Personalized vows are very common, sometimes playful and so often incredibly sentimental. Honestly, they’re our favourite part of any ceremony and usually when most people involved or witnessing are in their feels and having a tender moment - us included. I (Samson) laugh and cry right alongside our couples at almost every wedding, maybe it’s because I’m a softie romantic, maybe it’s because I’m a pisces, I don’t know … but thank goodness for auto focus!

two brides exchange vows, one wipes tears. photo is black and white
A groom in a blue suit shares his vows with his partner
a couple exchange vows with children beside them, everyone is laughing

Private Vows are exactly what they sound like, taking those special personalized vows and doing them privately, just between the couple. This can be in person or written, it can happen before the ceremony or after. Sometimes we’re shy and saying vulnerable things in front of a lot of people can be nerve wracking and make ya sweaty, while on the other hand sharing these things quietly with your partner is affirming, comforting and romantic. 

There are no specific things you need to say in Private Vows, just let it flow from the heart or write them in advance. Say all the things you mean, what you feel and what you promise. You can read your vows to your partner and you may cry or get emotional but they’re right there with you and it’s special to see how much your partner loves you. Alex and Petra did a First Look in the Historic Properties, Downtown Halifax before their ceremony and they took these extra moments to read their Private Vows to one another. Their vows (although we only heard snippets) were an emotional journey for the both of them, they had each other laughing and crying the whole time.

a bride, in focus, walks towards her groom, in the foreground, she is smiling and her arms are swinging
A groom in the midst of turning to see his bride for the very first time in her wedding dress
A bride and groom embrace gently.
A bride bashfully listens to her groom share his private vows with her.
A bride and groom giggle like children over their private vow exchange.
A groom wipes away a tear as he listens to his bride share her private vows with him.

If you’re anything like me (Samson), and you know you’re gonna melt to a puddle of tears, you could also give your vows to your partner to read whenever they like, however often they like and to keep forever. Sarah and Natalie took this approach. The night before their wedding they revealed they weren't sure when to share their vows, "We were thinking at the first look." "Yeah but I don't want to cry before the ceremony!" I suggested earlier that we carve out time to make sure we get some sunset photos so I thought outloud "Why don't we take them to the sunset photos?" Immediately we were all on the same page. So that's what we did, we snuck away from their reception at sunset so they could exchange private vows on the shore of the Northumberland Strait in Grand-Barachois, New Brunswick and there was not a single dry eye amongst us. Kelsey and I don’t even know what their vows said but the emotion was palpable and the feels were for reals. 

Whether your vows are private or incorporated within the ceremony, it’s most important to write from the heart and start them early. Too many times we’ve heard stories of someone writing their vows that morning in a panic before the day got underway, or accidentally deleting them from their phone the night before …. Rule of thumb, start early and make sure there’s more than one copy.

Pro Tip: Kelsey Anne and I wrote our vows early and chose friends to hear them for us ahead of time, for practice but also so we could find out if one of us wrote too much or was too silly when the other was serious. We wanted our vows to be unique but similar length so we called on trusted friends to compare them for us.

Some Starter Questions for Writing your Vows:

Why are they the love of your life?

How can you be the best partner for them?

What can you promise them?

How can you lift them up when they are feeling down?

Why does they make you laugh?

How did they make you feel the first time you met?

How do you complement each other?

Why can’t you live without them?

Why did you choose them to partner with?

What does marriage mean to you?

What will you encourage them to do during your marriage?

How will you inspire them and support them during your marriage?

What have they taught you about yourself, about love and about life?

What’s your favourite thing the two of you have done together?

How have they changed you for the better?

What do you miss about them when they aren’t around?

What obstacles have you overcome together?

What do you see in your future?