It’s time for Ask Wedding Experience, where we answer (or do our best to answer) your most pressing wedding-related questions, no matter how weird OR common they might be. Today’s question explores a hallmark of the wedding ceremony – the traditional wedding vow. Specifically we wonder, where do wedding vows come from? The Wedding Experience team takes its best shot at giving you the answer below.
Where do wedding vows come from, anyway?
While there’s no set origin, there are wedding vow traditions all the way back to the Roman Empire. In that era, when fathers delivered brides for the wedding, the couple would vow themselves to be married, indicating it was their choice. However, there is no consistent origin story for the wedding vow ceremony. While it is common to Christian wedding ceremonies, not all Christians practice the tradition today.
The Christian tradition draws its origins back to the churches of medieval England. Upon agreement to marry, the Church of England usually offered couples a choice. The couple could promise each other to “love and cherish” or, alternatively, the groom promises to “love, cherish, and worship”, and the bride to “love, cherish, and obey”. Similar variations of this traditional vow wording appeared in other branches of Christianity. This included the Quaker church, Catholicism, and other major branches.
Today, while the wording can be changed and the ceremony altered, many weddings still employ this beloved wedding tradition. Modern couples have begun to be more informal with their wedding vow wording. However, the traditional themes of devotion, respect, adoration, and hopes for the future often still remain. If you’re interested in seeing a variety of traditional wedding vows, The Knot has a comprehensive collection here.