Wedding Ceremony Outline with Vows

Many thanks to the wonderful De Nueva Photography for sharing the crisp, clear, and beautiful image of a stealth ceremony in the Museum of Natural History.

My Philosophy: In each day, we create the ties that bind. The marriage ceremony is a culmination of these moments. It ought to be liberated from distractions. On the wedding day, we feel emotion by drawing from the past to feel the present and dream about the future. We trust any unknown prospects because we feel secure enough to have hope. The ceremony strips away layers to reveal a common core, which is the commitment to exist as family to build a kinder, gentler future. Thus, the ceremony should force trivial stuff to recede. It is smart, but relatively brief — five to twenty minutes long of spoken words — because it reflects the essential promise “to be.” It privileges the freedom to choose a companion. It inspires a way of living. It bares the truth of love, which holds the ability to knit two unique personalities into one life. Two embrace their attachment. The marriage vow proclaims: ‘we are here.’ We are here to contribute to one another’s happiness and therefore bring respect into a disconnected world.

Once you select your favorite readings and vows, please e-mail your selections to NewYorkOfficiant@gmail.com. Thank you!

Wedding Ceremony Outline
Of course, all couples may choose any favorite readings and vows. Also, couples may opt to send a paragraph describing what they love about each other (separately, as a sweet surprise, if they wish), which I can use as a mini personalized prelude to their vows. However, I must have this information upon scheduling the ceremony: do not wait until last minute. Seriously. Finally, please note that I do not officiate “cut and paste” ceremonies submitted by the couple.

Welcoming / Greeting / Convocation: You know how this part often commences, right? It typically begins with “we gather here…” or similar words of celebratory invitation.  If I am officiating a larger marriage ceremony, I will also thank guests for attending.

Reflections on Marriage: A general category, this includes a few thoughts about the meaningful joys of companionship to ensure easy transitional flow into readings and vows. If you would like to share anything about your love story, as well as what you love about one another, please be sure to send these thoughts upon booking.

Your Favorite Quotes and Poems: Honestly, most couples request that I read any quotes and poems chosen.  Of course, I am happy to invite a relative and/or friend to do the honor of reading your favorite passage.  Simply let me know in advance. Although I usually place readings prior to vows, I may integrate them in different areas of the ceremony to ensure it flows well.

The Exchange of Vows: Now, at this point, you will commit to posterity a chronicle of your joint life. Select one “affirmation of intent” here (or from another source) unless you only wish to exchange personal vows.

1a.) …do you receive and acknowledge … as the companion whom you will most cheer, respect, and appreciate; and do you promise to be loving, faithful, and affectionate in tranquility and travail as long as life shall last?

2a.) ….do you take …. as your wife/husband to love, honor, and cherish for as long as time belongs to you / until death do you part / as long as you both shall live?

3a.) ….will you have …. as your wedded wife/husband to live together in the bonds of matrimony? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her/him so long as you both shall live?

4a.) …. do you take …. as your lawfully wedded wife/husband/spouse/companion in prosperity and adversity as long as time belongs to you?

5a.) …. do you choose …. as your wife/husband for the rest of your life? As you complain and laugh about this crazy world together, do you promise to do your best to enhance her/his joys, ease her/his burdens, offer times of adventures and quiet moments, and to try not to annoy her/him too much?

6a.) ….do you take …. as your lawfully wedded wife in heart and soul forever? Do you give her/him your sacred devotion to show your abiding love and constant faith in good and hard times for as long as you both shall live?

7a.) ….do you take…. as your lawfully wedded wife/husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, and to love, honor, and cherish for all the days of your life (– or until death do you part)?

8a.) N, with your whole heart, do you take N. as your wife/husband/spouse/companion? Do you accept her/his faults and strengths, as s/he accepts your own? Do you promise to prioritize the happiness of your family through all the chances and changes of life? Do you promise to dream with her/him, celebrate with her/him, and care for her/him? And do you choose her/him as your friend and your love today and always?

9a.) Do you choose N as your wife/husband alone from the world? Do you promise to care for her/him tenderly in times of smiles and sorrows until you share your last sunset? And do you promise to continue to plan your future together no matter what may come (or- even after grandchildren descend upon your home)?

10a. ) N, do you offer N. your love unconditionally in marriage? Will you continue to appreciate all her/his ways — the way s/he smiles, her/his sense of humor, the nice things s/he does for others, and her/his dedication to family? Will you remain grateful for her/his patience with you and her/his illogical willingness to indulge your whims? Will you let her/him inspire you to become a better person and try to live up to her/his expectations? And will you try to grow more generous, sensitive, and affectionate with the passing of years?

11a.) N, do you intend to share your life with N. as your wife/husband in happiness and hardship each day of your life? Do you promise to respect and listen to her/him, comfort and help her/him, and grow with her/him by inspiring her/his imagination, learning more about her/him and the world, and giving the best of yourself?

12a.) ¿N, quieres recibir a este hombre/mujer como esposo/esposa, para tener y sostener, para bien o para mal, en riqueza o pobreza, en salud o enfermedad, para amar y respetar todos los dias de tu vida?

13a.) N, for some time now, you have waited for this moment. You cannot imagine life without N. holding your hand. You know her/him very well: come rapture or ruin, you are a family already. Do you now formally give her/his your pledge to become a better person to make her/his life happier? Will you share adventures that bring the two of you closer? And will you help her/him when s/he needs your help, listen to her/his stories, care gently for the unspoken needs of her/his heart, and remain faithful for as long as you both shall live?

14a.) N and N, as you know, life does not offer clear destinations. Love does. Both of you have unique talents, and you are stronger together than apart. No matter the paths taken, you will share them as a family. Do you wish to commit to this marriage now and always?

15a.) N, N loved you yesterday. S/he loves you today. And s/he will love you even more tomorrow. Even though s/he does not always show how s/he feels, you are the one. With you by her/his side, the future fills with beautiful promise. And, so, on her/his behalf, I ask you: Will you love her/him on the amazing and not-so-fun days? Will you honor your family as the greatest gift received? In all future adventures, will you be there for her/him? Will you be her/his advocate and confidant, her/his accomplice in good-willed mischief, and her/his supportive companion for life?

16a.) N, N loves you for being yourself. S/he deserves no less than your best. Do you offer your love and friendship to her/him in marriage? When life feels difficult and easy, will you respect her/him? When love feels simple or complex, will you be grateful for her/him? When you are alone or together, will you remain loyal and thoughtful? When you laugh and cry together, will you cherish her/his feelings? And when life brings conflict or peace, will you comfort and care for her/him? Will you face whatever may come as a family?

17a.) N, do you choose N as your wife/husband today, tomorrow, and forever? Do you embrace her/him as your love and closest friend? Do you promise to share all you have with her/him, to express your thoughts and emotions to her/him, to truly listen to her/him, and respect how s/he feels in joy and in sorrow? Do you now give her/him your life and your heart freely?

18a.) N, long ago, N dreamed of this day. Today, s/he pledges to share one home with you…. Is it your wish to awaken next to N. each morning and fall asleep next to her/him each night? Will you try to remember to thank her/him for the little and big things s/he does? Will you encourage her/his hopes and console her/his fears as her/his ally, greatest fan, and strength in need? When life brings mistakes and magic, will you be her/his one true love?

19a.) N, you are an admirable person with many strengths and talents. You make others laugh. You are a gracious giver and receiver. With you around, the world is a better place. N, your partner, wants you to know that you are loved, you are blessed, and you are her/his home. Do you now choose N to be your wife/husband/companion always and forever?

20a.) N and N, marriage is a noble cause. Two individuals learn as much as they can about one another. They discover how much they care about each other’s happiness and health. This great love infuses them with the energy to realize lofty hopes. Each is willing to share adventures to experience the new and to maintain calmness to enjoy the harmony of home. Knowing what you know and trusting what you do not yet know, do you intend to marry?

Personal Vows: In recent years, couples elevated personal vows to a custom. It is not mandatory. But many couples do write vows or express a love note during the ceremony. Some memorize them. Some create vows spontaneously. In my experience, most write them down and read them.

Exchange of Rings or Tokens: Giving the gift of a token or ring (or two) is traditional rather than necessary.  Offering an outward symbol of love is a sweet gesture adopted by most.  But you ought not feel pressured to do so. Below are some optional ring exchange vows.

1b.) With this ring, I marry you; with all that I am, with all that I have, and with all that I will become, I honor you.

2b.) With this ring, I thee wed.

3b.) I give you this ring as a token and sign of my constant faith and abiding love.

4b.) I give you this ring as a symbol of my love.

5b.) I belong to my beloved, and my beloved belongs to me.

6b.) With this ring, I join my life to your life forever.

7b.) Please accept this ring and sleep on the same pillow with me always.

8b.) With this ring, I give you all of myself in heart and soul.

9b.) I give you this ring as a sign of my commitment to our marriage. Should you lose it, never fear. I will always provide another one.

10b.) May this ring encircle your finger with warmth, as my love will surround your forever.

11b.) As this circle has no end, so is my love unto my friend.

12b.) As the circle in this ring has no end, so will my loving care remain constant. We belong together, and I am yours in marriage.

13b.) N and N, if you trace your fingers around the circles expressed in your rings, you simply return. Likewise, together, you will find happiness in the knowledge that seasons come and go and then return constantly. Whether we accept it or not, like it or not, such are the ways of the universe, as it encircles us with a common sense of humanity. And such are the ways of love. If bitterness casts shadows, you will endure them. If frailty encloses you, you will work to overcome the trials. Do you now promise to wear these rings as symbols of your new cycle of life as a family?

14b.) Rings are circles for good reason. Everywhere in nature are circles. The planets. The sun. The moon, Tree trunks. Bubbles. The season unfold in cycles. Even our lips become round as they kiss. These, and many more, symbolize promises to renew love each day. Do you now accept these rings as the visible signs of your marriage?

15b.) With this ring, I promise to do my best to love and like you each day.

16b.) With this ring, I share with you all of my quirks and all of my strengths.

17b.) With this ring, I promise that you will always come first in my life.

18b.) I give you this ring as a symbol of my gratitude for accepting all of me.

19b.) Please receive this ring as a token of my gratitude: thank you for marrying me.

20b.) From this day forward, I am yours in amazing, good, bearable, and awful times.

21b.) Through laughter and boredom, adventures and arguments, please wear this ring as a sign of our marriage.

22b.) I cannot give you much more than this ring. But I happily give you all of myself for-ever and a day.

23b.) Please take this ring as a sign of my promise to be worth more than any embarrassment or problems that I may sometimes cause.

24b.) You deserve all the best in the world. For now, please take this ring as a more humble gift of love.

25b.) We do not need golden rings. You are worth more than all the precious metals in the world. I embrace all of you. Please embrace all of me.

Optional Rite: Some couples opt to incorporate a special rite into their ceremony. The rite may reflect their heritage or a more personal aspect of their bond. If you wish to integrate any additional element(s), be sure to let me know in advance.

Optional Prayer and Blessings: I never invoke a divine spirit unless the couple specifically requests that I do so. If you are religious or spiritual, be sure to let me know your denomination(s) in advance.

Pronouncement…Sealed with a kiss!

Signing of the License

To schedule your ceremony, please e-mail your favorite vows to ElopeNYC@gmail.com.

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