How to Write Elopement Vows in 4 Easy Steps

These steps for writing (and storing!) your vows will help you create authentic written promises that you and your partner will treasure for a lifetime.

Whether you are a natural-born writer, a poet at heart, or simply want to express the commitment you feel to your partner in your own words, writing your wedding or elopement vows is a unique way to share your love (and makes for some stunning photos.) Not only will these vows provide a powerful point of reflection in your ceremony, but they also serve as a beautiful keepsake for you and your partner to look back on for years to come.

But before you put your passion onto paper or sneak a peek at what your spouse-to-be is writing, take a look at these 4 tips on wow to write elopement vows. There are a million reasons why you love your partner but sometimes it’s hard to put your love into words. Here are some of the most effective ways to get that love into writing, and treasure these promises for years to come. 

A groom reads vows to his bride at sunrise. The couple is standing along an alpine lake in Idaho. The bride is wearing a pink shirt with a white tule shirt.

How to Write Elopement Vows Step 1: Understand the Importance of Elopement Vows

Chances are, if you are having an elopement, you are already used to doing things in your own style. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that you want to forsake traditional wedding vows for something a little more personalized. Keep in mind that the vow portion of an elopement generally takes center stage, especially when it comes to a two-person elopement. So before you put off writing your vows to the morning of your wedding, make sure you put a bit of thought into your vows before the big day arrives (your partner and your ceremony photos will thank you for it!).

Making Your Vows Uniquely Your Own

Just because you are including the tradition of wedding vows in your ceremony doesn’t mean you can’t make it authentically your own! Consider ways to add your sparkle into your vows, without taking away from the importance of the moment.

One simple way to embrace authenticity is through language. If you have a fun, informal way of speaking, allow that side of you to shine through. Have a funny story that you wouldn’t normally share in front of a larger group? Go ahead and share if you think it will make your partner smile. The beauty of an elopement ceremony is that you share anything with your partner and not have to worry about a big audience hearing it. 

Another way to spice up your vows is to pair your promises with an activity. If the vows are the climax of your ceremony, why not end with a splash (literally!) by jumping into a lake or waterfall once the commitments have been read aloud? Or, consider a toast with your favorite beer or a glass of champagne once the statements have been read. This adds a lightness after the often teary-eyed seriousness that vow reading can induce.

Get Others Involved in Your Writing Process

Not convinced you can create these vows solo? That’s ok! Many cultures have traditions surrounding writing vows together, such as the Jewish Ketubah, or marriage contract, that a couple works on collaboratively. Writing your commitments for marriage alongside your partner can be a special bonding moment or opportunity, and often feels less overwhelming than writing your vows solo. 

The Keeper Co. has interactive vow books that are a fun resource for writing vows together. You can use the prompts to write your vows together, or fill the books out separately and read your answers during your ceremony.

A couple reads letters from their family as part of their elopement vows. The couples dog is sitting next to them. The bride is wearing a cream secondhand wedding dress and the groom is wearing a blue bowtie.

Another idea is bringing family members or friends into the writing process to add a dimension of dedication and blessing to your vows. (For example, one partner notes how their mother had always prayed for someone just like you to spend their life with, and knew you two would marry from the moment she met you!) Just make sure that contributing individuals are adding insight to the two of you as a couple, and not shifting the focus away from your love.

How to Write Elopement Vows Step 2: Make Your Vows a Keepsake

This is one of my top tips for writing vows because I learned this lesson the hard way: make sure you store your vows in a very special place! There is incredible value in aesthetic, nice-looking vow books, and I wish I had made an investment in something like this on my own wedding day. (Instead, both my husband and I scrawled our vows on scraps of paper that inevitably got lost in the busyness of the day.) Keep your vows somewhere special and safe, you won’t regret it!

A wedding couple laughs together as the bride reads her groom handwritten vows. The couple is standing on along a mountain lake. The groom is wearing a charcoal suit and the bridge is wearing a light pink wedding dress with flowers.

Write Your Vows on Something More than Paper (or your Phone)

Even for the most organized couple on the planet, it is critical to make sure your vows are on something more substantial than a piece of paper. Especially if your elopement day includes adventuring through the wilderness, the chance of a breeze catching your carefully crafted vows, or your coffee spilling all over your marriage commitments is just too great. Get those vows into something heartier that can’t be easily lost (a vow book is my personal favorite resource, more on those later.)

While vows in the “Notes” section of your phone may be fairly convenient, the presence of cell phones doesn’t make for great photographs. Not only that, there is always the chance that you will be interrupted by an inopportune text at the exact moment you are about to share your love. So, ditch the phone, and let’s find a more adequate resource for your lifelong promises. 

Creative Vessels for Your Vows

Vow books lend themselves to nice detailed photos, and I recommend that each of my couples who plan on writing their own vows invest in one before the big day. These books are fairly inexpensive and can be easily purchased and customized on Etsy, Pinterest, and Amazon.

If you are looking to take these tips for writing vows to the next level, collaborate with a calligrapher for completely custom vow books. A calligrapher can write the vows in your books for you and this creates a beautiful keepsake.

Here are a few vow books I love:

How to Write Elopement Vows Step 3: The Writing Process

Now that you are convinced not to save vow writing for the very last minute (and are refraining from putting all your sentimental thoughts in the note app on your phone!). It’s time to discuss the actual tips for writing vows! While it can seem intimidating to start the writing process, rest assured that if what you choose to write comes from the heart, you can’t go wrong. 

Two brown leather vow books lay on the ground in the sunshine. The vow books are customized with mountains, the couples wedding date, and the couples initials.

Verbalize Your Commitment 

There is something powerful in giving and receiving promises, so make sure to verbalize your commitment to each other. Not sure where to start? Here are a few phrases to kick off your vow writing process and get the creative juices flowing:

  • “I promise to..”
  • “I remember when…”
  • “I always smile when I think about…”
  • “I can’t wait until the day we….”
  • “I knew I would marry you when…”

It should go without saying, but be sure to include the phrase “I love you” somewhere in your vows! We all love our partners, but there is something wonderful in hearing and saying “I love you” at a moment when emotion is high. It’s not cliche… tell your partner you love them!

Share Meaningful Moments

Do you recall when you first knew you loved your partner or were ready to spend your life with them? Was it when you briefly caught each other’s eye for the first time at the rock climbing gym or the backpacking adventure you ever had that made you think, “this could be my adventure partner for life”? Consider a sentimental moment during your relationship, and write down how that moment led you to where you are today.

A bride shares her vows their her groom during their elopement ceremony.

Keep in mind that the meaningful moments may not only be joyous memories the two of you shared. Impactful memories from adolescence, or even challenges you have overcome as a couple, can provide profound insight and an engaging narrative of how you knew your partner was “the one.”

Get on the Same Page…But Keep it Secret Until the Ceremony

Here is the tricky part; try not to share too much with your partner until the ceremony! I know it can be tempting to glance over each other’s notes while you are basking in the pre-ceremony bliss at your epic AirBnb, or to ensure that your vows match the level of seriousness and levity as your partner’s, but try and hold off until the ceremony. 

Dark wooden vow books lay face up next to a map. The vow books have 'his vows' and 'her vows' printed on the front. There is a map of the Salmon River in Idaho laying next to the vow books. There are wedding bands laying on the map.

This being said, if you are worried that your partner may just crack jokes for the whole vow ceremony when you are hoping for something a little more serious, let them know! Saying something like, “Hey, I know we both like to joke around a lot, but I am keeping my vows really sentimental without too many punchlines. Do you think you could do the same?” This will ensure you are setting reasonable expectations for each other while maintaining the element of surprise.

Hearing the stories, feelings, and emotions that your partner has for your life together can provide a deeper level of intimacy to your elopement celebration. So do your best to keep your vows to yourself, and be ready to receive your partner’s promises with an open heart and open mind, knowing that they were written with love for you at the core.

How to Write Elopement Vows Step 4: Use Your Vows to Make Your Elopement Legal

Most states requires a declaration of intent to make your marriage and commitments legally binding. The phrase ‘I do’ or ‘I take you’ checks this box. If I am serving as your officiant, and signing your marriage license, I will remind you to include a declaration of intent in your vows. If I don’t hear a declaration of intent during your ceremony, that’s alright too! I’ll just ask if you take each other before I sign your marriage license. 

A groom shares his vows with his bride during their sunrise ceremony. The bride is smiling and holding a white vow book.

Personal Touches for an Authentic Elopement Ceremony

I love elopements because they allow for the personal touches that make a couple’s love evident (not to mention some pretty incredible images.) While the vows are a critical part of any ceremony, give yourself (and your partner!) permission to get silly, get vulnerable, make mistakes, and have a few laughs along the way. That’s what the adventure is all about!