The Vows are your opportunity to express your love and commitment.

Vows can be simple or complex, romantic, funny, long or short, a poem, a page written from the heart, or just a few sincere words.

Personalising your vows, and the entire ceremony for that matter can define and announce your love.

There is just one line that MUST be said under the law (legal vows), but beyond that, you can choose to say (or not say) almost anything as long as it doesn’t contradict the Marriage Act.

Go to a quiet spot without distraction and surround yourself with pictures, objects, aromas, or memories that are significant in your relationship.

Write the Vows down and when ready, send them to me, your Celebrant, so that I can:

  1. add them to your ceremonial booklet
  2. print them on a card if needed.
  3. check spelling & grammar if you wish
  4. check or add the legal bits

This page does not purport to be legal advice but there is lots more information below and to make it easier to navigate, I have added an index.

 


INDEX FOR THIS PAGE

  1. Do I have to say Personal Vows?
  2. Can I just stick with the legal Vows?
  3. Can I change the legal vows?
  4. Can I make up my own vows?
  5. Can I use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in the vows?
  6. Can we personalise the vows?
  7. Do I have to say ‘obey’?
  8. We are the same sex, and so can we both be brides/grooms?
  9. What are the ‘Legal Vows’, or words in Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act?
  10. What are the consequences if the requirements of Section 45 are not satisfied?
  11. What must be done with the saying of vows in situations where a person is unable to speak?
  12. What names should be used in the vows (meaning of the terms ‘A.B’ and ‘C.D’)?
  13. When do I get to say, “I do”?
  14. Who must say the vows?

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LEGAL WORDING – WHAT MUST BE SAID

This section is all about the legal bits.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act 1961 sets out the vows required to be said by the couple in a civil marriage ceremony.

These words (or similar) must be said to each other, by the persons marrying:

I call upon everyone here to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage).

That’s pretty easy and makes it legal.

As soon as your utter those words in the ceremony, you are legally married. It is the main ingredient and everything else is dressing.

You can however add whatever you wish-see WRITING PERSONAL VOWS

These are options for the words that MUST be said:

  1. “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;
  2. “I call upon the people here present to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;
  3. “I call upon everyone here, to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;
  4. “I ask everybody here to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;
  5. “I ask everybody here to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;
  6. “I ask everybody here to witness that I, A.B. (or ), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage)”;

WHAT ARE ‘PERSONAL’ VOWS?

Personal Vows are your own words and promises said by you to your partner, by choice

This is a moment when you choose to express your love and maybe the reasons that you have decided to marry that one amazing person.

They are a personal choice of words that are in addition to the legal (vows) words that must be said for your marriage to be solemnised.

You don’t have to say personal vows at all.

Some people choose to say only the legal vows and not personal vows, while sometimes, only one party says personal vows while the other says only the legal vows only.

As long as the Personal Vows do not contradict the legal vows and/or the Marriage Act, pretty much anything goes.

Personal Vows can be:

  • Traditional or non-tradition,
  • Religious or non-religious,
  • Funny or serious,
  • Romantic & loving
  • Brief or huge, or
  • a poem, song or quote, or
  • just about anything else.

You can even include all guests by having the Celebrant ask questions of the family and/or guests such as, “will you all support this couple in their lives together?”
I have put together a few samples of Personal Vows later on this page.

RULES FOR WRITING PERSONAL VOWS

The only legal rule is that personal Vows cannot contradict the legal vows and/or the Marriage Act. Apart from that, pretty much anything goes.

Some like to keep their vows secret while others share or write their vows together.

Some like to keep their vows about the same length, or even use the same words but it is entirely a choice and what will make you happy, not just on the day, but will be remembered for all the years to come.

No pressure then😊

You can write your own, be inspired by what others have said/written, select a simple line from the samples below, or find inspiration elsewhere.

TIP: best not to copy and paste from a google search as it could lead to disappointment later when your partner discovers the source 

SOME SIMPLE SAMPLES OF VOWS

Your Vows don’t have to be complex. Here are some simple one liners

  1. I promise to love you, honour you, and cherish you, as my forever love.
  2. I am proud to become your loving wife/husband/partner in marriage,
  3. I love you to Mars and beyond; and so much more.
  4. I can’t wait to see and experience every day that we will be together as a married couple.
  5. I promise to make you laugh, laugh with you, and to laugh at myself.
  6. You are the love of my life, and I am proud to marry you. I promise to support your dreams and to be there for you for all eternity.
  7. I vow/promise to be loving, devoted and the best wife I can be, without judgement, without scorn, but always with an open heart and mind.
  8. We are best friends and always have the best time when together. I want to find unending happiness with you and find adventures together.
  9. I already love all I know of you and long to learn more as we grow old together, falling deeper and deeper in love with you a little more each and every day.
  10. You are my forever, every breath I take, you are my best friend, my dream, my shoulder to lean on, my love, my husband. You are my everything in every way.
  11. I am yours completely. Let’s build our dreams together.
  12. I will always strive to be the person I see now in your eyes, and to always do what is best for US.
  13. You are the sunshine I want to see when I open my eyes and the sweetness I see when I close them at night.
  14. My greatest joy in life is the smallest of moments. Seeing the sparkle in your eyes, watching the smile grow on your face, the fall of your hair, and the way you move.
  15. When I was a child I made a wish on a falling star but never knew that my wish could ever come true, but here you stand before me and my every dream, my every hope and every wish is you.
  16. I vow to always protect you and us from harm, to work with you to solve any troubles we encounter, to stand with you against all winds, to enjoy and cherish every victory and to share when I need a shoulder.
  17. I know you. I have known you all my life. You are my dreams and my every love. You are what has been missing from my life, you complete me.
  18. When I am with you, I feel that I am home. In your heart, I have found my love. In your soul, I have found my mate. With you, I am whole, full, alive. You make me laugh. You let me cry. You are my breath, and my every heartbeat.
  19. You know me better than anyone else in this world and somehow you still want to be with me and still somehow love me. There is still a part of me right at this moment that cannot believe that I’m the lucky one who gets to marry you, the most beautiful person in the world.
  20. I choose to be with you, to laugh and cry with you; care for you and share with you, play and run and dance and jump with you; I choose life and you are my life, my breath, my every being.
  21. I promise to bed with you; to listen to you and to share with you. I promise to never keep score, even if I’m totally winning. I promise to always admire you. I promise that I will always love you.
  22. Woohoo, we are getting married. This is the best day of my life. I think of you constantly, I get tingles every time you come near, I am so much better with you in my life and can’t believe that you have chosen to be here, with me, now and forever. I love you and am amazed by you.

· Different Vows

Vows can be simple and unique:

  1. I vow to never steal the covers unless, you’re hogging them.
  2. I vow to turn on the heater when you’re freezing cold, even if I’m burning up.
  3. I promise to take out the garbage, even in the pouring rain or freezing cold.
  4. I promise to find the remote when it is hidden in the side of your chair
  5. I promise to always respect your choice of music in the car when you are driving.
  6. You are the one I want to binge watch Netflix with forever.
  7. I love that you get my jokes when no one else does and that you laugh even when they aren’t funny … even though they always are!.
  8. I promise to share the covers, leave the light on, make sure the toilet paper is stocked, to put the seat down or up or whatever, to not use up all the hot water, to put out the garbage, to stack and unpack the dishwasher, as long as we both shall live.
  9. I promise above all else, to communicate fully and fearlessly with you. I give you my hand and my heart, as a sanctuary of warmth and peace, and pledge my unending love, devotion, faith, fidelity, respect and honour, as I join my life with yours.

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WRITING PERSONAL VOWS MADE EASY

Personal vows are you expressing your love and the reasons that you have chosen to marry, that one amazing person.

Expressing your feelings can be daunting, especially when trying to say it all in just a few words but you don’t have to say it all, just say why you want to marry because you will have the rest of your life to say it all.

Relax because the words are already there in your heart and so we just have to find them.

There are some simple one-line vows later on this page but following this section will have your Vows written in now time

  1. We first met when… 
    • Where did you meet
    • How did you meet
    • How did you feel at that moment?
  2. I realised you were the love of my life when… 
    • At the first kiss
    • The moment you spoke
    • I wanted to be with you all the time
    • I couldn’t stop thinking of you
    • I felt wonderful anytime you walked into the room
    • I could smell you hair, and smile even when you weren’t there
    • I couldn’t see a future without you
    • I feel tingles every time I thought of you
    • With just crept up on me
    • Before we even met
    • I realised my life has changed
  3. When I am with you,
    1. I get chills and thrills
    2. My heart races
    3. My world seems wonderful
  4. Since you came into my life, I have grown as a person because… 
    1. You have changed how I see the world
    2. I want a better life not just for me but for us both and our children
    3. I want to be better and am better
    4. I am the person that I always wanted to be but didn’t realise it
  5. What you mean to me is…
    • My life is better because of you
    • I am safe and secure and see a future with love
  6. Three things I love about you are (make your own list):
    1. The way you walk
    2. The way you talk
    3. The way smile
    4. The curve of your face
    5. How you make me feel
    6. Your eyes and how you look at me

Ok, that’s more than three but you get the idea.

  1. You are:
    • the most wonderful person I have ever met.
    • The most beautiful person I have ever seen
    • the love of my life,
    • my everything,
    • my reason to breathe,
    • my playmate,
    • my partner in crime,
    • my today, tomorrow and every day.
    • amazing, wonderful, inspiring
    • the one I have dreamed of meeting, but never believe it could be true
  2. I love that you love:
    • Me, despite my quirks and foibles
    • The movies/sports/things that I like
    • Sharing life with me
    • Our children & pets
    • Adventure
    • Waking up beside me
    • being close to me
  3. I realised that you were my forever love:
    • the first moment I saw you, my heart stopped
    • Before I even met you
    • The moment you walked into the room
    • when I looked into your eyes and saw all my tomorrows
    • The moment you walked out of the room, and I felt my world was empty without you
    • Our first kiss
    • When I saw your eyes
    • When you smiled
    • When you laughed at my jokes
    • When I felt like an idiot, but you took my hand and smiled.
    • When I tasted your lamb roast
    • When my parents hated you
    • When my parents said they loved you
    • When my best mate asked if he/she could ask you out
    • When I realised I was a much better person because you are in my life
  4. I remember when:
    • We had our first coffee/scotch/tequila/walk/holiday/laugh
    • You made me feel I was floating on air
    • We went parachuting/hang gliding/bungy jumping
    • You/We, fell over in the mud
    • We met at the theatre
    • We watched our first sad movie together
    • Our hands touched when we both reached for the popcorn
    • We got drunk together
    • I fell and you caught me
    • I threw up and you held my hair
    • We sat talking until dawn and watched the sunrise together
    • We chatted on Tinder before realising we were in the same train carriage
  5. My promises to you are:
    • I will always support you
    • I will be by your side when you are sick
    • Cook for you and/or feed you when you are hungry
    • I will forgive you when you get mad
    • to never steal the covers unless, you’re hogging them
    • to say I love you every single day
    • Make you laugh even if you don’t want to
    • I will go to any length to make you happy
    • To never hurt you but to always protect you
    • I will put the toilet seat down (if I remember)
    • Go to a church with you
    • Never say you look fat in that
    • To read or write a poem for you at least once a year
    • Always be with you whatever happens in our lives
  6. I look forward to:
    • Sharing the rest of my life with you
    • Having 15 kids, three dogs, two snakes, an elephant, and a 100 rabbits (well, just two rabbits but they breed faster than we do)
    • Travelling the world with you even if it is just to Ulladulla
    • Breathing the same air as you for all of our lives
    • Kissing you goodnight every night and waking up beside you every morning
    • Doing stuff together
  7. I will continue to do this:
    • As long as we both shall live.
    • Forever and a day,
    • for eternity
    • until death does us part.
    • Until South Sydney wins the premiership

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VOWS’ FROM PAST WEDDINGS

These are Vows said by some of my couples. You cannot use them without their permission, but you may be inspired by them:

  • I love you.

I love you,
It’s effortless.
It’s gentle.
It’s delirious.
It’s uncooperative.
It’s the most settling feeling my body has ever felt, but its manic, intrusive, disarranging and frustrating.
I’m frustrated because I could take the all of the sweetest, most syrupy, gooey words from all the languages of the entire planet, and I couldn’t possibly construct them in any way that would even come close to explaining the deep, boundless need that my soul has for yours.
In your eyes, I see the kind of father that our children someday deserve to have.
I see a football Dad, standing on the side of the field then putting a band-aid on a grazed knee.
I see a ballet Dad, tying a pink ribbon into a bow,
then reading fairy-tale books, and finishing the whole story.
And I’m standing here, choosing you for them.
I choose you because your family treats me as I’m one of their own, and because my mum has said multiple times that she likes you more than she likes me.

  • I Choose You

I choose you because you light fires in me, you love my sometimes shitty attitude, you poke the bear when everyone else is smart enough take cover.
You don’t make me any less me, you love the things that make me awful, and no one else can possibly understand why.
So I’m here, in front of our families, our best friends, choosing you, before you change your mind, promising you, not always the best love, but the always purest and unrelenting love.
I remember the first time I told you that I loved you. It was so hard for me to get the words out, but I did, and without a second of any hesitation, you breathed the biggest sigh of relief and said: “I love you too”.
You said that you had been silently saying ‘I love you’ for so long, quietly as we fell asleep for so many nights.
I have replayed that moment in my mind a billion times, it was perfect, you are perfect and today is perfect.
I promise to keep saying “I love you” out loud, every night as we fall asleep, for the rest of our lives.
2356 days of being loved by you, thank you for choosing me. 
I feel so overwhelmingly lucky to be the one standing here beside you today.
I vow to love and cherish you through both the good and bad.
I vow to laugh at you and with you in times of joy,
and to stand by your side as we chase our dreams together. 
I promise to always try and be the man you believe I can be.
I will be honest, kind and patient with you even when you take me into a makeup store. 
But most of all I promise to love respect and honour you as not only my wife but also my best friend. 
I love you
I call upon everyone here to witness that I, <NAME>
take you, <NAME>,to be my Lawful wedded wife.
I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion
I can give nothing greater

  • I will honour you always

I call upon everyone here
to witness that I, <name>, take you, <name> to be my Lawful wedded wife.
this ring is a symbol of our unending love.
I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow,
and with all that I am,
and all that I have,
I will honour you always,
you are my friend and my love,
beside me and apart from me,
in laughter and in tears,
in conflict and tranquillity,
To love and to hold
For richer or poorer
In sickness and in health
through everything that we might ever face,
I ask only that you be no other than yourself,
loving what I know of you,
trusting what I do not know yet,
in all the ways that life may find us.
To love and to cherish as long as we both shall live
This is my solemn vow

  • You are the one

You are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.
I love your kind heart and ability to understand me like no one else can.
You are kind and caring, and one smile from you brightens my whole day. But most importantly, you are the love of my life and you make me happier than I could ever imagine and more loved than I ever thought possible… 
I promise to love and care for you,
and I will try in every way to be worthy of your love.
I will always be honest with you, kind, patient and forgiving.

I promise to try to be on time. 
I promise to never steal the covers unless, you’re hogging them. But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. 
I will grow old with you—and never stop growing with you.
Through hard times and good times, through sickness and health, I’ll always be at your side…I will love you for all the days of my life. 
I promise, above all else, to be your best friend
To guide and support you through everything life will throw our way,
I promise to never give up on us,
on our love and our friendship
And I promise to always remain honest and true. 
I call upon everyone here
to witness that I, <name>,take you, <name>,
to be my Lawful wedded husband.

  • Today I gain so many things,

 <name>,
Today I gain so many things,
I gain your name as it was always mine,
I gain the honour of becoming your wife,
I gain a life-long love like I have never known,
and with that, I promise to always love you for who you are every single day,
to make you smile and laugh to hold you when you cry.
You are the best thing that has come into my life and I will love you for forever and a day and that is my promise to you.
I call upon everyone here
to witness that I, <name>,take you, <name>,
to be my Lawful wedded husband.


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TRADITIONAL OR CLASSIC VOWS

These are vows that have been used for centuries:

· To Love And Cherish

I promise to love and cherish you,
in sickness and in health,
for richer, for poorer,
for better for worse,
and forsaking all others, keep myself only for you,
for so long as we both shall live

·  To Have And To Hold

I, take you <name>, to be my [husband/wife/spouse/partner in marriage],
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish; until death do us part.

·  Cherish Our Union

“I take you <name>, to be my[husband/wife/spouse/partner in marriage and in life as my one true love.
I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before.
I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together.
I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.”

·  I, Choose You

“I, choose you <name> to be my[husband/wife/spouse/partner in marriage],
to respect you in your successes and in your failures,
to care for you in sickness and in health,
to nurture you, and to grow with you throughout the seasons of life.”

·  I, Take You,

“I, take you, <name>, to be my friend, my lover, the [mother/father] of my children and my [husband/wife/spouse/partner in marriage],
I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want,
in times of sickness and in times of health,
in times of joy and in times of sorrow,
 in times of failure and in times of triumph.
I promise to cherish and respect you,
to care and protect you,
to comfort and encourage you,
and stay with you, for all eternity.”

·  Loving What I Know Of You

I, <name>, take you, <name>, to be my partner,
loving what I know of you,
 and trusting what I do not yet know.
I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together,
getting to know the person you will become,
and falling in love a little more each day.
I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.

·  I Vow To Love You And Care For You

<name>, I take you to be my lawfully wedded [husband/wife].
Before these witnesses,
I vow to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live.
I take you with all of your faults and your strengths
as I offer myself to you with all of my faults and strengths.
 I will help you when you need help, and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.”

·  To Honour You

“I, <name>, take you, <name>, to be my beloved [husband/wife],
to have and to hold you,
to honour you,
to treasure you,
to be at your side in sorrow and in joy,
in the good times, and in the bad,
and to love and cherish you always.
I promise you this from my heart, for all the days of my life.”


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RING EXCHANGE – 28 Samples

These are samples of what might be said at the ring exchange. The ring can be separate to the Vows, or you can say your Vows as you exchange rings

  1. give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I can give nothing greater”
  2. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you. I ask you to wear this ring as a reminder of the vows we have spoken today, our wedding day.”
  3. “This ring is a token of my love. I marry you with this ring, with all that I have and all that I am.”
    (Response:) “I will forever wear this ring as a sign of my commitment and the desire of my heart.”
  4. “I give you this ring to wear with love and joy. As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my (wife/husband/spouse) this day and forevermore.”
  5. “This ring I give to you as a token of my love and devotion to you. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be as your (husband/wife/spouse). With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours.”
  6. “I give this ring as my gift to you. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.”
  7. “I give you this ring in God’s name, as a symbol of all that we have promised and all that we shall share.”
  8. “I give you this ring as a visible and constant symbol of my promise to be with you as long as I live.”
  9. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you.
  10. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side and that I will always be a faithful partner to you.”
  11. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love, my faith in our strength together, and my covenant to learn and grow with you.”
  12. “Let this ring be a symbol of my promises to you and a reminder of my devotion to you. I am honoured to call you my (wife/husband/spouse).”
  13. “With this ring, I thee wed, and with it, I bestow upon thee all the treasures of my mind, heart, and hands.”
  14. “(Name), I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. As it encircles your finger, may it remind you always that you are surrounded by my enduring love.”
  15. (Response:) “I will wear it gladly. Whenever I look at it, I will remember this joyous day and the vows we’ve made.”
  16. “I have for you a golden ring. The most precious metal symbolizes that your love is the most precious element in my life. The ring has no beginning and no end, which symbolizes that the love between us will never cease. I place it on your finger as a visible sign of the vows which have made us husband and wife.”
  17. “Because this ring is perfectly symmetrical, it signifies the perfection of true love.
  18. As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
    (Response:) “Because this ring has no end or beginning, it signifies the continuation of true love. As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
  19. I <Groom> <Bride> affirm my love and ask you to share my life, endeavouring through kindness, understanding and trust to achieve our future happiness together, and I ask all present to witness that I take you <Bride>/<Groom> as my wife (husband).
  20. I call upon everyone here, to witness that I <Bride> take you <Groom> to be my lawful wedded wife (husband). I intend to be faithful to you in thought, word and deed. I promise to respect you as an individual, loving and living with you through good fortune and adversity. I pledge these things to you while we both shall live.
  21. I <Groom> <Bride> take you <Bride>/<Groom> just as you are. I ask that you be no one but yourself. I love what I know of you; I trust what I have yet to learn. I respect you and have faith that our love will endure through all our lives.
  22. I call upon these persons here present to witness that I <Groom> do take thee <Bride> to love and to cherish as my lawful wedded wife (husband). I intend to be faithful to you in thought, word and deed. I promise to respect you as an individual in your own right, I intend to grow and develop in partnership with you, to love and live with you through good fortune and adversity.
  23. I <Bride>/<Groom> take you to be my wife (husband) from this day forward. I take you for your strengths and weaknesses. I will share with you the joys and the sorrows, the problems and the successes which we will encounter in our lives. I will love and cherish you and always be near when you need me.
  24. I call upon our family and friends present to witness that I <Bride>/<Groom> take <Bride>/<Groom> to be my wife (husband).
  25. <Bride>/<Groom> I want to live with you just as you are. I choose you above all others to share my life openly with me. I want to love you for yourself in the hope that you will become all that can be. I promise to honour this pledge as long as life and faith endure.
  26. I <Bride>/<Groom> take thee <Bride>/<Groom> 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.
  27. Today, I <Groom> <Bride>, join my life to yours, not merely as your husband/wife, but as your friend, your lover, your partner for life. Let me be the shoulder you lean on, the rock on which you rest. With you, <Bride>/<Groom>, I will walk my path from this day forward.
  28. From this day on, I <Bride>/<Groom>, choose you my beloved <Bride>/<Groom>,to be my wife/husband, to live with you and laugh with you; to stand by your side and sleep in your arms; to be joy to your heart and food to your soul; to bring out the best in you always; and, for you, to be the most that I can. To laugh with you in the good times; to struggle with you in the bad; to solace you when you are downhearted; to comfort you with my body; to mirror you with my soul; to share with you all my riches and honours; to enjoy with you as much as I can until we grow old, and still loving each other sweetly and gladly, until our lives shall come to the end.

Religious Vows at Ring Exchange

Certain religions have preferred statements and so I have included a few as a guide:

  • Anglican

“(Name), I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am and all that I have, I honour you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

  • Baptist

“With this ring, I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, till death do us part.”

  • Catholic

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, take and wear this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness.”

  • Hindu

Traditions vary, particularly within different regions of India. Most Hindus exchange a necklace called a thaali or thirumangalyam in Southern India or called a mangalsutra in Northern India. You might say: “Praying the Almighty that I am blessed with a long life, I tie this knot around your neck. Oh! Sowbhagyavati, may Providence bestow on you a fulfilling life of a ‘Sumangali’ for a hundred years to come!”

  • Jewish

“Harey at mekuddeshet li b’taba’at zo k’dat Moshe v’Israel (Behold, thou art consecrated unto me with this ring according to the law of Moses and of Israel). “

  • Lutheran

“I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness. Receive this ring as a token of wedded love and faith.”

  • Methodist

“I give you this ring as a sign of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have; I honour you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

  • Muslim

Rings are traditionally exchanged during the mangni, a betrothal ceremony, but not during the wedding itself.

  • Presbyterian

“This ring I give you, in token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love.”

  • Protestant 

“I give you this ring as a symbol of my love; and with all that I am and all that I have, I honour you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

  • Quaker

There is no traditional exchange of rings in a wedding of this denomination.

  • Unitarian

“With this ring, I wed you, and pledge you, my love, now and forever.”


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QUESTIONS

1.    Do I have to say Personal Vows?

No, not at all. YOU do have to say the Legal Vows/Legal Wording, but personal vows are a choice.

One or both of you can say them, or not at all.

You can both say the same words or different words.

One can say just the legal Vows and the other can say lots more.

2.    Can I just stick with the legal Vows?

Yes, if you wish. IT is your decision.

3.     Can I change the legal vows?

There is limited capacity to change the vows

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows; however, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

  • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
  • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
  • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
  • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’ or to ‘partner in marriage’
  • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
  • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

  • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
  • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

As an example, the vows could read:

 ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows).

In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

4.      Can I make up my own vows?

You have to use the legal wording but can add personal vows if you wish.

The minimum vows set out in the Marriage Act are very important and not complying may give rise to concerns about the validity of a marriage however you can add your personal words.

The safest course of action for authorised celebrants solemnising marriages is to avoid any such issues by complying with the guidance on the vows set out below.

While a couple is entitled to rely on the certificate issued by the relevant State or Territory BDM as evidence that the marriage was registered and that it was solemnised in accordance with the vows in section 45, that does not mean that non-compliance with the requirements for vows may not become an issue for a couple in individual cases.

While the married couple may gain reassurance from the BDM marriage certificate, serious consequences may follow for an authorised celebrant who has not followed the requirements.

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

  • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
  • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
  • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
  • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
  • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
  • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

  • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
  • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

As an example, the vows could read:

‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

5.      Can I use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in the vows?

Yes. As of April 2018, you can use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in your vows.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by each of the parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion).

As part of the legislative amendments that provided for marriage equality, the vows for use in a civil marriage ceremony were amended to expressly provide that parties to a marriage may elect to use the gender-neutral term ‘spouse’ in their vows.

This term was added as an additional option, the terms

  • ‘husband’ or
  • ‘wife’, or ‘
  • words to that effect’,

also continue to be available for use by parties when stating their marriage vows.

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

The Attorney-General’s Department is currently (May 2018) reviewing its Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for marriage celebrants; guidance on the words to be used in the vows for a civil ceremony is provided in those guidelines. A revised copy will shortly be available for consultation on the department’s website. Guidance on ‘words to that effect’ will include reference to ‘partner in marriage.’

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

Can the couple personalise the vows?

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the legal vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act and then add your personalisation to those words.

  • The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):
    • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
    • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
    • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
    • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
    • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
    • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

      • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
      • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

As an example, the vows could read: 

‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

6.       Can we personalise the vows?

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the legal vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act and then add your personalisation to those words.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

    • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
    • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
    • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
    • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
    • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
    • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

    • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
    • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

As an example, the vows could read: ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

7.       Do I have to say ‘obey’?

Certainly not (unless you wish to). It is not in the legal vows but can be added as part of personalised vows.

The tradition of vowing to “Love, Honour and Obey”, dates to when Brides were considered to be a possession and under the control of their husbands so not consistent with equality unless of course you both say it.

8.     We are the same sex, and so can we both be brides/grooms?

Yes.

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

So, you can be whichever you choose.

In addition, Marriage celebrants can now choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence. As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for date and place of birth, evidence of identity of the parties; and if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

9.      What are the ‘Legal Vows’, or words in Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act?

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion).

From 9 December 2017, the vows were changed to reflect the current definition of marriage:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage).

This allows marrying couples to make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by each of the parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion). As part of the legislative amendments that provided for marriage equality, the vows for use in a civil marriage ceremony were amended to expressly provide that parties to a marriage may elect to use the gender-neutral term ‘spouse’ in their vows. This term was added as an additional option; the terms ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, or ‘words to that effect’, also continue to be available for use by parties when stating their marriage vows. Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

These minimum wording of the vows must be included in the ceremony.

They are the minimum words which must be exchanged by the couple to ensure that they fully understand the nature of the ceremony and that they are marrying each other.

10.        What are the consequences if the requirements of Section 45 are not satisfied?

Section 48 of the Marriage Act states that in certain circumstances a marriage not solemnised in accordance with Part IV Division 2 of the Act will be invalid. Subsection 48(2) of the Act sets out a number of exceptions to section 48, but section 45 is not included in the list of exceptions.

This means that if the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion, (that is me as a Civil Celebrant) and the ceremony does not satisfy the minimum requirements of subsection 45(2), namely the exchange of vows as specified in the Marriage Act, the marriage is likely to be void.

Likewise, if the authorised celebrant is a minister of religion the ceremony must be a form and ceremony recognised as sufficient by the religious body concerned or the marriage may be void. It is therefore very important that authorised celebrants comply with the minimum requirements of section 45 in relation to the ceremony.

[1] See paragraph 119(3)(i) of the Marriage Act

11.       What must be done with the saying of vows in situations where a person is unable to speak?

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act requires each party to say the vows to each other.

If the party is able to say the vows then he or she should do so.

However, if he or she is not able to do so for exceptional medical reasons (for example, the party has had a stroke or has a tracheotomy, leaving him or her unable to speak), it is sufficient that they communicate the vows by another means that is understood by the other party to the marriage, the authorised celebrant, the two witnesses and those present.

The medical circumstances must be exceptional and long-lasting in nature.

If a party to a marriage communicates in a sign language, such as Aslant, they may say their vows using that sign language. For information on use of interpreters in this situation see Part 5.9 of the Marriage Act Guidelines for Celebrants.

12.        What names should be used in the vows (meaning of the terms ‘A.B’ and ‘C.D’)?

Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (other than ministers of religion), and State and Territory Officers, should use the parties’ full names at some stage during the ceremony, preferably early in the ceremony, for the purpose of legal identification of the parties. The full name of the parties will be the names recorded in the NOIM.

Where full names (as they appear in the NOIM) have been used earlier in the ceremony, it is not necessary for surnames to be used in the minimum vows. This is because the identity of the parties to the marriage has already been established. Couples may choose to use their first, or first and middle, names only.

Nicknames alone should not be used for the vows. However, shortened names or nicknames may be added to the names used in the vows. For example, ‘…I, Elizabeth Jane (Liz), take you, Peter John (Buddy)…’. Nicknames may be used elsewhere in the ceremony, on the condition that full legal names have been used earlier in the ceremony.

13.        When do I get to say, “I do”?

In a Civil Ceremony, you can say ‘I do’ before or after the legal Vows, but not in place of the legal vows.

Each of the parties to the marriage must say the minimum legal vows to each other.

A ‘question and answer’ form of the vows is not contemplated by the Marriage Act for non-religious marriage ceremonies. It should not be used as a substitute for the couple stating the vows set out in the Act. For example, the authorised celebrant should not say, ‘A.B., will you take C.D., to be your lawful wedded wife?’, with the response from the bride or groom of ‘I do’. The inclusion of a ‘question and answer’ segment in the ceremony would need to be in addition to the formal vows required by the Act being spoken by each party.

14.         Who must say the vows?

Each of the parties to the marriage must say the legal vows to each other.

In a Civil Ceremony, A ‘question and answer’ form of the legal vows is not contemplated by the Marriage Act for non-religious marriage ceremonies.

It should not be used as a substitute for the couple stating the legal vows set out in the Act.

For example, the authorised celebrant should not say:

‘A.B., will you take C.D., to be your lawful wedded wife?’, with the response from the bride or groom of ‘I do’.

The inclusion of a ‘question and answer’ segment in the ceremony would need to be in addition to the formal  (legal) vows required by the Marriage Act being spoken by each party and so can be a part of the personalised vows.

 

  1. Why is using the minimum vow wording so important?

The minimum vows set out in the Marriage Act are very important and not complying may give rise to concerns about the validity of a marriage.

The safest course of action for authorised celebrants solemnising marriages is to avoid any such issues by complying with the guidance on the vows set out below.

While a couple is entitled to rely on the certificate issued by the relevant State or Territory BDM as evidence that the marriage was registered and that it was solemnised in accordance with the vows in section 45, that does not mean that non-compliance with the requirements for vows may not become an issue for a couple in individual cases.

While the married couple may gain reassurance from the BDM marriage certificate, serious consequences may follow for an authorised celebrant who has not followed the requirements.


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A Life Celebrant – Lou Szymkow

Friendly, professional, reliable, helpful, approachable.

  • Civil, Marriage, Commitment, Naming & Funeral Celebrant
  • Commonwealth- Registered Marriage Celebrant
  • Manyana NSW. Australia – covering the South Coast to Sydney and out to Canberra & Goulburn

am your Sth Coast Celebrant.

A Ceremony created by & with Lou Szymkow, A Life Celebrant; with over 40 years of experience in public life,  will ensure that it is uniquely your own; an enriching, memorable experience. We can confidently work together to ensure the ceremony will be exceptional.

I love doing what I do and am confident you will too.

What I enjoy most about my experiences is meeting people and hearing their own stories. 

Everyone has their own story and it is often amazing what can be learned. Sharing time with people is the greatest of experiences.

 +61 (0) 457 00 1922    lou@alifecelebrant.com.au

A celebrant for all special occasions in your journey of life.

Your Life Events: Weddings, Unions & Commitments; Naming Ceremonies; Funerals, & More

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