Consider exchanging private vows on your wedding day. Here’s how to perfect the moment!

Private Vows: The best new wedding day tradition


In recent years we’ve seen the rise of a First Look, where a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day in a private location, rather than when walking down the aisle. Recently I’ve seen a new addition to the First Look that I especially love – private vows. 

Private Vows are exactly what they sound like – a private moment for you and your partner to exchange your heartfelt vows to each other. This does not replace the vows at your ceremony but is usually more personal. There are so many reasons why I love this concept, from logistical to personal, and I hope to see this trend continue to rise in future years.

bride and groom private vows
two grooms crying during first look

Benefits of Private Vows

There are so many benefits of exchanging your vows in private, but the most common that I see is that it takes a bit of the pressure off of you, and makes this very special moment less performative. For many people, standing in front of all of your guests on your wedding day is a stressful experience, so adding the pressure of exchanging personal vows in public can be too much. By exchanging your vows in private, you can help ease this feeling and then opt for simpler “repeat-after-me” style vows during your ceremony. 

You may also be uncomfortable crying or showing other emotions in front of your friends and family, which may affect how you would write your vows if they were to be exchanged in front of everyone. Choosing to exchange vows in private can allow couples to be more honest and open with each other, and provide a more intimate setting to encourage real emotions. In addition to being a special experience for you on your wedding day, this time can also result in gorgeous and emotional photos for you to cherish. 

Opting for private vows can also offer logistical benefits – allowing for a shorter wedding ceremony and more time alone as a couple. Time alone on your wedding day is often surprisingly limited, and exchanging private vows together offers you a designated time to be together and experience the day as a couple. 

bride reading vows to groom during first look

When to Schedule Private Vows

It is most common to schedule them immediately after your First Look. This allows you to have plenty of time to yourselves without affecting the rest of your timeline. This also allows time for any necessary makeup touch-ups before the ceremony starts for those who may shed a few tears. As a wedding photographer, I believe private vows offer a unique and beautiful moment to have documented by your wedding photographer and videographer. You should discuss as a couple whether you’d like the moment documented. Your coverage team can customize the coverage to meet your vision, for example no audio for video, so you feel comfortable to speak from the heart. 

lgbtq wedding private vows
bride and groom vow books

Tips for Writing

There is no universal formula for writing your wedding vows, but a great place to start is to remember that these are a promise you are making to your partner. You can share a memory you have together, talk about what you love about them, and include the commitments you’re making to them. Most importantly, speak from the heart, and remember that these are for your partner to hear, not your friends and family. 

I recommend that my couple invest in personalized vow books. These are a great way to keep your vows organized and in a safe place but are also a wonderful heirloom to keep after your wedding. They’re also a great addition to your wedding detail photos on your wedding day. 

groom reading his vows in private

I highly recommend exchanging private vows on your wedding day. There is nothing more romantic than being truly open with each other on your wedding day and being able to fully explore your emotions. Private wedding vows are an incredible option, and one I hope to see more of in the future.

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