Marriage is one of the most important events in one’s life. It marks a new beginning for couples, thus making a beautiful and memorable wedding ceremony all the more essential. Heartfelt vows symbolize one’s commitment and love for their partner.
Inspiration for writing your wedding vows can be found in various forms of media and popular culture. The romantic exchange between Paige and Leo in The Vow, the lighthearted and anecdotal vows of Marshall and Lily, and the personal and humorous vows of Jake and Amy in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, may give you the idea and push you to come up with your own heartfelt vows.
A typical wedding ceremony consists of seven parts, with arguably the most memorable parts being the declaration of intent and the exchange of wedding vows. The difference between the two will be explained, as well as examples and tips for writing your own vows.
Declaration of Intent VS. Wedding Vows
Both the declaration of intent and the exchange of wedding vows are parts of a wedding ceremony.
To put it simply, the declaration of intent is where the officiant asks the couple if they really want to get married. This is often the highlight of every wedding, where the bride and the groom say, “I do.”
The declaration of intent is stating the marriage is done in free will and that you agree to marry your partner. This is what makes a couple’s marriage legal and recognized by the state.
The exchange of vows is where the bride and the groom recite their oaths and promises to the other. It can be written by the couple themselves or taken from a tradition or religion.
The declaration of intent is typically done right before the exchange of vows. While the declaration of intent is a required part of the wedding ceremony, the exchange of vows is completely optional and based on the preference of the couple.
Examples of Declaration of Intent
- Do you, (Your name), take (Name), to be your lawfully wedded (husband/wife/partner)? Do you promise to love (him/her/them), in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto (him/her/them) for as long as you two live?
- (Your name), in the presence of your friends, family, and guests, do you declare your love and commitment to (Name), choosing (him/her/them) as your partner for life? Do you offer your full self to (him/her/them), as (he/she/they) offer/s (his/her/their) full self to you?
- Do you, (Your name), promise to love and respect (Name), to share your life and dreams, to build a home of love, happiness, and growth? Do you promise to always be there for (Name) through all (his/her/their) successes, failures, ups and downs, to offer your steadfast support, and most importantly, to give (him/her/them) the freedom to be (himself/herself/themself)?
Most of the time, these are prepared by the officiants or borrowed from institutions recognizing marriages such as religions. However, it is also possible to tweak popular declarations of intentions to make it more personal to the couple getting married.
Writing Your Own Heartfelt Wedding Vows
Take Down Notes
As vows are highly personal, you can include some favorite moments, achievements, and memories of or with your partner. Anecdotes such as first dates, adventures, and challenges that you have faced together, can also be mentioned. You can also outline the characteristics of your partner that you adore or appreciate. These details can help you construct and embellish the vow you are going to write.
List Your Promises
Wedding vows are, first and foremost, promises you are making to your partner that you will do your best to uphold during your marriage. This illustrates the commitment and dedication you have for each other. The notes you took down can help you with this, as you can incorporate certain quirks or anecdotes that can put a unique spin to your promises.
Choose the Tone
The nature of your relationship with your partner can help decide the tone and theme of your vows. As such, how you proceed with your wedding vows can say a lot about your partnership. This is what makes the exchange of vows unique and heartfelt. Some of the common tones used are listed below.
- Funny and witty
- Emotional and deeply personal
Draft and Revise
Having finished the first three tips, proceed with writing up the first draft of your wedding vows. Practice reading it out loud, especially with someone you trust, so that technical errors such as grammar and intonation can be fixed. This also helps in determining which details need to be added or omitted. Additionally, this can help ease the nervousness that may come with having to speak in front of an audience.
There is a plethora of sources you can consult to be inspired to write your own wedding vows. There are plenty of sites that offer a wide range of samples and templates according to the tones listed above.
Moreover, you can also look at movies, literature, and other popular media that contain scenes of wedding ceremonies. Art can inspire you and get your creativity flowing to finally finish your vows.
Ideas for Wedding Vows
As mentioned, pop culture and art are great sources of inspiration for writing your vows, especially those with well-loved and heartwarming wedding scenes.
The Vow – Paige and Leo
Paige: “I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness and to have the patience that love demands, to speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they are not, to agree to disagree on red velvet cake, and to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home.”
Leo: “I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love. And to always know in the deepest part of my soul that no matter what challenges might carry us apart, we will always find our way back to each other.”
How I Met Your Mother – Marshall and Lily
Marshall: There are a million reasons why I love you. You make me laugh and you take care of me when I’m sick. You’re sweet, caring, and you even created an egg dish and named it after me—she puts a lot of time dressing the scrambled eggs before cooking them—it’s called “Egg Marshall” and it’s awesome. But the main reason that I love you is that you’re my best friend, Lily. You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had.
Lily: Marshall, I love you because you’re funny and you make me feel loved and you make me feel safe. And for our anniversary you gave me a sweatshirt that says, “Lily and Marshall: Rockin’ It Since ‘96.” Kinda wish I was wearing it right now, ‘cause it smells like you. But the main reason I love you, Marshall Eriksen, is you make me happy. You make me happy all the time.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Jake and Amy
Jake: Yes, I was going to do an “Addams Family” themed rap, but my beat-boxer isn’t here. That’s the only reason it’s not happening. So, Ames, today has been a crazy day. But I shouldn’t be surprised, because we’ve had a lot of crazy days. There was our first date, our first kiss, the first time you told me you loved me, and the day you told me you would marry me. Also, yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, because every single day that I get to be with someone as amazing as you is crazy to me. I love you. And I’m worried about dancing in front of our friends. The end.
Amy: Okay, well. I’ve been planning this wedding for the last six months. And if you told me yesterday everything that was gonna go wrong, I would have had a panic attack that sent me into the ER. But I’m here, and I’ve never been happier. Life is unpredictable. Not everything’s in our control. But as long as you’re with the right people, you can handle anything. And you, Jake Peralta, are the right person for me. But I do have some bad news. There is a bomb at this wedding as well.
Amy: Your butt. Your butt is the bomb. There will be no survivors.
The declaration of intent and the exchange of wedding vows are significant parts of the wedding ceremony which legitimize and reaffirms the commitment between two people. Although daunting, writing your own vows can be easier if you look for inspiration from media, art, and pop culture, such as popular shows and movies.