Wedding vows in America and contemporary western societies are common among ceremonies. Vows are generally intimate, heartwarming messages between the newlywed couple about their lifelong commitment to one another.
For intercultural and interracial marriages, however, couples may want to honor the traditions of their significant other. There are many different types of vows to consider, including those from various religions, denominations, and cultural backgrounds. Below are a few beloved wedding vows from different cultural and faith-based traditions.
Native American Wedding Blessings
Most Native American wedding vows are blessings read aloud to the couple. Here is an example of a blessing read during Cherokee wedding ceremonies:
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 wind - and ask 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 and true happiness as
we forever grow young together. Amen.
Chinese Wedding Poems
While traditional Chinese weddings don’t typically consist of wedding vows, many Chinese-American weddings combine Chinese traditions with western elements. Below are two classic Chinese poems and texts that are sometimes read during the vow exchange portion of a Chinese-American wedding:
Without words, without even understanding,
Lovers find each other.
...The moment of finding is always a surprise,
Like meeting an old friend never before known.
—Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
When two people at one
In their inmost hearts
They shatter even the strength of iron
Or of bronze
And when two people understand each other
In their inmost hearts
Their words are sweet and strong
Like the fragrance of orchids.
—When Two People Are at One - I Ching
Hindu Wedding Vows
In a Hindu wedding ceremony, the Seven Steps (the Saptha Padhi) are a traditional performance of the couple. Together, the newlyweds walk around a flame to honor the fire god Agni in Hinduism, while reciting the following promises:
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.
Catholic Wedding Vows
Catholic ceremonies generally involve the priest asking the couple three questions, to which they answer “I will” or “yes." Afterward, they recite one of the following sets of vows below.
(Groom's name) and (bride's name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?
Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?
Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
I, (groom's name), take you, (bride's name), for my lawful wife, 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, (bride's name), take you, (groom's name), to be my husband. 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.
Jewish Wedding Vows
In most Jewish wedding ceremonies, two prayers are commonly recited during the ring exchange, one that is more religious-focused and the other to be more contemporary:
Haray at mekudeshet lee beh-taba'at zo keh-dat Moshe veh-Yisrael. (English translation: Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.)
Ani leh-dodee veh-dodee lee. (English translation: I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.)
Tips for Writing Wedding Vows
In addition to traditions, some couples may choose to share personally written vows. Writing, however, doesn't always come easy when you feel nervous or anxious. If you find yourself with a case of writer’s block, here are some tips to help boost your creative flow:
- Read famous love quotes or poems: Looking to the classics for some inspiration can help you find yourself stuck. Consider works from renowned writers and poets such as Shakespeare and E.E. Cummings.
- Jot down fun facts about your partner: Think of the cute and quirky characteristics you love about your partner. These beloved thoughts and memories can inspire you to write, and would also make great newlywed game questions.
- Brainstorm your vows together: Ease into the writing process together with your fiance. You both can talk about all the things you love about each other and the meaningful moments you share. before you begin.
Intercultural weddings are a great opportunity for couples to proudly show and teach their heritage and customs to the other and guests. Honoring your partner's culture and traditions through wedding vows can be a wonderful expression of love and gratitude to both your spouse and their family.