After being a wedding officiant in Lancaster, PA for so many years, I have some advice for anyone who asks, do I have to memorize my vows?
You do not have to memorize your vows. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it.
A lot of couples like to write their own vows. A lot of couples also like to use the traditional vows.
For my wedding ceremonies, I start with the traditional vows. Then, each person says, “I do.” “I do” is required by Pennsylvania law to be considered a married couple. You have to say “I do” when the wedding officiant asks to take this man or this woman to be your lawfully wedded spouse.
After that, I’ll say “please read your vows” if they have written their own vows. But, I always say “read your vows” because even when couples think they’ve got their vows memorized, they never remember them. You should always have them on paper. Even if you think you’re going to memorize your vows, you have to have it on paper.
Sometimes the bride will have the paper in her dress, and it’s cute when she pulls it out. Men usually carry them in their pockets.
You don’t have to memorize your vows. You can write them down and read them, and that’s fine.