A big part of my job as a marriage celebrant, officiant or JP for my American followers, is talking about your vows. Your wedding vows are a response to the person standing opposite to you on your wedding day. You’re welcome to have some fun, crack a joke, cry or get emotional, but it’s a personal occasion, a mano-a-mano moment with your most loved.

What’s necessary?

In Australia the standard, default, necessary, legal vows go like this:

The groom must say to the bride

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, [Groom’s full name], take thee, [Bride’s full name], to be my lawful wedded wife.

Or words to that effect, which means you can edit it up a little bit as long as it means the same thing. You can’t change the essentials like your names and that you’re taking a husband or wife. Bestie, BFF, lover, sexual partner, housemate, best-friend, partner or other non-marriage terms can’t replace husband and wife.

And the bride must also say to the groom:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, [Bride’s full name], take thee, [Groom’s full name], to be my lawful wedded husband.

Or words to that effect.

Countries other than Australia may have different legal requirements, please check for your district.

How to make them awesome

Awesome vows are very very simple, so don’t over-think them, just follow these tips:

  • Use your language. If you say thee and thou around the family home then totally rock some Shakespeare into your vows. But don’t use words that you don’t already use, just speak your normal language using words you normally use. After all, the vows have to actually mean something to both of you.
  • Use the Goldilocks principle. Not too little, not too much, but make them just right. Say everything you want to, nothing more, nothing less, there’s no right length for the vows outside of the Goldilocks rule: just right.
  • Be honest. There’s nothing more awkward than when a clearly independant bride or groom vows to obey and submit and whatnot when that’s clearly not in their character or personality. Simply put: don’t lie on your wedding day.
  • Respond to the person opposite you. Your vows are a response to what’s happening, you’re marrying your favourite person on the planet. So respond to the situation, to the person, to your feelings and to your marriage. If you were given money you might respond by saying thank you and then doing something with it. If you were given a second chance at life by a doctor you’d probably pay a bill, be eternally grateful then live life a different way. If you were given a best-friend, a husband or wife, how would you respond? What would you promise? What words would you use to show your happiness and gratitude?
  • Don’t read any blogs, articles, web pages or Pins. You’ve already failed on this one, but that’s ok, you can stop now. When you Google “example wedding vows” you’re stepping into years of tradition, other people’s love, other people’s celebrations and other culture’s parties. They’re all awesome examples of how to party, but they’re not you.

There are no-standard vows, there are no normal vows, normal doesn’t exist because you aren’t normal, you’re you! There are Catholic and Anglican vows, but if you’re not subscribing to those religions you need not use them. Create your own vows because it’s your party and it’s your marriage!

What if I don’t want to write my own vows?

You totally don’t have to, I’m not your real dad, so here’s some examples that you might like:

Got any tips on how you wrote your awesome vows? Share them in the comments!