6 Ideas for How to Write Your Own Vows When Your Church Won't Allow It

You’ve chosen to write your own wedding vows but there’s one hiccup—your church won’t allow it. Many religious ceremonies do not authorize couples to read their own vows.

In these cases, couples become stuck between a rock and a religious hard place—you want to get married in your church but you also really want to read your own wedding vows.

What can you do? As a professional wedding vow writer at Wedding Words, here are my six ideas for how to honor your religion and your creative expression during your wedding day.

Idea #1: Do Traditional Wedding Vows and Custom Wedding Vows: Talk with your church leader to see if in addition to reading the traditional wedding vows, you can also share personalized wedding vows.

For extremely traditional churches, this may still be frowned upon but it’s worth asking. My mom has always said, “don’t ask…don’t get.”

Make the suggestion and see what they say. The worst that can happen is they say no and in that case, try some of the other tips below.

Idea #2: Write a Love Letter: Before the wedding ceremony have your maid of honor deliver a personal love letter to your fiancé. He can have one ready for you too. Write down your wishes for your marriage. Detail the reasons you love him. Share the promises you are making for your marriage.

You may not be able to read your own vows in front of your guests during the ceremony—but this love letter will honor the spirit of wedding vows. Plus, you’ll have a written keepsake to cherish throughout your marriage.

Idea #3: Share Your Vows During Your First Look: Maybe you were already planning to do a first look. If you weren’t, you may want to consider it now.

The first look is an ideal time on your wedding day to share your own wedding vows.

Once the photographer has finished capturing your first look, have them give you ten minutes to be alone. It’s quiet and intimate—before you’ll spend the rest of your day with guests. This is a special moment when you can read your own vows and soak up the experience together.

Idea #4: Don’t Read Vows—Read a Poem: Many churches prohibit unique wedding vows but they will allow other forms of expression such as readings or poetry. This becomes a logistical change but it still gives you the opportunity to express how you feel.

Write how you feel about your fiancé and ask the church if you can have time within the ceremony dedicated to a special reading. They won’t technically be called custom wedding vows—but you’ll both know these words are intended to be a unique expression of your love.  

Idea #5: Sneak Them into the Ceremony: Who says your wedding vows need to be long enough for anyone to even recognize them as your vows? There’s always those few seconds when the bride first approaches her groom. He often whispers something to her—you look beautiful, I love you.

Discuss the concept of coming up with one-line vows to share when you first see each other at the altar. Look at it as a fun challenge for how to convey your love for each other in just a few words.

Idea #6: Gift Your Vows During Your First Day of Marriage: If you don’t have time to read your own unique wedding vows during the ceremony but you still want to express your own words to frame your marriage—then frame them—literally.

Agree to write custom wedding vows before your wedding and get them framed before the ceremony. When you arrive home for the first time as a married couple, gift each other your personalized vows.

It will be heartwarming to hear unique vows that describe what you promise each other and what you adore about the other person. Especially, after the noise of the big day is gone and it’s just the two of you.

Hang your vows as a sentimental keepsake. They can also act as a reminder throughout your marriage of what you’ve promised each other.

When your religious institution says no to personalized wedding vows, these ideas should help you determine how best to still weave in your personal love story.

Struggling to write your own vows? I’m Katelyn—professional wedding vow writer. I collaborate with couples to put their heart into words and I’d love to work with you. Come visit me at Wedding Words and get in touch so we can start collaborating together.