This is a highly personal decision and the right vows can be chosen only by you and the officiant you choose to perform your marriage. You can use them during your ceremony, or even chose to include them as quotes on your wedding program. We will illustrate for you some sample ceremonies from different traditions and a sampling of Bible verses which are often used in Christian ceremonies and complement the exchange of vows beautifully.
The basic model for a traditional Christian wedding vow ceremony begins with the officiant, usually a minister or church official, saying words such as these:
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of this company, to unite __ and __ in holy matrimony. Marriage was ordained by God in Eden and confirmed in Cana of Galilee by the presence of the Lord, and is declared by the Apostle Paul to be honorable among all men. On this occasion we begin by asking God's blessing on this marriage service. Let us pray."
Different traditions within the Christian faith each have a standard exchange of vows, which except for a few words that don't vary much. Take, for example, these Presbyterian vows: <
"Do you, __ take __ to be your (wife/husband)? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her/him, forsaking all others and holding only unto her/him?" ("I do")
"I __ , take thee __ , to be my (wife/husband) to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and I promise my love to you.."
"With this ring, I thee wed; all my love, I do thee give."
Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist vows all specify taking one's spouse "to live together after God's ordinance in the Holy Estate of matrimony", and in the Methodist ceremony, the words for the exchange of the rings invoke the holy trinity, as follows:
"In token and pledge of the vow between us made, with this ring I thee wed; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
The most traditional Christian wedding vows are found in the Form of Solemnization of Ceremony, from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
The ceremony outlines the three causes for which Marriage was ordained in the tradition of the Apostle Paul (procreation, remedy against sin, and mutual society) and asks both of the congregation and of the couple for any reason they may not be joined in matrimony. The rest of the ceremony follows with the couple answering to the minister and exchanging their Christian wedding vows, which are completed with the exchange of rings and these words:
"With this Ring I thee wed, with my Body I thee worship, and with all my worldly Goods I thee endow; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Amen."
The Bible is full of beautiful lines and verses which can help express joy and love in your Christian wedding vows. Here are a few you may want to include in your ceremony.
Song of Solomon 8
"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him."
If you would like a traditional ceremony, ask your church official for the written words, and read them over with your partner to see if they are right for you. Whatever Christian wedding vows you choose, it should be a reflection of your faith and the life you are starting together.
If you are officiating a wedding, or coordinating the service at your house of worship, you might be interested in our sister site: ShareFaith.