“I promise to stand by you and love you unconditionally.” When it comes to wedding vows, lines like this sure know how to pull on the heart strings!

If you’re getting married, odds are you’ve given some thought to your wedding vows. But you might still have some questions. Should you write your own wedding vows or recite traditional vows? Do you need a vow booklet? And what the heck are you actually supposed to say in your vows anyway!?!

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. As wedding officiants, we’ve married thousands of people and listened to thousands of vows. We know what works, what flops, what makes people cringe and what will have every guest reaching for a tissue.

Check out our answers below to some of the most commonly asked wedding vow questions!

Want to write your own personalized vows but not sure where to start? Check out our vow writing course and FREE wedding vow guide! 

personalized wedding vows at vancouver elopement
by Erica Miller Photography

What are wedding vows?

Let’s start with the basics: What are wedding vows?

Wedding vows are the promises you make to your partner for your marriage. They’re typically spoken out loud during the ceremony portion of your wedding, with each partner taking turns addressing the other.

Think of your wedding vows as the foundation for your marriage. They are your marriage contract – promises you and your spouse-to-be are agreeing to fulfill throughout your lifelong partnership.

Wedding vows are also the purpose for the party! The whole reason why you’re throwing a wedding and why your guests have gathered is to celebrate you two entering into marriage. Your vows are the verbal beginning of that marriage.

young hip and married backyard elopement
by Erica Miller Photography

What should wedding vows sound like? What should I say in my wedding vows? 

Most importantly, your wedding vows should sound like you. Every couple is different, so every set of vows should be different too. Your vows can be short, long, silly, serious, romantic, poetic or a little bit of everything!

In terms of the content, your vows should mostly focus on the actual promises (aka vows) you want to make for your marriage. Think about what you want to do or who you want to be in your committed relationship. Most vows also feature a compliment stage. This is where you can share how much you love your partner and why you want to marry them.

Pro tip: Don’t get too caught up in your love story! Some couples forget that marriage vows are supposed to be just that – the vows you intend to keep in your marriage. Instead, they only talk about how they met, how they fell in love and why they like their partner so much.

And while all of that is wonderful, it shouldn’t replace the actual promises, vows and commitments you’re making to your partner on your wedding day.

Bottom line: Your wedding vows should answer the question, “What do I want to promise my partner about our lifelong marriage?” 

personal wedding vows in stanley park with young hip and married
by Erica Miller Photography

What are personalized wedding vows? 

Personalized wedding vows are vows you write yourself. While they can be completely written from scratch using your own creativity, they can also be inspired by wedding vow examples you’ve seen or heard before. In fact, you could even combine some lines from vows you love with your own words.

Personalized vows give you the opportunity to tell your love story in your own words. They are meaningful and unique to you; no one else will have these same vows! They allow you to make an incredibly special moment during your ceremony that you, your partner and your guests will never forget.

Like the sound of personal wedding vows but have no idea where to start? Our online vow writing course will walk you through each step to create your own personalized vows. 

wedding vows at calgary elopement
by Deanna Rachel Photography

Should we say traditional wedding vows or personal vows at our ceremony?

Traditional vows are a standard set of wedding vows that couples can choose to recite on their wedding day. Instead of writing your own personal vows, you’d recite pre-written vows, likely repeating each line after your officiant. These vows usually have historical or religious significance. You’ve likely heard traditional vows at weddings you’ve been to in the past, or in TV shows or movies.

Check out our top 20 traditional wedding vows here! 

Deciding between traditional wedding vows and personal vows depends on what matters most to you. Some couples choose to use traditional vows because they’re more comfortable with them or because they have a religious affiliation. And other couples choose personalized vows because they want to make promises in their own words.

In our opinion as wedding officiants, we prefer personalized vows. We believe personal vows make for a more meaningful wedding ceremony – for both the couple and their guests. Even if you’re nervous or don’t think you’re a good writer, you can still write your own wedding vows (with a little help!).

Still not sure what’s best for you? Take our vow quiz! Remember, you can always combine your favourite lines or words from traditional vows into your own DIY vows.

granville island elopement with young hip and married
by John Bello Photography

Is there a wedding vows script or wedding vows template we can follow to write our own vows?

We’re so glad you asked! We have a wedding vow course that will provide you with an easy template and step-by-step instructions. Check out the vow course here!

Many couples sit down to write their wedding vows and get hit with a huge case of writer’s block. It can be overwhelming to try and put all of your feelings for your partner into words! When you’ve never had to write vows before, it only makes sense that you have no idea where to start.

So we highly recommend taking a vow writing course (like ours!) and following a wedding vow script or template. While there’s no universally correct way to write vows, a writing formula helps to make the process easier. With a template in front of you, you’ll feel less overwhelmed, more organized and better able to stay on track and capture what you actually want to say to your partner on the big day.

young hip and married intimate elopement ceremony package
by Erica Miller Photography

What mistakes do couples make with their wedding vows?

No one wants to flop their wedding vows. But sadly, we see it happen all the time! Here are 5 mistakes you want to avoid with your marriage vows:

  1. Mistake #1: Not putting enough time into your vows. Writing your vows doesn’t have to take long, but you should dedicate at least 1-2 hours to them sitting down and writing them.
  2. Mistake #2: Trying to write your vows the morning of your wedding. The last thing you want to be doing on the morning of your wedding is rushing to write down your most meaningful and important promises while someone curls your hair or pins on your boutonniere.
  3. Mistake #3: Settling for traditional vows because you don’t think you can write your own. With a vow course and template, even non-writers will have the tools they need to write their own wedding vows. Don’t settle because you think you’re not creative or romantic enough to write your own.
  4. Mistake #4: Not practicing your vows. After you finish writing your vows, practice saying them out loud a few times so you get comfortable with the words. This will make a huge difference come wedding day!
  5. Mistake #5: Trying to memorize your wedding vows. While we love the effort, we’ve seen this plan backfire. Words that seemed easy to memorize at your kitchen table will quickly escape your mind when you’re standing up at your wedding ceremony. Don’t try to be a hero and memorize your vows!
stanley park elopement with personal wedding vows
by Erica Miller Photography

Do we need a vows booklet? 

A wedding vows booklet is a small notebook of paper where you write your vows and which you hold on the big day when reciting them. These little booklets can be simple or extremely ornate; you can even get personalized ones with your names and wedding date on Etsy.

Do you need a vows booklet? No, it’s not a necessity. But they can be nice to have! 

As we mentioned in the vows mistakes above, you don’t want to risk memorizing your vows only to completely forget them when it’s your turn to speak. You do want to have your vows written down for you to read, or at least reference, at your ceremony.

“Can’t I just keep my vows on my phone?” Please don’t! As officiants, we see this all the time and it makes us cringe. In your wedding photos, it looks like you’ve decided to scroll TikTok or answer a quick email during your own wedding ceremony! And worse, what happens if your phone battery dies, you lose service or your app starts acting up?

We suggest writing your vows down on paper and reading off that paper at your ceremony. While any kind of paper will do, many couples do opt for a wedding vow booklet. Not only do vow booklets look a lot nicer than a torn piece of loose-leaf paper or hotel room stationary, but they also make wonderful keepsakes. You can revisit your vow booklets every anniversary!

vow renewal
by Erica Miller Photography

Are renewal wedding vows or elopement vows different than regular wedding vows? 

Every set of wedding vows will be different because every couple is different. So depending on the wedding, elopement or vow renewal you plan, you may have completely different vows or use the same ones.

But generally speaking, vows will vary slightly depending on the occasion. For a wedding renewal, your vows will likely reference the many years of marriage you’ve shared together, the milestones you’ve celebrated, and the challenges you’ve overcome. Renewal wedding vows, for example, will also talk about your renewed commitment and updated promises for the rest of your marriage.

In an elopement, where there are few or no guests, wedding vows are likely to be more personal. Just by virtue of the fact that an elopement is truly all about you two, you’ll allow yourself to be more vulnerable and share more deeply. There’s a reason why so many elopement couples are seen wiping away tears during their vows – that intimate moment is so special!

So there you have it – everything you have ever wanted to know about wedding vows! Still have questions? Drop a comment below or reach out to us on social media.

Grab your FREE vow guide here!


written by Riana Ang-Canning
feature image by Amber Leigh Photography