The groom traditionally delivers his vows first—but can this order ever be swapped?

As any officiant can attest, wedding vows come in all shapes and sizes. Some couples stick with traditional religious exchanges, while others choose to write their own, or else personalize classic vows with quotes, readings, or even music that highlights their feelings. Whether they're long or short, humorous or sentimental, wedding vows represent the promises a bride and groom make to each other in marriage, and they're perhaps the most important aspect of a wedding. But who should say their vows first?

According to Sunna Yassin and Mollie Jones Hennes, wedding planners at Bash Please, the duty traditionally falls to the groom. This long-held custom originated in religious ceremonies of yesteryear, and it has survived over the decades as proper wedding etiquette. There's absolutely nothing wrong with adhering to the custom, but no rule states that the groom must say vows before the bride-meaning that those with modern or non-religious ceremonies can feel free to switch things up. "We like to have our couples decide what is right for them. In some cases this means who is more comfortable going first," say Yassin and Hennes. "The vows are the most important part and sometimes the nerves can get the best of someone, so going first is sometimes hard to do."

Aside from dealing with nerves, couples can switch up vow order to coordinate with their ceremony. For example, some brides and grooms prefer delivering their vows in unison-or saying the exact same thing at the same time. A non-traditional vow exchange also allows more leniency with handwritten nuptials, especially when couples share anecdotes or stories. According to Yassin and Hennes, "We are seeing more and more couples 'rewrite the script,' so to speak. We just had a really fun couple recite their first Tinder conversation during the ceremony. It was so original and had everyone laughing hysterically. For this couple, switching the vow order made total sense!"

No matter who you want to say marriage vows first, make sure to pick an officiant who can write the perfect ceremony. We guarantee no guest will think twice if you decide to change the order-in fact, it may make your ceremony one for the books!


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