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Wedding vows and blessings

Inspirational words for your ceremony, invitations or reception

Time-honoured words for a traditional touch

While some couples choose to put their own stamp on the ceremony, others prefer to stick to traditional vows that have been spoken for centuries. There is no right or wrong approach here – it’s simply a case of what works best for you and your groom.

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The following vows, prayers and poems have come from cultures all over the world. They can be used to inspire your own vows, or included as part of a personalised civil ceremony.

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Your own vows

Traditional Irish vow

As light to the eye, as bread to the hungry,

as joy to the heart, may thy presence be with me

Traditional Irish vow

Here is my hand to hold with you,

To bind us for life and grow old with you

Adapted from traditional Presbyterian vows

I take you in all love and honour,

In all duty and service

In all faith and tenderness

Adapted from traditional Lutheran vows

I enter this marriage with you knowing that the true magic of love is not to avoid changes but to navigate them successfully

Adapted from a Humanist vow

I give you my hand and my heart as a sanctuary of warmth and peace

Adapted from traditional Jewish vows

I promise to love, cherish and protect, in good fortune and adversity

Adapted from a Methodist vow

We come together to record in the minds and hearts of all present the ripe event of a love that’s bloomed

Hawaiian blessing

The peace and serenity of the heavens be with you all

Hawaiian wedding song from an ancient marriage prayer

Here all seeking is over

The lost has been found

A mate has been found

To share the chills of winter –

Now love asks

That you be united

Here is a place to rest

A place to sleep, a place in heaven.

Now two are becoming one, the black night is scattered

The Eastern sky grows bright, at last the great day has come

Commitment poem of the Pueblo Indian, author unknown

Before we met, you and I were halves unjoined except in the wide rivers of our minds. We were each other’s distant shore, the opposite wings of a bird, the other half of a seashell. We did not know the other then, did not know our determination to keep alive the cry of one riverbank to the other. We were apart, yet connected in our ignorance of each other, like two apples sharing a common tree. Remember?

I knew you existed long before you understood my desire to join my freedom to yours. Our paths collided long enough for our indecision to be swallowed up by the greater need of love. When you came to me, the sun surged towards the earth and moon escaped from darkness to bless the union of two spirits, so alike that the creator had designed them for life’s endless circle.

Beloved partner, keeper of my heart’s odd secrets, clothed in summer blossoms so the icy hand of winter never touches us. I thank your patience. Our joining is like a tree to earth, a cloud to sky and even more. We are the reason the world can laugh on its battlefields and rise from the ashes of its selfishness to hear me say, in this time, this place, this way – I loved you best of all.

Taken from the Hindu ceremony of Saptapadi (The Seven Steps)

Together we will remain faithful and lifelong partners…

Together we will cherish each other and our families in sorrow and happiness

From the Hindu marriage ceremony

We have taken the seven steps

You have become mine forever.

Yes, we have become partners.

I have become yours.

Hereafter I cannot live without you.

Do not live without me.

Let us share the joys.

we are the word and meaning, united.

You are thoughts and I am sound.

May the nights be honey-sweet for us;

may the mornings be honey sweet for us;

may the earth be honey sweet for us;

may the heavens be honeysweet for us.

May the plants be honey sweet for us;

May the sun be all honey for us;

May the cows yield us honey sweet milk!

As the heavens are stable,

as the earth is stable,

as the mountains are stable,

as the whole universe is stable,

as the whole universe is stable,

so may our union be permanently settled.

Adapted from ancient Sanskritt

For yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of vision

 and every tomorrow a vision of hope

Adapted from a traditional Baha’i ceremony

Be like two sweet-singing birds perched upon the highest branches of the tree of life

Filling the air with songs of love and rapture.

Keres Indian

I (groom), take you (bride) to be my wife,

Knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend,

My faithful partner in life and my one true love.

I add my breath to your breath

That our days may be long on the earth,

That the days of our people may be long

That we may be one person,

That we may finish our roads together

Blessing of the Apaches

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other

Now you will feel no cold for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now you will feel no loneliness for each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two persons but there is only one life before you.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.

May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Traditional Cherokee Prayer

We honour mother earth –

And ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons.

We honour fire –

And ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts

We honour wind –

And ask that we sail through life safe and calm in our father’s arms

We honour water –

To clean and soothe our relationship that it may never thirst for love

Apache Blessing

May you each be like the air that inhabits the other

Blessing of the Great Plains Indians

May our trails lie straight and level before us, let us live to be old

From a Native American blessing

Above you are the stars, below you are the stones

As time does pass, remember;

Like a star should your love be constant

Like a stone should your love be firm

Traditional African blessing

The good sprits will be their cushions

so that not a hair of their heads shall be harmed

Ancient Gaelic blessing

O God give the joy and God the love

To those who are lovers true

Shed down benedictions from above

As in one are joined the two

Medieval Christian vow

May (bride) and (groom) live to grow together in your love under their own vine and fig tree and seeing their children’s children.

Ancient Celtic

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself

But while we both wish it, I give you what is mine to give

And we shall have the time of our lives

Handfasting for a year and a day

Bound together for a lifetime

I will always hold your hand fast

Wiccan handfasting pledge

Celtic handfasting pledge

We are the air, it surrounds us.

We are the fire, it burns within us,

We are the water, it flows through us,

We are the earth, it sustains us

Celtic blessing

You are the star of each night.

You are the brightness of each morning

You are the story of each quest

You are the report of every land

Traditional candle-lighting ceremony

This one light cannot be divided, neither shall our lives

Translated from 2nd century China

We plaited our hair and became man and wife

The love of us two was never in doubt

Let us enjoy the bliss of tonight

And make merry while the good times last

Translated from 6th century China

If you accept all things

Whether painful or joyful

You will always know

That you belong to each other

Source unknown

And we will make our bed beneath the bright and ragged quilt

of all the yesterdays that makes us who we are,

The strengths and frailties we bring to this marriage,

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And we will be rich indeed