Wedding vows are an
essential part of any wedding ceremony. Legal
vows are the words that create your marriage, but
what everyone looks forward to hearing are the
personal promises. These are the vows that couples
write themselves, or vows, usually referred to as
the traditional vows, that have been part of church
ceremonies for hundreds of years.
However, there is a new trend emerging in the
wedding world known as Ninja Vows, though there
appears to be a bit of confusion as to what Ninja
Vows actually are!
Do a bit of googling and you will find three
distinct definitions of Ninja Vows!
- The term coined in the 20th century to
describe the ethical code that governed the
actions of ninjas. This ethical code includes
loyalty, courage, perseverance, self-control,
and a commitment to honour and justice. A pretty
good code for marriage, too.
- The marrying couple exchanging promises while
wielding toy ninja swords. Sword fight while
making promises? Mixed message there, I'd say.
- Couples making vows that they have not seen
before the ceremony and have not agreed to
because their partner has written them and kept
them secret. Yes it adds an element of surprise
and (?) excitement to the wedding day, but is it
a good idea?
The trend to each partner writing their own vows and
keeping them secret until they speak the words on
the day has become so prevalent that many couples
and many civil celebrants appear to accept that this
is the only way to make vows.
Ninja Vows, writing their vows as a surprise for
them, takes the whole idea of surprise vows one step
further. But are surprise vows, in general, and
Ninja Vows, in particular, a good move when
considered in the context of an ongoing
Why people choose to
keep their vows a surprise
The belief that
underlies surprise vows is that keeping your
promises a secret from your partner will allow each
of you to express your love and commitment in a
unique and personal way. By not knowing what the
other has written, the vows can be full of surprises
and emotions, making the moment even more special.
But is this belief an accurate reflection of the
experience? As a celebrant who, in my Vows Magician
hat, works with a wide variety of people, world
wide, to write the vows they are keeping a surprise
from their partner, hand on heart I can tell you
- Surprise vows can be risky and stressful.
Without some prior agreement about length, tone,
and boundaries, writing your vows in isolation
can be stressful, and you may be left feeling
uncomfortable on the day with what you are being
promised, or not being promised.
- Tone, length, and content are important to
the guests as well. When there is a
mismatch they can be left feeling uncomfortable
about your relationship.
- Plagiarism, copying generic promises
from the internet, is so common that, while you
may think your promises sound fine, your guests
(and often your celebrant) will have heard those
exact words time and time again, and may even be
picturing in their minds the last couple they
heard making those exact same promises in those
exact same words.
- Open communication and mutual understanding
ensures that both of you are comfortable and
happy with the commitments you are making and
are being made to you. Both open
communication and mutual understanding are
essential to a successful marriage.
Surprise vows deprive you of the opportunity to
ensure both of these are part of the process of
anxiety and vows
you are already nervous about standing up and
speaking in front of people, your performance
anxiety will be hugely increased with each layer of
responsibility you add.
- Writing your own vows - level 1 stress
- Delivering them as a surprise - level 2 stress
- Being responsible for what your partner will
be required to promise you - through the roof
Ninja Vows? Food
for thought ...
think Ninja Vows are a great idea, suggest that the
element of surprise that comes with Ninja Vows can
add a lot of excitement to the wedding day, making
the ceremony more memorable and unique. There is
that, but remember
- Your guests won't know that you wrote each
other's vows unless your celebrant announces
that fact, an announcement that could deflect
their attention from the vows while they try to
process what they've just been told.
- Best case scenario, well-written Ninja Vows
can show that you know one another well, trust
one another, and are willing to take risks
- Worst case scenario, being forced to make
promises that may not sit well with you could
make your discomfort starkly obvious to
everyone. It could also be deemed to be contrary
to the legal requirement that your consent to
the marriage is free, willing, and
- Lack of input from both of you can lead to you
making vows that don't fully represent your
relationship or your shared values.
- Saying no to surprise vows, and yes to working
on your vows as a joint effort can minimise your
stress and maximise the impact of writing our
vows as a relationship-strengthening exercise
Only you can choose.
Thanks for reading!