Pledging Your Love
Wedding vows are more than just a declaration of love and devotion; they are promise between the couple to honor at all times their commitment to one another. Whether a religious wedding ceremony or a non-religious wedding ceremony that pledge is expressed through the wedding vows.
You'll find the words to traditional wedding vows in movies, books and songs. They articulate perfectly the value and respect for the sanctity of marriage. Traditional wedding vows provide a time honored and revered way to exchange vows. These are likely the same wedding vows used by your parents, grandparents and other ancestors throughout the generations. There's a special sense of continuity and connectedness in knowing you're using those same words and that some day, so too may your children.
While wedding vows vary slightly between different churches, especially among various Protestant denominations, here is a general outline of traditional wedding vows.
After the processional, the minister or priest starts with the following words: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together before God to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony." The minister then says a few words on the sanctity of marriage, which he may customize to specifically address the couple.
The vows can be exchanged one of two ways. The minister can pose the vows as a question, to which the bride and groom answer "I do": "Do you (name) take (partner's name) for your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do you part?" Should the couple choose this option they may wish to express their commitment during the exchange of the wedding rings.
Or the couple can state the vows for themselves: "I (name) take you (partner's name) for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."
There are many variations of these words. However the underlying theme of commitment to one another throughout good times and bad times remains the constant.
If you plan to change the traditional wedding vows considerably, it may be easier to simply write your own wedding vows. The essence of the wedding vows remains the same, just expressed in your own words.