Planning your civil wedding vows

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Tying the knot is a beautiful commitment that involves century-old traditions such as swapping rings and saying vows. When planning your civil wedding ceremony vows, it’s important to decide whether you want to go down the traditional route with a scripted approach or add a little more personalisation to what you say.

Every couple is different, so whether you’re having a non-religious gathering with close family and want to spill your heart out or a relaxed LGBT wedding at a dream location, think about vows carefully and decide what’s right for you.

Traditional vows

You may have heard of the traditional church vows taken from the 16th Century Common Book of prayer. These read as follows: “I [Name] take you [Name] to be my 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, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God, I make this vow.

Of course, civil ceremonies are not allowed to include anything that’s religious. So traditional vows have been slightly altered to the following, “I call upon these persons here present, to witness that I [Name] do take thee [Name] to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.” This is short and sweet but will get the job done.

When exchanging rings, traditionally you would say, “I give you this ring as a symbol of our love. All that I am I give to you. All that I have I share with you. I promise to love you, to be faithful and loyal, in good times and bad. May this ring remind you always of the words we have spoken today.

Modern vows

When it comes to civil ceremonies, there are also more modern vows which simply state, “I [Name] take you [Name] to be my wedded wife/husband.”

This can be extended slightly depending on your wishes to, “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I [Name] do take thee [Name] to be my lawful wedded wife/husband, to be loving, faithful and loyal to thee in living our married life together.

More modern vows for exchanging rings read, “I give you this ring as a sign of our love, trust and marriage. I promise to care for you above all others, to give you my love, friendship and support, and to respect and cherish you throughout our life together.”


If you want to personalise your wedding vows, speak about this with your partner. Writing your own speech can be daunting, so it’s good to agree about what you feel comfortable with from the start. If you’re both committed to writing your own vows, you can then start to pen ideas. Perhaps think about when you first met or the moment you realised you were in love. If you’ve got kids, why not mention the bond you share? Also, don’t forget to discuss words you might not want to use such as ‘obey.’ This has started to fade out of modern vows, as it was an old-fashioned thing a bride would be encouraged to say to her husband.

Don’t worry about making your notes perfect to start with. Simply brainstorm and research some sentimental vows online. From there, you can then turn your ideas into beautifully crafted vows that will have deep meaning for you and your partner.

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