The traditional marriage is on the decline and divorce rates are increasing. We can argue about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the decline in traditional marriage but one thing is certain ‘ marriage is changing. Those who do not want the stoic and dull conventional church wedding now have options. This means that people can create their own wedding vows or take some from inspiring texts. Here is a list of ten of the most interesting new wedding vows and their sources.
You would think that the last person so have said something that would eventually be spoken at a Wedding ceremony would be the world’s greatest ever peace activist. As powerful as his words were, few would put them into expressions of everlasting love. Yet this quote:
Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.
Is popular at the modern wedding for its expression of love being utterly timeless.
2. Neil Gaiman
This celebrated fantasy writer isn’t usually known for his romantic literature ‘ focussing as he does on modern themes in fantastical settings. Yet Stardust, the book about a star falling to an alternate universe England, features the developing romance between Yvaine (the star) and Tristan (the protagonist) features this wonderful passage:
You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.
3. Don Juan DeMarco
The smoothest talker in history could be very succinct when he wanted to be. A 1995 film saw Johnny Depp play a man who lived under the delusion that he was a reincarnation of the original Don Juan. This is no better expressed than with this quote from the film:
There are only four questions of value in life.’¦ What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.
He might have been right about that, even if he was not in fact the real Don Juan.
4. Mister Darcy woos Lizzy
Though the line only (sadly) appeared in the 2005 film and not the original book nor the 1990s BBC TV adaptation, this line is slowly finding its way into modern wedding vows:
You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love and love and love you. And I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.
Fans of the book realise that this is a far cry from what he actually said at the end of the novel ‘ a line that plays far more on the dichotomy of their personalities.
5. Princess Bridge
The most popular romantic fantasy film of all time has a number of quotes relevant to wedding vows. Amongst them are these following two:
That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying, ‘As you wish,’ what he really meant was, ‘I love you.’ And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.
Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords.
Shakespeare wrote about love almost obsessively. Most people know Romeo & Juliet but the tragedy that is Hamlet is not considered one of his greatest where the theme of love is concerned. However, one line in particular is striking a chord with the wedding day:
Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.
The words are read out by Polonius from a letter written by Hamlet to Ophelia.
7. When Harry Met Sally
The film is famous for one scene in particular and it has been parodied to death. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t that scene that makes an appearance at modern weddings, it is this quote from the end of the film when Harry realises his love for Sally:
I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night.
8. Tolkein’s Ent Marriages
Something that did not appear in the films is a rather lengthy and drawn out set of vows spoken by the Ents (the tree-like creatures from Lord of the Rings). Most of the passages are similar, starting with a season and using metaphor to reflect the changing of the landscape until at the end they say together:
Together we will take the road that leads into the West, And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.
9. Corinthians (The Bible)
Of course, The Bible is going to be an important resource for the committed Christian with its themes of Godly devotion and words spoken by Jesus. However, not all of it deals in the realm of the spiritual. There are many passages, such as the one below that examines the meaning of love between people:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
10. Pam Ayres
What wedding wouldn’t be complete without humour? In the UK, it seems that this comedian and poet has found herself at the centre of the modern wedding with her rather lengthy poem that starts:
Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, And here’s the reason why; So I can push you out of bed when the baby starts to cry, And if we hear a knocking; And it’s creepy and it’s late, I hand you the torch you see, And you investigate.
And ends with the hilarious:
I do see great advantages, but none of them for you, And so before you see the light, I do, I do, I do!
With thousands of years of literature across the world’s myriad of languages (and with love being such a common theme), there is an unending supply of literature from which we might take our own personalised wedding vows. Wedding and the marriage are not dying ‘ like the old formulaic church vows, they are simply changing.