Wedding vows are verbal expressions of a commitment between a man and woman to become husband and wife. But what makes wedding vows perfect? A poem? A psalm? A promise? Couples struggling with creating a dialogue to express just the right words at just the right time, are no longer bound by pre-existing texts.
A personalized exchange is possible, but the exchange of vows should coincide with the theme and mood of the entire wedding ceremony, as well as the guidelines of the officiant.
Traditional Church Ceremony and Vows
If a bride and a groom practice the same faith and attend the same house of worship, christian wedding vows are often used. A blanket set of vows can not be simply stated because the rules and regulations differ from one religion to the next.
Brides and grooms, upon deciding on a traditional church ceremony, should meet with the minister/priest/rabbi to finalize the ceremony, including music, special prayers, and readings and to discuss the possibility of a few personalized vows. Some religions adhere to strict standards for marriage vows, while others may be more flexible. Traditional church or temple ceremonies would take place for the following faiths.
- Roman Catholic
- Protestant ( Including but not limited to Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist)
- Jewish (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform)
- Christian Science
- Eastern Orthodox (Greek and Russian)
Civil, Military or Nondemoninational Ceremonies
Brides and grooms who practice different faiths or who are inactive in their faiths my want to consider a nondenominational or civil ceremony to exchange wedding vows. If the couple together, or either the bride or the groom is a member of the armed forces, a military ceremony is an option.
Civil or nondenominational ceremonies can be faith-filled and spiritual and officiated by either a minister, judge, justice of the peace or magistrate. Most follow the rituals of a Protestant ceremony and allow greater flexibility with vows. An officiant may lead a bride and groom in proclaiming their vows, couples may choose to speak freely with personalized vows, or a combination of both could be possible. In addition to biblical verse, inspiration can be drawn from the following:
- Love Poems. Refer to classic literature such as Shakespeare or Yeats.
- Lyrics. Countless lovesongs express intimate sentiments
- Romance Novels. Collect ideas from passages in sentimental books
- Movies. Review some classic romantic movie qoutes.
- Personal Intimacies. Think of the special words or phrases used in conversations with one another.
- Photo Albums. Draw upon inspiration for personalized vows from photos of special places or events shared together.
Brides and grooms need to agree on what types of vows to be exchanged prior to meeting with the officiant. If personalized vows are allowed by the officiant for the ceremony, the couple must decide whether to write vows separately or together and then present those suggestions to the person performing the ceremony.