How To Renew Your Vows
When you renew your vows you keep the promises made on your wedding day fresh. Cherie Sion and her husband renew their marital vows every year. She’ll be blogging for LOVEPOST with a recurring feature, Renew Your I Do, which is also the title of the book she is currently working on about the history of marriage. In this first installment, find out the significance of marriage vow renewals, what they mean to Cherie, and learn some interesting facts along the way!
Cherie Sion’s Story Will Inspire You To Renew Your VowsCherie Sion, author of Renew Your I Do
This year marks the twentieth time my husband and I have renewed our marital vows. We renew them every year, each time in a different spiritual setting, and usually in a different city. Looking back now, I realize these annual “I do” ceremonies are the result of our choice of a destination wedding in Istanbul, in a language we didn’t understand. Since neither of us speak Turkish, we had simply nodded assent to whatever the wedding official said.
When we returned home to Los Angeles I remarked that I didn’t feel “officially” married, because we hadn’t actually spoken our marriage vows. Consequently, a few months later, while in Chicago on business, we did a “do over” at Michigan Avenue’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, located nearby our hotel. Although relatively brief, the ceremony was so inspirational that we made an on-the-spot decision to repeat our vows every year, each time in a different manner.
Since Chicago, we’ve renewed our vows in some of the world’s leading cities, on two islands, and on an Indian reservation and in a beautiful public park. So far, a priest, a rabbi, several ministers, an Imam, an Indian chief, an atheist and an Elvis impersonator have pronounced us husband and wife – again.
Each time we exchange our marital promises is increasingly more meaningful to me; it’s a special moment to honor the love and respect we share for each other. Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960), a French poet (and Coco Chanel lover) once said there are only “proofs of love.” I treasure each renewal of our vows as one more proof of our love and commitment to each other.
Our tradition of annual vow renewals caused me to wonder about the history of marital vows and marriage itself. In turn, my curiosity has led to endless hours of connubial research.
It seems that wedding vows are distinguishable from an ‘oath’ or a ‘swearing to,’ both of which are commonly associated with the word, ‘vow.’ In the marital sense, however, vow takes on a special meaning: a promise of commitment between two people.
I was surprised to find that a form of marriage vows dates to prehistoric times, although then made between an individual and an entire village or tribe. The vows signified their mutual ‘promise’ to protect one another, not unlike the relationship of modern-day husbands and wives.
Certainly, marriage vows were exchanged during the Roman Empire when the father of the bride delivered his daughter to the groom and the groom’s family. The vows of marriage constituted an agreement, an association between families, rather than a romantic commitment between two individuals. As Christianity spread, so did the idea of free choice in selecting partners.
Wealthy Romans would list their property and publicly announce their marriage, so that it was recognized as a “legal” union. This practice is thought to be the beginning of ‘official’ wedding vows.
What many consider ‘traditional’ wedding vows can be traced back to the Book of Common Prayer, as approved by Henry VIII, in the 1500s. The Church of England gave couples a choice; they could promise to love and cherish each other or the groom would promise to ‘love, cherish and worship,’ while the bride promised to ‘love, cherish and obey.’ Today, of course, the word “obey” is routinely omitted from American brides’ vows. In fact, the Episcopal Church eliminated “obey” from the bride’s vows as early as 1922.
The elimination of ‘obey’ in American marriage ceremonies is a reflection of the more equal standing between husbands and wives in our society. Of course, I don’t know if the word ‘obey’ was part of my original wedding vows, since they were spoken in Turkish. In any event, ‘obey’ has not been part of any of our ‘I Do’ renewals.
© Cherie Sion 2011
The above is an excerpt from Renew Your I Do, by Cherie Sion.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Cherie’s Bio Photo: Kathy Cooley, Ballerini Cooley Studios
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