Catholic Wedding Vows 101: Everything You Need to Know
The exchanging of vows may be just one element of the wedding program at a Catholic wedding mass, but it's arguably the most important part as these proclamations are what unite Catholic couples in holy matrimony. As part of a wedding ceremony in the Catholic church, couples generally don't exchange their own wedding vows, instead they customarily recite traditional wedding vows to enter into Christian marriage. If you're in the throes of wedding planning and are at a loss for what those Catholic wedding vows should look like, read on.
What to Include in Your Catholic Wedding Vows
There are three major components to the exchange of vows that will take place during a Catholic or Roman Catholic marriage ceremony on the wedding day.
Initiating the Declaration
Talk to any priest and they'll explain that Catholic marriage vows are based in a declaration of consent, or Catechism #1625-1631. To initiate this declaration, the officiating priest will ask three questions of the couple tying the knot.
"[Name] and [name], have you come here to enter into marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?"
"Are you prepared, as you follow the path of marriage, to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live?"
"Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"
The answer to each of these three questions should be "I have" or "I am."
While not strictly required in every ceremony, this portion of Catholic vows may be recommended to nearly-newlyweds by your officiant.
The Exchange of Consent
Next comes the actual exchange of vows followed by the exchange of rings. The exchange of Catholic wedding vows is called Сonsent—without these sacred words and solemn vows recited in the presence of God, the marriage won't happen.
"I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."
"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."
The Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Following this portion of the marriage ceremony, the officiant will acknowledge the couple's decision to marry. They will pray for God to bless the union and perform a blessing over the wedding rings. The next portion of Catholic vows can be tailored by engaged couples any way you prefer.
Here is one of the most popular phrasings exchanged by the couple as they present each other with rings:
"[Name], receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Traditional Catholic Wedding Vows Template
There are two versions of Catholic wedding vows approved by the Vatican for couples to exchange during a Catholic wedding ceremony. To-be-weds should work hand-in-hand with their priest to decide which promises are the best fit for your nuptials.
"I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."
"I, (name), take you, (name), 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."
Personalizing Catholic Wedding Vows
While some couples may choose to very slightly alter the promises they exchange during a Catholic wedding mass, customization is generally advised against. Catholic wedding vows are steeped in rich tradition and affirmed by the Vatican so keeping your nuptials as close to those listed above is most advised.