In recent years, the practice of couples writing their own vows has become increasingly common because laws regarding vows are lenient in the United States. Although the traditional marriage vows are often used, they are by no means necessary -- the pledge of marriage alone is enough. However, marriage vows must be said in front of an officiant and the required number of witnesses to be valid.
Marriage License Proclamation
When applying for a marriage license, the clerk in charge of issuing the document will ask you legally binding questions that ensure that there is no impediment to your union and that you are both entering the contract in good faith. Alhough this is not done at the ceremony itself, it is a legally mandated step for marriage.
The traditional wedding vows are the familiar "I do" vows. They can be stated at both religious and civil ceremonies, and the couple may have the option of selecting theirs from a few different variations. However, the traditional vows can also be altered if the couple wishes to remove a phrase from the text -- requesting that the pledge to "obey" be omitted is most common.
Church Wedding Vows
Though there is no passage in the Bible that says marriage vows must be performed in a certain way, church ceremonies all tend to have the same vows. These vows are said before the wedding guests and before God. Some denominations have their own set of wedding vows. Though they are similar in nature, each are worded slightly differently. Additionally, couples may request to supplement the vows with promises they compose, but not all ministers allow this.
Couples who write their own vows may decide to include the traditional phrases after their own or simply use the ones they wrote. Because there is no law imposed on the content of vows in the United States, many couples simply choose to speak from the heart and pledge their vows in accordance with what they believe and what marriage means to them. This allows the couple to state what they truly mean while adding additional emotion to the ceremony.