Whether or not you're going to stick with tradition, the meaning behind these classic religious vows are romantic and a great starting point for writing your own or altering them to suit you.
Each religious faith has wedding traditions and practices—including standard wedding vows—that have been passed down through generations. Exact phrases vary slightly from place to place and among different clergy, so ask your officiant to tell you what they prefer.
Protestant Wedding Vows
There are many different types of Protestant churches, all with their own slightly different traditions and beliefs. Below are typical vows from various denominations, but you'll find many of them differ only slightly from one another.
Basic Protestant Vows
"I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/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 do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you."
"______, wilt thou have this woman/man to be thy wedded wife/husband to live together after God's ordinance in the Holy Estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her/him? Comfort her/him, honor and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep thee only unto her/him as long as you both shall live?"
"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 health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."
"Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?"
"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 we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."
"______, wilt thou have this woman/man to be thy wife/husband, and wilt thou pledge thy faith to him/her, in all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with her/him, and cherish her/him, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?"
"I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wedded wife/husband, and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband/wife, in plenty and want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."
"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."
"I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, and these things I promise you: I will be faithful to you and honest with you; I will respect, trust, help, and care for you; I will share my life with you; I will forgive you as we have been forgiven; and I will try with you better to understand ourselves, the world and God; through the best and worst of what is to come, and as long as we live."
Catholic Wedding Vows
"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 health, until death do us part."
"I, ___, take you, ___, to be my husband/wife. 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."
Hindu Wedding Vows
Traditional Hindu wedding ceremonies have many elements and rituals. Technically there are no "vows" in the Western sense, but the Seven Steps, or Saptha Padhi, around a flame (honoring the fire god, Agni) spell out the promises the couple makes to each other:
"Let us take the first step to provide for our household a nourishing and pure diet, avoiding those foods injurious to healthy living.
"Let us take the second step to develop physical, mental and spiritual powers.
"Let us take the third step to increase our wealth by righteous means and proper use.
"Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love and trust.
"Let us take the fifth step so that we are blessed with strong, virtuous and heroic children.
"Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity.
"Finally, let us take the seventh step and be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock."
Jewish Wedding Vows
In a traditional Jewish ceremony, there is no actual exchange of vows; the covenant is said to be implicit in the ritual. The Jewish wedding ceremony structure varies within Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues, and also among individual rabbis. The marriage vow is customarily sealed when the groom places a ring on the bride's finger and says (in English transliteration), "Haray at mekudeshet lee beh-taba'at zo keh-dat Moshe veh-Yisrael," which translates to, "Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel."
Many Jewish couples today do want to exchange spoken vows; they are now included in many Reform and Conservative ceremonies.
Example of Reform Vows
"Do you,___, take_____ to be your wife/husband, promising to cherish and protect her/him, whether in good fortune or in adversity, and to seek together with her/him a life hallowed by the faith of Israel?"
Example of Conservative Vows
"Do you, ____, take _____ to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband, to love, to honor and to cherish?"
Another version of nontraditional vows is a phrase from the Song of Songs: "Ani leh-dodee veh-dodee lee," which means, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."
Muslim Wedding Vows
Most Muslim couples do not recite vows, but rather heed the words of the imam (cleric), who speaks about the meaning of marriage and the couple's responsibilities to each other and to Allah during the nikah, or marriage contract. At the end of this ritual, the couple consents to become husband and wife, and they are blessed by the congregation. However, some Muslim brides and grooms do recite vows -- here is a common recitation:
Bride: "I, ___, offer you myself in marriage in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife." Groom: "I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband."
Eastern Orthodox Wedding Vows
Many branches of the Orthodox church use silent vows during the ceremony -- an introspective prayer in which the couple promises to be loyal and loving to each other. In the Russian tradition, however, vows are spoken out loud:
"I, ___, take you, ___, as my wedded wife/husband and I promise you love, honor and respect; to be faithful to you, and not to forsake you until death do us part. So help me God, one in the Holy Trinity and all the Saints."
Nondenominational Wedding Vows
"I, ______, take you, ______, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I will respect your integrity and have faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us."
"______, I take you as my wife/husband, 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. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life."
"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 husband/wife so long as we both shall live."
Unitarian Wedding Vows
The Unitarian Universalist Church leaves the service structure and wording up to individual ministers. But many vows will likely borrow from Christian wording and themes:
"______, will you take ______ to be your wife/husband; love, honor and cherish her/him now and forevermore?"
"______, will you take ______ as your wife/husband, will you pledge to share your life openly with her/him, to speak the truth to her/him, in love? Will you promise to honor and tenderly care for her/him, to encourage her/him fulfillment as an individual through all the changes in your lives?"
"______, will you have this woman/man, ______, to be your wedded wife/husband, to live together in marriage, will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor her/him and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
"______, do you take this woman/man, ______, to be your wife/husband? Do you pledge to share your life openly with her/him and to speak the truth to her/him in love?
Will you comfort her/him, honor her/him and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
FAQs About Wedding Vows
Did you know that the traditional wedding vows aren't in the Bible, but are based on biblical principles? This means you are free to interpret those principles and write your own vows. The bible defines marriage as the joining of two into one, according to Genesis 2:24.
- Say "I love you." This seems like a no-brainer, but Honaman says she is shocked at how many couples leave those three little words out of their vows.
- Tell your partner you'll be there through thick and thin.
- Share personal stories.
- Actually make promises.