The Most Romantic Wedding Vows and Traditions from Different Cultures

One of the most ingrained traditions is the exchanging of vows during the wedding ceremony

Vows are promises the couple makes to each other and pledge to keep throughout their marriage. They can be found in practically all religions and faiths, and are deep-rooted to many different cultures and traditions around the globe. Indeed, many cultures see them as the most significant part of the wedding ceremony, as irreplaceable as wedding bands and white dresses (at least in the Catholic religion).

In this article we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most romantic wedding vows from around the world, spanning many different religions, traditions, and cultures. If you’re headed to the altar someday soon, and you’re looking for wedding vow inspiration, you’ll find it here. You can use the wedding vows below as a starting point to create your own, one that captures the essence of your emotions and love for your spouse-to-be. That being said, if you find one that fits your feelings and sentiments, feel free to use it in its entirety.

Wedding Vows in the Catholic Tradition

If there’s one religion dedicated to its traditions it’s Catholocism. From the lovely bride being walked down the aisle by her father to the exchange of the wedding bands and much more, Catholic weddings have traditions galore. Marriage itself is one of the 7 holy sacraments of their faith, with Bible verses specifically created for weddings.

In fact, one of the most often-heard wedding vows comes directly from Catholic weddings. It’s been used in American TV shows and movies for decades and, while not incredibly romantic, certainly is memorable; for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. Like we said, not incredibly romantic by any means, but certainly used in many a romantic movie and TV scene. You can incorporate it into your wedding vows also, or use any variation you please.  After all, it’s your wedding day.

Wedding Vows in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition

Many wedding vow traditions include the words “love, honor, and respect” and one of them is the Eastern Orthodox religion. Many find these three words quite romantic, especially the word ‘honor’ which means to give great respect for someone. What some find most romantic about Eastern Orthodox weddings is their tradition of performing many of the wedding duties three times. Wedding rings, for example, are passed back and forth three times and the priest also leads the couple around the altar three times as well. This represents the ‘Holy Trinity’ (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It also is where the old adage “The third time’s the charm” comes from.

Wedding Vows in the Christian Tradition

Christian vows are very romantic although they are also quite long. In fact, they’re some of the longest vows of all the religious wedding ceremonies. They include many phrases that can be included in your wedding vows if you write yours yourself, including promises of providing the ‘tenderest care, fullest devotion, and deepest love’. One of the most romantic lines from the traditional Christian wedding vow is a pledge on behalf of both husband and wife that says “I pledge to you my life’.

Wedding Vows in the Nondenominational Tradition

One fact about most weddings that are held in a specific faith or culture is that they are very structured. They happen in a certain, specific way with specific parts, timing, and words. When a couple decides to have their wedding outside of any specific faith they have what’s known as a nondenominational, or secular, wedding. In most nondenominational weddings the couple will also use their own non traditional wedding vows during the ceremony.

Some folks find non religious wedding vows the most romantic of all because of this. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to simply use the same words from the same vows that have been used thousands of times before. If, however, you decide to write your secular vows, you can imbue them with as much romance as you like. Indeed, writing your own non traditional wedding vows can bring out your inner poet and allow you to express your feelings more than most traditional wedding vows allow. Just remember that the first few words should include a version of “I take thee to be my husband/wife” and, of course, both of your names. Other than that, the sky’s the limit.

Wedding Vows in the Celtic Tradition

Bagpipes are not exactly a musical instrument that’s heard very often in the United States, especially at a wedding. If, however, you attend a Celtic wedding (or plan to have your own), you can expect to hear this unique and lovely wind instrument being played. Not only that but you can also expect the people playing (called bagpipers) to wear traditional plaid-patterned kilts. These can be quite romantic when you realize that they’re decorated by the groom and wedding party.

Speaking of romance, some of the lines that are used in a Celtic wedding are right up there at the top. “I vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine, from this day it shall only be your name I cry out in the night and into your eyes that I smile each morning” If that doesn’t move you to tears of romantic joy, nothing will. Another we quite enjoy is this one; “I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.” Romantic indeed, don’t you agree?

Wedding Vows in the Hindu Tradition

In the United States, we’re all used to getting married and, after the ceremony is finished, having a big party known as the wedding reception. In the Hindu faith, however, they throw a big party before the marriage actually occurs. They call it a sangeet and it’s where both families of the bride and groom come together to dance and sing.

One of their other traditions, performed at the ceremony, is also quite romantic; the wearing of garlands that, towards the end of the wedding ceremony itself, are tied together, signifying that the bride and groom are now joined together. There’s also the fourth sentence in the traditional Hindu wedding vow that has a nice romantic ring to it; “Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust”.

Wedding Vows in the Muslim Tradition

In the Muslim tradition, the marriage is the union of the souls, and the wedding ceremony itself is known as ‘Nikah’.  Normally, the Imam or head of the Mosque will read directly from the Qur’an and talks about the requirements or marriage in the muslim faith.  These include the responsiblities that the couple has to one another, as well as to Allah.

Nikah is considered to be sacred, so the ceremony is always intimate and simple.  At the conclusion, the bride and groom formally pledge their faithfulness and honesty to each other.

Wedding Vows in the Buddhist Tradition

When most people picture a traditional wedding, at least in the U.S., they think of the bride wearing a pure, white wedding gown. Buddhist weddings, on the other hand, are well known for the bride wearing a cacophony of colors. In fact, she will usually wear many different layers of colors and adorn them on top with gold jewelry. The groom also wears colorful clothing, including a brocade suit made from gorgeous silk. It’s a colorful affair indeed, and a surprise to many who attend their first Buddhist wedding.

While the words of their traditional wedding vows aren’t what some might call romantic, we believe that there is a romance in them that belies expectations. For example, the officiant asks the couple this; “Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?” Those are some very powerful and intriguing words, no doubt, and take the romance to a whole new level.

Wedding Vows in the Jewish Tradition

You’ve no doubt seen a Jewish wedding on TV or in the cinema and heard the wonderful two words that they speak at the end of their ceremony; “Mazel tov!”. They mean ‘Congratulations!’ and come right after one of the most fascinating of wedding traditions, the breaking of the glass under the groom’s right foot. Jewish weddings also feature a chuppah (also called huppa, shipe or chuppa), which is a canopy held up by 4 posts. The chuppah represents the home that the married couple will be creating with their love, a symbolic and very romantic gesture.

Traditionally no vows are spoken at a Jewish wedding although, today, some couples are including their own. If you’re Jewish and soon to be wed, this gives you the opportunity to write your own vows of love, respect, and faith, which many people consider to be incredibly romantic and touching.

Wedding Vows in the Baptist Tradition

There are many similarities between a Baptist wedding ceremony and a Christian wedding ceremony, to be sure. Wedding bands are exchanged, for example, and the father of the bride walks his daughter down the aisle.  One very different tradition, however, is that the wedding reception usually does not offer alcohol or dancing, so it can be a bit of a somber (and sober) affair, to say the least.

A romantic tradition that they have is to lay a white carpet down for the bride to walk on as she makes her way down the aisle, a symbol of holy ground and purity where the two lives are joined as one. While she walks the bride is also serenaded, which is lovely to both see and hear.

READ > Top Tips for Writing Wedding Vows that Rock

Some of the Most Well-Known Wedding Traditions and Where they Started

We’ve looked at many of the romantic traditions and vows of some of the more prominent religions. Now let’s take a look at where some of the most well-known traditions started, and why. The history of some of them is quite interesting and surprising, to say the least. (Many involve the ancient Romans.)

The Wedding Cake

This tradition comes from ancient Rome. It was there that, to imbue the bride with fertility so that she could make lots of babies, a loaf of bread was baked in her honor and then broken apart over her head.

Matching Bridesmaid Dresses

The Romans are responsible for this tradition as well. In fact, back then, the bride and bridesmaids were all dressed totally alike to fool evil spirits. The Romans believe that evil spirits would come to the wedding and do their best to curse the bride and groom and so they dressed the bridesmaids and bride exactly the same to fool them.

The Bride’s Veil

Why do today’s modern brides wear veils? This one again goes back to the Romans (and the Greeks) who believed that evil spirits would try to attack the bride and groom on their wedding day. The veil was used to protect the bride until after she was officially married.

The ‘Ring Finger’

Why do we wear our wedding and engagement rings on the fourth finger of our left hand? Because it was once believed that there was a vein in that specific finger that went directly to the heart. This connection, although false, was very romantic reasoning, don’t you agree?

The Phrase ‘Tying the Knot”

We talked earlier about Celtic and Hindu wedding ceremonies and it’s here that the bride and groom are oftentimes tied together, literally, to demonstrate their commitment to each other. In effect, they ‘tied the knot’ during their wedding (which is very romantic if you think about it).

The Groom Carrying the Bride “Over the Threshold”

Another tradition stemming from an old belief in evil spirits, the groom carries his new bride over the threshold in an attempt to protect her from any evil spirits that might be lurking. (Very romantic those Romans, yes?)

The White Dress

Although we’ve seen that some religions and traditions allow for colorful dresses, the white dress that is most often associated with weddings comes from Queen Victoria of England. She wore one for her wedding in 1840 and kickstarted the trend. Before then, the bride simply wore her best dress, no matter the color.

In Closing

Traditions, pomp, and circumstance have surrounded weddings for eons and will continue to be used far into the future, we’re sure. We hope that the information we’ve given you today will inspire you to create some of your own traditions and possibly write your own romantic wedding vows when you get married. If that day is coming soon, congratulations, and best of luck with the entire affair!

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About the Author, John Alden

John Alden is a Wine Country Wedding expert and the owner of Mountain House Estate, a Northern California wedding venue located near Cloverdale,  Sonoma County. Over the past 5 years, John has tirelessly worked to keep the property in pristine condition and has unmatched expertise about wine country weddings. In his free time, he enjoys working on classic cars in his garage.