written by Erin Ruth of Erin Ruth Photos
“The most important thing to remember when writing your vows is that you are not stagnant people. Your relationship will evolve, as will your promises to one another.”
As you plan your wedding, it can be easy to get swept up in picking colors, flowers, the dress, touring venues, and more. It is no secret that wedding planning is a daunting feat at times. When working with my couples, I try to encourage them to make sure they are preparing for marriage just as much as they are preparing for their wedding. One of the best places to start is by working on your vows.
When my husband and I were preparing for our marriage, we spent date nights talking about our values and expectations for our marriage. We read dozens of articles online about writing your vows. We looked up multiple examples, trying to find something we liked. We tried different exercises on writing out a marriage statement of intent. But nothing seemed to really stick. We knew we wanted to write our own vows, we knew we wanted them to be personal, and we knew that we valued our vows having some symmetry. We ended up deciding to structure our vows as follows: introduction of intent or praise, 5 promises, and statement of love.
The structure of our vows is detailed below. I think it is important to remember that wedding vows can be done a million different ways, and you know best what will work for you. Please keep in mind that every couple is different. You may have different views of marriage, values, ideals, beliefs and expectations than the next couple. However, this structure can be easily applied whatever your philosophy may be.
Introduction of intent or praise
You can begin with a mission statement for your marriage, praise for your partner, or a story talking about their character. When preparing this section it can be helpful to talk with your partner about what you want the tone of your vows to feel like. Start with questions like these:
- Is it important to us that the exchanging of vows is a serious moment or lighthearted moment?
- How do we want the introduction to make our partner feel?
- What are the things about your partner that make you love them the most?
Once you have answered these questions and talked about it with your partner, you can get into the writing. Wesley and I took two different approaches to the introduction but we knew that we wanted it to be a serious moment that made us feel loved and seen.
Erin: My sweet Wesley, Today I take you to be my husband. You are kind, gentle, and safe. You love people with intentionality and patience. You chase after God with perseverance. I know these things to be true because I have witnessed you live your life this way consistently for the last two and a half years. I am beyond excited to continue to witness your warm and joyful heart as your wife. It is my greatest honor to be your bride today and for all our days to come.
Wesley: Erin, I want you to know that I wrote these promises with intention and meaning. I want them to carry weight and be a symbol of this new journey that we are starting. I pray that these words would never be a burden, but they would give us life at the thought of our unconditional love for each other. Above all I want us to keep God at the center of our marriage to serve as a pillar.
After the introduction, you can then move into the promises and vows you are making. This can be something you choose to write together or separately. If it is important to you for your vows to be something you write together as you are preparing for marriage, your vows will look slightly different than ours, since we wrote them separately. When preparing to write this section of your vows you can start with these questions and ideas:
- How many promises do you want to make?
- Is there anything specifically you want to promise to one another?
- Do you want to state the same promises or individual promises?
- How can these promises convey your beliefs?
Wesley and I chose to write these sections individually and to keep them a surprise. I found this section of the vows to be the most stressful to write because I didn’t know how to encompass literally everything I wanted to promise to this person I would be spending the rest of my life with. The most important thing to remember when writing your vows is that you are not stagnant people. Your relationship will evolve, as will your promises to one another. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for these to be perfect. Just write from your heart and give yourself some grace.
Erin: Wesley, we have prepared well for this next season of our lives and I could not be more excited to do it with you. With that I give you these promises, I promise to support you in prayer and encouragement daily. I promise to trust your leadership. I promise to work through conflict as a team. I promise to cultivate a home that prioritizes our relationship and connection. And, I promise to listen with the intent of understanding.
Wesley: So, with that, I promise these things to you. I promise that I will take my time and be intentional without slowing down and becoming complacent. I promise to lead and protect our family in a way that is pleasing to God. I promise to trust your word, never leaving a conversation assuming. I promise to be patient, bringing a gentle spirit to every encounter. And, I promise to cry, laugh, process, and sit with you—anything that is necessary in all situations.
Declaration of love
At this point, you could end your vows and they would be beautiful. The other option would be to end with a concluding statement or a declaration of love. This section of the vows can be used to sum up your feelings, as is the nature of a conclusion. We chose to write a conclusion statement. It can be as sweet and simple as Wesley wrote, or it can be something slightly more in depth like mine. There are no right answers or correct ways to write your vows. The only thing to remember is to write each word with intention.
Erin: I know that our relationship will continue to evolve and grow so these promises are not comprehensive by any means, However, the one thing I can promise you that will never waiver is that I love you deeply and I love you fiercely.
Wesley: I love you Erin. And, I can’t believe I get to call you my wife.
YAY! You did it! Kiss your partner and celebrate hard! Remember: it is your day. No matter what, do what is true to you and your partner.
Erin Ruth is a photographer specializing in weddings and creative portraits out of central Ohio. She loves to document joy, love, intimate moments, and all things worth celebrating. Erin works hard to ensure her clients have an enjoyable experience by providing a safe place to create and express themselves. When she isn’t working on photos of beautiful people you can find her drinking hot tea, playing with her two cats, or cuddling with her husband, Wesley.