Private Wedding vows – why and How to write them

How to Write Private Vows and Why?

Private wedding vows can be exchanged in a few different ways, and it just depends on what works best for you. Some people choose to sit and exchange vows during a private moment together before the wedding ceremony. Others may write their vows down and have someone in their bridal party pass their letter along while everyone is getting ready. And another option is to choose a separate time and place entirely. 

Over the last several years, things like micro-weddings, elopements, and first-look photo shoots have quickly gained popularity. There are certain moments we want to share with everyone we love. And others are meant to be intimate – between us and only that special someone we love the most. For some, vows are on that list. 

Many of us aren’t prepared to share our deepest, most intimate thoughts with all our friends and family, their significant others, and our coworkers. So, it makes sense that more elaborate vow-sharing isn’t everyone’s first choice anymore. Exchanging secret vows can give you and your other half some time to yourselves on your wedding day. 

On top of carving out space that is yours and yours alone, it creates a meaningful memory and can mean the start of a lovely tradition. Many couples exchange vow-like letters on their first wedding anniversary, and if you exchange secret vows first, this anniversary tradition will always remind you of your beautiful beginnings. 

To be clear, these secret vows are not replacing the standard wedding ceremony vows. They’re elaborating on them. These days, many people choose shorter vows for the ceremony, either to make the most of the rest of the day or because they want to save the deeply personal promises and declarations to share separately. That’s where secret vows come in.

Whether you choose to exchange secret vows at the venue on the day of your wedding or plan a separate special moment leading up to the big day, it’s sure to be an unforgettable, magical moment. If you’re not sure where to go from here, read on for a basic template, things you may want to include, and suggestions for choosing the time and place for your vow exchange. 

Love Letters

Love letters
Wedding vow letters

Why to Write you Secret Vows?

For me, as a wedding photographer, there are a few reasons for writing your private wedding wows. 

  1. It can easily be a part of your first look or reveal.  – Without looking you can put your backs against each other and feel close. This first touch on the wedding day is already very meaningful.
  2. I have another chance to be invisible – Walking silently around you I can capture emotions that are a lot of times not a part of the standard ceremony vows exchange.
  3. Deeply personal – You can hear and touch but not see one another. Right after you read your private vows and turn around the magnitude of the moment is huge. It is my chance to capture your affection and love.
Check out a full highlight of Kim & Adam Wedding!
Personal Wedding Vows
Forest Private Wedding Vows

What to Include in Your Personal Wedding Vows?

When you’ve decided that a private wedding vows exchange is something you want, there’s only one thing that truly matters. What matters is that the first (or even only) person to hear your heartfelt message, life-long promises, and words of love is who you wrote them for. Everything else is up to you. But when you’re writing something so meaningful, you may not know where to start. 

Getting started is often as easy as answering some questions about your favorite person: 

  • Where did you first meet and how do you remember that moment?
  • How did you feel about your first kiss? 
  • What do you remember about the day you first told them you loved them? 
  • How do they make you better? 
  • What are the things you love the most about them? 
  • Why can’t you see your life without your partner in it?

Looking ahead now, what are some of the things the two of you have promised for your future together? These can be small, sweet promises, like “I promise to always make you coffee in the mornings, just the way you like it,” or “I promise never to go to bed angry.” But they can be silly too, like “I promise to try and pick my socks up off the floor,” or “I promise not to watch that new TV show without you.”  

Unique Private Wedding Vows

Answering the questions above should help you get started. To make your private wedding vows even more unique you may also want to include:

  • Silly, funny stories, nicknames, or inside jokes 
  • Shared, meaningful memories of dates, vacations, and other events
  • Quotes or nicknames that are special to the two of you 
  • Heartfelt promises of things you’ll always do for your significant other

Have you and your significant other ever gotten lost on your way somewhere and either made a lasting, funny memory or found something even better than what you were looking for the first time? Did you go somewhere special on your first date or take an exciting first vacation together? These are the types of memories that make for unique, romantic wedding vows. 

Start by making a list of things you might want to include. Think about your favorite stories, moments, memories, places, nicknames, and promises. Once you have your list, organize it in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to be perfect. There are no rules for how long or short, sweet or silly it should be. Do what feels right for you and your relationship.  

Every couple is different. And every couple’s wedding vows will be different, too. Looking back in your memory bank and ahead to your hopes and dreams of the future can give you a great place to start. From the first time you met to the day you say I do, there’s tons of potential. 

Secret Wedding Vows

How to Choose the Time and Location for Your Secret Vow Exchange?

Secret Vows
Personal Wedding Vows

Writing your secret wedding vows is a labor of love. You’ll want to take your time and make sure that you find the right words and that your truth shines through. When they’re ready, you can choose between sharing them on your wedding day, or choosing another date and location that feels special to you as a couple.

Doing it this way feels a little like eloping first and having a wedding later, which is something that many have done in the last few years. It gives you a second day of celebration to add to your memory banks. If it’s the date that means more to you, choose the day you first met, the anniversary of your first date, or the anniversary of the day you made your relationship official. 

If it’s the location that matters more, you may already have a place in mind. It may be the bar or restaurant where you went on your first date, the cabin where you got snowed in during that special Valentine’s Day weekend away, or the hiking trail where you got engaged. Sit down together and come up with a list of the places and dates that mean the most to you. 

This process is much more special when it’s shared, so try and choose the time and location together. Make sure it means something to you both. It’ll be a day you’ll always remember, and that deserves some thought and careful planning. Once you’ve decided the time and place, it’s time to get writing!

Wrapping Up Your Personal Wedding Vows

Use the sections above to create your secret vows, and choose the time and place that feels right to you and your partner. Whether you’re writing secret vows to exchange during your wedding ceremony, alone before the ceremony, or at another time and place, the key is to put love and care into them and not worry too much about them being perfect. 

Love is not perfect. It is beautiful and magical and messy. Your vows may be, too. Read each draft aloud as you finish it. Does it feel too long, too short, or just right? Trust your instincts because this is a deeply personal process, and there is no right or wrong way to write your wedding vows. The effort is what matters. 

Once you’ve got your personal wedding vows written just the way you want them, consider investing in a decorative vow book to copy them down in. Writing things by hand makes it easier for us to remember them, and a pretty or decorative vow book will double as a keepsake for your soulmate to treasure forever.

Secret Wedding vows kiss

Still Feeling Stuck?

Jane Austen once wrote, “if I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” It’s not always easy to put the words together, even when they matter most. Sometimes especially when they matter the most. If you’re not ready to write your wedding vows from scratch, here are two templates you can start with.

Private Wedding Vowes Templets

Using templates I would treat it as a last resort as every one of us and our relationships is unique. It will help you, however, include where it all started, some of your favorite moments together, and promises about your shared future. Simply filling in the blanks will give you a solid first draft for your private wedding vows. From there, feel free to add more personal touches, funny stories, inside jokes, and anything else that feels right. 


As our wedding day fast approaches, I can’t help but reflect on where we started and how we got here. The first time we met, I felt ______. And every day since then, my feelings for you have grown, evolved, and expanded. 

I knew from [year, event, etc.] that you were the one I was meant to share my life with. I love how [kind, funny, caring, generous, etc.] you are. I love [cooking, laughing, traveling, etc.] with you. And I hope we’re lucky enough to do these things and continue to grow together for many years to come. 

I will always remember [that one special story, place, or vacation, the day your significant other proposed, etc.] And I look forward to ___ in our future. I promise to always [list five things here, like “love you, care for you, send you memes while you’re working, help shovel the drive, and wait for you to watch that next season on Netflix.]

Dear ____, 

I fell in love with you ___ years ago because of your [smile, laugh, kindness, or another quality.] And now that we’ve been together so long, there are so many more things I love about you. [List some examples.] You’re my person. 

You never fail to make me feel special, even when I’m [hangry, tired, messy.] And I’ll spend the rest of my days trying to make you feel special, too. I promise never to make you watch [that one show or movie], and always to [cook your favorite meal, kiss you goodnight, share funny stories.] 

I am so _____ that I get to marry you.  

Happy writing, and best wishes for a wonderful future together!

Modern Catskills Wedding

Images were taken in this Catskills Wedding Venue

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