One, Two, and Three Word Vows

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant ©
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Two hands,
                      each wearing a wedding ring, with little fingers
                      entwined in a pinky promiseWherever in the world you decide to get married, generally you are expected to say something out loud to make your marriage legal.

In Australia, we call this statement the legal vows. It is the statement that creates your marriage*. It does not include any personal promises, nor are you required to make promises of any kind. To make your marriage legal, it is enough that you say that you take the other person as your spouse.

Most people will consider making personal vows in addition to what they are legally required to say, because most people expect that you will. It is also a widespread expectation that you will write those promises yourselves.

But what if you have difficulty with public speaking? What if you have some level of social anxiety about being the centre of attention? What if you are more of an action person than a wordsmith? The interesting thing is that there is no accepted average word count for personal vows. The sad thing is that many personal vows come across as a rambling stream of consciousness rather than a carefully crafted succinct statement. And that makes the guests eyes glaze over.

The solution is so simple, it is mind-boggling.
The Fewer Words the Better

One Word Vows


Although the legal position, as stated in the Australian legal definition of marriage, includes a time reference
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
  The legal vows do not:
*I ask everyone here to witness that I [Full Name] take you [Full Name] to be my lawful wedded [your choice of: Husband/Wife/Spouse/Partner-in-Marriage]
Adding a word that answers the question, For how long? adds emotional power to the legal vows. Both Forever and Always work well.

Two word vows


There are already two words that are so much part of romance culture that just saying them creates a full picture in everyone's minds. I DO.

If you want to make lots of promises but say very little, get your celebrant to turn those promises into a question, or questions, to which you say I Do. OR, you can pare that down to one word. Definitely. Absolutely. Or just YES!


Add two words to the legally required statement
  • Words that speak to your relationship, eg
    my lawful wedded wife, my life
    ... my lawful wedded partner-in-marriage, my darling
    ... my lawful wedded husband, my beloved

  • Words that speak to your commitment, eg
    ... my lawful wedded husband, for evermore
    ... my lawful wedded partner-in-marriage, for keeps
  • If you are a fun couple this is where you could say, (and do) pinky promise!

Three word vows

Add an extra word to make it three - for example
  • Words that speak to your relationship. eg
    my lawful wedded wife, my heart's companion
    ... my lawful wedded husband, my forever love
    ... my lawful wedded partner-in-marriage, my best friend
  • Words that speak to your commitment, eg
    ... my lawful wedded husband, lover and friend
    ... my lawful wedded husband, now and forever
    ... my lawful wedded spouse, today and always

Or make it just one short sentence

While there is no right way to express your commitment in a personal vow, there are plenty of wrong ways! Distilling what you want to say into one sentence will avoid all of them. It is hard to ramble in a single sentence. Any snide jab will be so obvious that it wouldn't fly. Jokes, however lame, won't fit.

A single sentence can be very powerful, eg I promise you my love, my loyalty, and my unwavering support, today, tomorrow, and always.

HINT: choose three things to promise, add words that answer the question For how long. Job done.

Thanks for reading!

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                        Jennifer Cram
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