Traditional Wedding Vows From Religions and Cultures Across to Globe
A wedding is a chance to acknowledge your heritage while also celebrating the new journey you're stepping into. In the vein, many to-be-weds choose to honor their religion throughout the wedding day and incorporating traditional wedding vows from your faith or culture is a great way to do just that. Whether you plan to recite the promises verbatim or just use them as a starting point template for personalizing your own wedding vows, traditional marriage vows that have been passed down for generations are great inspiration for any wedding ceremony.
As you're planning your nuptials, work in tandem with your wedding officiant to craft a ceremony that beautifully reflects your partnership with marriage vows that pay homage to your heritage. Along with the templates below inspired by the wedding traditions of different religions and cultures, your wedding officiant will help you sort through everything you need to know and prepare for your wedding ceremony.
New York-based officiant and wedding expert Daniela VillaRamos of Once Upon a Vow says that "the best advice we can give to couples with respect to their vows is to stay true to themselves. Vows are an extension of the values a couple holds dear in their lives and promise to instill into their marriage. For better AND for worse, baby!" VillaRamos goes on to say that "whether couples choose to write their own vows or stick to traditional ones, the same advice holds. Ask yourself: Do these vows capture 'US' and our vision for our marriage? Are these vows too broad, too simple, too rooted in the patriarchy? If you find that you're straddling between writing your own vows and using traditional ones, we challenge you to look past the binary and find options that suit you best. You can make your own rules! You can choose to write your own vows AND use the parts of traditional vows that resonate most. Your wedding vows are a little piece of your heart that affirms your commitment and love to your partner, best friend, sous-chef, little spoon, co-parent, and whatever other cute roles you may have or identify with. These words are an extension of your love that you'll look back on especially when experiencing challenges."
In this story:
- 1. Baptist Wedding Vows
- 2. Buddhist Wedding Vows
- 3. Celtic Wedding Vows
- 4. Civil Wedding Vows
- 5. Episcopal Wedding Vows
- 6. Ethical Humanist Wedding Vows
- 7. Greek Orthodox Wedding Vows
- 8. Hindu Wedding Vows
- 9. Interfaith Wedding Vows
- 10. Jewish Wedding Vows
- 11. Lutheran Wedding Vows
- 12. Methodist Wedding Vows
- 13. Muslim Wedding Vows
- 14. Nondenominational Wedding Vows
- 15. Presbyterian Wedding Vows
- 16. Quaker Wedding Vows
- 17. Roman Catholic Wedding Vows
- 18. Unitarian Universalist Wedding Vows
- 19. Apache Wedding Vows
- 20. Cherokee Wedding Vows
1. Baptist Wedding Vows
For couples looking to honor their Protestant faith through traditional Christian marriage vows, the Baptist template is a great place to start. The Baptist church is the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the United States, accounting for a third of American Protestant Christians. As such, there's a good chance that your family, or even some of the guests in attendance, feel deeply connected to the wedding traditions of the denomination.
During the exchange of vows at a Baptist wedding ceremony, which takes place directly before the exchange of wedding rings, partners will share the promises and commitments they're making. The words exchanged will generally follow a structured format in accordance with the Baptist church. To begin, one partner usually vows to take their partner as a faithful wife or faithful husband or as a wedded husband or wedded wife. A mention of those witnessing the union, both physically and in the spiritual realm, is generally included—they may say something along the lines of "before God and His Church."
Baptist Wedding Vows Example:
"I, ________, take thee ________, to be my husband/wife,
and before God and these witnesses I promise to be
a faithful and true husband/wife."
2. Buddhist Wedding Vows
A unique differentiator of Buddhist wedding vows is that they're not required to be spoken aloud. While to-be-weds are certainly able to exchange vows verbally, this isn't a requirement for Buddhist wedding ceremonies. Whether exchanged silently or out loud, Buddhist wedding vows will express a couple's desire to work together toward achieving enlightenment.
Buddhist Wedding Vows Example:
"Today we dedicate ourselves completely to each other, in body, speech, and mind. Throughout this life, in every situation, in wealth or poverty, in health or sickness, in happiness or difficulty, we promise to work to help each other perfectly. We commit to working together in our relationship toward the purpose of attaining enlightenment by striving to always perfect our kindness and compassion toward all sentient beings."
3. Celtic Wedding Vows
Celtic wedding vows are steeped in generations of tradition and are a great option for couples who want to honor their Irish, Scottish or Welsh heritage. For those infusing Celtic traditions into their wedding, a handfasting ceremony is a nice way to complement your Celtic marriage vows.
Celtic Wedding Vow Example:
"Today, we swear by love and peace to stand,
Hand to hand and heart to heart.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now,
This we confirm our Sacred Vow."
4. Civil Wedding Vows
If religious vows aren't quite your speed, a civil wedding ceremony may be the way to go. Given that you don't have years of religious tradition to consider, civil wedding vows are highly customizable and a good option for couples who want classic marriage vows that aren't faith-based.
Civil Wedding Vow Example:
"I love you, and promise to always be your truest and best friend. I vow to support and respect you, to be patient and gracious toward you, to work together jointly with you as we strive to achieve our shared goals. I promise to accept you fully and unconditionally and to share my life with you from now until forever."
5. Episcopal Wedding Vows
Episcopal wedding vows are taken from the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer. The Episcopal church is known for its highly inclusive support of the LGBTQ+ community and is a great option for couples who want a religious ceremony that still feels affirming and modern.
Episcopal Wedding Vow Example:
"______, 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?"
"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, until we are parted by death/ till death do us part. This is my solemn vow."
6. Ethical Humanist Wedding Vows
Similar in nature to civil wedding vows, ethical humanist wedding vows are for humanists who practice a secular way of life, but place great emphasis on living ethically and morally. The main difference between a civil wedding ceremony and an ethical humanist one is that humanists refer to the officiant as the celebrant. However, like with civil wedding vows, ethical humanist wedding vows are highly customizable.
Ethical Humanist Wedding Vow Example:
"Today, in front of our friends and family, I give you everything I am and everything I will grow to be. I love you, and I vow to be your truest friend. I will share your hopes and dreams while working to help you achieve the goals you hold dear. I promise to always be right by your side and to listen patiently with an open heart. I pledge to you my fidelity, honesty, compassion and forgiveness. I vow to love you always, no matter what the future holds. I will be your most loyal confidant and friend, and your loving husband/wife because you are my heart and my soul now and forever."
7. Greek Orthodox Wedding Vows
Though Greek and Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremonies are rife with tradition, they traditionally don't feature wedding vows. The wedding ceremony is viewed as the couple's joining through the eyes of God, rather than the law, so formal vows are not typically included. However, there are many elements, like the crowning, candle lighting and common cup that take place during the ceremony to represent the couple's bond. My modern couples like the idea of exchanging verbal vows and may share promises with each other during a separate, private moment together.
Greek Orthodox Wedding Vow Example:
"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."
8. Hindu Wedding Vows
The vow exchange during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony involves taking seven steps or saptapadi around a holy fire known as agni. Each of the seven steps coincides with a promise the couple is making to each other. These seven steps, along with the other rituals included in a Hindu wedding, serve to bond the couple in wedded matrimony.
"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."
9. Interfaith Wedding Vows
Couples that come from different religious or cultural background may want to craft blended wedding vows that include elements from both upbringings. Working with your officiant, or even two officiants if you want someone from both religions or cultures to preside, is the best approach when it comes to crafting your vows and deciding what phrases to include and which ones to skip.
"Many couples we work with want to honor their religions in a cultural sense to honor their families instead of a faith-based one," says VillaRamos. "Regardless of how couples want to honor their religion, this is a great opportunity to discuss the parts of their faith that resonate with them and the parts that don't. Couples may even find that there are pieces of scripture or their belief system that are similar in many ways. In making these discoveries together, we recommend that couples highlight the parts of their faith that they want to include in their wedding vows as well as their daily lives. After all, when times get tough, most couples think back to the wedding vows they made so include something that will ground you during those times."
Interfaith Wedding Vow Example:
"With all my love, in front of our dear friends and family, I take you to be my partner. I vow to be your friend, companion and lover. I promise to be your partner in parenthood (if we're so blessed), your ally in times of disagreement and your greatest source of support. All the days that I live, I promise to be adventure alongside you, comfort you during disappointment and offer you strength in times of struggle. I vow to trust you fully and listen patiently, now and always."
10. Jewish Wedding Vows
A traditional Jewish ceremony generally doesn't include spoken wedding vows. Instead, the ring exchange and seven blessings (Sheva B'rachot) customarily represent the marriage contract. However, many modern couples like the idea of sharing self-penned promises and choose to include vows in their nuptials.
Reform Jewish Wedding Vow 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?"
Conservative Jewish Wedding Vow Example:
"Do you, ____, take _____ to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband, to love, to honor and to cherish?"
11. Lutheran Wedding Vows
In the Lutheran tradition, which in the United States is made up of three major Lutheran church bodies, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, matrimony is a covenant of fidelity. As such, wedding vows are a couple's chance to express their promise of faithfulness to their partner.
Lutheran Wedding Vow Example:
"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."
12. Methodist Wedding Vows
The United Methodist Church views marriage as a sacred covenant representing the Baptismal Covenant. In essence, entering into a marriage contract is another step in a person's walk of faith and discipleship which they first entered into when they were baptized. As such, Methodist wedding vows should highlight the ways that you'll live in marriage that are in accordance to, and supportive of, your faith journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Methodist Wedding Vow Example:
"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."
13. Muslim Wedding Vows
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 ceremony. At the end of this ritual, the couple consents to become husband and wife, and they are blessed by the congregation. However, some modern Muslim couples do choose to recite vows inspired by the examples below.
Muslim Wedding Vow Example:
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."
14. Nondenominational Wedding Vows
Since nondenominational Christians are not bound by the traditions of a church governing body or denomination, there's much flexibility when crafting nondenominational wedding vows. Couples, in partnership with their officiant, can decide on what promises best fit their relationship and what they want to proclaim before God and loved ones.
Nondenominational Wedding Vow Example:
"I, ______, take you, ______, to as you are. Loving everything that I know of you, trusting what I have yet to discover, I vow to respect and trust you, as long as we both shall live, through everything that life brings our way. "
"______, I take you as my wife/husband, with your faults and your strengths, as I offer myself to you with my faults and my strengths. I will help you when you need help, and turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life."
15. Presbyterian Wedding Vows
Presbyterian wedding vows will generally follow a format set by either the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) or the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). As the pastor will explain ahead of the vow exchange, Presbyterian vows are the promises that bind a couple together in matrimony—and the words used are generally pulled from the Common Book of Worship.
Presbyterian Wedding Vow Example:
"______, 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."
16. Quaker Wedding Vows
Weddings celebrated in the Quaker tradition as part of the Religious Society of Friends are unqiue in that they are self-uniting. As such, there is no officiant present during the ceremony, which focuses on simplicity in accordance with the Quaker way of life.
As part of the wedding ceremony, the witnesses present will also sign a Quaker wedding certificate. The wording used for wedding vows and for the Quaker wedding certificate is extremely personal since Quakers believe that only God can unite them in marriage.
Quaker Wedding Vow Example:
"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."
17. Roman Catholic Wedding Vows
A Catholic wedding mass is highly liturgical and follows a very structured traditional format. In light of this, there are only two wedding vow variations approved by the Vatican for use in Catholic wedding ceremonies. Couples are generally discouraged from deviating from the traditional vows that have been passed down for generations.
Roman Catholic Wedding Vow Example:
"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."
"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."
18. Unitarian Universalist Wedding Vows
A Unitarian Universality (UU) wedding is a highly emotional affair and the vows are give the couple the chance to express their promises to each other as they enter into a lifelong partnership. While they're incredibly customizable, UU vows should still get to the heart of why, out of all the people in the world, you chose your partner and what vows you're committing to with that person.
Unitarian Universalist Wedding Vow Example:
"______, will you take ______ to be your wife/husband; love, honor and cherish her/him now and forevermore?"
"______, will you take ______ as your wife/husband, will you pledge to share your life openly with her/him, to speak the truth to her/him, in love? Will you promise to honor and tenderly care for her/him, to encourage her/him fulfillment as an individual through all the changes in your lives?"
"______, will you have this woman/man, ______, to be your wedded wife/husband, to live together in marriage, will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor her/him and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
"______, do you take this woman/man, ______, to be your wife/husband? Do you pledge to share your life openly with her/him and to speak the truth to her/him in love?
Will you comfort her/him, honor her/him and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
19. Apache Wedding Vows
An element of some Apache wedding ceremonies that to-be-weds may be familiar with is the Apache wedding blessing. While this is a lovely element to include in the wedding ceremony, couples should be aware that it doesn't actually have roots with the Apache tribe. The poem, while beautiful, was written by a non-Indigenous author for a Western novel, which was later turned into a movie. As with all vows and readings you may be considering for your wedding ceremony, it's important to understand the meaning and history of every text you're considering before you commit to including it in the wedding ceremony script.
Apache Wedding Vow Example:
"Now you will feel no rain, for you will be shelter to each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you. Soon you will go to your resting place, to enter into the days of your togetherness. May your days be good and long upon the earth."
20. Cherokee Wedding Vows
Cherokee wedding ceremonies are steeped in rich tradition and often include vows, readings and poems that have been passed down for generations. During a Cherokee wedding ceremony, the couple may choose to honor forces of nature, notably fire, wind and water, for the blessings they bring to the new marriage.
Cherokee Wedding Vow Example:
"God in heaven above, please protect the ones we love. We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor Mother Earth and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons. We honor fire and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts. We honor the wind and ask that we sail through life safe and calm as in our father's arms. We honor water to clean and soothe our relationship -- that it may never thirst for love. With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony as we grow forever young together. Amen."