How Long Should Wedding Vows Be?

Updated August 25, 2023

Your wedding vow length may not be the most critical factor in your ceremony success.

But determining an adequate wedding vow duration is necessary for several practical reasons.

Plus, it can serve as a starting point in writing your wedding vows.

There’s no rule indicating what wedding vows should include. Some couples prefer to limit their vows to a few promises; others share their entire love story. The vow length merely depends on its content.

But content isn’t the only factor affecting the wedding vow duration. Your talking pace plays a significant role.

The same vow can have a two-minute difference in length based on who’s reading and the person’s emotional state.

While your wedding is all about your love, you shouldn’t forget about the people around you. This includes both your guests and your wedding officiant.

Don’t hold their time with overly long vows, as people may get bored or have other plans.

You don’t have to conform to anyone’s expectations. Your wedding vows are meant to highlight the most important points of your relationship.

The truth is, you can exclude the vow exchange from your ceremony entirely if you don’t feel like talking in front of an audience.

Average Vow Length

Wedding vows are very personal, and no one forces you to adjust them to a commonly accepted standard.

But if you care about public opinion, knowing the average wedding vow length can help you understand whether your vows are too short or whether you have gone overboard.

Typically, wedding vows last anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes each. However, some people also have vows that don’t exceed 30 seconds or longer than three minutes.

Vows containing only a few words or those lasting over three minutes are rare.

You don’t necessarily have to stay within the average wedding vow length, but doing so is beneficial for one practical reason.

The wedding ceremony includes other parts, too, and you may not be the only couple getting married in the venue on that day.

The wedding officiant and venue managers estimate the time needed for each couple based on average values.

So, if your vows significantly exceed the average time, your ceremony may last longer than expected and hold ceremonies of other couples.

Discuss the Format with Your Partner

You’ve likely discussed every aspect of your wedding together with your partner, and your vows should be no exception.

So there’s no need to share the vow content if you wish to keep it secret. But coordinating the format and vow duration is a good idea.

Of course, each vow is unique and should express your attitude towards your partner. The two of you may have completely different views on love expression and wedding ceremonies.

For instance, your partner may want to go for a short and humorous wedding vow, whereas you want to go for a five-minute-long, serious passage.

Of course, there’s no issue if the both of you don’t mind such a difference. But most couples prefer to keep their vows similar in length and tone.

Take Your Time for a Story

Many people find it difficult to even start writing their vows, as they don’t know what to include.

The truth is, there is no universal rule on what your vows should contain. Every relationship is different, and your vows must reflect your personality.

But typically, wedding vows involve some kind of a story. For example, this story may narrate the start of your relationship, a memory you cherish, what you love about your partner, or how you feel about your wedding.

In other words, your story can be of any content, but you should make sure you have time to deliver it.

For example, wrapping up a vow in the middle of a story because it already lasts for 15 minutes and you’re holding up the next couple’s ceremony is upsetting.

At the same time, you don’t have to rush and limit your vow to a few sentences. It’s an extraordinary moment when you get a chance to mark the most significant points in your relationship.

Sharing the story you consider important with your partner on any other day may not make it feel so special.

Don’t Forget About Promises

While stories are common in wedding vows, they aren’t mandatory. What truly must be included in a wedding vow is your promise.

Some people can fit their promises to partner in a single sentence; others find 15 sentences insufficient.

There’s no right or wrong, but you should include the points you consider the most important in your relationship.

If you believe that the only important thing in your relationship is love, saying “I promise to always love you” may be enough.

On the flip side, some couples have a long list of promises, mixing formal points with humor, such as “I promise to watch TV shows with you every day,” which takes much more time.

Most importantly, check how much time your promises take together with other parts of your vows.

For example, if your vow, excluding the promise part, takes 20 seconds, you may want to give your pledges more time. But if you’ve already included a five-minute story, try to shorten your promises to a few sentences.

Don’t Go Overboard

You don’t have to fit your entire love story, hopes, and feelings into your vow. Vows are meant to mark the most important details of your relationship.

Your partner already knows your entire story, and your guests may not be that interested in it.

Vows that last over five minutes may get boring and even uncomfortable for your wedding guests. And you may also feel awkward talking alone in a silent auditorium for too long.

Plus, overly long wedding vows may hold up the next wedding ceremony planned in the same venue unless you’ve booked it for the entire day.

So respect the time of people involves in planning your wedding, keep your vow length adequate.

As a rule of thumb, an overly short vow is better than an extremely long vow. Avoid including unnecessary details, unplanned elements, and stories requiring too long explanations.

After writing your wedding vow, go through it a couple of times, evaluating critically whether each of its elements is genuinely essential.

Then, you may ask a friend to read it for you out loud, as judging from a side is easier. This way, you can also spot parts that sound awkward.

Stay Personal

It’s great to follow recommendations. But at the end of the day, your wedding vows should reflect your personality and relationship. Don’t try to fit the common standard if you don’t feel like you belong in it.

For example, if you’re shy and don’t talk much in daily life, there’s no need to extend your vow even to 45 seconds.

On the other hand, if you’re a talented orator and want to tell a fascinating story, you can dedicate more time to it.

Some people can fit all their feelings into a couple of sentences. Others feel like their entire life won’t be enough to express their attitude to their partner.

Talking Speed

Wedding vows are usually being told aloud, so their duration depends not only on the word count but also on the talking speed. Therefore, it may shorten or extend the vow length drastically.

Practice reading your vow out loud at your average pace. If you rush, you’ll seem nervous, and in the worst case, people may not even understand what you’re saying.

On the other hand, an overly slow pace may make your vow boring or awkward.

Another point to note is that sometimes, people need to pause their vows. This especially applies to humorous vows when guests break out in laughter.

So if your vow includes funny moments, make sure to estimate the time needed to let them calm down.

Some couples ask their wedding officiant to read their vows. This not only helps to avoid awkwardness but also ensures a consistent pace.

Indeed, even if you’ve practiced reading your vow at home at an average speed, at a wedding, you may be nervous and unable to talk or talk too fast.

Coordinate with Your Officiant

Make sure to ask your wedding officiant and venue manager in advance whether your ceremony duration is limited.

If you’re getting married in a non-popular time and season, or you’ve booked the venue for the entire day, long vows may not be an issue.

But if you’re getting married in summer and the place is public, such as a social hall at church, bear in mind that other couples may be waiting to get married after you.

Vows Are Not Mandatory

You don’t have to read vows at all if you don’t feel like it. Instead, you’ll have an entire life together with your partner to exchange your feelings and promises.

Alternatively, you can write a sincere letter and hand it to your partner before or during the ceremony.

Letters aren’t limited in word count and time, so you can include every little aspect you find meaningful about your relationship.

Some couples also choose to exchange personal wedding vows without a crowd listening to them.

In this case, you may hire an officiant for any time required and not worry about making your guests uncomfortable. Personal vows also help to avoid nervousness and change in talking pace arising from it.

Image credit: Pexels

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