Weddings are filled with time-honored traditions, perhaps none more iconic than the exchanging of vows between bride and groom. As the couple professes their eternal love and commitment to one another, the phrase “with this ring I thee wed” is often heard.

But what does this classic wedding saying actually mean?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: “With this ring I thee wed” is the traditional phrase spoken by the groom during a wedding ceremony when placing the wedding ring on the bride’s finger. It signifies his solemn vow to take her as his lawfully wedded wife.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins, symbolism, and significance behind the “with this ring I thee wed” wedding vow.

The History and Origin of the Phrase

The phrase “With this ring I thee wed” is a classic line from wedding vows that has been used for centuries. It holds a deep meaning and symbolizes the commitment and love between two individuals. Let’s explore the history and origin of this timeless phrase.

Dates Back to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer

The origins of the phrase can be traced back to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which was first published in 1549. This book of liturgy contained the traditional wedding ceremony used in the Church of England.

The phrase “With this ring I thee wed” was included as part of the marriage vows, emphasizing the significance of the exchange of rings between the couple.

In those times, the ring was seen as a symbol of eternity, as it had no beginning or end. By giving and receiving a ring, the couple was making a promise to love and cherish each other for all eternity.

The phrase became deeply ingrained in wedding ceremonies and has since been passed down through generations.

Based on the Act of Giving and Receiving a Ring

The phrase also reflects the act of giving and receiving a ring during the wedding ceremony. The exchange of rings symbolizes the couple’s commitment to each other and their willingness to enter into a lifelong partnership.

The ring is often placed on the fourth finger of the left hand, as it was believed to have a direct connection to the heart.

By saying “With this ring I thee wed,” the person wearing the ring is expressing their intention to honor their vows and fulfill their marital responsibilities. It signifies a promise to be faithful, supportive, and loving throughout the journey of marriage.

Evolving Gender Roles and Customs

Over time, as gender roles and customs have evolved, so have wedding traditions and vows. While the phrase “With this ring I thee wed” remains a popular choice for many couples, there is now a greater emphasis on personalizing the vows to reflect the unique relationship between the bride and groom.

Couples now have the freedom to choose their own words and expressions to convey their love and commitment. Some may choose to use the traditional phrase, while others may opt for more modern and personalized vows.

The key is to create vows that are meaningful and authentic to the couple, capturing their love and promises to each other.

Ultimately, the phrase “With this ring I thee wed” holds a special place in wedding ceremonies, representing the timeless commitment and love shared between two individuals. It reminds us of the deep-rooted traditions and customs that have shaped the institution of marriage throughout history.

The Symbolism and Significance of the Ring Exchange

One of the most iconic moments in a wedding ceremony is the exchange of rings between the couple. This ancient tradition holds deep symbolism and significance, representing the eternal bond between two individuals. The act of exchanging rings is a powerful symbol of love, commitment, and unity.

The Circular Nature Represents Eternity

The circular shape of the wedding ring holds great meaning. The absence of a beginning or end symbolizes the eternity of love and the unbreakable bond between the couple. It is a reminder that love knows no boundaries and is meant to last forever.

This timeless symbol serves as a constant reminder of the commitment made on the wedding day.

According to The Knot, the circular shape of the ring also represents the cyclical nature of life and the continuous journey that the couple will embark on together. It symbolizes the ongoing commitment to love, support, and cherish one another through all the ups and downs of life.

The Ring as a Sign of Commitment

The exchange of rings during a wedding ceremony is a public declaration of the couple’s commitment to one another. It serves as a visible and tangible symbol of their love and dedication. The act of putting a ring on someone’s finger is a powerful gesture that signifies a promise to be faithful, loyal, and supportive.

As Brides explains, the wedding ring is a symbol of unity and partnership. It represents the joining of two individuals into a single entity, with shared dreams, goals, and aspirations. It is a constant reminder of the vows made on the wedding day and the commitment to work together as a team in building a life together.

Ritualistic Placement on the Fourth Finger

The placement of the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is not just a random tradition, but a deeply rooted ritual with historical significance. This tradition dates back thousands of years and is believed to have originated from the ancient Romans.

According to, the Romans believed that the fourth finger of the left hand had a vein called the “vena amoris” or the “vein of love” that was directly connected to the heart. By wearing the wedding ring on this finger, it was believed that the couple’s hearts were forever connected.

This tradition has been passed down through generations and has become a universal symbol of love and commitment. It is a beautiful reminder that the love shared between two individuals is not just a physical bond, but a deep emotional connection that transcends time and space.

Literal Meaning and Translation

When reciting wedding vows, couples often focus on the emotional significance of the words they are saying to each other. However, it can be fascinating to delve into the literal meaning and translation of these vows, as they can provide deeper insights into the commitment being made.

Let’s break down the individual words and phrasing of the classic wedding vow:

Breaking Down the Individual Words and Phrasing

The phrase “With this ring, I thee wed” is a popular line in many traditional wedding ceremonies. Let’s take a closer look at its meaning:

– “With this ring”: This phrase represents the act of exchanging rings during the ceremony. Rings have long been symbols of eternal love and commitment, and by presenting a ring to their partner, the couple is expressing their desire to be united for a lifetime.

– “I thee wed”: The word “thee” is an archaic form of “you,” and “wed” means to marry or join in matrimony. By saying “I thee wed,” the person is making a solemn promise to marry and be faithful to their partner.

Similar Vows in Other Languages and Cultures

Wedding vows vary across different cultures and languages, but they often share similar sentiments of love, commitment, and unity. Here are a few examples:

  • In Spanish, a common wedding vow is “Con este anillo, te desposo” which translates to “With this ring, I marry you.”
  • In French, couples may say “Je te prends pour époux/épouse” meaning “I take you as my husband/wife.”
  • In Hindu weddings, the bride and groom exchange vows called “Saptapadi” which involves taking seven steps together, symbolizing their journey through life together.

These examples demonstrate how wedding vows transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries, emphasizing the universal values of love, commitment, and the desire for a lifelong partnership.

Alternative Wedding Vows and Modern Interpretations

While traditional wedding vows hold a special place in many couples’ hearts, there is a growing trend towards personalized vows that truly reflect the unique love story of the bride and groom. This modern approach allows couples to express their feelings and promises in a way that is meaningful to them.

Trend Towards Personalized Vows

Gone are the days of reciting the same old wedding vows that have been used for centuries. Couples today are taking the opportunity to put their own spin on their vows, creating a more personal and intimate experience for themselves and their guests.

Whether it’s including inside jokes, sharing special memories, or incorporating their shared interests, personalized vows add a touch of authenticity to the ceremony.

Besides adding a personal touch, personalized vows also allow couples to express their love and commitment in a way that resonates with them. It’s a chance for them to be creative, heartfelt, and even poetic.

By crafting their own vows, couples can ensure that every word spoken during their wedding ceremony holds deep meaning and significance.

Options for Non-Traditional and Interfaith Couples

For non-traditional and interfaith couples, writing their own vows can be particularly important. It allows them to blend their different backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions into a unified expression of love and commitment.

By crafting unique vows, these couples can honor both their individual identities and the bond they are forming.

Non-traditional couples may choose to incorporate their own vows to reflect their progressive values and commitment to equality and mutual respect. This can be especially meaningful for same-sex couples who have fought for the right to marry and want their vows to reflect their journey towards love and acceptance.

Interfaith couples often face the challenge of blending different religious or cultural traditions. Personalized vows can be a beautiful way to honor both partners’ backgrounds and create a ceremony that is inclusive and meaningful to both families.

By crafting their own vows, these couples can find common ground and celebrate their unique love story.

Ultimately, whether couples choose to stick with traditional vows or opt for a more personalized approach, the most important thing is that the vows are a true reflection of their love and commitment to one another.

It’s a chance for them to set the tone for their marriage and create a meaningful start to their journey as husband and wife.


The phrase “with this ring I thee wed” beautifully encapsulates the solemn promise between two people joining their lives in matrimony. While its wording remains traditional, its meaning resonates across cultures and time as an earnest vow of eternal love and devotion.

So the next time you hear these words uttered at a wedding, remember the profound meaning and rich history behind the classic ritual. The ring exchange signifies not only the legal contract between spouses, but also the spiritual and emotional bond that will unite them in marriage.

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