4 Civil Wedding Vows for Your Ceremony, Plus Tips on Customizing Them

Here is everything you need craft your own civil wedding vows.
Emily Halonen Bratcher - The Knot Contributor.
by
Emily Halonen Bratcher
Emily Halonen Bratcher - The Knot Contributor.
Emily Halonen Bratcher
The Knot Contributor
  • Emily writes a variety of articles for The Knot Worldwide.
  • Emily also writes service journalism and public interest pieces for other publications.
  • Emily holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Updated Jan 05, 2022

As you plan your civil wedding (a nonreligious wedding ceremony that is legally recognized), don't forget the vows. Even though civil wedding ceremonies tend to be shorter and more casual than their church wedding counterparts, you'll still need to devote some wedding planning time to your vows.

Unlike ceremonies at Jewish weddings or Catholic weddings (or other religious ceremonies), civil weddings don't have a lot of dos and don'ts when it comes to the vows you exchange on the special day. If you're exchanging vows before a civil wedding officiant recognized by the state—or the county in some cases—and some witnesses, you can recite very basic promises or you can customize them as much as you want. Some couples stick to a basic recitation of promises while others mix it up with some humor or romantic thoughts.

Even though a civil wedding is by definition nonreligious and officiated by a government official rather than a member of the clergy, you can still incorporate religious elements into your wedding day vows if you want. As you approach your wedding date, it's important to work with your officiant to plan out your big day vows. Here are some tips on what to include in your civil wedding vows, and some examples to get you started.

What to Include in Your Civil Wedding Vows

Civil wedding ceremonies are often short affairs, held in venues ranging from the courthouse to the family home, a hotel to a beach. During civil ceremonies, you can exchange traditional wedding vows or personal vows as long as you keep your officiant informed. You can also keep your promises as short and sweet as you wish or you can make them longer. Sometimes the exchange of vows is combined with the exchange of rings.

As you craft your civil wedding vows, just make sure they include a statement that communicates that each member of the couple is entering into matrimony with the other in addition to some basic promises about loving and caring for the other. They should also be spoken before an officiant who is legally recognized by the state or county and before witnesses.

Traditional Civil Wedding Vows Template

Here are a few basic civil marriage vows that you can consider incorporating into your own wedding.

Wedding Vow Example 1

Officiant: ______, do you take ______ to be your legal wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward?

To-be-wed: I do.

Officiant: ______, do you take ______ to be your legal wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward?

To-be-wed: I do.

To-be-wed (both repeat): ______, I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband. Before these witnesses, I vow to love you and care for you for as long as we both shall live.

Wedding Vow Example 2

Officiant: ______________, do you take ______________, to be your wife/husband?

To-be-wed: I do.

Officiant: Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her/him, forsaking all other and holding only unto her/him?

To-be-wed: I do.

Officiant: ______________, do you take ______________, to be your wife/husband?

To-be-wed: I do.

Officiant: Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her/him, forsaking all other and holding only unto her/him?

To-be-wed: I do.

Wedding Vow Example 3

Couple repeats: 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.

Wedding Vow Example 4

Couple: I love you, and I promise to be your best friend, to respect and support you, to be patient with you, to work together with you to achieve our goals, to accept you unconditionally and to share my life with you forever.

Personalizing Civil Wedding Vows

Just about anything goes when it comes to customizing your civil wedding vows, but you should run your wedding ceremony script by your wedding officiant. After that, you can write your own wedding vows with your own thoughts—whether heartfelt or humorous (or a little of both).

Heartfelt Sample Civil Wedding Vows

Couples planning civil wedding ceremonies can make them just as heartfelt or romantic as they want. Here are a couple of sample wedding vows.

Example 1: I promise to be your honest, loving, and faithful husband/wife for the rest of my days.

Example 2: You make me laugh, you make me think, and above all, you make me happy.

Funny Wedding Vows

If you're hosting a civil wedding, you don't have to exchange solemn vows that include lines like "till death do us part." You can lighten the mood with some humor. Here are a couple of wedding ideas for funny civil ceremonies:

Example 1: Phew, this is a lot of pressure. I better not blow this—I _____ take you... wait, what's your name again?

Example 2: I promise not to watch the next episode without you.

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