We love it when readers share their vows with us — it’s such an honor to get to witness the words of commitment and dedication that Offbeat Bride readers speak to each other. Today, we want to share the vows that Karen and her partner Adrian shared with us, which are filled with gender-neutral statements about choice, promise, intention, and teaming up.
OFFICIANT: You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.
You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other.
There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to the other, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.”
Will you, [Partner 1], keep [Partner 2] as your favorite person — to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?
PARTNER 1: I will.
OFFICIANT: Will you, [Partner 2], keep [Partner 3] as your favorite person — to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?
PARTNER 2: I will.
OFFICIANT: Will you, [Partner 1 and 2], be each other’s partners from this day forward? Will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, and love each other absolutely — for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?
PARTNERS 1 and 2: We will.
Don’t you love that last phrase, “For the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?” Such a wonderful, secular way to acknowledge the things we don’t know. If you’re looking for even more vow guidance we have deep archives full of articles about wedding vow examples, as well as advice on how to write your vows…
My husband and I had our legal wedding ceremony in the summer of 2018 (with only four close friends present) in a field near Grand Teton National Park. Our ceremony was pretty informal.
We then decided to have a big party to celebrate with a large group of friends and family in the fall of 2019. This ceremony was even more untraditional, but very well received, so I wanted to share it with other people planning their weddings, in case they’re looking for something like it.
Since we were already legally married, we decided not to have any sort of officiant. My husband and I did most of the talking and introducing of people. This made sense to me, since we were the only people who everyone knew, they should be most comfortable hearing from us.
We also chose to have our ceremony heavily story-based. I always love hearing other couples’ stories, and we wanted to share ones from different parts in our relationship that everyone may not have heard.
And finally, the kicker: we wrote each other’s vows! To us, a marriage is a partnership. So it made sense for me to write vows for my husband that I wanted from him, and for him to write vows for me, voicing what he wanted from me.
My sister did read the vows beforehand to verify that they weren’t mismatched, and she also found some common points that we ended up reading in unison.
So here goes:
Our Storytelling Ceremony:
Bride: Thank you all for coming to join us this weekend we’re very excited to have you here. As most of you know, we got married in July 2018 in a small ceremony outside Grand Teton National Park and we wanted you all to gather, not to celebrate our joining, but to share our happiness with you and to celebrate life together.
Groom: As many of you know we lost someone very dear to us last July. My father was killed by a family member. He was a mentor, friend, and family to tons of people here. In his honor, instead of taking a moment of silence for him, on the count of three, I want everyone to let out a noise of their choosing. It can be big or small but make it for him and you because he was one of the most giving people I have ever met. [Crowd makes lots of noises!] Thanks dad, we will never forget you. Now happy things. Since Stacy and I are already married and we’re not very religious, this ceremony will be mostly storytelling.
Bride: Ian and I first met in a conference room during the first materials engineering student society board meeting of the 2009 school year. I can vividly remember him walking into the room with his excited grin on his face, ready to participate with as much enthusiasm as possible.
Groom: And I remember Stacy sitting at the table looking quite bored with the whole proceeding, but wow was she gorgeous. She gave me a small smile which started a 10 year adventure between us. Little did I know I had to steal her from the guy sitting just to her left.
Bride: And Ian made such an impression on me, that after the meeting, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “he’s going to be a problem”. And he was, as you’ll soon find out.
[Insert story from my sister and childhood best friend about how we first met]
Groom: Once we’re together, all hell broke loose:
[Insert story from one of our college friends about our relationship]
Groom: Last year, for our wedding ceremony Stacy and I wrote the vows for each other.
Bride: To us, marriage is a partnership, and in a partnership communication is key. In order to strengthen this communication, we wrote each other’s vows to politely let our partner know the aspects of our relationship we would like them to focus on in the years ahead.
Groom: Letting someone know what you love about them is easy, working through the hardships together is what can truly form a bond. So, here are the vows we wrote for each other to work on through our marriage, read by the person who’s still working on them…
Our vows, that he wrote for me, and I wrote for him:
Groom: I will try to eat before I’m hungry and take the food you offer me Bride: I promise to try to express my feelings while thinking of how they will impact you. Groom: I will be the keeper of the past, but will try to sometimes think about the future. Bride: If I’m hungry, I should eat something Groom: I promise to try to listen to what you are actually saying rather than what I think you’re going to say. Bride: I promise to try to be there when you need it most Groom: I promise to try to follow when you are the designated leader Bride: I will love you to the best of my ability and if something isn’t working, I will try to communicate with you openly about it. Groom: I promise to try and ask for help when it would be helpful Bride: For our many adventures, I will attempt to bring emergency snacks for when you get hungry. Bride/Groom Together: I promise to support you through your questionable decisions and constantly reaffirm that they are incorrect. Groom: Since we’re already married, we don’t need to exchange rings, however I am going to kiss the crap out of her and then share our joy with all of you.
We featured Christy & Zach’s book nerds wedding a while back, but now we’ve got the full vows from their ceremony script to share… I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING
Christy & Zach HERS & HIS vows…
Christy: This is what I vow to you:
I vow to love you as you deserve to be loved: with admiration, adoration, passion, pragmatism and respect, and to treat you like the awesome person that you are, even when you are listening to music that sounds like low-flying airplanes or mercilessly beating the pants off me at board games.
I vow to support your interests and nourish your passions: from nerdy role-play games, to experimental mixology, up to and including someday making you that strange black garlic birthday cake you want.
I vow to remain loyal to you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I vow to take care of you when you are ill, injured, or upset, or just need to be wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket and snuggled for a while until things get better. I promise to always have a hug for a bad day, and a purse of antihistamines for days when nature hates you.
SIMPLY PUT, I VOW THAT I CHOOSE YOU. To stand by your side and sleep in your arms. To be joy for your heart and food for your soul. To learn with you and grow with you, even as time and life change us both. I promise to laugh with you in good times and struggle alongside you in bad times.
I promise to respect you and cherish you as an individual, a partner, and an equal, knowing that we do not complete, but complement each other. You are a chuisle mo chroí – the pulse of my heart – and I love you truly, wholly, and unconditionally.
I promise to love, respect, and trust you, and give you the best of myself, for I know that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone.
With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours. May our story continue – together and for always.
Zach: Christy, you are my love and my scrabble nemesis, my favorite travelling companion and my number-one trivia game partner, the Dr. Girlfriend to my Mighty Monarch.
And I vow, going into our married lives together, to honor the commitment we made in 2011 when you decided that the copy of ‘That Is All I’ bought belonged to both of us and then Judge John Hodgman himself declared us book married when he signed it.
I vow to love you as you deserve to be loved: with admiration, adoration, passion, pragmatism and respect, and to treat you like the treasure that you are, even when you’re struggling to take the first bite of an apple or a crusty baguette and all I want to do is giggle.
I vow to support your interests and nourish your passions: from prestige period and trashy paranormal television addiction, to your dream of having sloths, owls, llamas and other exotic animals I know you’d kill to have as a pet if you could. I’ll even support you if you decide we should hike to the top of Carlton Peak on a blazing hot day or canoe into a camping spot during a thunderstorm again.
I vow to remain loyal to you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I vow to be serious with you when we need to be serious, and to laugh with you the rest of the time…because Dinosaurs had big ears, but everyone forgot this because dinosaur ears don’t have bones. And that’s a rock fact.
I vow to take care of you when you are injured, ill or upset or just when you forget to take care of yourself. Even if it means I have to get out the cheese grater and grate ice for you again.
I vow to devour every slice of banana bread you bake that you let me, to allow you to steal my heat in both the mildest and coldest winters, and watch every PBS nature show you want — even the ones that don’t have swarms of insects or flying snakes.
I vow to remain your yeti, sharing whimsy and nerdery with you when your days are dull, sending you random cute kitten memes and terrible dad joke puns that will make our lives amazing or at least amusing.
And I vow to remain by your side as we grow old, to wear any tiny scarves you crochet, to read side by side with you and I’ll even take up antiquing if that’s what you want.
You are not only my Christy-birdie and love of my life but also my favorite person to watch cartoons with and that is not something to be taken lightly. I love you and I cannot wait to descend down into Thrihnukagigur with you and then be able to say that we’ve kissed inside a volcano as we enjoy the first of what will be many glorious vacations together as a married couple.
We love sharing wedding vow examples… want to share yours to help other Offbeat Brides get inspired? Submit them here!
Maybe you’ve been asked to officiate a friend’s wedding. Maybe you’re planning your own wedding, and looking for sample ceremony scripts to share with your officiant. You know you want something modern — not too long, not too much talk of religion (spoilers: atheists aren’t the only ones who want secular wedding ceremonies these days!), and completely gender neutral. Well, we’ve got you. Take a look at this modern wedding ceremony script based on a ceremony that writer Catherine Faris King wrote for some friends she married…
Greeting and introduction
We are gathered here today to celebrate and consecrate the joining in marriage of [Partner] and [Partner].
All of us are pilgrims, on our way to a certain destination but along an unknown road. And no one journeys alone. There is nothing that so lightens the load as finding the right companion, someone who makes you laugh and makes you cry… someone whose story matches yours.
Over the past X years, [Partner] and [Partner] have journeyed together, and they stand before us today to pledge their love and commitment to be one another’s companions, sharing their burdens, mingling their stories, and lighting the path for one another, for as long as they live.
Handfasting, with family
I invite the couple’s families to come forward, and to assist their children in binding their hands together, and with that, uniting two lives, two hearts, and two families.
Each parent couple offers a cord to [Partner 1], to symbolize an aspect of love that the givers embody, and that the couple hope to realize in their marriage.
The first cord symbolizes the virtue of Patience, helping Partner and Partner to face up to life’s challenges.
This cord represents Understanding, so that in their life together, they may communicate clearly, and share their life’s vision.
This cord represents Devotion, to make love clear every day, in feeling and in action.
This cord is for Trust, that each may rely on their partner fully and absolutely.
This cord represents Joy, to promise abiding comfort in one another.
This cord is for Honesty, so that their hearts may be open to one another.
This cord represents unconditional love, which alters not when alteration finds, but is an ever-fixed mark.
And the final cord represents Self-Sacrifice. As Scripture reminds us, we are never closer to God than when we give of ourselves to our loved ones — whether in grand, singular acts, or in day-by-day works of kindness.
Do you promise to strive for these virtues, To protect, honor, and cherish your spouse, To give yourself to a new life with them, With courage, joy, gratitude, and love?
Biologist Richard Dawkins, asked whether Bach was inspired by God, replied that God was just what people wrote about in those days.
“Imagine Beethoven’s Cretaceous Symphony,” Dawkins suggested, asking his readers to think of all the great secular art we’ve missed out on.
You could say the same about wedding vows. Traditional vows may mention religion, but wedding vows for atheists can celebrate the finite physical world just as beautifully.
Dani and Chris created an elegant atheist tea party wedding for themselves with touches of leaves, crystals, bees, and dinosaurs. Terry wrote their vows with a straight-up — and totally romantic — announcement that they don’t believe in heaven.
On behalf of the (groom’s family name) and (bride’s family name) families, it’s my pleasure to say welcome to you all.
We are called here today to celebrate the joining of two people who possess questioning natures. We celebrate the union of two people, of two hearts, but also of two minds making a conscious and deliberate choice to experience the great joys, and commit to the great sacrifices, of lifelong marriage.
Danielle and Christopher don’t believe there is an eternity waiting for them after this life; there is only this life. So, to give oneself in marriage for this lifetime isn’t a way station on the way to some heavenly eternity. it is all there is. It is a commitment to be together until they no longer exist, until they are nowhere and nothing.
When no edicts are handed down from the skies, and no promises from the universe are expected, each decision a person makes for his or her life bears more weight and consequence; two such people who make a decision to love one another until death have made a momentous commitment, fully of their own volition, with all the importance that an individual life can hold.
Today we celebrate the union of two people who know fully that human life is finite, and that therefore we should waste no time in spending those precious years with those we have chosen to love. Only two people who know that life is lived here on earth, and only on earth, can fully offer each other their own eternities.”
At this time, Christopher and Danielle have some words that they would like to share with each other.
In the words of Carl Sagan:
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious… In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ”
Danielle and Christopher: Do you each take the other in marriage and agree to support, comfort, share truth, laugh, and respect one another today and for the rest of your days?