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Roundup: Traditional Wedding Vows


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Roundup: Traditional Wedding Vows | A Practical Wedding

We talk a lot about how to write wedding vows here on APW, but for me, the resident progressive traditionalist, this is a purely hypothetical question. When we decided to get hitched, the one thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to say traditional vows. I got married because I wanted to join and institution that had supported my parents and grandparents, as they navigated some of the most difficult situations life can throw at us. I knew that for them, faith and the institution of marriage were the port in the storm. So, as I wrote write after our wedding, “For us, the power came in saying the same words that generations and generations before us had said. By doing so, we were tying ourselves to the strength of an institution that had stood the test of time, had helped people survive great hardships, and had helped them embrace enormous joy.” Since my family is Protestant, and we had a Jewish wedding, I didn’t say literally the same words that my ancestors said. But I embraced the same spirit and tradition, and that was what mattered to me.

Indie wedding blogs don’t talk very much about how to incorporate traditional pieces into your (possibly somewhat nontraditional) wedding. So I’m here to encourage you: you can wear a short spangled cocktail dress while you recite vows that are hundreds of years old. Your ancestors who said these vows weren’t wearing puffy strapless white ball gowns, so you don’t have to be wearing that either (though, of course, you can!). So without further ado, a (non-exhaustive) list of traditional wedding vows, for information and inspiration, as crowd sourced from you.

United Methodist Church
In the Name of God,
I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my husband,
to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
until we are parted by death.
This is my solemn vow.

from The Book of Common Prayer
I Sam take thee Alex to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
With this Ring I thee wed: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Hindu
We have taken the Seven Steps. You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours. Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me. Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, united. You are thought and I am sound. May the night be honey-sweet for us. May the morning be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us. May the heavens be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the sun be all honey for us. May the cows yield us honey-sweet milk. As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable, as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable, so may our union be permanently settled.

Secular
Sam today I take you to be my wife
Together we will create a home becoming a part of one another.
I vow to help create a life that we can cherish,
inspiring your love for me and mine for you.
I vow to be honest, caring, and truthful,
to love you as you are and not as I want you to be,
and to grow old by your side as your love and best friend.

Roman Catholic
I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my wife.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Alex, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Episcopal
Let us remember to not take ourselves too seriously,
yet be sincere and thoughtful as we build our home and our family
Let us remember to be careful and loving in our words and actions.

Join with me and I will be
a strength in need,
a counselor in perplexity,
a comfort in sorrow,
and a companion in joy.

Unitarian
I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be the husband of my days,
to be the father of my children, to be the companion of my house.
We will keep together what measure of trouble and sorrow our lives may lay upon us,
and we will share together our store of goodness and plenty and love.

Jewish
Harei at m’kudeshet li b’taba’at zo kedat Moshe v’Yisrael.
Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.

V’erastikh li l’olam, v’erastikh li b’tzedek uvmishpat uv’chesed uv’rachamim
V’erastikh li b’emunah v’yada’at et Adonai.
I betroth you to myself forever; I betroth you to myself in righteousness and in justice, in love and in mercy;
I betroth you to myself in faithfulness, and you shall know G-d.

from The Protestant Wedding Sourcebook
In the presence of God and before our family and friends,
I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my wife.
All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you.
Whatever the future holds, I will love you and stand by you,
as long as we both shall live.
This is my solemn vow.

Church of England
I Sam, take you Alex, to be my husband,
to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part,
according to God’s holy law;
in the presence of God I make this vow.

Roundup: Traditional Wedding Vows | A Practical Wedding

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Wedding Vows Open Thread II

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Photo by APW Sponsor Kara Schultz – Storyteller

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

    Our vows were pretty traditional, and were very similar to the ones via the Anglican church:

    I, Deva, take you, almost-husband, to be my husband
    To have and hold
    from this day forward
    for better or worse
    in sickness and in health
    in poverty and in wealth
    until death do we part
    and to you I pledge my faithfulness.

    I teared up tremendously during the vows, and then we giggled our way through the rest of the ceremony.

  • http://doux-style.blogspot.com Hannah

    The more traditional Roman Catholic is: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

    You are offered both options and I chose the traditional. It’s what my parents, and grandparents said and their parents said it (probably with the priest doing the lead up in Latin) and before that who knows what going back to the first Catholics in Ireland.

    • Anon

      There is also an addition to the Roman Catholic ring vow which goes like this:

      Man: ‘I will love you as Christ loves the Church’
      Woman: ‘I will love you as the Church loves Christ.’

      I’ve only seen this done at very orthodox weddings though.

    • anonymous

      I’m not sure that’s true. When we were married the “all the days of my life” was listed as the standard liturgy. “…till death do us part” was listed as “also acceptable in the dioceses of the United States.”

      I had never heard the “I will love you as Christ loves the church… as the Church loves Christ” vow though. It’s beautiful, but I’m suspicious of it being an accepted part of the Catholic rite of matrimony.

      • Anon

        This could vary from country to country, but I doubt it. I’ve worked more than 600 Catholic weddings, and I’ve seen it done at about 15 of them. You’re unlikely to know about it unless both you and your priest are really orthodox.

        For what it’s worth, this used to be common practice, less so since the early 80s.

    • SamanthaNichole

      It’s not more traditional. It’s another option but specifically acceptable for the US diocese.

  • Laura

    Gasp! I love the (translated) Hindu vows!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu CarolynM

      It is lovely, the meaning of the seven steps. Traditionally, though, Hindus don’t say vows. We take the seven steps around the fire and do rituals with the help of the priest. Stating vows to each other is a western idea that has creeped in. Strictly speaking, these are not vows but a reading that can be done if one wishes.

      • meg

        We had the readings here first, but, wasn’t sure about including that in a vows roundup… in that the Jewish seven blessings are key too, but they’re not really comprable to vows, so :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu CarolynM

          I hope that didn’t come across as criticism! I was delighted to see you include Hindus in this list! :)

  • Emmy

    We’re doing the short and sweet Quaker vows, except I removed the references to Go:

    In the presence of these our family and friends, I, Emmy, take thee, Albert, to be my husband, promising to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife, as long as we both shall live.

    The traditional vows:

    In the presence of God and these our friends I take thee, ______, to be my husband/wife, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife/husband so long as we both shall live.

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    The old ELCA green hymnal (what I grew up with) is what we are adapting for our secular service. The vows are super straightforward:

    I take you, _______
    to be my wife/husband from this day forward,
    to join with you and share all that is to come,
    and I promise to be faithful to you
    until death parts us.

    • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

      Followed by: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness.

    • http://www.thedaviesdealings.blogspot.com Kara

      That is beautiful!

    • MDBethann

      I grew up with that hymnal too. Our vows ended up being more elaborate in that we added “sickness & health” as well. Fortunately, the church in which we married still used the green book so we got the good versions of the hymns we chose (my regular church uses the newer red hymnal, but I’m not a fan of some of the arrangements or wording changes).

      YAY for the ELCA green book!

      • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

        Also not a big fan of the red hymnal over the green…I’m sure it is mostly due to not adjusting to change. I just like what I grew up with, but I don’t want to be one of those old ladies complaining that we aren’t still using whatever they used 30 years ago. :)

        • MDBethann

          The fact that the pages are like tissue paper and hard to turn is NOT a plus. They completely changed verses of “Earth and All Stars” (one of my family’s favorite hymns), and they PC’ed way too many things. I’m all for equality in the church, but lyrics of carefully written hymns shouldn’t be changed because it alters the author’s intent in my mind.

          I know they were trying to streamline things, but by setting up the liturgies the way they did, necessitating the need to skip all over the book (ostensibly to save $$ and paper I think), all they did was get churches to just print the liturgy in bulletins every week instead of actually using the hymnal for anything other than hymns. Our church, my parents’ church, and the various churches at which I’ve heard my dad guest preach all put the liturgy in the bulletin. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing, but it definitely hasn’t sold me on the red hymnal. Blech.

          (Sorry to the non-ELCA Lutherans for the hymnal rant!!)

  • Alice

    I just talked about this yesterday with the person who may officiate for us. We’re going to have a Buddhist ceremony but I don’t know how traditionally Buddhist I want it to be.

    I was raised Buddhist and my parents are Buddhists, but the rest of my family is Christian. My partner has just started saying he is a Buddhist recently, and his whole family is Christian. I don’t think anyone will be offended by us having a Buddhist ceremony but there is some pretty out-there symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism and I am considering tamping it down a bit (mostly for his family who are not used to weird Buddhist stuff by now like my family is). How traditional do you stay when “traditional” is the issue in the first place? It’s a conundrum.

    • Lindsey d.

      I went to a Buddhist ceremony last year and it was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve been lucky to witness, complete with tea ceremony. I barely understood any of it, but it was lovely to watch. I say go for it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu CarolynM

      I’ve been working on my Hindu/Celtic ceremony that’s coming up in a month.

      I broke down all the separate elements of both a Hindu ceremony and a western ceremony, decided which ones were most important to me, and rewove them together. Basically I just looked at the ceremony as a blank slate to plug in whichever traditions were meaningful to us.

  • Peekayla

    Reading the vows totally made me tear up. I like many of them and may end up with a mish mash (taking pieces from each). I have a lot of thinking to do. Thank you.

  • Bubbles

    If we were to use vows from The Church of England I would be hard pressed not to launch into Eddie Izzard’s “Cake or Death?” bit immediately afterwards.

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      That would make them the Best Wedding Vows Ever.

  • Mira

    Our rabbi had a variation on the traditional Jewish vows that worked well for our interfaith wedding (ie, no “Moses and Israel” line)

    hubs to me:
    Harei at m’kudeshet li b’taba’at zo k’dat Elohim v’adam.
    “Be consecrated to me as my wife according to the sacred law of all humanity.”

    me to hubs:
    “Harei, atah m’kudash li, b’taba’at zo, k’dat Elohim v’adam.”
    “Be consecrated to me as my husband according to the sacred law of all humanity.”

    • Nicole

      That’s such a fantastic idea! I’m converting for my S.O., but only in name, so we were thinking of more of an interfaith marriage (cutting out a lot of the God, etc. stuff). Thank you so much for posting this!

      • Hypothetical Sarah

        If you want something less traditional, you can also use “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li” (“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”, from Song of Songs). We used that at our Jew-ish elopement and then used the traditional vows at our wedding.

  • Phoebe

    We used traditional vows minus any reference to god, but switch out the “till death do us part” for “as long as we both shall live” (little less morbid). Also, a funny thing happened during our ring exchange; we said the traditional sounding “with this ring I thee wed”. My husband, when he was a little kid, always thought people were saying “with this ring, I be wed” and during our wedding he slipped and actually said that instead. I don’t think anyone else noticed but I just started giggling when I heard it!

    • Samantha

      I actually really like the “till death do us part” vs “as long as we both shall live”. For me there is something so romantic about stating that death is the only thing that could come between us. I just came to that realization from reading your comment. But right on to you making the wording work for you :)

  • Jessica

    I’m not sure if this is common in other traditions, but Catholic wedding vows are proceeded by three questions:
    “(Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?”
    “Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?” [I've heard "husband and wife" as well]
    “Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”
    Each person must respond individually “Yes” or “I will” – there’s no “we will.”

    In my pre-engaged state, this questions have been a helpful guideline for me! Somehow the vows are so familiar to me that it doesn’t seem that scary to say them, but to say “Yes” to all three of those questions would be a pretty big deal for me, showing that I completely understand and commit to my vows.

    Obviously, if you’re having a Catholic wedding those questions will be included, but I could see this format being adopted to other traditions, and maybe the questions being adapted to cover specific circumstances for the couple.

  • itsaprocess

    Oh these are fabulous! They made me think of a related question I have. Every once in awhile I will read something vague about ceremonies that center around or contain a strong community component. They usually mention parts of the ceremony that actively engage the people around you, but other than a ring warming, I have no idea what this could mean. This idea is REALLY appealing to me, but I haven’t really found any resources for what, specifically, these folks did/ said to bring in the community and break down some of that Observer/ Participant barrier. If anyone has thoughts or resources for me I would be VERY grateful. We are planning to write our own ceremony and have a (dear but inexperienced) friend officiate, so we are totally lost at this point.

    • EAL

      At the end of our (Jewish) ceremony, rather than, or perhaps in addition to, the priestly benediction we will have a communal blessing. The rabbi will ask our friends and families to offer short (1-2 word) blessings. eg. Joy, Children, Comfort, etc, etc My sister did it at her wedding and it was great. It took a few moments for people to warm up to the idea but then they were showered with blessings

  • Tess

    Thanks for this! Does anyone know where the “Secular” vows come from?

  • http://Www.kylalupo.com Kyla

    We had some traditional vows, but I always have thought that my marriage will outlast even death. To me it is forever… For all space and time. So we had pretty traditional vows, for Presbyterians, but ended with “forever and always” instead of death or life sentiments.

    We also used a verse from Song of Solomon for the ring exchange. It ended up being amazing, because my pre-wedding bride gift from my husband to be was a gorgeous locket…. Meant to be!
    Song of Solomon, 8:6
    The one placing the ring- Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger.
    Response- Love is invincible facing danger and death.

  • Libby

    Does anyone have more information about the Episcopal vows shared here? I have only found the words shared as a blessing in the Book of Common Prayer, usually said by the priest following the vows. As far as I can find, traditional Episcopalian vows would come from the Book of Common Prayer – (In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.)

    I am meeting with our possible officiant who is an Episcopalian priest next week. I love the “strength in need, counselor in perplexity” vows listed here, but after my research I’m assuming the original writer here took the blessing and altered it slightly to use it as vows. If anyone has found otherwise I’d love to know so I can share it with my officiant!

    • Anne

      There are three (I think) versions of the wedding ceremony in the BCP; I believe the ones second from the top are Rite I. My guess is that the other Episcopal thing listed above is from one of the versions, although it’s not technically part of the vows.

      There is also a new (not sure if it’s published yet) rite for the blessing of a same-sex marriage that uses more inclusive language, which we drew heavily from in our own service.

      • Megan

        We used a mish-mash of Episcopalian services, including the BCP version and two different same-sex marriage blessing services (National Church and Diocese of Los Angeles). Here’s what we ended up with:

        Vows:
        In the name of God, I take you, Marlee, to be my friend, my beloved, my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, until death parts us. This is my solemn vow.

        Rings:
        Marlee, I take you to be my wife. All that I have I offer you; what you have to give I gladly receive; wherever you go I will go. You are my love. God keep me true to you always and you to me.

    • Susan

      I’d be interested in the source for the Episcopal vows shown above because I couldn’t find it in the Book of Common Prayer or in the new liturgy for blessing same sex unions. The language about “strength in need, etc” comes from one of the prayers in the service for marriage:

      “Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their
      common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a
      counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion
      in joy. Amen.”

      Isn’t that lovely?

      • Susan

        In looking at the thread that was the “crowd source” for this, these vows were adapted from the Episcopal vows. Below are the vows as they appear in the Book of Common Prayer:

        In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my husband,
        to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for
        worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love
        and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my
        solemn vow.

        Source: http://www.bcponline.org/

  • C

    So this might be a silly question, but: what makes vows “traditional”? Maybe Meg can unpack what she meant when she said she wanted to say traditional vows?

    At first I thought you were using that word as a stand in for “religious” but then I noticed this list includes secular vows. And without knowing where those secular vows come from (they certainly aren’t ones I’ve heard at any wedding I’ve been to or come across before) its especially hard to tell what counts as traditional. Is it just “vows people have used for several generations”? (If so I’m especially confused by the inclusion of the secular vows).

  • Maria

    We had non-traditional vows and ended up combining the pieces we liked from 2 different vows our celebrant suggested.

    I, Josh, take you Maria, to be my wife.
    Loving what I know of you,
    trusting what I do not yet know,
    with your faults and your strengths,
    as I offer myself to you with my faults and my strengths.
    I will help you when you need help, and
    turn to you when I need help.
    through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.
    Today I give you my promise that from this day forward
    you shall not walk alone.

    • Tammie

      beautiful

  • Tammie

    I am marring my best friend. i have dragged my feet for many years in commiting to being her wife. In my vows i want to let her know that the 20 years off &on relationship that she never gave up on was the time it took me to grow up the be the woman she deserves. now i am proud to shout it from the tallest mountin, Debbie & Tammie are getting married. thank you for youy time. have a GREAT DAY

  • Kelsey

    Mmmm. The traditional Jewish vows are from Hosea, my favorite book in the bible. The idea of forever betrothal, in the context of that book… (God telling Israel I’ll start over with you as many times as I need to, because I love you and this is worth it, even though you’re a whore) Beautiful.