Book Review: A World of Ways to Say "I Do"

What is this book about? 

This book is a small, slim collection of vows from various religions and cultures, common and less common quotations for wedding ceremonies, and encouraging advice about how to write your own vows.

The book definitely does encourage borrowing from other cultures, which I think is wonderful to an extent, but you do need to be respectful and thoughtful while doing so or you could really easily slip into exploitative cultural appropriation.. Offbeat Bride has written some wonderful articles about how to carefully navigate these issues; this one's my favorite:

Why do couples borrow cultural elements for their wedding, and how can you do so respectfully?

"Obviously this doesn't give people the right to mindlessly usurp these treasures from the cultures of others. I believe, however, that if people who feel a particular bond or attachment to traditions that resonate with them, then they should be able to carefully and thoughtfully find ways to honor those pieces of a culture, and possibly create new cultures/traditions where there weren't any before..... Essentially, I think it comes down to "Don't be a jerk about it." I believe that the exploration of other cultures does not have to mean the exploitation of other cultures. If done carefully, with consideration, tact, and a heart of the intended meaning and purpose, using cultural traditions of others can be a nod of respect."

Who would love this book?

Like literally any person planning a wedding. It's so sweet and useful. I've actually marked several passages myself and am really thinking about using some of the things in here in our ceremony.

This book also does have several wonderful sections of quote for use by couples who have been married before and couples from different generations or religious backgrounds, so I think it could be particularly useful for couples falling into those categories.

My Favorite Parts

I really love several parts of the Celtic Vows and handfasting ceremony:

  • You cannot possess me for I belong to myself. But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give. 
  • "Partner 1, will you cause her pain?" "I may." "Is that your intent?" "No." /Partner 2 repeats/ "Will you both share each other's pain and seek to ease it?" "Yes." 

I also found the collection of vows from various branches of Christianity fascinating (although I want more information about their sources for these vows). They're so similar but just slightly different to reflect the different tenets of that faith. As someone who grew up in the Lutheran church, the end of that church's vows are just so....Lutheran. "I will try with you to better understand ourselves, the world, and God; through the best and the worst of what is to come as long as we live." 

I also love that the Methodist vow opens "I ask you to be my husband as my friend and my love" rather than the usual "I take thee/you to be my husband."

There's also a strangely moving sentence that says, "We live in an age of uncertainty. Love and marriage are statements of faith in the face of this uncertainty."

Does it talk about marital surname changes at all? 

Nope! It's just a lovely little book talking about vows.

Here, read some poetry from the book instead:

"Oh my beautiful one.
Are you not my health and my life?
You are health to the heart that finds you."
- Fragment from an ancient Egyptian love poem.

"My boat is floating on the sky. 
And I am also as my beloved is a dream mirrored on my heart."
- Tu Fu, Eighth-Century China Love poem fragment

Amazon Link: