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Wedding Vows: The Heart of Marriage

Amidst the flurry of activities and planning for an upcoming wedding ceremony–flowers and music, family seating arrangements and gift registration, gown and cake and confetti–the content of the wedding vows may be overlooked. Often it is assumed the officiant or minister will read a bible quote and a page of traditional ceremony, written long ago by some anonymous author, followed by, “I do.” That will suffice, however, it misses the great power of commitment that personalized vows spoken aloud in public to one’s beloved before family, friends, and officials represent.

Wedding Commitments are Nourished with Personal Vows

A couple truly begins crafting their vows in private intimate moments long before their formal engagement and wedding. These romantic whisperings and conversations are the basis for a growing trust and love that reveal how each sees the other and articulate their hopes for an everlasting relationship. Such shared understandings and aspirations are the heart and soul of marriage, and blossom into an enduring commitment when nourished by the couple sharing what they cherish in each other with the world.

History of Wedding Vows

Wedding vows haven’t always been up to the bride and groom. The word wedding derives from an Old English word “wedd,” which means to wager or to redeem a pledge. Grooms would have been required to acknowledge living arrangements and property divisions, usually made between the bride’s and groom’s families, out loud before the typically heavily armed gathering of relatives and townspeople.

Our modern decree by the minister that should anyone object to this marriage or forever hold your piece is a symbolic vestige of what may have been, in older times, an important declaration that may have sparked objections. The tradition of a bride standing to the groom’s left, his heart side, comes from the very practical need in such circumstances of having the right sword arm free in case there should arise a dispute about the deal. Today we have lawyers and prenuptial agreements, so maybe progress has been made.

Cultures around the world have unique imperatives regarding what constitutes proper wedding vows. Brokers, yentas, or matchmakers arrange many weddings for financial, political, or social status purposes. The bartering may have gone on for years before the engagement, commitment, and wedding ceremony. The vows uttered during the ceremony then take on the role of an important social contract.

The Real Purpose of Sharing Vows

More and more couples are meeting on the Internet, whether through a service matching potential brides from Asia or Eastern Europe or through on-line dating chat rooms where romantically oriented people can meet in cyberspace and get to know each other before arranging a first date. However a couple meets, dates, goes through a courtship, or just loves being with each other, wedding vows can reflect and reinforce the most private commitments that mean so much. Whether the vows are a time-honored tradition, a sacred promise before God, a lifetime commitment pledge, an inspiration to open hearts to a deeper trust, or an expression of what meaning a beloved has brought to the relationship, the purpose of wedding vows is to express the depth of love and commitment to all who will listen.

About the Author

Curtis McCoscoCurtis McCosco lives on the island of Kauai, Hawaii with his wife of over 20 years, KatRama Brooks. Together they own and operate Rainbow Weddings on Kauai. A professional wedding photographer for over 15 years, he is also a video documentarian, writer, and masseur. A practicing Buddhist, he also does Qigong on a daily basis.View all posts by Curtis McCosco

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