Professing your love for your soon-to-be bride or groom is a big deal. There is always a lot of pressure to have the perfect vows with laughs and cries, and that flows smoothly all at the same time. Something too short may feel like you didn’t prepare, and something too long can have your audience fall asleep. With this in mind – how long shoes the vows be? Here is the timeframe that suits most.
So how long should wedding vows be? Wedding vows are typically best when between 1-3 minutes in length, per person. Although, the exact time for wedding vows should be at the discretion of the bride and groom. Short and sweet is generally more meaningful and easier for the audience to take in.
Remember, you are paying the officiant to be there too!
Of course, this is something that only you and your partner will decide.
And we’re talking averages here.
It may well be that the bride speaks for 4 minutes, and the groom 1. Or vice versa.
Nevertheless, vows are better when they follow a natural flow and structure.
So let’s get into what this should actually look like.
How Long Are Wedding Vows Typically?
The average wedding vows fall in the 1-3 minute in length range per person. While it’s not unheard of for wedding vows to go over this time, just consider that vows that are too long typically lose their effectiveness, and it doesn’t give as much time for your partner to say theirs.
And even though this does not sound like a lot of time, a lot can actually be said.
What Should Wedding Vows Look Like?
There is a lot of components of wedding vows, and while they can really be whatever you want, here are some general rules of thumb followed by some ideas for inspiration.
It can be difficult to come up with the words to say to your partner no matter how many people attend your wedding.
So, here are a few useful pointers and a natural flow to consider:
Address Your Partner
The first step is simply addressing your partner.
The vows should be unique, and there is no better way to personalize the vows than start with talking to your partner by name or even nickname.
Keep in mind if it is a crass nickname or one that most of the audience doesn’t know, it may be better to hold off.
Bring In A Story
This is where you can incorporate humor if you want to.
Talking about where you met or bringing in a story about when you fell in love with them.
This is the best opportunity to bring something in that is personal and describe to your audience where it all started.
Lighten It Up or Get Serious
Depending on the route you went to go will depend on the next part.
If you decided to tell a funny story, then you want to bring it back to serious.
Not everything can be a joke, or else your bride or significant other may be offended.
If you went super serious and everyone is crying, it is a good idea to bring it back to happy and good vibes.
Talk About What You Love
If you haven’t already talked about what it is your love about your partner, you definitely want to do this.
Specifying what makes your partner different than anyone else is an important part of your vows.
It can be something like their smile or their eyes, but it doesn’t always have to be a physical trait.
It can be a personality trait.
This can be serious or funny or a mixture of both.
Make Your Commitments
In repeat-after-me vows, there is a really important part where the officiant will ask you to honor your significant other with the vow to protect them and be there for them in sickness and in health.
When you make your own vows, you still want to include the part about your future with your partner.
This is an important part you want to not leave out.
It can be more traditional like the other repeat after me vows, or it can be something that is true to your own words.
You can talk about your future kids and family dynamic and many more things.
How Do You Write Your Own Vows?
While these are are all important parts of the vows in terms of what needs to be included, the actual flow of the vows needs to be thought out carefully.
This is where your timing comes in and how you pace yourself best.
If you talk too fast to try to fit in too much, you’re probably going to lose your crowd – or, more importantly – your partner.
Too slow, and you give too much time for your partner to run away. KIDDING!
Here is a guide on how to pace the vows.
Map It Out
What needs to be in there?
The first step in writing your vows is doing a mind map.
Start by putting your significant other name in the bubble.
This is the addressing part.
From here, you can put spoke like characteristics your love, special moments, something that is funny, something that is serious, and your commitments.
This is just all of your ideas; there are no rules as you can flood the idea of pages.
From here, you want to circle the things that stick out to you.
The name in the addressed spot is already circled, so you don’t need to worry about that.
But now go down your categories and circle 1-2 things in each category so you can refine your list.
You can eliminate any stories that no one will get except your bride.
Sort of like any inside jokes can be eliminated as well as anything that may be a little too intimate to share with people.
Work On Timing
Now that you have chosen some of the better moments, you want to think about timing in terms of how much you can fit in.
Remember, you have to account for pauses for laughter if you include it as well as the fact that you may get a little choked up trying to get the words out in the first place.
This is an emotional moment, and allowing yourself to breathe through it is important.
Don’t Overdo It
The more complicated you make and the more that you have to remember, the more difficult it is going to be for you.
Keeping it to stuff that you know well and can talk about easily is important.
Again this is a heavy emotional moment which is why it’s great to keep it simple and smooth.
You should absolutely practice your vows.
Regardless of whether you are reading something or not when it actually comes to speaking the vows, you should write them down and read them through a few times to people that are not your bride.
This will allow you to rehearse it and edit something that is not working.
Feedback is a great thing to do, and something that may sound good to you may be off to someone else.
Or maybe you end up doing great, and it’s perfect from the very first draft.
Thie big moment is here, and there is just one thing you need to remember.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no wrong or right.
Everyone understands the importance of this moment, and really it is just a moment for you and your significant other to express your excitement and love for each other.
However, what you want to do is completely up to you, and at the end of it all, you should have fun with it.
Closing It Out
Vows are whatever you want them to be.
That means that whatever you want the length to be is up to.
Traditionally speaking, leaving it between 1 and 3 minutes is a great idea because it is sort of the sweet spot between being too short and being too long.
The ceremony as a whole tends to be no more than 20 minutes in general, and having two people spend half the time telling each other how much they love them may be a little over the top.
The vows should contain a mindmap that illustrates some of the key points, like addressing your partner and talking about how you met them or at what moment you knew they were the one.
This can include comical parts and serious parts or one of the other.
Whatever you choose, make sure to balance it out at some point.
You also don’t want to forget your commitments as this is an important part of the traditional vows.
It just lets your partner know that you plan to be the best partner you can be and honor your commitments to them.
Finally, you should really account for the pace of the speech by practicing reading off a written card that you can either ditch for the wedding.
After all, just accept that it is a great moment for you and your soon-to-be, and it is a relatively short moment in the entire night.
And the good news? Even if it does not go to plan, so long as it is meaningful, thoughtful, and respectful, nothing else matters!
Oh and just remember, traditionally the groom goes first!
How Many Sentences Should My Vows Be?
Your wedding vows should roughly be between 7-12 sentences or 150-175 words. While this is not an exact rule; it should ensure your vows are between the average and expected 1-3 minute length.
Is 2 Minutes Too Long For Vows?
2 minutes is not too long for vows, but any longer is starting to push it. In reality, your vows should only be as long as they need to be and not extended out unnecessarily. At the same time, if you need a little extra time, it should generally be fine. Within reason!
How Many Words Should Wedding Vows Be?
Wedding vows should be between 250-500 words, on average. Although some couples like to keep it short and sweet, between the 100-200 word count. The absolute maximum you should be looking at is around 750 words.
Have other questions on wedding vows? Then my other guides may be of interest:
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!