Civil Wedding Vows

Groom and Bride: Today you are surrounded by your friends and family, all of whom are gathered to witness your marriage and to share in the joy of this occasion which can be one of the most memorable and happy days of your lives. As you know, no minister, no priest, no rabbi, no public official can marry you. Only you can marry yourselves. By a mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration and respect, by a willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, you can make your wedded life come alive.

On this day of your marriage, you stand somewhat apart from all other human beings: you stand within the charmed circle of your love. And this is as it should be. But love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. Rather it should serve as a source of common energy, as a form in which you find the strength to live your lives with courage. From this day onward you must love one another in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, but at the same time your love should give you the strength to stand apart, to seek out your unique destinies, to make your special contribution to the world which is always part of us and more than us.

Today as you join yourselves in marriage, there is a vast and unknown future stretching out before you. The possibilities and potentials of your married life are great; and it now falls upon your shoulders to choose values and make real the highest vision of life you can conceive. In this way you will create the meaning of your life. If your love is vital, it will make the choosing and acting easier for you. You stand before me today as two mature and thoughtful people who wish to express their emotions within the framework of a meaningful life. For your self-reliance and courage and for your love, you deserve our respect, and it is these attributes that make this a serious but not a solemn occasion.

I should like at this time to try to speak of some of the things that many of us wish for you. First of all we wish for you a love that makes both of you even better people, that continues to give you joy and zest for living, that provides you with energy to face the responsibilities of life. We wish for you a home; not a place of stone and wood, but an island of sanity and serenity in a frenzied world. We hope that this home is not just a place of private joy and retreat, but rather serves as a temple wherein the values of your life are generated and upheld. We hope that your home encompasses the beauty of nature; that it has within it the elements of simplicity, exuberance, beauty, silence, color and a concordance with the rhythms of life. We wish for you a home with books and poetry and music; a home with all the things which represent the highest strivings of men and women. We wish for you children: children who will not be mere reflections of yourselves but will learn from you your best traits and will go forth to recreate the values you shall have instilled in them. We hope that you will give your children the freedom to find their own way, that you will stand by them when they need you and will stand aside when it is time for them to seek their personal destinies. But we hope you will pass on to your children the concept of family, not as an economic unit, but as a transcendent force which brings people close in time of joy and in time of need.

Finally, we wish that at the end of your lives you will be able to say these two things to one another: Because you have loved me, you have given me faith in myself; and because I have seen the good in you, I have received from you a faith in all humanity.

And now, to acknowledge that we are here today to celebrate the love which Groom and Bride have for each other, and to give social recognition to their decision to accept each other totally and permanently:

(Will you face one another and join both hands please? You may hand your flowers to the maid of honor.)

(To the groom) Groom, please place this ring on Bride’s finger. Do you Groom, promise Bride that from this day onward she will be your wife and you will stand with her in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, and do you pledge to her your respect and your love? I DO.

(To the bride) Bride, please place this ring on Groom’s finger. Do you Bride, promise Groom that from this day onward he will be your husband and you will stand with him in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, and do you pledge to him your respect and your love? I DO.

Now according to the form of solemnization of marriage by the state of __________, but most of all, by the power of your love, I pronounce you married! You may now call yourselves by those two old and respected names: husband and wife.