In today’s society there is no legal significance attached to marriage vows. The law requires a marriage license from the state the couple is getting married in. Also a compliant officiant has to witness the couple declare themselves ‘husband and wife’ or ‘partners for life’ in states that have legalized same- sex marriage. Marriage vows are not a legal requirement or necessary during a marriage ceremony.
The first recorded evidence of marriage contracts and ceremonies dates to 4000 years ago. In the ancient world marriage served as a means of preserving power, with Kings and other members of the ruling class marrying daughters to forge alliances, acquire land and produce legitimate heirs. Couples did not have a choice of whom they would marry. For most of history “love” did not play a role in matrimony. As our society progressed marriage became a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability and happiness. The origins of most of the wedding traditions we see today are handed down from folklore.
Our society is now seeing a big shift of how and who can marry. With couples leaving their house of worship and the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriages couples are free to decide who and what they want to include.