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Writing your own wedding vows

Writing your own wedding vows may seem like an imposing task, especially with all of the other matters to be handled when planning a wedding ceremony. But the process can really be inspiring and help you remember why you’ve chosen this special person to walk through life with you.

Below are a few tips that will help you write wedding vows that are compelling, authentic and enduring, vows will wow your family and guests and last for a lifetime.

  1. Write vows in the positive (e.g., “I will treat you with respect,” instead of, “I will not be disrespectful toward you.”).
  2. Write vows in the way you speak. If you’re plainspoken, write your vows that way and leave flowery prose to others.
  3. Write vows that have a sense of the sacred. Such vows come from deep within and you will willingly take them on. If a vow seems to be a directive, a command, or an ultimatum, set it aside and choose another.
  4. Write vows that are broad enough to apply to your life today and your life fifty years from now.
  5. Write vows that make you feel joyful, inspired, excited, and optimistic.
  6. Write vows using bold language. Examples include “I will,” “I commit to,” “As your partner/husband/wife/friend/lover I intend to . . .”
  7. Write vows that matter to you and your partner, that authentically express what’s in your heart. Your vows are for the two of you, though you may wish to ask your family and/or your community to support you in keeping them.
  8. Once written, read your vows aloud to make sure the language flows well; revise any awkward sections or phrases that you might stumble on. Do a run-through before the wedding day to get comfortable saying your vows.
  9. If you intend to memorize your vows, keep a copy of them with you during the ceremony, just in case. Or have the officiant lead you through them, with the officiant saying them first and you repeating them afterward.
  10. Coordinate your efforts with your officiant. Remember that some religions have restrictions on the vows that can be used in a marriage ceremony. Your officiant may be able to offer suggestions for your vows and incorporate them seamlessly into the ceremony.

Be sure to check out some sample wedding vows by clicking on “” under Categories in the sidebar. There you’ll find a number of samples including romantic wedding vows and more.

Marriage Vow Workbook authors interviewed on the Wedding Podcast Network

Image of microphoneRemember when we told you about the Wedding Podcast Network–a great resource for planning your wedding? Well, guess what? We were featured guests on episode 22 of their show–Bridal Scene!

Robert Allen, one of the Wedding Podcast Network’s founders, interviewed us about I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook. In addition to our conversation about how to write your own wedding vows, the importance of personal wedding vows, and what’s included in The Marriage Vow Workbook, there’s some other great info on this podcast.

So, sit back, relax, and hop on over to the Wedding Podcast Network and listen to the Bridal Scene podcast! Show notes can be found here.

Make your wedding vows an expression of your true love

In I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, we offer you a step-by-step approach for writing your own unique vows, vows that will express your love in your own words. In addition to the numerous exercises, we provide suggestions based on our own experience as a happily married couple.

If you’re in the process of writing your wedding vows here are a few tips for making these self-authored marriage promises to your beloved:

  • Write vows in the positive (e.g., “I will treat you with respect,” instead of, “I will not be disrespectful toward you.”).
  • Write vows in the way you speak. If you’re plainspoken, write your vows that way and leave flowery prose to others.
  • Write vows that register a strong “yes” within you when you read them to yourself. Something inside you will let you know that this commitment is right for you.
  • Write vows that speak to the best in you and your partner.

White wedding cakeWriting your own vows can be one was to get your marriage off to a strong start. Even if you don’t think of yourselves as writers, trust us, by using The Marriage Vow Workbook (either the print or e-book version) or another thoughtful process, you can write vows that beautifully express your committed love. Even if you want to have elements of tradition in your wedding, writing your own wedding vows can bring you and your partner closer and deepen the love you now feel.

Congratulations and have fun writing your vows!

Simple wedding tips on a TV near you

Would you like some free tips on preparing for marriage? Would you like to see how one couple created a wedding that totally reflected their values and interests? Would you like to spend thirty minutes discovering how to simplify your wedding?

Marriage experts make our national television debut

Marriage experts on televisionIf you’re looking for free, inspirational, and practical ideas for your wedding, be sure to watch the Simple Weddings episode of Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska. It’s a PBS show televised in most markets nationwide. It is due to air sometime between January 15 and January 22. To find out when it airs in your town, click here.

Here are some of the wedding resources you’ll find on the show:

  • Be inspired by the wedding of Eddie McGee and Anna Nixon. This couple involved friends and family in creating their wedding ceremony. Their vehicles of choice after the reception were their bicycles.
  • Marriage experts, none other than yours truly, Shonnie Lavender and Bruce Mulkey, share insights on how to write your own wedding vows and plan for a successful marriage right from the start.
  • Get tips from wedding experts on creating a ceremony that is green, meaningful, and even low cost.

Please pass the word along to any friends who are engaged and looking for ideas on creating a meaningful, unique, and magical wedding. Feel free to stop by our blog after the show and let us know what you thought.

Tips for writing your own marriage vows

In our post, “the benefits of writing your own wedding vows,” we outlined five ways you strengthen your relationship by choosing to write your own vows instead of relying on traditional vows or some “fill in the blanks” formula. While we certainly hope that most of you reading our posts and listening to our podcasts, will buy The Marriage Vow Workbook to guide you through the process of writing your vows, we want to offer all of you some specific tips (no charge, of course).

If you’re not yet sure why you should write your own vows, read our post, “Why should I write my own wedding vows?

  1. Create a supportive environment. Set aside time that will be uninterrupted and quiet so you can devote your full attention to writing your vows.
  2. Put an agreement in place to be fully present, to really hear one another, and to be supportive of one another while writing your vows.
  3. Open your mind and your heart. Your vows are already within you. Give yourself permission to simply pour out your thoughts and feelings onto paper. You can edit and rewrite later.
  4. Use language that feels natural to you and the way you communicate.
  5. Consider vows that speak the truth about who each of you really are, how you want to be with one another, and what you want to create during your life together.
  6. Create vows that call forth your personal best yet leave room for your humanity when you sometimes fall short.
  7. Notice the feelings that arise as you write your vows. If you feel joy, excitement, love, gratitude, and other positive emotions, you’re on the right track.
  8. Enjoy yourself and have fun. If your mind starts to wander or you find yourself resisting this endeavor, stop for a while. Take a break. Return to the creative process later.
  9. Be completely honest with yourself and your partner. Honesty is a vital component of all enduring relationships, and the process of writing your vows may prompt meaningful conversations with your partner or some deep reflection of your own.
  10. Remember that this process is more about drawing forth your intuitive and emotional wisdom than it is about crafting some grammatically perfect, smooth-sounding sentences. If the vows uplift your spirit, move you to say “yes, yes, yes,” and draw forth a broad smile, you have vows that matter to you and add strength to your life as a couple.

We would love to get your feedback about these tips. Did they support you to successfully write your vows? Did you hit a stumbling block with any of them? Do you have your own tips to add? This is an open conversation, so click the “comments” link to add your voice to the mix.

The benefits of writing your own wedding vows

What happens to you in a relationship reflects far more accurately what you really want, or can tolerate, than what you keep on verbally insisting that you want.

~Thomas Patrick Malone & Patrick Thomas Malone

Before I describe the many benefits you’ll enjoy from writing your own marriage/wedding vows, let me clarify how we think “wedding vows” differ from “marriage vows.” In our book, I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, we use the term “marriage vows.” We do that because we think that:

  • marriage vows express a “lived intention,” the way you will be with one another–now and through your years together
  • wedding vows represent words that are merely spoken once on the wedding day, then stored in the wedding photo album or the shoebox of memorabilia

Of course, you can call them what you will, yet at least you understand our frame of reference.

We view marriage as a sacred journey–a living, evolving partnership that grows and changes each day of your life. In The Marriage Vow Workbook, we provide a step-by-step process you can use to write your own vows AND, in the process, establish a solid foundation for your relationship.

By writing your own marriage vows, you are purposefully creating guidelines for your marriage that you intend to follow throughout your time together. As the years pass, your self-authored vows become touchstones to remind you why you made these commitments on your wonderful wedding day, why you resolved to travel this path together.

Here are some of the ways we believe you strengthen your marriage when you use The Marriage Vow Workbook to write your own unique marriage vows.

You’re more committed. Once you’ve purchased The Marriage Vow Workbook, taken the time to complete all the exercises, and written your own marriage vows, you have already invested in your future together and expressed your deepest intentions for making this sacred commitment.

You’re more connected. In sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings about your relationship with your partner as you complete the exercises in this workbook, you will increase your intimacy and deepen your connection to one another–and you’re not even married yet!

You’re more authentic. The marriage vows you write are a true reflection of who you really are. They are consistent with your vision, values, and beliefs. Even if you’re a bit nervous on the day of your wedding, you know your vows by heart because that’s the place from which they arose.

You’re more creative. In writing your own vows, you send forth into the universe the vision of what you are seeking to create. By first imagining what you want in your lives together, you convert those thoughts into possibilities. When you write these possibilities down and then speak them as vows, you transform them into intentions you’re committing to live by. And in sending these intentions out into the universe, you immeasurably increase the likelihood that they will become reality in your shared future.

You’re more conscious. Your marriage vows have the power to support your marriage now and throughout your life with your partner. By creating a ritual to make these commitments part of your daily life, you have a greater opportunity to remain mindful of your actions in all of your relationships . . . including the one you have with yourself.

So, as you can see, there are significant benefits to writing your own marriage vows. Though it takes time, consideration, and willingness, the rewards are so profound that we believe you’ll want to start your marriage in this way.

Download the first 15 pages of The Marriage Vow Workbook (PDF). You might also check out our schedule of classes.

Why should I write my own wedding vows?

That’s a great question and one that we’re often asked. Usually what’s behind that question is one of three impulses.

  • Fear – Having concerns about not doing it “right” or not possessing the skills to make your own words into actual vows
  • Overwhelm – Believing that it will take too long when you’re already busy with wedding planning
  • Indifference – Thinking that traditional vows and self-authored vows are basically the same

Whichever rationale is shaking your desire to author your own wedding vows, we encourage you to read on before going with traditional vows.

Debunking the fear — Anyone can write their own vows. It does NOT take special expertise. In I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook we take couples through straight-forward steps that guide them through the process of writing their vows. Take one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll have a complete draft of your own wedding vows.

Overcoming overwhelm — While there are plenty of things to do in planning your wedding (unless you elope), writing your vows doesn’t need to be complex. About four months before your wedding, we suggest setting aside one hour per week to work on your vows. Using The Marriage Vow Workbook you can read two chapters per month and complete the exercises within each chapter. If you write your vows without such a guidebook, check out our tips for writing your own wedding vows.
Banishing indifference — Traditional vows, though familiar, lack many of the benefits that you gain from writing your own wedding vows. Below is a table to highlight some of the differences between traditional vows and self-authored wedding vows. Read”�the benefits of writing your own wedding vows,” for a full list of great reasons to write your own vows.

Traditional Wedding Vows

  1. May or may not have personal significance
  2. Are often merely “pretty” words
  3. Used only on your wedding day
  4. Likely don’t enhance your relationship on an ongoing basis

Self-Written Wedding Vows

  1. Deeply meaningful to YOU
  2. Your unique intentions, desires, hopes, and dreams are written out as reminders of what the two of you want to create in your life together. No one has the exact relationship that you and your partner have.
  3. You wrote them, so they’re always within you, ready to use at any time.
  4. Simply going through the process of writing your vows can deepen your connection with your partner.

So there you have it. Writing your own wedding vows need not induce fear or overwhelm in your lives. We wrote I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook from our own experience writing our vows for our May 30, 1999 wedding. We coach couples through the process of authoring their unique wedding vows (see sample wedding vows here). Writing your own wedding vows offers innumerable and lasting benefits that you’ll enjoy before, during, and long after your wedding day.

If you wrote your own vows or are planning to, we’d love to learn why you decided to go this route! Or, if you still have lingering doubts, post your question in the “comments” section.

Award-Winning Columnist Features The Marriage Vow Workbook in Her “How To” Column

Today award-winning, syndicated columnist Susan Reinhardt’s story about us and our book, I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook appeared on the front page of the Asheville Citizen-Times Living section. And we couldn’t be more pleased and grateful for Susan’s column and for this opportunity for folks to learn about our work.

The story, “Feelings of the Heart: You don’t have to be a professional to write your own wedding vows,” tells about our relationship and how we came to write The Marriage Vow Workbook. It also includes quotes from Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of the NY Times bestseller Getting the Love You Want who contributed to the book, and from newly-weds Allison Jordan and Gil Holmes, who used the book to write their vows.

In addition, the story offers our how-to tips for writing your own vows as well as Tom and Sharon Parish’s “Tips for Staying Together” that they gave us as a wedding gift in 1999.

Our profound gratitude to each of you who have supported (and are supporting) us in this endeavor, be it in action, word or spirit. Our intention is to make our book available to couples who want to create fulfilling and enduring relationships and, in doing so, help shift the cultural paradigm toward one of greater love, connection and compassion.

You can read the full story online. To learn more about Susan Reinhardt, visit

Of course we welcome you to pass along this article to anyone else who you think would be interested. Thanks!