Vows are a couple’s verbal way of promising each other a lifelong commitment in marriage during their wedding ceremony; this varies with religion, tradition, and preference. You’ve probably attended several weddings, and one key element is the exchange of vows where the couple recites some words or repeat “I do” before they exchange rings, kiss, and seal their union. We look at Jewish weddings to find out whether they also include vows during their wedding ceremonies.
Do Jewish weddings have vows? Unlike in other religions, the traditional Jewish wedding does not have the typical vows; instead, they recite some words in Hebrew, and the Sheva Berakhot (the seven blessings) during the ring’s exchange marks the sealing of the covenant. However, a Jewish wedding can have the traditional vows, depending on the ceremony’s structure, the religious affiliation, and how flexible the celebrant is.
We delve into the important aspects of the wedding vows to determine the different forms they can take and how essential they are in a marriage. What do vows entail? Can you write your vows? We also investigate how Jewish couples go about the exchange of vows. Read on as we demystify the various aspects of Jewish wedding vows.
Types of Wedding Vows
Words of affirmation are one of the love languages of any couple; when they exchange vows, they express their love for each other in front of God and man. Similarly, most religions that value the sacramental part of marriage view the vows as part of the covenant-making process. Hence, they perceive the promises as sacred utterances since the couple makes a verbal declaration in God’s presence, hence the term oath.
There are so many vows variations depending on the religion, traditions, and the couple’s beliefs. The form they take also depends on the style and set up of the wedding. Generally, the vows come before the rings and the declaration that the two are officially married. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of wedding vows.
For this type of vows, the couple writes personal words to each other to candidly express their feelings. They may decide to read them out or recite them from memory. These vows are unique, and a couple has the freedom to switch it up to make it as romantic or as funny as they please.
Personalizing the vows makes them more sincere and heartfelt since the couple can include their memories as they let each other and the entire congregation know how they feel. When the couple looks back at their wedding, they will vividly remember these special vows. Let’s see an example of a personal wedding vow:
“I [Name] take you [Name] promising to love, care and trust you, and to live every single day of my life earning your love. I vow to be honest, patient, and kind. I promise truth and loyalty for as long as we both shall live. I love you.”
These vows are common in most civic weddings, depending on the particular country. Saying these vows and signing the legal documents are vital for the marriage to be official. These words are a requirement of the law, must be uttered by both parties, with the celebrant present and two witnesses.
The legal vows’ form will depend on the country’s marriage act and as stipulated in their constitution. The following is one example of a typical vow.
“I [Name] at this moment declare that there is no lawful impediment to me taking you [Name] to be my legally wedded husband/ wife.”
Traditional/ Religious Vows
Each religion has its own set up of vows. They may be in a written form requiring the couple to recite, or the celebrant reads them out, and the couple repeats “I do” or “I will.” These vows will always remain the same and will pass down to subsequent followers and believers.
You don’t need to write your own or recite out of memory for these vows, hence eases the pressure of writing and repeating your own. The following is a typical religious vow.
“In God’s presence and that of our friends and family, I [Name] take you [Name] to be my husband/ wife. With God’s assistance, I promise to love and honor you as my husband/ wife all the days of our lives.”
Jewish Wedding Vows
Among other rituals associated with traditional Jewish weddings, they also have the covenant of vows. This means that they do not have a special segment during the ceremony to allow the bride and groom to profess their love and seal the covenant with vows. However, this depends on whether the wedding is Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative and the officiant of the ceremony.
Traditionally, the alternative to the normal wedding vows entails exchanging rings and uttering some words by the groom in Hebrew. These words roughly translate to: “with this ring, you are committed to me under Moses’ and Israel’s laws.” In a modern setup, they allow the bride to utter the ring words or an altered version.
During the ring exchange, the couple’s friends or family can recite the Seven Blessings. Unlike other weddings, the Jewish consider the ring exchange as the verbal part of the covenant sealing. If the celebrant allows it, the couple can either personalize their vows or recite a traditional one.
Some couples are currently incorporating more contemporary styles to their wedding by leaving room for the traditional vows. If the officiating rabbi is liberal, they can add religious or personal vows; this case is also common in many Conservative and Reform weddings.
The celebrant or spiritual leader officiating the ceremony will guide you if you are unsure whether the synagogue allows the addition of certain vows. If they are strict with the rituals, they may not permit it, but more liberal celebrants will easily let you incorporate your vows.
Significance of Wedding Vows
Vows are a significant way to understand marriage, whether they are traditional or personalized, through which the couple knows what marriage entails and what to expect after the wedding. Similarly, it is a way to reflect on why you are making this important decision, especially if you are writing a personal vow. Writing and reciting them also reminds a couple of their love and solemn commitment to each other.
A couple will have a verbal declaration to refer to whenever they meet any challenges In the future of their relationship. This will strengthen and guide them in their marriage since no one will want to break an oath. By constantly reminding each other of their vows, the couple can easily remember their relationship’s essence.
For a Jewish wedding, the Sheva Berakhot is a significant part of the celebration. Not only does it bless the union of the newly-weds, but it also provides a foundation for their married life. The same applies to the Hebrew phrases during the ring exchange.
Since marriage is a form of oath-taking between two people, the verbal declaration is crucial. Not only are the vows spiritually and legally binding, but they are also an indication that the couple is joining in matrimony out of their free will. Different religions and cultures provide various oaths, but the newly-weds can still incorporate personal vows into their wedding.
Even when a tradition has no clause that allows the typical traditional vows exchange, there is always an alternative declaration of the couple’s love and commitment. The Jews, for instance, use the Hebrew phrases during ring exchange and bless the couple during the Seven blessings to seal their union.