding in how their stubbornness makes you a more patient person.
- Write them down – at least a week before your elopement. I’ve had couples who simply read their vows from their phone screens, and I’ve had others who hand-wrote their vows in custom calligraphy booklets. The most important thing is to not leave writing your vows until the day before – or day of – your elopement. Write them ahead of time and keep them someplace safe. If you can, scribble them down on a piece of paper or write them in a book to serve as something tangible that you can keep forever.
These are just a few ideas of topics or things to include in what you write about your partner. Just remember that there’s no “right” way to write your vows! You do you!
Important things past couples have said about their vows:
1) …that they felt slightly awkward about making their vows strictly funny and jesting – while their partner wrote deep, serious, and heartfelt lines. They wish they could go back and add in a few more loving and heartfelt thoughts instead of keeping it all funny and lighthearted.
It’s hard to walk the line between funny and serious, but try to include a mix of both. No one knows your partner better than you do, so say everything that you feel about them. You may think whatever you’re going to say is implicit and doesn’t need to be said, but they’ll appreciate hearing it regardless.
2) …that they felt stressed out trying to come up with something to say the night before.
Do yourself a favour and write out your vows at least a week before your wedding day. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress – and avoid potential writer’s block – by not leaving it until the last minute.
3) …that they wished they had thought ahead to write them down on paper.
A lot of couples have their vows saved on a document in their phone – which works just fine, in theory. But some couples felt that it took away from the intimacy and wildness of the moment to have a phone in hand. Depending on the light, it can also be hard to see the screen properly to read what you’ve written.
If having a vow book doesn’t really feel like you, then you can opt for something else! You can write it on a simple piece of paper, and then gift your partner a copy of the vows in a creative way.
Some creative wedding vow gift ideas for your partner:
- If music is a shared passion, you can have a calligrapher write a line from your vows onto an old vinyl record in beautiful script
- You can frame a photo from your elopement day and enclose a hand-written copy of your vows on the back of the frame
- You can engrave a few words or a line from your vows onto a watch, bracelet, or necklace to gift to your partner
- If you’re into tats, you can each get tattoos together, with either a line or a few words from your respective vows
4) …that they were glad they wrote their wedding vows as more of a private love letter than a public speech.
So many people cringe at the thought of standing in front of a crowd of people and divulging their most intimate feelings about their partner. Eloping couples said that they were SO glad they had intimate ceremonies and private vow exchanges, where they felt free to make their vows hyper-personalized, full of inside jokes, and completely open and honest.
Having an elopement gives you the opportunity to craft your own traditions and do things your way, so don’t be afraid to do something brand new that feels most like you.
Talk to your partner ahead of time so that you’re both on the same page when it comes to exchanging vows. But when it comes to what to say – just be yourself. Your partner will love you for it.