While a civil wedding ceremony has a fairly standard format, there is plenty of scope within it to make it a personal statement of your love and commitment to each other.
The minimum vows for a legal civil wedding are included below, under legal declarations and contracting words. You can choose which version suits you best from each one: traditional, modern or simplified.
I do solemnly declare, that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (your name) may not be joined in matrimony to (your partner's full name).
I declare that I know of no legal reason why I (your name) may not be joined in marriage to (your partner's name).
The Registrar asks: "Are you (your full name) free, lawfully, to marry (your partner's full name)?" You reply "I am."
I call upon these persons, here present, to witness that I (your full name) do take thee (your partner's full name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.
I (your full name), take you (your partner's full name) to be my wedded wife/husband.
I (your full name) take thee (your partner's full name) to be my wedded wife/husband.
After the 'legal' part of the ceremony has taken place, you can become more personal and creative, if you so wish, by saying promises to each other. The following are suggestions that some people have used in the past:
I promise that I will respect you as an individual, support you through difficult times, rejoice with you through happy times, be loyal to you always and, above all, love you as my wife/husband and friend.
I promise to care for you above all others, to give you my love and friendship, support and comfort, and to respect and cherish you throughout our lives together.
I give you this ring as a token of my love and friendship.
I give you this ring as a token of our love and marriage, as a symbol of all that we share and in recognition of our life together.
I promise to love and respect you. Helping our love grow, always being there to listen, comfort and support you, whatever our lives may bring.
I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage, and as a symbol of our love. I promise to care for you, to respect and cherish you, throughout our lives together.
I give you this ring as a sign of our love, trust and marriage. I promise to care for you above all others, to give you my love, friendship and support, and to respect and cherish you throughout our life together.
I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and affection, wear it with happiness and pride – now and always.
Alternatively, if none of these take your fancy, you may be able to write your own promises (it is best to discuss this with your Registrar first to gauge their views on this).
If you get the go-ahead, you can start putting pen to paper to come up with vows that really do come from the heart - and yours, not someone else's. The following promises may give you some inspiration:
- To get through whatever life throws at you, both good and bad
- To love, cherish and respect one another
- To stay together for life
- To share happiness and laughter
- To be kind, trusting, tolerant and understanding
- To be good friends forever.
This way you can decide which aspects and elements of your relationship you wish to share with your family and friends.