Traditional Marriage Vows

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Opting for traditional marriage vows? Bravo! You show a respect for tradition, believe in century-old words spoken by millions and are probably old-fashioned more than you care to admit.

Traditional marriage vows symbolize your love and commitment and that you think of marriage as a sacred institution that deserves to be revered by the human population. For ever and ever. And despite the divorce rate pegged at 50%.

People who are bold and daring and want to deviate from the standard and classical choose to write their own marriage vows – certainly an accepted practice in contemporary society. Some people, however, for lack of time, decide to go with traditional marriage vows because the words – having been said for generations – are close to home and offer warm comfort. And there’s this tendency not to want to rock the boat. Imagine reciting a wedding vow you’ve written yourself in front of hundreds. We have known about-to-be-wed grooms and brides who chuck their “poem” at the last minute for fear of sounding unorthodox. So with a heavy heart, they reach out for traditional marriage vows. Despite their nerves of steel, this is one moment in their life that they don’t dare bring out the poet in them.

Traditional Marriage Vows - Examples

If you’re getting married in a church and there’s a generous sprinkling of spiritualisms, it is usually best not to deviate too radically from traditional wording. If a church is out of the question and you select the botanical garden but still want traditional vows, then deviation from the usual words will be tolerated, although not to the point that you’re sounding like a lewd oversexed maniac. Leave any references to pornography – even innocent sex – out. Wait until you’re alone with your beloved in the intimacy of your “boudoir.”

Here is an example of one of the most common traditional marriage vows that has been repeated by men and women for decades:

For the future spouse:

“I, (Sarah/James), take you (Sarah/James), to be my (wife/husband), to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

A variation of the above vow would be:

“I, (state your name), take you, (state name of your husband/wife), to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), my constant friend, my faithful partner, and my love from this day forward. “

For some reason, however, some couples would rather not include the phrase “lawfully wedded.” That’s acceptable.

Or you can say something more personal like:

“As God unites us in the presence of our family and friends, I give you my firm commitment to be faithful and loyal to you, in sickness and in health, good times or bad, in sadness and in joy. I do promise to love you unconditionally, to help you make your dreams come true and to respect and honor you. I cherish you, my dear (name) for as long as we both shall live.”

After the bride and groom have recited their individual vows, they can also recite another vow like this one together, or a variation of it:

“I commit to never leave you, to follow you. For where you go, I shall go, and where you remain, I shall remain. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I shall die and be buried beside you.”

In traditional marriage vows, let’s not forget the recitation by the officiant.

The officiant may say something like:

(Addressing the groom): “Will you take (Bride’s name) to be your lawful wife, love her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health and forsaking all others keep only unto her so long as you both shall live?”
To which the groom responds, “I do.” The bride will be asked the same question.

Traditional Marriage Vows - Writing Them

Wedding consultants say that people who are about to get married not only request assistance with wedding planning such as catering, décor and flowers, music, photographer and videographer, but also on how to write their wedding vows with a touch of the personal.

This is why most wedding planners will have some samples of vows and poems in ther drawers or briefcases so marrying men and women can look them over. Because writing their own vows trigges many questions from their clients, past experience dictates that wedding planners and consultants make sure there are sufficient samples to give the groom and bride as many ideas as possible.

Here’s a checklist of what to do if you decide to be your own writer:

  • Brevity is a noble virtue. Don’t bore the crowd, officiant and possibly your own loved one by being long winded. Brevity must be accompanied by profound meaning. By profound we mean avoiding the light banter and focusing on the essential.
  • No power point presentations – even if this is your forte because you’re the corporate presenter. Don’t let inspirational love make you go on overdrive – or overkill. Someone might walk out in embarrassment.
  • Have the “editor” look at it. We don’t mean looking for a real book editor. Comments from friend or two should be sufficient feedback.
  • You can include a passage from a song or a verse from a poem. While an invited guest is usually requested to sing or recite this poem, it is not unusual at all for the groom and bride to say the passages. There are hundreds of wedding poems available on the Internet and in books.
  • Choose the right words to express your most sincere feelings and sentiments. Choose words that will make you remember your wedding ceremony fondly.

Traditional Marriage Vows - Personal Reservations

We’re old-fashioned in many ways. We don’t go out and buy the latest Blackberry or the more recent version of anything, but when we hear the phrase “till death do us part”, the philosophical bug in us wakes up and begins to question how a promise like that can be so effortlessly pronounced in front of hundreds of persons.

In wanting to love and commit till death do us part, shouldn’t there be a “proviso” (some legalese here, bear with us) that says something like, “we’ll stay together provided our marriage is in perfect running condition?” So we’re Catholic and we’ve been told that your chosen lifetime partner is just that – lifetime – no matter what the odds. But we have a difficult time with the “till death do us part” segment.

What if five years after the marriage, one of us meets a tragic accident and need to be on life support indefinitely? Or what if your chosen favorite person turns out to be a secret abuser? Or he didn’t tell you about his mounting bills and his pathetic credit score so that he can’t sign the mortgage and loan documents?
If we were to get married and wanted to omit the “till death do us part” portion, we would seek counseling with a priest immediately and see if there would be any consequences if we choose NOT to recite these famous words.

If the priest insists that they be included, then we have two possible courses of action:

  • We opt OUT of traditional marriage vows
  • We opt OUT of the wedding and just be friends

That would not reflect very well on our ability to love and commit, but at least no children will be hurt from the rupture.

Or made a promise that you couldn’t keep!

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