The exchange of consent – often called the marriage vows – is at the heart of the Catholic wedding ceremony. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, the consent exchanged between bride and groom “is the indispensable element that ‘makes the marriage'” (no. 1626). Without consent, there is no marriage. The consent is part of every Catholic wedding ceremony, whether it takes place within Mass, without Mass, or between a Catholic and unbaptized person. It takes place after the Questions Before Consent and before the Blessing and Giving of Rings.
The words of consent provide rich reflection both for couples preparing for marriage and those married for years. Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia that the words of consent “cannot be reduced to the present; they involve a totality that includes the future: ‘until death do us part'” (no. 214). By promising in the presence of God and the Church to love each other faithfully for the rest of their lives, bride and groom form an unbreakable covenant.
The bride and groom declare their consent using one of the following formulas:
Option #1. I (name) take you (name) to be my wife/husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.
Option #2. I (name) take you (name) for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.
Or, the bride and groom may use one of the following formulas in which each answers I do after the priest or deacon poses the question.
Option #3. (Name), do you take (name) to be your wife/husband? Do you promise to be faithful to her/him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love her/him and to honor her/him all the days of your life? I do.
Option #4. (Name), do you take (name) for your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do you part? I do.
Excerpts from the English translation of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony © 2013, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). Used with permission. All rights reserved.