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Traditional Vows

Martha Stewart Weddings, Volume 13 2000

Vows for religious weddings vary according to the specific religion. In Jewish ceremonies vows are recited only when the ring is given (or rings are exchanged; see Ring Vows), but in the rest of the examples we've assembled here, the declaration of vows symbolizes the moment when a bride and groom become husband and wife.

There are several ways to perform the following monologue-style vows: You can memorize the words ahead of time; you can repeat them after the officiant; or the officiant can say them in the form of a question, and you can respond with "I do" or "I will." Variations on the traditional wording can often be accommodated; discuss any desired changes with your clergy member.

Catholic
"I, _____, take you, _____, 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 in health, until death do us part. I will love and honor you all the days of my life."

Episcopal
"In the name of God, I, _____, take you, _____, 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 parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

Presbyterian
"I, _____, take you, _____, to be my wife/husband, and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband/wife in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."

Protestant
"I, _____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded 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, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith."

Quaker
"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."

Unitarian/Universalist
"I, _____, take you, _____, 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 cherish always."

Interfaith
"I,_____, take you, _____, 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 and honor you all the days of my life."

Nondenominational
"_____, I now take you to be my wedded wife/husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy relationship of marriage. I promise to love and comfort you, honor and keep you, and forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live."

Ring Vows
At most wedding ceremonies, the exchange of rings immediately follows the recitation of vows and serves to seal those promises. The ring symbolizes the unbroken circle of love, and at many ceremonies, more vows are spoken as rings are exchanged. In some cases, the bride receives a ring during the ceremony but the groom does not, as at Orthodox and some Conservative Jewish weddings. For many weddings, couples choose the double-ring ceremony, wherein both the bride and groom give and receive rings, although this practice did not become popular in the United States until after World War II.

The customs listed are the most common for their respective religions; speak with your clergy member about any approved variations.

Catholic
After the priest blesses the bride's ring, the groom places it on her finger. After the priest blesses the groom's ring, the bride places it on his finger. Each says: "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Take and wear this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness."

Episcopal
The groom places the ring on the bride's finger and says: "____, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If the wedding is a double-ring ceremony, the bride does the same.

Jewish
The groom says: "Harey at mekuddeshet li B'taba'at zo k'dat Moshe V'israel," which means, "Behold, thou are consecrated unto me with this ring according to the law of Moses and of Israel." Then the groom places the ring on the bride's finger. If the wedding is a double-ring ceremony, the bride recites the same words (with changes for gender) and places the ring on the groom's finger.

Presbyterian
The groom places the ring on the bride's finger and says: "This ring I give you, in token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love." If the wedding is a double-ring ceremony, the bride does the same.

Protestant
After the blessing from the celebrant, the groom places the ring on the bride's finger and says: "I give you this ring as a symbol of my love; and with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If the wedding is a double-ring ceremony, the bride does the same.

Unitarian/Universalist
The groom places the ring on the bride's finger and says: "With this ring, I wed you and pledge you my love now and forever." If the wedding is a double-ring ceremony, the bride does the same.