Marriage vows are an important part of the wedding ceremony. While they aren’t verbatim a contract, they set the tone for what you want to get out of and are willing to give to your marriage. Your vows should reflect who you and your spouse are as a couple, and individually. With the popularity of non-traditional ceremonies rising (it seems like everyone is trying to one-up each other with originality!) it may seem stressful planning your vows.
Take a deep breath and check out these recommendations.
You may be most familiar with these marriage vows handed down from Latin texts and the Book of Common Prayer, written in 1549:
The original lines read:
Groom: I,____, take thee,_____, to be my lawful 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.
Bride: I,_____, take thee,_____, to be my lawful wedded 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, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.
These words form the standard for most Christian marriages, while they differ slightly by country and denomination. The standard American interpretation makes no mention of God and has been used for millions of marriages:
I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
There’s nothing like funny marriage vows to get rid of those wedding jitters. You might want to try something like this:
I (name), take you (name), to be my beloved wife. I promise to love you and be your faithful partner, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, when the Jets are winning, and when they are losing, in sickness, and in health, and in Jets-induced sickness. I will be true and loyal, and cherish you for all the days of our lives.
If you are having a strict religious ceremony, you may not have much of a choice in the marriage vows you say. On the other hand, you may be able to write your own vows that call on your faith and dedication to serve your God as a couple. Here is a beautiful passage from the book of Ruth that can be said in unison after the exchange of the rings:
Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you, For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord do with me and more if anything but death parts you from me.
No one can top the poets of the past for great words about love. Try looking through some books of 19th century romantic poetry for inspiration for your marriage vows.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” ~ Elizabeth Bradstreet, 17th century.
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Some last tips:
As much fun as it is to keep your vows a secret from each other until the ceremony, it’s a good idea to share what you have planned before hand. An unpleasant surprise at the alter can ruin the moment. Also, too much humor can make the promises seem trite and in bad taste. Inside jokes jokes alienate the audience. And be sure that the promises you make are ones you can keep (will you really remember to put the toilet seat down every time?).