A Jewish Wedding Vow Template to Guide Your Ceremony
Customarily, there's no spoken exchange of wedding vows at a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony; the covenant is said to be implicit in the ritual. While the wedding ceremony structure varies within the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism, and also among individual synagogues and rabbis, there are two main parts of the Jewish marriage program that represent the sealing of the marriage contract: the ring exchange and the seven blessings.
While spoken wedding vows are not customary within Jewish wedding ceremonies, some modern couples have begun adding in their own vows to their ceremony program. To-be-weds wishing to customize their marriage ceremony with wedding vows should consult with their rabbi or officiant to craft a script for the wedding day.
Another key element of Jewish weddings is the signing of the ketubah. Historically, the ketubah was a legal contract protecting the wife financially, but the document can be reimagined as a loving statement of mutual commitment to marriage. In many ways the words couples commit to in their ketubah are similar to wedding vows exchanged in the wedding ceremonies of other religions and can be looked at over the course of a couple's marriage as a source of inspiration.
What to Include in Your Jewish Wedding Vows
The ketubah signing generally happens privately before the main wedding ceremony. Then, during the ceremony, following the kiddush and first cup of wine wedding traditions, the wedding ring ceremony and reciting of the seven blessings occur. The seven blessings will generally be recited in Hebrew by family members or close loved ones of the couple.
Jewish musician and liturgist Alexander Massey suggests the following as a template for couples' ketubah wording.
"On the [number] day of [month], in [venue, county], [first partner's full name] and [second partner's full name] declared before the witnesses assembled: "With hearts full of joy and awe we stand before God, under the heavens and under the chuppah, linking our past to our future and uniting our lives. We consecrate ourselves to one another, entering into a sacred covenant of love, trust and commitment. We promise to cherish, honour and support each other, striving ever to be loving, tolerant, patient, honest, fair and loyal partners. Respecting our differences and sharing our strengths, may we together meet life's challenges. May we always remember our sense of humour and may laughter be ever present in our lives. Nurtured by this marriage, may our souls blossom, our talents flower, and our dreams bear fruit. United in body and spirit, we will weave a tapestry of celebration, sanctifying the cycle of our years and the seasons of our lives. As we work for tikkun olam, repairing the world, may God protect and guide us on our life's journey, blessing our hearts with happiness, our minds with wisdom, and our home with abundance and peace. May we always share these blessings with our loved ones and all those whom we meet."
In keeping with tradition, the Jewish wedding band should be a simple gold circle unadorned with stones. The below promise is generally spoken as the rings are placed on the bride's finger and/or the groom's finger.
"Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel."
Or in Hebrew: "Harei at m'kudeshet li b'taba'at zo k'dat Mosheh v'Yisrael"
Seven Blessings (Sheva B'rachot)
While the wording of the seven blessings vary slightly across different Jewish practices, the standardized Ashkenazic version of the seven blessings are below.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, Creator of the vine-fruit.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created everything for His Glory.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, Creator of man.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created man in your image*, fashioning perpetuated life. Blessed are You, LORD, Creator of man.
The barreness will surely exult and be glad in gathering her children to herself joyfully (in haste). Blessed are You, LORD, Gladdener of Zion by way of her children.
Loving companions will surely gladden, as you gladdened your creations in the Garden of Eden in the east. Blessed are You, LORD, Gladdener of groom and bride.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony and peace and companionship. Quickly, LORD our God, there should be heard in the cities of Judah and in the courtyards of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of groom and the voice of bride, the jubilant voices of grooms from the bridal canopy, and of young people from the feast of their singing. Blessed are You, LORD, Gladdener of the groom with the bride.
Traditional Jewish Wedding Vows Template
Since wedding vows aren't historically part of the Jewish tradition, couples have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to what they recite. Many modern couples do want to exchange spoken vows and they're becoming more standard in Reform and Conservative weddings. As such, Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, Virginia, crafted the below marriage vows that couple can choose to incorporate into their wedding.
"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?
"Do you, ______, take ______ to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband, to love, to honor, and to cherish?"
Other Jewish Vows
"With this ring, you are made holy to me, for I love you as my soul. You are now my wife.
"With this ring, you are made holy to me, for I love you as my soul. You are now my husband."
Personalizing Jewish Wedding Vows
Since traditional wedding vows aren't as common within Judaism, couples have plenty of room to customize their promises as they see fit. Working in tandem with their rabbi or officiant, couples can pen promises that reflect their relationship. For advice on writing your own vows, let these tips be your guide.