We typically think of a wedding ceremony as having a few things: a couple madly in love, a first kiss, a ring exchange and wedding vows. But which of those elements is mandatory? Do you have to say vows at a wedding? Let’s find out!

Do you have to read vows at a wedding?

Yes and no. No, you don’t have to read vows at a wedding or say personal vows to your spouse. But you do need to consent to marriage. This can usually be done by saying “I do” or “I will” after your wedding officiant reads out a declaration of intent to marry.

But before you give up on saying vows at your ceremony, check out a few alternatives and convincing reasons below!

Different ways to say vows at a wedding

Not only are there different types of vows – such as traditional vows, modern vows and personal vows you write yourself – but there are also different ways to deliver your vows at your ceremony. If you don’t want to read vows, you have other options!

Check out 5 different ways to deliver your wedding vows!

If you’re nervous about reading your vows at your ceremony, you may prefer repeating vows. With repeating vows, your officiant will ask you to repeat your vows after them, one line at a time. This way, you don’t have to read or memorize your own vows. Repeat-after-me vows work best when they’re short, as it’ll take twice as long to recite them since both you and your officiant will have to say each line.

saying wedding vows at Vancouver elopement with Young Hip & Married wedding officiants
above & feature by Erica Miller Photography

Why we believe you should say vows at a wedding

While you don’t have to read or say vows at your wedding ceremony, we really think you should! And sure, as wedding officiants we’re a little biased. But we also have a lot of experience to back up our point of view!

Your wedding vows are an important moment. They are the promises you want to make for your marriage and the reason for the big party afterwards. By skipping them, you are skipping out on a really meaningful moment not just for you and your partner, but for your guests as well. There is something so powerful about declaring your love in front of your friends and family! 

It is incredibly important to take the time to decide what you want your marriage to look like and what promises you want to make to your spouse. Sharing those sacred promises with them and hearing the promises they make to you is a moment like no other!

It’s okay if you don’t consider yourself a romantic person or a great wordsmith. Your vows are allowed to be short, funny or a little imperfect. As long as they’re from the heart, your spouse and your guests will love them. Plus, we have a video vow writing course to walk you through every step so you’re not stuck writing your vows from scratch!

It’s okay if you get nervous or emotional at the thought of sharing your vows out loud. Remember, you are surrounded by people who love you. They will understand if you need to take a moment, wipe your tears, breathe deep or start again. You can also incorporate some grounding exercises to help prepare you for the big moment.

Couples (and their guests!) often tell us the vows were the best part of their wedding day – especially when they are personal vows that the couple wrote themselves. Don’t miss out on this important moment!

Okay, if you really don’t want to say vows at your ceremony… do this instead!

do you have to say vows at a wedding ceremony, private wedding vows
by Pursell Photography

All right, if we still haven’t convinced you to say vows at a wedding ceremony, we do have a few compromises. Even if you’re not sharing your wedding vows in front of your guests, we encourage you to take the time to share vows with each other. Don’t skip this meaningful moment on your wedding day and the foundation of your marriage!

If you’re sharing your vows in private, take the time to write or select your own vows ahead of time. You can write your vows together or separately, but do make sure this isn’t something you just phone in.

On the big day, make time in your schedule to share your vows with one another. Because you aren’t saying your vows at your ceremony, it’s so easy for them to get skipped if you’re running behind or busy with other wedding day tasks. But trust us, you’re going to want to carve out time for this special moment!

You can choose to share your private vows with one another in person – during the first look is a great option! You can even have your photographer and/or videographer on hand to capture footage of the moment. You could also choose to exchange vows in the form of love letters.

personal wedding vows at lgbtq vancouver wedding with young hip and married
by Ryan Funk Photography

Lastly, don’t forget to let your officiant know if you don’t want to say vows at your wedding ceremony! They can work with you to design a custom ceremony that skips the vows, or shortens them, while still acknowledging your commitment and letting your guests know why they’re not hearing vows. For example, your wedding officiant could say:

“Earlier today, Mabel and Alice shared private vows with one another, making promises for the marriage they are building together. Mabel and Alice, do you affirm the promises you have made to one another and declare your intent to enter into marriage together? If so, please say ‘we do.'”

Remember, you can choose to share both vows in private and vows out loud at your ceremony. If you’re worried about getting too emotional or you just want an intimate moment with your partner, why not share personal vows or love letters during your first look? You can then reaffirm your commitment by exchanging more standard vows at your ceremony. The best of both worlds!

No matter when you say your vows, we believe your wedding ceremony should reflect who you two are and what you consider most important. That’s why our Custom & Creative Ceremony Package is all about designing a custom ceremony personalized to YOU! Get in touch to book your ceremony package and wedding officiant today!