How to incorporate your values into your wedding ceremony

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With the holiday season upon us our thoughts turn to the charities and causes we wish to support. It is also a time many couples become engaged. These seemingly different things go together very well. How is that? Well, this may be a little controversial, but I feel it is important that your wedding expresses not only your love for one another, but your beliefs and ideals, those causes and issues that matter the most to you.

This can even include politics because they are completely interconnected. But is it ever appropriate to have a political statement as part of your wedding? Yes and no.  It doesn’t have to be expressed in a ‘which-side-are-you-on’ kind of way. You certainly don’t want to alienate any guests. But it is simply a fact that government is responsible for  upholding values you may hold dear.  So many important rights are deeply tied to politics! Remember, inter-racial marriage wasn’t legal until 1976 (Loving v. Virginia). It was only in 2015 that LGBT couples could legally marry throughout our country. (Obergefell v. Hodges). 

One key ingredient in marriage is commitment: the promise to be there through thick and thin, to have your partner’s back. When we make this promise it is based on many things and shared values are likely one of  them. Here are few examples of the way I have incorporated this over the years.

For the Declaration of Intent –   the “I do” part - where you are asked to agree out-loud to go forward with the marriage. For this part of the ceremony you could add  to that something like: “And do you promise to strive for peace in your home, peace in your community and peace in the world?” Or “Do you promise to work together to make this world a better place?”  Something along those lines.

Or consider including thoughts about your  values in your wedding vows. Here’s just one example:

I, (NAME) choose you (NAME) as my husband/wife. I promise to be compassionate, tender and loving; to be attentive and supportive of you, and to be mindful of our words and actions. I promise to live our lives positively, with joy and humor and a commitment to our values. Through our love we will strive to make this world a better place. These things I give to you today, and all the days of our lives.

Another idea is to choose a unity ritual that reflects something that resonates for you. If the environment  is important to you, you might want to use water as a symbol.  Make it clear you are sharing the water to express your support for clean water for all who live on this earth. Or use rocks, or other natural elements in ritualistic ways, that reflect your care for the world. You can plant a  tree. 


None of this is even possible if you don’t have an officiant open to these ideas. Celebrants such as myself have extensive training and know just how to create something special. Those copying ceremonies off the internet will not. Some religious leaders may balk at the idea and only want to use the prescribed liturgy. But if this is important to you, find a way to make it happen.

Obviously this isn’t going to be the dominant theme of your wedding, but slipping in a little  about your worldview and convictions is a powerful thing.


Here’s an easy one. Instead of purchasing favors you can donate to a favorite cause. Be sure to let your guests know with a small note at their place setting.  Let’s be honest, most people don’t really care too much about these little keepsake gifts anyway. 

Finally, choosing vendors of diverse backgrounds and small businesses who support your values is another important way to express yourself. I hope this is something meaningful to think about