To Have and To Hold: Writing Your Wedding Vows

Your wedding vows are the personal yet public words you exchange with each other during your wedding ceremony that declare your marriage. Usually vows are said right before you say “I do” and are pronounced husband and wife to your guests and eventually to the world. The wedding vows are an integral part of your wedding ceremony as you pledge to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of your natural born days.

Wedding vows come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the sentiment you want to convey will determine if you’ll use traditional, pre-arranged wedding vows that have withstood the test of time, or if you’ll go for a more non-traditional approach and write your own.


If you are getting married in a church, be certain to ask church officials if you are required to use their standard wedding vow template, or if you can develop your own. If you are getting married somewhere other than a church, chances are you can write your own vows which your wedding officiant will then incorporate into the overall wedding ceremony program.

Below are some examples of traditional, non-traditional, and literature-inspired wedding vows:

Traditional Vows


Traditional wedding vows are just that– the ones you always hear in the majority of standard church weddings. They are the wedding vows most repeated in literature, TV, and the movies. Depending on the type of church you attend will determine the standard vows they use, but the vast majority are biblical in nature, and most are similar to each other with slight variations in the wording.

Below is the most traditional wedding vow used most often in Christian ceremonies:


“I take you _____ to be my wedded wife/husband,

To have and to hold, from this day forward,

For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer,

In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,

Till death do us part.”


Non-Traditional Vows


Non-traditional vows are just that– usually not taken from any specific text, but rather either incorporating basic traditional sentiments commonly used in wedding ceremonies, or solely developed from the couples own thoughts and words. Focus on trust, love, faithfulness, and loyalty.

A  non-traditional wedding vow borrowing some commonly-used wedding elements and sentiments is below:


“I bring myself to you this day to share my life with you; you can trust my love, for it’s real. I promise to be a faithful partner and to always share and support your hopes, dreams, and goals. I vow to be there for you always. When you fall, I will catch you. When you cry, I will comfort you. When you laugh, I will share  your joy, everything that I am and everything that I have is yours, from this moment forth and for all of eternity.”


Vows Inspired By the Classics


Sometimes wedding vows are borrowed from classical literature. Shakespeare, Keats, Browning, and many many more great classical writers have left us with such beautiful literature that if we search long enough, we’re bound to find something we can use in our own personal ceremony.

Below is a famous poem “Sonnets from the Portuguese”  written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her eternal love, her husband and fellow poet Robert Browning:


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,

smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.”

                                    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

                                           Sonnets from the Portuguese 



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