A Guide to Catholic Marriage Vows
Marriage vows have been around for ages—possibly even thousands of years, even before the concept of Catholic vows for marriage came into the picture.
The modern concept of Christian marriage vows has its roots in a 17th-century publication commissioned by James I, titled the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
This book was intended to provide people with guidelines regarding life and religion—in addition to information about religion, it included guidelines for ceremonies such as funerals, baptisms, and of course it serves as a Catholic wedding guide.
The Solemnization of Matrimony found in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has now ingrained in modern English weddings—phrases such as ‘dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,’ and vows related to staying together until death parts come from this book.
Catholic church wedding vows are an important part of a Catholic wedding, the exchange of Catholic vows of marriage is considered as a consent through which a man and a woman accept each other.
So if you are planning for a roman Catholic marriage, you would need to know the traditional roman Catholic wedding vows. To help you through this process, we can offer you some insights on roman Catholic wedding vows or standard Catholic wedding vows.
How Catholic vows differ
Most Christians associate marriage vows with phrases that originally came from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as well as a few Bible verses related to marriage that people commonly include in their wedding vows.
However, the Bible itself does not really talk about marriage vows; this differs greatly from Catholic writings, however, as the Catholic religion has some fairly extensive guidelines regarding marriage vows and marriage ceremonies, which are expected to be upheld in a Catholic wedding.
To the Catholic Church, marriage vows are not just important to a couple–they are essential for the marriage; without them, the marriage is not considered valid.
The exchange of marriage vows is actually called giving ‘consent’ by the Catholic Church; in other words, the couple is consenting to give themselves to each other through their vows.
Traditional catholic marriage vows
The Catholic Rite of Marriage has guidelines for Catholic wedding ceremony vows that couples are expected to uphold, although they have several options for their vows.
Before the vows can take place, the couple is expected to answer three questions:
- “Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourself 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?”
The standard version of traditional Catholic wedding vows, as given in the Rite of Marriage, is as follows:
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my (wife/husband). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
There are some acceptable variations of this vow. In some cases, couples may be worried about forgetting the words, which is common during such high-stress moments; in this case, it is acceptable for the priest to phrase the vow as a question, which is then answered with “I do” by each party.
In the United States, Catholic wedding vows may have a few slight variations—many American Catholic churches include the phrase “for richer or poorer” and “until death do us part” in addition to the standard phrasing.
Once the couple declares there consent for the wedding, the priest acknowledges by praying for God’s blessings and declares “What God joins together, let no one put asunder.” After this religious ritual, the bride and the groom become wife and husband.
The declaration is followed by the bride and the groom exchanging rings and saying their prayers, while the priest says blessings over the ring. The standard version of the prayers are:
The groom places the wedding ring on the bride’s ring finger: (Name), receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The bride consequently places the wedding ring on the groom’s ring finger: (Name), receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Writing your own vows
A wedding is one of the most emotionally intimate moments of your life, and a lot of people take this opportunity to express their love for each other rather than opting for Catholic wedding vows.
However, if you are planning a Catholic wedding then the likelihood of your priest officiating your wedding allowing you to do so is very rare. Some of the reasons why couples can’t write their own Catholic wedding vows are:
- By reciting the traditional Catholic wedding vows, the bride and the groom are acknowledging the presence of something greater than themselves. This recognizes the unity of the church, and the unity of the couple with themselves, and with the whole body of Christ.
- The Church provides the words for the vows to ensure that the consent from both the bride and the groom is clear to everyone and also to convey the sacredness of the moment.
Even though it is highly unlikely that the officiant would let you write your own vows, but there are ways through which you can publicly express your way for each other.
One such way is to include a personal statement within the vows, and not make any alterations to the Catholic wedding vows. You can always consult your priest on how you can work out a balance between both.
Share this article on
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.