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Wedding Vows

I will love you, hold you, and honour you

Each religious faith has wedding traditions and practices—including standard wedding vows—that have been passed down through generations. Many marriages are negotiated agreements between families or clans. While in history they were to establish peaceful relationships between clans, or to cement trading relationships between nations, in South Africa this is more often left to the choice of the individuals getting married.

In the Christian faith:

Jesus described marriage as two people joining their lives together into one common purpose: and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:5&6). Marriage is considered a lifelong commitment, with the marriage pact only able to be broken in death (see Romans 7:2). This is then reflected in the wedding vows.

The oldest traditional wedding vows can be traced back to the manuals of the medieval church. For many couples, their wedding is more than a commitment to their partner—it’s also a celebration of their faith. And reciting those traditional, faith-based wedding vows is one of the most significant moments of the ceremony. The Methodist Church uses the following vow:

I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, ______, do take you, ______, to be my lawful wedded 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 death us do part: according to God’s holy law; and to this I pledge myself."

Can we write our own vows?

The words in bold above legally binding, so they cannot be changed. However, there may be some special, additional things you and your partner want to say to each other.  Personalized wedding vows are becoming more and more popular, with couples wanting to pay tribute to their unique relationship using their own words instead of something that's been said before. Some couples have done this by writing something as an additional reading, or using poetry or an extract from a book to say those things in a personal way. Whether you’re reciting traditional wedding vows or writing your own vows, you’ll want the words to feel authentic to you and your relationship. 

“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)