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All you need is words

14 Jul 2011

All you need is words

The exchanging of vows is one of the most important parts of your wedding day and making them personal and special to you makes them even more memorable.

Those words declared between partners in front of an official are what actually marks your special day as a legally binding contract.

As many couples opt for a civil ceremony, veering away from the customs and religion of a church service and the traditional “I do”, they can express their feelings of commitment by composing their own vows or adding additional poems, quotes and so on.

They may also be allowed to add their own vows to a traditional church service, in consultation with the person officiating.

The minimum and statutory vows required for your marriage to be legal, which must be said somewhere in your ceremony in England and Wales are:

“I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (your name), may not be joined in matrimony to (your partner’s name).”

Then followed by these contracting words:

“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, (your name), do take thee (your partner’s name) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife.”

A civil ceremony holds slightly different contracting words.

The groom and then the bride will repeat after the superintendent registrar.

“I declare that I know of no legal reason why I (your name) may not be joined in marriage to (your partner’s name).

I (name) take you (name) to be my wedded husband/wife.”

Together with the declarations and contracting words can be some promises. These can be said where you’d like and, within reason, how you like.

Example of Christian vows:

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 ‘till death do us part.

Example of civil ceremony vows:

(Partner’s name), I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife.

Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live.

I take you, with all your faults and strengths, as I offer myself to you with all my faults and 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.

Useful promises and vocabulary when composing your vows:

To love, honour, respect and cherish you.

To be honest and faithful.

To be kind, trusting, tolerant and understanding.

To share the good and bad parts of life together.

To bring happiness and laughter for us both as long as we are together.

Personalising your vows can be fun and enjoyable, so if you’d like to lighten up the solemn stuff, how about:

Bride “I promise to not hog the bathroom, never ask ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ and not to nudge you too hard when you’re snoring.”

Groom “I promise to put the toilet seat down, place my dirty washing in the laundry basket, not in a heap on the floor, and to do my share of the dusting, cooking and housework.”

History repeating itself

As many years of happy married life go by, some couples choose to renew their wedding vows, whether it’s to celebrate a milestone anniversary, elaborate the first, involve children or just to celebrate that love still blossoms.

Unlike the first day, when renewing your vows there are no legal implications. Where, when and how you celebrate is completely your choice.

Ways to start your vows:

“We stand here before family and friends as we have before. Again I take you…”

“(Number of years since the wedding) years ago on this day, we were first joined together. The years spent together have given me the joy with which I promise again, to be your husband/wife.”

No matter how, where or why you renew your vows, it can still recreate the intense emotion and bring back the happy memories from your actual wedding day.

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