Intimate Vows—Is This Hot Wedding Trend for You?

When I got married, we had about a hundred and forty guests.

Thankfully, my hubby and I actually wanted 99.99% of them there (there’s always someone like that “crazy uncle” who makes it interesting, do you know what I mean?).

So it wasn’t an outrageous amount of people I barely knew and would probably never see again.

But There was a Problem…

Because I experienced a mini-meltdown for the whole year leading up to the wedding whenever I pictured the exchange of vows.

As much as I tried to bury the anxiety, the thought of saying my vows in front of everyone created a taste of panic in my mouth that still makes my stomach roll a bit today.

The craziest thing was that I was a wedding singer, making my fear seem more irrational. 

But the real truth is that many wedding couples can understand the genuine anxiety that I went through.

Possible Bridal Lifesaver: Intimate Vows!

One side effect of the global pandemic was the “micro-wedding” concept.

While I wish it hadn’t taken COVID to create a new wedding style, micro-weddings didn’t disappear as COVID restrictions lifted.

This might shock you, but the on-trend idea of intimate vows is currently hotter than ever.

So what are intimate vows, exactly?

And how do you make them work for you?

The Basic Definition of Intimate Vows

Bride and Groom Exchanging Vows at a Beach Wedding
Photo Credit: Canva.

You’re probably on the right track if you have a picture of what intimate vows could be.

Some couples go with intimate vows that are a heartfelt exchange of your own words and sentiments, and this can be completely private with just the two of you.

Other couples still go with traditional wedding vows in a private setting, and they include their wedding officiant and witnesses before completing their marriage ceremony in front of their guests.

Wedding Pioneer Planning Tip: Intimate vows aren’t always the same as “mutual consent,” which is necessary in a marriage ceremony to make your union legal. I’ll explain it below!

Intimate vows can be funny, deeply personal, or really emotional, and most intimate vows incorporate all of those things. 

It can involve witnesses and guests, but the number of people and location of your intimate vows are pretty much up to you and your comfort zone.

So, What Happened to Option #1: Eloping?

Woman Read Wedding Vows for Her Husband
Photo Credit: Canva.

I still love the romantic idea of eloping. One of my favorite articles to write was Eloping to Sandals Ochi.

But now that intimate vows are coming to the forefront of weddings, the difference between eloping and intimate vows is more apparent.

In general, eloping means:

  • A small wedding that intentionally involves just the wedding couple, officiant, and witnesses
  • A destination wedding with just the wedding couple or a small group of guests.

Social distancing requirements during COVID made micro-weddings necessary, but the growing popularity of intimate vows is something else altogether.

Intimate vows—also called an intimate ceremony—focus on a private celebration of your vows and even promises to each other, but how that works for you can be as individual as you like.

Let’s look at some examples of intimate vows!

Intimate Vow Scenarios

I’m a fan of country musician HARDY. When he married Caleigh Ryan in October 2022, HARDY described their intimate vows and why that wedding style worked for them in an exclusive interview with People.  

HARDY and Caleigh began their wedding ceremony with a “first look,” a hugely popular trend for wedding couples to see each other in private before exchanging any vows.

The first look is a fantastic idea because it’s easier and far more romantic to share your emotions privately on your wedding day.

When you get to share the intimacy of a first look with your future spouse, it’s all the more special and also an unforgettable start to your wedding day and your new life together.

For HARDY and Caleigh, an intimate exchange of vows just made perfect sense, too.

HARDY told People that he and Caleigh wrote their own vows and exchanged them before the rest of their wedding ceremony. 

He said, in part, “I don’t think I could get through vows at the altar, and she’s the same.”

HARDY really defined the meaning of intimate vows when he said that part of his wedding was for him and Caleigh, and it didn’t have to be for anything else.

Some couples choose to include their parents and immediate family in their intimate vows, followed by more traditional vows and mutual consent, with all of their guests present.

Intimate vows can take place:

  • Before your wedding day—some couples exchange vows privately or with their closest friends and family
  • Right before your wedding ceremony—kind of like HARDY and Caleigh did
  • During their honeymoon—this is also called a symbolic ceremony if you’re honeymooning at a destination resort.

If that sounds like extra planning, the idea of exchanging intimate vows is meant to decrease your stress levels, not add additional headaches. 

Let’s get more descriptive with each scenario so you can imagine exactly what it will look like.

Exchanging Intimate Vows Before Your Wedding Day

bride listens to groom's vow and cries
Photo Credit: Canva.

I read about one scenario online where a couple exchanged intimate vows during their rehearsal dinner!

This meant that their family and wedding party enjoyed the priceless moment.

The following day, I would assume there was a short, “official” ceremony to make the marriage legal, followed by a big celebration with the newlyweds more relaxed and ready to party!

If you two are great at keeping surprises, you can even plan your informal wedding to be a surprise at your engagement party or another celebratory event.

Exchanging Intimate Vows Right Before Your Wedding

In 2018, an online report claimed that church weddings have decreased by at least 50% since 2010.

More couples are holding their wedding ceremony in an informal location. So, if you’d like to do an intimate exchange of vows, you should be able to find an opportunity to do that without any restrictions.

Here’s how:

  • Exchanging intimate vows during your first look allows you to capture the moment in pictures and video
  • Holding a pre-ceremony exchange of intimate vows with your officiant and witnesses, and including the mutual consent part, too
  • I went to a beach wedding in Florida, and the couple turned off the microphone during their vows to make it more intimate—so we saw them get married but didn’t hear everything.

If you’re still keen on having a traditional wedding ceremony to fulfill the legal requirements, personally written promises and declarations of love are what most couples go with during their intimate vows.

That way, all of your guests get to hear the traditional “I Do” part, but you two get to savor the intimacy of private moments and share how you truly feel on your big day.

Making Sure Your Marriage Is Legal

wedding ceremony on a high pier near the river
Photo Credit: Canva.

US marriage laws are generally pretty consistent in every state.

However, checking your local government website for all marriage requirements—at least three months before your wedding—is a great idea.

Here’s what constitutes a legal marriage:

  • The couple must be legally able to marry in their state (of minimum age and sound mind, and not already legally married)
  • You need to say “I Do” (and any other traditional vows you incorporate) in front of a licensed marriage officiant and at least two witnesses to ensure a legal marriage
  • You need a valid marriage license obtained at least a few months before your wedding ceremony.

The legality of intimate vows is only an issue when you don’t include the “mutual consent” part during your private ceremony.

If you don’t, you’ll still need to perform the “traditional” ceremony bits with a licensed officiant and witnesses present.

How to Write Your Intimate Vows

Bride in the lace robe is writing a vow for the wedding
Photo Credit: Canva.

An intimate ceremony might seem like a toss-up for you right now.

As I said, this wedding style was not designed to add more stress to any couple! But some couples stick with a traditional ceremony because choosing when to do an intimate vow exchange—and knowing what to say—could seem like a hassle.

But if you’re seriously anxious about your vows, an intimate ceremony won’t just fit the bill. It can be a fun and truly romantic start to your marriage!

Here are some tips:

  1. Write your vows together! If you want an element of surprise, at least be in the same room when you write your own vows. That way, you’ll know that you’ve both got them down.
  2. Before you start writing, go on a date night to specifically talk about what you’d like to hear from your future spouse and vice versa. 
  3. Then, do some self-reflection on what matters to you the most. Where do you see your relationship heading, and where has it come from? 
  4. Intimate vows are best when they combine all the little things and big ideas you’re bringing to your marriage and a promise of where you see marriage taking you both.

Intimate vows can and should be whatever lovely things you think about that come from your heart. You typically want to say this to your spouse on your wedding day.

I hope you’ve got some great ideas to go on here, and I congratulate you on your wedding and wish you both a blessed future!

More From Blog

Where to Honeymoon in Thailand: 13 Amazing Destinations

12 Best Sade Wedding Songs: Beautiful, Soulful Melodies

Building Trust With Your Wedding Photographer—Does It Really Matter?

Thank you!

This feature will be available shortly, we’ll notify you when it’s ready. For now, please take a look at our hand-selected vendors.

Enter to win a free All-inclusive honeymoon

4 days/3 nights at any Sandals resort (airfare not included) 

Login