Where to Find Gender-Neutral Vow Books
Whether you're writing your own heartfelt wedding vows or using time-tested standard vows, it’s only natural to want something special to write them in, to read them from, and to hold as a keepsake for the future.
And yet, the heavily-gendered practice of “his” and “hers” vow books, as many commercially available vow book sets are designed, can be alienating to couples across the LGBTQ spectrum. For those who don't identify with binary pronouns, it can feel prescriptive and inauthentic - not what you want on your wedding or elopement day.
Tired of this hetero-normative practice? Here's a quick round-up of 5 gender-neutral vow book options to suit any marrying couple - ranging from pre-made to custom to DIY.
1. Pre-made vow books designed with gender-neutral wording
Unlike the normative “his” and “hers” vow books, makers of gender-neutral vow books typically include a “theirs” option, simply title the booklet “vows”, or use the plural possessive “our vows”.
These designs are still fairly rare, but with luck they'll become more ubiquitous over time.
3. Unlabeled notebooks
When you write vows in a book, it becomes a vow book! If you don’t feel the need to have your vow book labeled on the outside, a whole world of options opens to you. I’m particularly fond of solid-colored pocket-size notebooks for these, but it’s possible to use any sketchbook, journal, or other form of bound paper. Let your imagination run wild!
While pre-made and custom-made vow books often must be special-ordered, an unlabeled notebook is something you can often pick up in a local stationer’s, if they have one that you like. I especially recommend Moleskine notebooks from their Volant or Cahiers collections, or Jottbook pocket notebooks by Leuchtturm1917.
As an added bonus, if you're crafty, you can modify the covers on these notebooks to make them extra special for the two of you, with illustrations, collage, calligraphy, or other personal touches.
4. Your favorite greeting cards
These you can find in a local stationer’s as well, or even in a souvenir shop at your wedding destination. They’re appropriate for shorter vows, and may not be perfect for you if you prefer to wax poetic and at great length about your sweetheart. And yet, there is much that you can fit into the two inner pages of a conventional greeting card (at least if you don’t write too large).
One advantage of using greeting cards for your vows is that you can choose cover images that express something special about your relationship, about your beloved, or about the place that you’ve chosen for your ceremony.
5. A single shared vow book
Whether a pre-made vow book, a custom vow book, an unlabeled notebook, or even something home-made, there’s no rule that says you have to have two separate vow books for your wedding. A single shared vow book can symbolize your teamwork and your shared lives.
If you’re unsure about this one, think about whether you’d like to keep your vows secret before the ceremony. If so, you’ll definitely want separate vow books. But if you plan on writing them together, a single vow book may be the way to go for you. It’s an unconventional choice, but an intimate one.
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I photograph weddings and elopements for unconventional people who prefer to build their own traditions and choose their own adventures.