TOP TIPS to writing your wedding vows

If you’re stressing out about what you’re suppose to say while standing up there looking fancy in front of pretty much everyone who means something to you.  Let me tell you – we got this! So let’s take a virtual big breath together and break it all down! 

Firstly this is totally something I as your celebrant can help you with,  celebrants usually have the experience to know what works and access to a ton of resources. A celebrant should be taking the time to get to know you to ensure your vows are personal. 

HOLD UP – who actually writes the vows though? The celebrant or the couple?

So many questions, let’s go to the very beginning.

First of all let’s look at- What are vows and why do we say them?

I’m so glad you asked! For hundreds of years we have been following wedding traditions pretty blindly. If you look at reasons why things were started, they don’t hold much relevance to today.

Brides carried flowers because a couple of thousand years a go, that babe didn’t bathe all too often and not wanting to scare off her husband-to-be with her pongy pits and other bits, she tried to mask it with some fresh floral notes. Her bridesmaids, were usually her maids or servants that would dress similarly to the bride, so that if another man came to steal the bride on her wedding day, he wouldn’t be able to tell who was who.

I digress.

In the Roman Empire, if you were poor – all you had was your word that you were legally wed. Those that could afford to sign a fancy document (a list of property rights) were able to publicly declare their marriage was legal.

Then in the 1500’s words like ‘worship’ and ‘obey’ were brought into things and in the 20th century we got a little less religious, and started to acknowledge that two people can love each other without a woman obeying a man and without bringing the big G into things!

If we look at a more modern, civil (non-religious) wedding there are usually two parts to the vows. The first part is the legal stuff. Usually a little bit more dry, but if you don’t say it – you are technically not married. So best be saying it! Again, another deep breath, your celebrant will write this into the ceremony, I mean it is their job to make you legally wed!

In Australia the following words MUST be said:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse)

Now what comes after that is where we have some fun. Your celebrant should have asked you so many questions about your relationship and why you are getting married, that you probably mistook them for a marriage counsellor, because the next bit should be personal or it should resonate with you as a couple.

I personally like to keep this bit simple and to the point – for example:

I promise to love and respect you unconditionally, to support you and accept you.

I promise to stand by your side through all of your successes and failures and continue to motivate you as you grow. But above all else, I promise you the freedom; to be you.

So that’s what the celebrant writes – what do you as the couple write?

Another great question and on to the second part. Today many couples also opt to write their own personal vows, separate to the legal wording. The legal ones are still in there, but remember after that we can pretty much have whatever we want.

How do I write my personal vows?

BINGO. Now I am hoping if you’re getting married you can think of a couple of things you love about your partner and your relationship? If you are struggling and you have a bit of time leading up to the big day, may I suggest to start writing notes in your phone. Every time you think of something write a little note. These can be funny, your personal jokes or loving and romantic.

Now when you sit down to write, you hopefully have a few things to start with.

But if your wedding is tomorrow and you have left things to the last minute, here are some easy guidelines

Try to keep it to 150-300 words

  • 50-100 – what you love about your partner
  • 50-100 words – what you love about your relationship
  • 50-100 words – what you want to promise for the future

This can be promising to give them a weekly foot massage, or promising to not go crazy when they leave socks on the table or vowing to always have each others back!

There is a lot of flexibility here, make sure it reflects you as a couple and always read it out loud several times BEFORE the wedding day.

Send it to your celebrant and ask for feedback if you are really unsure. But just remember there is no wrong or right, try to enjoy the process and use it as a time to reflect on why you’re getting married in the first place.

Yazmin Firkins
Awarded in ‘Melbourne’s Top Celebrants’