Wedding vows for atheists: no promises from the universe are expected

Updated Aug 10 2020
cake for an atheist wedding
Photos by Alexsandra Wiciel

Biologist Richard Dawkins, asked whether Bach was inspired by God, replied that God was just what people wrote about in those days.

“Imagine Beethoven’s Cretaceous Symphony," Dawkins suggested, asking his readers to think of all the great secular art we've missed out on.

You could say the same about wedding vows. Traditional vows may mention religion, but wedding vows for atheists can celebrate the finite physical world just as beautifully.

Dani and Chris created an elegant atheist tea party wedding for themselves with touches of leaves, crystals, bees, and dinosaurs. Inspired by this post, they wrote their vows with a straight-up — and totally romantic —  announcement that they don't believe in heaven.

On behalf of the (groom’s family name) and (bride’s family name) families, it’s my pleasure to say welcome to you all.

We are called here today to celebrate the joining of two people who possess questioning natures. We celebrate the union of two people, of two hearts, but also of two minds making a conscious and deliberate choice to experience the great joys, and commit to the great sacrifices, of lifelong marriage.

Danielle and Christopher don't believe there is an eternity waiting for them after this life; there is only this life. So, to give oneself in marriage for this lifetime isn't a way station on the way to some heavenly eternity. it is all there is. It is a commitment to be together until they no longer exist, until they are nowhere and nothing.

When no edicts are handed down from the skies, and no promises from the universe are expected, each decision a person makes for his or her life bears more weight and consequence; two such people who make a decision to love one another until death have made a momentous commitment, fully of their own volition, with all the importance that an individual life can hold.

Today we celebrate the union of two people who know fully that human life is finite, and that therefore we should waste no time in spending those precious years with those we have chosen to love. Only two people who know that life is lived here on earth, and only on earth, can fully offer each other their own eternities."

At this time, Christopher and Danielle have some words that they would like to share with each other.

In the words of Carl Sagan:
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious… In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. "

Danielle and Christopher: Do you each take the other in marriage and agree to support, comfort, share truth, laugh, and respect one another today and for the rest of your days?

‘We do’

Make it so.

Wedding vows for atheists don't have to be the same old traditional vows with the religious language scrubbed out. You can include the sense of wonder you feel for the beauty of the natural world. You can see everything from Dani and Chris's wedding right here, including their awesome photos… and you may also want to browse our archive full of dozens of atheist weddings for more ceremony ideas — we even have atheist ceremony scripts.

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