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  • Writer's pictureBritt Leigh

How Long Should Your Wedding Vows Be?

Your wedding vows are easily the most important aspect of your day. Think of them like a contract between you and your soon-to-be-spouse. They set the foundation for the rest of your marriage. This is why I like to focus less on the length of your vows and more on their substance.  


What the Experts Say


Wedding sign
Photos by Lanty

When you look up the question, “How long should my wedding vows be?”, you will get any number of answers depending on the website you visit. On average, you’ll see anywhere between one and three minutes. The reason for this is often due to the timing of your day. Good wedding planners are experts at keeping their couples on schedule, ensuring the day stays on track and the timings align with cocktail hour and mealtimes.


Therefore, many wedding planners will encourage couples to keep their vows brief, as it makes keeping that schedule much easier. Their primary goal is to make sure that the bride and groom are blissfully unaware of any issues and that the day appears smooth and uninterrupted from every perspective. Controlling vow and speech times is one way they can help ensure this process.


Why I Disagree


Woman writing a letter in wedding gown
Photo Cred: Spencer Davis

The problem is that a 2–3-minute speech is ½ to ¾ of a page single spaced. Most movie trailers are longer than 2-3 minutes and they often barely scratch the surface of the story they are trying to tell.


Now, I am not saying that couples SHOULD write a book, but I am saying that the length of your vows shouldn’t be a consideration as you’re writing arguably the most important words of your life. I have helped countless couples who would never have been able to fit everything they wanted to say—all of which was meaningful—into 2-3 minutes.


Of course, there will always be ways to edit down your vows and make them tighter, if that’s something you choose to do. However, if your primary question is, “Are my vows too long?”, you’re asking the wrong question. The questions you should be asking are:


  • Do these vows cover everything I need to say to my partner?

  • Do I feel like my vows truly express the feelings, thoughts, hopes, and promises I have for my marriage?

  • Do these vows lay the foundation on which I’d like to build my marriage.

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the length of your vows doesn't matter.


Vow Length & Word Count


Okay, so let’s talk numbers. On average, my clients’ vows typically end up in the 500-750-word range. This is approximately 3-5 minutes of speaking time, which tends to be much more comfortable for the clients I work with.


Two women getting married
Photo Credit: Sofia Hernandez

While I have written vows under 300 words, those vows tend to be more the outlier. And often, these folks will write a separate letter to their spouse outlining everything they didn’t get to say in their vows. What I am seeing, more and more, is people who truly understand the sanctity of their marriage, who take their vows seriously, and put the time and effort into carefully crafting a set of vows that speaks to the current and future state of their marriage. These people don’t mince words, leaving everything on the table for their spouse to hear.


How to Determine Wedding Vow Length


There are a few things you can do to make sure that your vows are the ideal length for your wedding ceremony and your partner.


Typewriter
Photo Credit: Daria Kraplak
  1. Make an outline. If you make an outline of your vows, this will help you get an idea of the final length of your vows. This will help you determine the aspects of your vows you’d like to highlight and those you’d like to edit down.

  2. Check with your partner. Many of my clients worry about their vows being significantly longer or shorter than their spouse’s vows. Instead of worrying about this, take your outline and agree on an approximate length for your vows that suits you both.

  3. Share with your wedding planner and officiant. If you are able to write your vows in advance, you can share your approximate wedding vow length with your officiant and wedding planner, helping them to better plan your wedding day and keep you on track. NOTE: I recommend encouraging all of your speakers to complete their speeches at least a few days prior to the wedding. This will allow your wedding planner to have all of the details they need to ensure continuity of your day.


Your wedding day is built around your marriage, which in turn, is built around your wedding vows. Of everything you plan for your wedding day, your vows are arguably the most important piece. Following these guidelines and writing from your heart (as opposed to writing against some unwritten rules) will give you the unique, beautiful, and heartfelt wedding vows of your dreams.

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