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Alternative Wedding Ceremony Vows and Readings

Updated on July 31, 2016
Choose wedding vows which are personal and reflect who you are as a couple.
Choose wedding vows which are personal and reflect who you are as a couple.

Personalize Your Vows And Readings

Most wedding ceremonies are very traditional and feature the same Biblical readings and standard vows. While the old customs can be beautiful, for some couples, they simply are not original enough. Your wedding is one of the very few occasions in your life when you will publicly declare your feelings for your other half, so it is important that the words you speak genuinely reflect your personal thoughts. When looking for the perfect words to express what your relationship is all about, sometimes it is best to turn away from the traditional and try something a little different. These are some great ideas for alternative wedding vows and ceremony readings.

Seussical: The Wedding?

Get the bride laughing with funny marriage vows!
Get the bride laughing with funny marriage vows!

Humorous Vows Will Keep The Ceremony Lighthearted

I once attended a wedding which was filled with personal and memorable details. The bride and groom had written their own vows, and the groom's were full of humor, yet also very sweet and romantic. One of his pledges to his bride was that he would never again interrupt her during a Yankees playoff game (doing so after they first met had nearly ended the relationship before it began!). If your relationship is full of laughter and fun, it is absolutely appropriate to reflect that in your wedding vows. Couples who have decided to write their own vows can sprinkle a few moments of levity into their pledges.

For those who are more comfortable reading vows which were written by someone else, take your inspiration from a humorous author. Believe it or not, Dr. Seuss style vows are a current wedding trend. They are often done in the spirit of Green Eggs and Ham, such as this set of vows, originally penned by Marty Blasé

Pastor: Will you answer me right now
These questions, as your wedding vow?

Groom: Yes, I will answer right now
Your questions as my wedding vow.

Pastor: Will you take her as your wife?
Will you love her all your life?

Groom: Yes, I take her as my wife,
Yes, I'll love her all my life.

Pastor: Will you have, and also hold
Just as you have at this time told?

Groom: Yes, I will have, and I will hold,
Just as I have at this time told,
Yes, I will love her all my life
As I now take her as my wife.

Pastor: Will you love through good and bad?
Whether you're happy or sad?

Groom: Yes, I'll love through good and bad,
Whether we're happy or sad,
Yes, I will have and I will hold
Just as I have already told,
Yes, I will love her all my life,

Yes, I will take her as my wife!

Pastor: Will you love her if you're rich?
Or if you're poor, and in a ditch?

Groom: Yes, I'll love her if we're rich,
And I will love her in a ditch,
I'll love her through good times and bad,
Whether we are happy or sad,
Yes, I will have, and I will hold
(I could have sworn this has been told!)
I promise to love all my life
This woman, as my lawful wife!

Pastor: Will you love her when you're fit,
And also when you're feeling sick?

Groom: Yes, I'll love her when we're fit,
And when we're hurt, and when we're sick,
And I will love her when we're rich
And I will love her in a ditch
And I will love through good and bad,
And I will love when glad or sad,
And I will have, and I will hold
Ten years from now a thousandfold,
Yes, I will love for my whole life
This lovely woman as my wife!

Pastor: Will you love with all your heart?
Will you love till death you part?

Groom: Yes, I'll love with all my heart
From now until death do us part,
And I will love her when we're rich,
And when we're broke and in a ditch,
And when we're fit, and when we're sick,
(Oh, CAN'T we get this finished quick?)
And I will love through good and bad,
And I will love when glad or sad,
And I will have, and I will hold,
And if I might now be so bold,
I'll love her my entire life,
Yes, I WILL take her as my wife!

Pastor: Then if you'll take her as your wife,
And if you'll love her all your life,
And if you'll have, and if you'll hold,
From now until the stars grow cold,
And if you'll love through good and bad,

And whether you're happy or sad,
And love in sickness, and in health,
And when you're poor, and when in wealth,
And if you'll love with all your heart,
From now until death do you part,
Yes, if you'll love her through and through,
Please answer with these words:

Pastor and Groom: I DO!

Pastor: You're married now! So kiss the bride,
But please, do keep it dignified.

Humor Can Add Spice

To complement the Dr. Seuss vows, how about this little verse called “To Keep Your Marriage Brimming” by Ogden Nash for a ceremony reading or to print on the wedding programs:

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong admit it;
Whenever you’re right shut up.

It would also be an excellent toast for the father of the groom to offer to his son as a piece of advice during the rehearsal dinner!


Childhood favorites are popular sources for vows and readings.
Childhood favorites are popular sources for vows and readings.

Favorite Childhood Stories Make Nostalgic Vows And Readings

Childhood memories are often the most cherished, so it is no wonder that couples turn to their beloved childhood stories for ideas for alternative wedding vows. The classic A.A. Milne poem about Winnie the Pooh called Us Two can be easily adapted to fit a wedding. Simply replace the word “Pooh” with “You” like this (it won't even affect the rhyme):

So wherever I am, there's always You (Pooh),
There's always You (Pooh) and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to You (Pooh),
"If it wasn't for you," and You (Pooh) said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together," says You (Pooh), says he.
"That's how it is," says You (Pooh).

Another favorite of young children everywhere that has gained popularity as a wedding reading is this moving excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Classic Song Lyrics Make Lovely Vows

Music is a big part of a wedding, and song lyrics can be an excellent source for alternative wedding vows. If you and your fiancé share a special song (“They're playing our song!”), by all means, consider that as a starting place. Of course, not all songs have lyrics which are suitable for a wedding, so before selecting a song for your vows or to use as a ceremony reading, read them over carefully for profanity, overt sexuality, and any allusions to a broken heart. Fans of the standards will enjoy this portion of the wonderful old Cole Porter song “True Love”:

Oh, how lucky we are
While I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
So on and on it will always be
True love, true love
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever, true
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever, true


A felt and button bouquet + indie pop vows = perfect alternative wedding!
A felt and button bouquet + indie pop vows = perfect alternative wedding!

Indie Pop Lyrics Can Be Charming

Couples who prefer more contemporary music can choose these sweet lyrics from the song “Bigger Than an Ocean” by “twee” indie pop band Go Sailor:

If you moved a million miles
Away
I'd still visit you every day

Flying across the sea is not the farthest I would go
I'd go around the world just to see you 'cause I know

My love is bigger than an ocean
My heart swims in a sea of devotion
My love is bigger than an ocean
My heart swims in a sea of devotion for you

If the water takes my boat
Away
I'd still find you in less than day

Flying across the sea is not the farthest I would go
I'd go around the world just to see you 'cause I know

My love is bigger than an ocean
My heart swims in a sea of devotion
My love is bigger than an ocean
My heart swims in a sea of devotion for you

Brides and grooms who decide to recite vows borrowed from song lyrics will find picking a song for their first dance to be an easy and obvious choice! The fun part will be finding out how many of the wedding guests recognize that the song and the vows were one and the same.

Romantic vows will have everyone misty eyed.
Romantic vows will have everyone misty eyed.

Poetry Is Perfect For Romantic Vows

Alternative vows can still be very romantic and sentimental. Poems and classic love letters are the best places to begin searching for inspiration. Certainly an original poem would be beautiful if the bride or groom is an accomplished writer, but for those who are not confident in their skills, many wonderful love poems and letters already exist. Choose one from your favorite book, peruse the literature at your local library, or simply search online for “romantic poems” or “love letters” until you find one that really seems to capture the essence of your relationship. Be sure to include the poem in your wedding program, as guests are sure to want to learn who wrote such beautiful words. The aptly named poem “Love” by Roy Croft does a very nice job of describing a relationship:


I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.


Verses And Love Letters

A simple yet eloquent idea for a wedding vow would be to personalize this verse from Walt Whitman's “Song of the Open Road”:

Camerado {substitute the name of the bride or groom for “Camerado”}, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precise than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

For something short but sweet, consider this perfect little passage from a love letter by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her husband Robert Browning:

And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything....

A Native American blessing is appropriate for an outdoor wedding which honors the Earth.
A Native American blessing is appropriate for an outdoor wedding which honors the Earth.

An Apache Wedding Blessing

Another great source of an alternative to the usual wedding vows is from a particular culture, whether it is your own or not. By all means, take some time to dig into the traditional vows and wedding readings from your heritage, as you may well find something inspirational. Or simply choose a blessing which speaks to you. This Apache wedding blessing would be very suitable for an outdoor wedding:

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
But there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion to the place where the river meets the sun.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

An Irish blessing is perfect for the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle.
An Irish blessing is perfect for the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle.

Try An Irish Blessing For A Celtic Inspired Wedding

This Irish wedding blessing would be a marvelous set of vows for any couple with Celtic heritage who wishes to include Irish wedding customs in their ceremony:

You are the star of each night,
You are the brightness of every morning,
You are the story of each guest,
You are the report of every land.
No evil shall befall you, on hill nor bank,
In field or valley, on mountain or in glen.
Neither above, nor below, neither in sea,
Nor on shore, in skies above,
Nor in the depths.
You are the kernel of my heart,
You are the face of my sun,
You are the harp of my music,
You are the crown of my company.

You to me are all these, my beloved (spouse's name). I vow to love you like my most prized treasure, to put you in the highest place of honor and respect, to stand as your pillar of support and shoulder of strength, to cherish you and to care for you for all the days of my life.

Choose Your Favorite Parts Of Traditional Vows

If you are not having a traditional marriage ceremony with pre-determined vows (check with your officiant, as some religious weddings do have specific vows which are required), you can also feel free to use bits and pieces from customary vows and personalize them however you see fit. This portion of the Episcopal Exchange of Rings would be lovely for many a wedding, whether the bride and groom are Episcopalian or not:

Our miracle lies in the path we have chosen together.
I enter into this marriage with you knowing that the
true magic of love is not to avoid changes, but
to navigate them successfully. Let us commit to
the miracle of making each day work together.

I offer you my love and my support throughout all of our lives.
I commit myself to years of growth and sharing as
I encourage you to move in new direction.
I will strive to achieve my potential as God's creature
and will celebrate your progress toward the same goal.
I give myself as I am and as I will be, and
I do it for all of life.

Respecting each other, we commit to live
our lives together for all the days to come.
I ask you to share this world with me, for good and ill.
Be my partner, and I will be yours.

May our days be long, and may they be
seasoned with love, understanding, and respect.


Capture the essence of who you are as a couple with your vows.
Capture the essence of who you are as a couple with your vows.

Vows And Readings As Unique As You Are

These days, brides and grooms strive to design a wedding which reflects their personal tastes and the spirit of their relationship. Cookie cutter or generic weddings are out, and unique and meaningful weddings are in. Just as couples try to make their wedding unique through choosing non-traditional bouquets, custom bridal gowns and bridal jewelry, unexpected music, and clever food, so must the wedding vows be just as carefully selected. When you have taken the time to research alternative vows and readings, or even been so brave as to write them yourselves, the words are sure to be from the heart.

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    • TheWeddingSecret profile image

      TheWeddingSecret 6 years ago from Bath, UK

      What a wonderful post! I especially love the childhood books vow ideas, very sweet!

    • glentropy profile image

      glentropy 6 years ago from Seattle

      That was a useful article.

    • thepoen profile image

      Irfan Fahrudin 2 years ago

      great hub! useful article.

    • Eti Jain 23 months ago

      I wish I could have gone through this hub few days back as I recently got married. I would have definitely chosen some of the vows especially the first one.

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