We are here today to witness and celebrate the marriage of NAME and NAME. This ceremony is a reflection of the commitment that this couple has already made to one another.
Over time, through friendship, love, and willingness to understand, forgive and accept each other, these two have created a partnership that has brought them here together, with their closest loved ones, as they officially become a married couple.
In a moment, you will both speak vows that legalize and publicize your love and commitment.
The central tenet of the traditional wedding vow is the promise to Love, Honor, and Cherish. Of course, saying that you love, honor and cherish someone doesn’t necessarily make it so. Wedding vows are not magical oaths. Couples have to make their vows real by intentionally finding ways to turn them into concrete, loving actions. So, what does this vow really mean in everyday terms? Let’s look at the deeper meaning of each of these words, and their role in your lives together:
First, Love. Love is the commitment you make to be present in your marriage. That means being there for each other each and every day, not just when it’s convenient. This is the “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” kind of stuff. Love, in a mature partnership between equals, fosters honest communication and a mutual sense of well-being. It is a promise to demonstrate your commitment, both experiencing the love you receive, and expressing your love for each other.
Expressions of love might be as simple as a hug or a genuine compliment, being a good listener, or watching Food Network together when you’d prefer Walking Dead. Love is often described as many different things to many different people, and it is. Love is what you make of it, by being together.
To love someone is also to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.
That brings us to Honor, which represents acknowledging and respecting each other as you are.
Honor is seeing the other person clearly, including their past and present, strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences. The challenge is that there will always be two of you, with your own personalities and opinions, and you won’t always agree. The trick is letting that be ok, accepting that the person you love is unique, and not trying to change them. That’s where trust and compromise become important.
Honor is being able to be honest with yourself about who you are, in order to share yourself with another. When you can respect and accept your self and your partner as independent people, you can truly honor each other in your marriage.
And, finally, Cherish. One definition is to place a high value on something or someone, such as to cherish a memory or an object. But in a relationship, to cherish means to care for and nurture. You cherish your partner in the ways you express your love, respect and compassion in your everyday life. This involves action not just sentiment.
It is meeting each other’s needs through the things you do. Showing appreciation in a way that can be understood. Not taking each other for granted: saying “thank you,” and “I love you,” or picking up their favorite snack on the way home, or doing that extra chore when the other has had a hard day: all of these small things add up to a lifetime of moments of cherishing and loving each other.
Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. These are the true vows underlying the words “Love, Honor, and Cherish” and they are inseparable.
Declaration of Intent
As you look into each other’s eyes, remember that these vows are not just words, but represent the commitment you make to be present with each other in your marriage for all the days and all the years you will be together.
NAME, do you take NAME to be your husband/wife? Do you promise to truly love, honor and cherish him/her, to nurture him/her with honesty and joy, to grow with him/her, and to share your heart and your life with him/her for as long as you both live? “I do.”
Vows & Rings
NAME, do you have the ring? As you place the ring on NAME’s finger, please repeat:
I, NAME, want you, NAME, to be my husband/wife/partner.
I promise to listen to you,
and always be honest with you,
to care for you,
and allow you to care for me,
to share my heart with you,
and grow with you
for as long as we both live.
May the vows you’ve just shared be the truth of your everyday lives,
and the rings you now wear serve as a reminder to love, honor and cherish each other.
May you always see and encourage the best in each other.
May the challenges that life brings your way make your marriage grow stronger.
May you always be able to make each other laugh, and to always find the humor and fun in life.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another!
NAME and NAME, I am honored to now pronounce you married/husband and wife.
Congratulations! You may kiss!
(Some material here inspired by the books: Lies at the Altar – The Truth About Great Marriages by Dr. Robin L. Smith, and The World According to Mister Rogers, by Fred Rogers)