How Long Should Wedding Vows Be?

Planning a wedding often creates stress for couples, but with proper planning, you can make it one of the happiest days of your life. One of the most overlooked questions is, “How long should wedding vows be?”

Whether you’re planning a city hall wedding in San Francisco or one of the New York City boroughs, City Hall Weddings has all the information you need to make your wedding dreams come true. Keep reading to discover what to consider when creating your wedding vows.

Two wooden books with flowers on them sit on a wooden table.

Tips for Deciding the Length of Your Vows

While the decision about the length of your vows ultimately lies with you, consider these guidelines to help create a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Consider Attention Spans

It may surprise you how quickly experts suggest your vows should end; after all, vows feel like the most important part of the ceremony. Experts say your vows should only last between one and two minutes.

While your guests are there to celebrate with you, their average attention span only lasts a few minutes. Factor in other distractions, such as children present, and you can understand that two minutes is the perfect length for wedding vows.

Discuss Format and Tone

Even though marriage vows have a strong history rooted in millennia of tradition, there’s no reason you can’t change them up. Different formats and tones might have different lengths.

If you want to write a poem that expresses your vows, you might complete them in a minute or less. However, if you want to outline the history of your relationship or add some humor to your vows, they might run longer than two minutes.

Your vow’s tone and format say a lot about you as a couple, so don’t feel as though length has to affect what you say. You’ll find pros and cons for each type of format.

Don’t Forget Comfort

In addition to your guest’s attention spans, consider how comfortable you’ll feel standing and speaking for longer vows. When considering your physical and emotional comfort, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long can you stand without feeling sore?
  • How comfortable are you speaking in front of people?
  • Are you getting married in extreme temperatures that require a shorter ceremony?
  • What other rituals are you incorporating that might lengthen the wedding?
  • How comfortable are the wedding party’s clothes?
  • Will you have to project your voice for your vows, or will you have a microphone?

Frame It as Word Count

The average person reads out loud at a rate of around 150 words per minute. A two-minute vow should require about 300 words. If you speak quickly or get nervous talking in front of people, you might push the limit a bit while still maintaining your timeline.

Either way, confirm you’re speaking in a way that everyone can understand and use average reading speed to plan your vows.

Consult Your Partner

Most couples don’t want to share their vows before the wedding, a desire we support for a more emotional moment during the wedding. However, consult with your partner about expectations so you both deliver the same quality and length of vows. Sharing unbalanced vows might start your marriage off on the wrong foot, and no one wants that.

How To Create the Perfect Vows

Now that you know the answer to, “How long should wedding vows be?” you might need to adjust their length.

Edit Multiple Times

You can lengthen or shorten your vows with some editing tricks. No matter the length, good writing means taking out any superfluous or flowery adverbs, eliminating cliches, and varying your sentence lengths.

If you need to shorten your vows, remove the stories and stick to the most important points you want your guests to witness. Anything you don’t say during the vows, you can write as a letter to your partner.

Some people have problems expressing their feelings, and their vows might be too short. If you need to lengthen your vows, consider adding an inspirational quote, adding more promises to your partner, or adding a brief and relevant story.

Consider Buying Vows

The wedding industry brings in billions of dollars every year, which means businesses monetize every aspect of the ceremony. While wedding vows should come from your heart, if you’re not great with words, hire a professional writer or wedding planner to polish your vows and make them the highest quality possible.

Borrow From the Already Married

Have you heard beautiful vows at previous weddings? Don’t be afraid to borrow what they said and make it your own.

Do you need more ideas? The most common vows include:

  • Saying “I love you”
  • A promise of commitment
  • Personal stories
  • Promises
  • Acknowledging the support of family and friends

Streamline the Three Most Important Themes

Some of the best expert advice helps you break down vows into three main themes, which you can streamline. The most iconic vows use some variation of the following themes:

  • A reflection on the past: Don’t go into every detail of your story, but use the context of your past relationship to highlight what you’re looking forward to in the future.
  • Hopes for the future: What do you want to experience as a married couple, and what are you excited for in this new version of life?
  • Explicit promises: The whole point of vows is to express commitment. Promise the other person you’ll be there for support, to weather the challenges of life, and whatever else marriage means to you.


Don’t forget to practice your vows so you’re less nervous, and don’t leave writing them until the last minute. Frequent practice makes it more enjoyable for everyone.

Don’t Forget: It’s All About You

When considering, “How long should wedding vows be?” don’t forget this day is about you. While your guests’ comfort and attention are important, this day is one-of-a-kind. Make it special however you want.

City Hall Wedding is passionate about answering all your wedding questions. Want to learn some more tips about wedding etiquette, or are you wondering, “How involved should the groom be?” Read our blog or contact us for all your wedding answers!