For couples planning a Catholic wedding

Catholic Wedding Q&A

Together in God's Love Catholic marriage preparation program

Can we write our own vows for our Catholic wedding?

Some couples like to write their own vows as a way of expressing their love for one another more personally. Because the Rite of Marriage does not provide an option for couples to write their own vows, however, it is unlikely that the priest or deacon who assists at your wedding will allow you to do so.

One option for couples who want to publicly express their love in their own words would be to include a personal statement in the printed wedding program. Another possibility: exchange a profession of love during the reception.

Also, the Rite of Marriage does provide several wording options for the exchange of consent. Click on "Choosing Catholic wedding vows" (below) for more information about these options.

Why can't couples write their own Catholic wedding vows? The Church actually has some good reasons for sticking to traditional vows:

  • One of the ways that the Church expresses the unity of all believers is through the unity of the liturgy (in this case, the wedding), especially in its essential parts (Catechism #813, 815). In other words, it would become hard to recognize the unity of the Church if everyone started using different words for the most important parts of the liturgy. By using the vows provided by the Church, the couple is acknowledging that they are part of something larger than themselves. The wedding unites them not only with one another, but with the whole Body of Christ, the Church.
  • The mutual consent of the bride and groom to be married to one another is what brings about the grace of the sacrament (Catechism #1623, 16261639 - 1640). The words that express that consent should reflect the sacredness of the moment, which the Church ensures by providing the wording for the vows.
  • Because consent is what makes the marriage, it is important for everyone to be clear that the bride and groom have actually declared their mutual consent. If the vows aren’t clear about that—or if they contain wording that might be interpreted as placing conditions or limits on the marriage—then the validity of the marriage becomes questionable (cf. Code of Canon Law #1101 - 1102, 1107; also #1119).

For more information

Choosing Catholic wedding vows
The Rite of Marriage provides several different options for the words of consent (vows); for example, you can memorize the words, or simply respond to questions from the priest or deacon assisting at your marriage.

Catholic wedding vows
An overview of the exchange of consent during the rite of marriage.

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