You have been gearing up for the big day. Your hearts are filled with so many feelings—but how to put them into words? Your wedding ceremony is supposed to express the love and commitment you have for one another, so naturally, there are promises you want to articulate. Your vows are those broad, general concepts you both want to work on throughout the life of your relationship. You don’t want that moment to look like this:

However, if you have a ketubah or other such document you’ve already incorporated into your ceremony, having additional vows might actually be redundant. Most modern ketubah texts already have such vows built into their language, and they are read as part of the wedding ceremony.

Many of us are used to witnessing modern wedding ceremonies, which still have that “movie moment,” where the wedding officiant says, “Do you take this person to be your spouse…” with a list of promises. It actually does look pretty romantic. Something like this:

If you intend to include traditional or original vows, even after reading a ketubah text aloud, here’s some ideas for you to consider:

  1. If you want to go ultra-modern-traditional, a good baseline text would read: “I, NAME, • take you, NAME, • to be my wife/husband/partner, • to have and to hold, • from this day forward, • for better or worse, • for richer or poorer, • in sickness and in health, • to love and cherish always • all the days of my life.” Short, sweet, and familiar!
  2. If you want to go beyond that idea, try not to repeat what is already in your printed promises from your ketubah.
  3. Your vows shouldn’t replicate what your wedding officiant is saying in his/her address to you: Vows are promises, so keep your list to a list of actual promises instead of memories.
  4. Don’t make your vows too specific. As an example, even if you are an active couple that enjoys working out together, don’t say something like, “I always promise to spot you while power lifting.” It might seem cute at the time, but it undercuts a very poignant and thoughtful moment in your ceremony. Keep the vows more about larger ideas (in this case, “I promise to commit to a life of pursuing health and wellness with you.”).
  5. Bounce ideas off your officiant! S/he is there to help you! You don’t have to write these on your own.
  6. If you both decide to write vows, put them on notecards but also send them to your officiant so you have double copies just in case.
  7. Decide whether you want your officiant to read them aloud for you to respond “I do” or “I will” to, or if you’re going to read them. It’s okay either way. Your job on your wedding day is not to perform if you don’t want to!
  8. In any of these cases, the vows section should be intense, direct, and brief. This is the moment before you seal your promises with the exchange of rings.
  9. Need further ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Here’s some links: