Within the Roman Catholic Church, the exchange of Catholic wedding vows is the central part of a time-honored and solemn traditional ceremony. Though the ceremony and its components are more exact than most, there are still important choices to be made by the betrothed couple and their priest concerning the wedding vows and what wording is right for you.
There are three choices concerning how to present the Catholic traditonal wedding vows. In the most traditional form, the priest asks questions of the bride and groom individually, to which they answer "I do". He could also say the lines and have the couple repeat, or the couple could say the lines themselves, either from memory or reading from a book. Below are a few examples.
Priest: "Do you take ___ as your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish until death do you part?"
Bride/Groom: "I do"
Bride/Groom: "I take this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit." "
Priest: "___, will you take ___ here present, for your lawful wedded wife/husband according to the rite of our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church?" ("I will")
Bride/Groom Repeat: "I, ___ take you, ___ for 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, until death do us part."
Bride/Groom: "With this ring I thee wed, and pledge thee my troth?"
The verbal exchange of Catholic wedding vows between the bride and groom are actually spread out over the middle three rites in a sixteen-step process. These three are: The Nupitals, the Solemn Promise, and the Blessing and Exchange of Rings.
During the rite of the Nupitals, the priest asks the bride and groom individually if they have come of their own free will to give themselves to the other in marriage. He then asks if they will honor and love one another as husband and wife for the rest of their lives, and if they will accept children from God lovingly and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church. The couple answers each question in the affirmative.
For the Solemn Promise, the priest asks the couple to join their right hands and declare their consent before God and the Church. They then take their wedding vows after which the priest blesses them, joins them together in marriage, and recites a second blessing: "May the Lord in His goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with His blessings. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
The priest then blesses the wedding rings as symbols of deep faith and peace, and the bride and groom exchange them with a promise of unconditional love and fidelity.
There are many other details of the ceremony, but as with any tradition, the spoken promises between the betrothed couple are the heart, soul and essence of the Catholic wedding ceremony. Even within a traditional framework such as that of the Church, it is possible to choose the presentation of your Catholic wedding vows to best suit you.