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We draw upon the worlds secular and religious traditions, respecting the perspectives of both doubter and believer.

Involving children in the vows

To some the heart of the ceremony is the vow. Write your own, or adopt or adapt from these below. Since you are different persons, your vows need not be identical. You can be completely serious or use humor.
     And since the vows are what you say to each other, it is best to speak them directly to each other, without me saying a phrase at a time and your repeating phrase by phrase. Prepare your vows on special paper for you to read, adding a visual symbol for all to see and enjoy, even as your guests hear you pledge yourselves to one another. I will be happy to prepare the traditional vows pictured below, or texts you send me, on scrolls. Memorizing the vows is usually best avoided.
     Your wedding vows are public; you are not inviting your guests into your bedroom, so save intimate details for your private exchanges of affection, or side-vows to exchange on your wedding day before or after the ceremony, or by giving them to each other during the ceremony in writing.
     The traditional vow takes about 30 seconds to speak. If your vow lasts more than two minutes, consider the patience of your guests.

     1. I, N, take thee, N, to be my wedded wife/ husband / sacred companion, 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. With my whole heart and complete devotion, I pledge you my love.

      2. I take you to be the wife / husband / beloved of my days, the mother/ father / joint parent of my children. I give my love to you and promise to share with you all the expressions of that which is alive in me. In trust I give you freedom to be all that is within you, and in respect I cherish the uniqueness of your being. I unite my life with yours in joy and vow my understanding, honesty and concern in commitment to our life together.

     3. N, I take you to be my wife / husband / holy companion for the rest of my days. I pledge to you my love, devotion and support as we share the joys and sorrows ahead of us. Let us together delight in our accomplishments, overcome all obstacles, and encourage personal growth so that our union may be enriched and fulfilled. Before God and in the presence of family and friends, I promise my total commitment and unbounded love to you.

     4. I avow my love and respect for you, and I invite you to share my life as I hope to share yours. I promise always to recognize you as an equal partner. I will cherish and protect you, comfort and console you; share with you my hopes and worries, my fears and joys; confide in you and trust you; and in all ways consider your well-being as the path of faith and fulfillment toward the warm and rich life which we now envision, and to cherish you always.

    5. I do not have the words to express either the joy I feel, or the hopes and yearnings that I have for us and for the world, as we set forth on our way into the future. I open to you all that is within me, my most private and personal thoughts, my most intimate my uncertainties, longings, enthusiasms. and ambitions. I come promising to be your life-long companion. I am thankful for the sense of family we both bring to our marriage and look forward to continuing that tradition. I promise care, communication, honesty, kindness and understanding, to make our a marriage a sacred bond.

     6. I come to you neither innocent of the problems to share nor afraid of the struggle. I ask for your strength in my weaknesses, and offer my strength in return. We shall be secure in our individual beings, and faithful in our union. I pledge for eternity to cherish you, our marriage / union, and our faith.

     7. As I vow faithfulness to you, I vow faithfulness to myself as well. The new freedom our marriage / union gives us is expansive; it enriches and enlarges all friendships; but that freedom is centered in our love. I promise to be honest with you, to share my faith and doubts, rest and wanderings, delights and agonies, as I want to share yours. I respect your freedom and personhood, encourage your creativity, and celebrate your privacy. But I also open my heart to that deep place beyond words and there learn with you the deepest meanings of life.

1: We are two individuals who enrich our existence by having a single life and a shared life.
2: We have chosen this union because we belong not to each other but with each other.
1: We wish the same happiness for each other and will strive to reach harmony, adjusting to the needs of the other while remaining true to ourselves.
2: When things do not go smoothly, we will try to be patient, gentle, understanding, flexible, receptive, open and loving.
1: We will give what is needed-and more.
2: We will take what we need-and no more.
1: We will be faithful because nothing can be stronger or more important than our love.
2: We will be truthful so we may always trust.
1: We will be respectful, for each of us is a special human being.
2: We have been blessed with much love and the capacity to share it.
1: We are friends and shall remain so.
2: We are lovers and shall remain so.
1: We are individuals and shall remain so.
2: We are partners and shall remain so.


Christian Generic 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." 


Christian Episcopal  

Question Form A [1928/1952 BCP, p436]

"______, 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?" 

Question Form B [1979 BCP, p436]

"______, will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort him, honor and keep him/her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?" 

Vow Option 1 [1979 BCP, p436]

"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." 

Vow Option 2 [1979 BCP, p436]
"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, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight/give thee my troth. 

Of Historical Interest: The man's gifts to the woman 

[1549 First Prayer-Book of Edward VI, modernized spelling]
"With this ring I thee wed: This gold and silver I thee give: with my body I thee worship: and withall my worldly goods I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen"

Christian Methodist 

"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." 


Christian Presbyterian 

"______, 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." 


Christian Lutheran 

"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." 


Christian Orthodox 

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." 


Christian Quaker (Socicety of Friends) 

"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." 


Christian Roman Catholic 


1. (Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?

2. Will you honor each other as man and wife for rest the of your lives?

3. Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church?

Option 1
"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." 

Option 2
"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." 



Rather than exchanging of vows, the Seven Steps, or Saptha Padhi, around a flame (honoring the fire god, Agni) effect the intentions of the couple. 

"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 Tradition 

In a traditional Jewish ceremony, there is no actual exchange of vows; the covenant is said to be implicit in the ritual. A Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract. It is signed. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride. 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" -- "Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel." 

Jewish  Conservative example 

"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." 

Jewish Reform example

"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?" 


A Muslim tradition

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." 

Here is a suggestion for vows based on relationship research:
or click here.



Before the ceremony itself begins, children may (with supervision if needed) light the candles on the altar table.

After the couple speak vows to each other, I might say:

Parenthood brings with it a lifetime of unique responsibilities and immeasurable rewards. As a married couple,  do you celebrate and welcome this/these  child/ren, [names] into your wedded union and enlarged family, expanding your love and commitment as parents to embrace them all fully?


What will you give them as a sign of your love and commitment?


(You could speak individually as you might wish to each child as you present the necklaces.)

Children, do you accept these gifts and the love of Patrick and Krysti with joy?