11 Traditional Wedding Vows That Will Inspire You

Embracing the spirit of something old

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

From the moment I got engaged, I knew I wanted to say traditional wedding vows. We talk a lot about how to write wedding vows here on APW, but for me, this is a purely hypothetical question. I got married because I wanted to join an institution that had supported my parents and grandparents, in the most wonderful and difficult parts of their lives, and I wanted our marriage vows to reflect the long tradition of marriage.

A wedding couple in front of a field with text 11 traditional wedding vows


As I wrote right 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 literally say the same words that my family had said. But I embraced the same spirit and tradition, and that was what mattered to me.

Often you don’t hear much about how to incorporate traditional marriage vows into your (possibly somewhat nontraditional) wedding. So I’m here to encourage you: you can wear a short spangled cocktail dress while you recite marriage vows that are hundreds of years old (“Till death do us part” and all!). So without further ado, a  list of traditional wedding vows, for information and inspiration.

11 traditional wedding vows

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.


With the first step, we will provide for and support each other.
With the second step, we will develop mental, physical, and spiritual strength.
With the third step, we will share the worldly possessions.
With the fourth step, we will acquire knowledge, happiness, and peace.
With the fifth step, we will raise strong and virtuous children.
With the sixth step, we will enjoy the fruits of all seasons.
With the seventh step, we will always remain friends and cherish each other

Roman Catholic

I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my [wife/husband],
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.


In the Name of God, I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my [wife/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.


I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be the [wife/husband] of my days,
to be the parent 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.


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

The Protestant Wedding Sourcebook

In the presence of God and before our family and friends,
I, Sam, take you, Alex, to be my [wife/husband].
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.


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

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.

Traditional Secular Vows

I, Sam, commit myself to you, Alex, as [wife/husband] to learn and grow with, to explore and adventure with, to respect you in everything as an equal partner, in the foreknowledge of joy and pain, strength and weariness, direction and doubt, for all the risings and settings of the sun. We tie these knots to symbolize our connection to one another. They represent our trust in each other and our combined strength together.


Today, surrounded by people who love us, I choose you Alex to be my partner. I am proud to be your [wife/husband] and to join my life with yours. I vow to support you, push you, inspire you, and above all love you, for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, as long as we both shall live


OFFICIANT: Do you, Sam and Alex, pledge to create a life of mutual respect, compassion, generosity, and patience toward each other as you grow together in years?
COUPLE: We do.
OFFICIANT: Do you pledge to recognize each other’s individuality and celebrate each other’s uniqueness as a strength in marriage. While at the same time, will you guard one another’s weaknesses with understanding, support, and inspiration? COUPLE: We do.
OFFICIANT: And do you pledge to share the love you have for each other with all living beings? To be a couple that lets their marriage radiate into others, making their lives more beautiful because of it?
COUPLE: We do.
OFFICIANT: Sam/Alex, if you will face each other and repeat after me: Alex, I give you my life. With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you. Sam, I give you my life. With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.


I, Sam, take you Alex to be the wife/husband of my days, the companion of my house, the friend of my life. We shall bear together whatever trouble and sorrow life may lay upon us, and we shall share together whatever good and joyful things life may bring us. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.


You have taught me that two people joined together with
respect, trust, and open communication can be far stronger
and happier than each could ever be alone. You are the
strength I didn’t know I needed, and the joy that I didn’t
know I lacked. Today, I choose to spend the rest of my life with you.
I promise to love you for who you are, and for who you are yet to become.
I promise to be patient, and to remember that all things
between us are rooted in love. I promise to nurture your dreams
and to help you reach them. I promise to share my whole heart with you,
and to remember to show you how deeply I care for you, no matter
the challenges that may come our way. I promise to love you loyally
and fiercely—as long as I shall live.
Do you take me to be your lawfully wedded [husband/wife]?


I, Alex, do pledge you, Sam, my love, for as long as I live. What I possess in this world, I give to you. I will keep you and hold you, comfort and tend you, protect you and shelter you, for all the days of my life.

If you said Traditional Wedding Vows, what words did you say? How did you think about crafting your marriage vows?

A Practical Wedding Planner

This post was excerpted from the #APWPlanner. For more useful advice like this, get your #APWPlanner at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, INDIEBOUND, or on ITUNES.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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 :)

        • 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.

  • 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.

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

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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?

  • 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:

        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.

        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


  • 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.

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