Wedding Vows at a Glance
The ceremony of marriage which is the union of two adults is performed during wedding. Wedding can be a social or religious event during which the bride and groom exchange wedding vows understood as the promises they made to each other. Each culture as well as religion has its method of cerebrating marriage and exchanging the wedding vows. The wedding vows in most cases are already formulated. The wedding couples have to pronounce them as they are given without any addition or omission. They are expected to keep to the promises they made to each other.
The manuals of the medieval church contained the oldest traditional wedding vows. Typical examples of such vows were those of the dioceses of York and Salisbury (Sarum). However, before the invention of printing, wedding couples were exchanging marriage vows to each other. The wedding vows could be verbalised or symbolised. But as time went on and with the invention of printing, many religions began to print manuals containing their various rituals including marriage rituals. In the rituals for marriage, wedding vows are written down. Some religions have only one form of wedding vows for the man and the woman. But there are some religions that have alternative wedding vows. In these religions, it is most of the time left for the wedding couples to decide the marriage vows to exchange to each other.
Before the middle of twentieth century, wedding couples were only reciting the marriage vows of the culture or religion they belonged to. It could be seen as a taboo for a couple to exchange alternative wedding vows not contained in the manuals of their religion or as stipulated in by their traditions. However, during the mid 20th century, with advancement in technology and civilization, many people started questioning the memorization and recitation of given religious wedding vows.
Though, traditional and religion wedding vows are still used by many couples today, some wedding couples prefer writing the wedding promises they made to each other rather than using the traditional and religious wedding vows. The argument is that marriage vows are promises wedding couples made to each and thus they should be free to promise what they will be able to keep and not forced to recite already formulated vows whether they will be able to keep it or not.
Some people also argue that wedding vows should contain words that have meaning for the wedding couple in their lifetime relationship to each other. In other words, it should show the reasons why the couples have agreed to married each other. For example, if you accept to marry a person because of the love you have for him or her, in your wedding vows to your spouse, you should promise love and also expect him or her to reciprocate.
Different types of wedding vows
Wedding vows are of different types with each type having sub-types. The commonest types of marriage vows are:
- religious wedding vows
- nonreligious wedding vows
- wedding ring vows
- cultural and traditional wedding vows
For proper understand, it will be good to examine each type of wedding vows.
Religious wedding vows
As implicit from the name, religious wedding vows refer to wedding promises used during religious marriage ceremony. Each religion has its own marriage vows. So, there are as many religious wedding vows as there are many religions in the world. It will be difficult to mention all the religious marriage vows. Here, we will only be mentioning the wedding vows of popular religion across the world. Here are some religious wedding vows that you may find helpful even if you prefer writing your own wedding vows.
Christian wedding vows
There are many Christian denominations. Virtually, every denomination has its own peculiar wedding vows. In some denomination, there is only one accepted form of wedding vows for both the groom and bride. A typical example of such denomination is the Roman Catholic Church. But there are some denominations that have several marriage vows and then allow couples to choose the one they prefer.
Basically, the major difference in the wedding vows of various Christian denominations is their words. But they are almost the same in their meaning as they are drawn from the source, namely, the Scripture. Almost in all the Christian wedding vows, the wedding couples promise each other love, honour, faithfulness and respect in all circumstance until death. Married couples are expected to be together and maintain their union until they die. It is only death that can separate them. However, in some Christian denomination like the Roman Catholic Church, there are certain conditions that will make a marriage null and void and thus, the couple is not obliged to keep their wedding vows. The wedding can be nullified under such conditions. For example, marriage contracted under force is not valid in Roman Catholic Church.
Buddhism has its own marriage rituals and ceremony. But in their marriage rituals or ceremony, there is no exchange of marital vows between the wedding couple.
Hindu wedding vows
There are seven steps in Hindu wedding ceremony and these steps correspond to the 7 wedding vows depicting the marital commitment. There are two ways through which the wedding couple exchange their marital vows. First, it can be verbalised by the wedding couples. The wedding vows can also be symbolised. It is left for the wedding couples to decide whether to verbalise their wedding vows or symbolise them.
Muslim wedding vows
The core of the Muslim wedding ceremony is the explanation of the commitment each partner of the wedding couple has for each other. During this moment, the wedding couple confirmed their consent to enter into marital union with each other. However, there is still exchange of marital vows in Islam even though it is not the core of their wedding. The groom promises in all honesty and sincerity to remain faithful and helpful to the bride. The bride on the other hand, promises obedience and faithful to his husband and to enter marriage with the bride according to the teaching of the Holy Qu’ran and Prophet Mohamed.
Nonreligious wedding vow
Nonreligious marriage also known as interfaith marriage is a type of marriage between two adults with different religious beliefs. Some couples engaging in this type of wedding may prefer to recite their specific religious vows; that is the bride will recite her religious marital vows while the groom will recite his own religions marriage vows. There are some couples that may prefer to use a marital vow that incorporate the traditions of the two religions. Other couples may decide to write their own wedding vows. It is left for the couples to decide earlier what they will exchange as their marital vows. However, there are some religions that have requirements and rituals for mixed or interreligious marriage.
Civil wedding ceremony
This is a type of wedding ceremony that takes place outside the church. There is no religion involved in this type of wedding ceremony. It is a secular wedding ceremony. Normally, the wedding couple exchange wedding vows during the marriage ceremony. However, the marriage vows to be exchanged are determined by the couple. The official may also provide one for them. But it has to be used with the approval of the wedding couple. Some areas or countries may have written marital vows to be used during civil wedding ceremonies.
Legal wedding ceremony
As implicit from the name, this type of wedding takes place in a court. The marriage vows are contained in the legal document signed by the couple. It is normally prepared in accordance with the constitution of a country. In some places, wedding couple may be allowed to determine the content of their marriage document. In other words, they have to determine how they are supposed to live their marriage union. Issues such as ownership of property before and after marriage are normally stipulated in the document.
Traditional wedding ceremonies
Virtually, every culture has its unique marriage ceremonies. In some cultures, there is exchange of wedding vows between the groom and bride. The marital vows are expressed either verbally or symbolically depending on the accepted tradition. But there are cultures that have no exchange of marital vows even though they may have rich and colourful marital ceremonies.
Wedding ring vows
As implicit from the name, the wedding vows here are exchanged together with the wedding ring. As the wedding couple pronounces the marital vows, they exchange their wedding rings as symbols of their union. This type of wedding vows is also obtainable in some religions. A typical example of a religion that has wedding ring vows tradition is Judaism. In Jewish tradition, the wedding couples exchange the wedding rings while pronouncing their wedding vows. Many Christian denominations also observe this tradition.
Writing your own wedding vows
As it has been said above, there are a number of couples that prefer writing their own wedding vows. It can be fun and interesting writing your marital vows. However, if you prefer to recite wedding vows you wrote, it is important that you take time to articulate the words so that it will be meaningful and sweet to the ears.
The internet will be useful to you when you want to write your wedding vows. There are a number of sites that have already written wedding vows. You should read a number of them in order to know how they are written. Take a deep reflection before writing it. Make sure that you write only what you can keep.