The purpose of a wedding ritual is for you to stand before your community, hand in hand with your beloved, and talk about how this love has transformed you. Know what promises you will be making to one another, because you will live with these promises for the rest of your lives.

    Use This Book To:

  • Write your own vows and promises that say what you mean
  • Show your commitment with rituals from your hearts
  • Enlist your community's support of your marriage
  • Defuse challenges you may encounter with your family

It Includes:

  • Traditional and Non-Traditional Ceremony Elements
  • Commmitment Ceremonies for Gays and Lesbians
  • Rituals for Second Marriages
  • Ways to Relinquish Past Promises
  • Ideas for Including Your Children
  • Handfastings
  • Renewals of Vows
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Words from the Author

Congratulations! You're engaged! All you need to do now is buy the wedding books, read the expensive magazines and sit down with the yellow pages — and you'll have all you need to plan your wedding, right? Well ... almost.

Planning the wedding ceremony usually rates only a short section in wedding planners, if it's mentioned at all. And let's face it — while you've no doubt had great hors d'oeuvres at receptions, have you ever been to a truly memorable wedding ceremony? The vows you will make to each other are at the heart of your wedding ceremony.

Ritual and ceremony celebrate the way people live. Your wedding ritual and the promises you make become the trellis on which you plant the vine of your relationship — something to support you when times are troubled.

The purpose of this book is to help you design a personalized, meaningful ceremony which exactly suits the two of you and your relationship. When you stand before your community hand in hand, the commitments you're making to each other will allow your love to flourish for the rest of your lives.


Words from Others
Foreword: Promises to Keep

At last, from an accomplished theologian, an intelligent, sexy, and imaginative alternative to the Martha Stewart school of wedding planning. Promises to Keep is a stunning and often appropriately humorous guide which elevates joining lives and making enduring promises above place settings, center pieces and menus.

Promises to Keep is useful in every practical way for a wedding ceremony of meaning and depth. It goes beyond the couple. It places the context of the ceremony in family and community, and it addresses the practical personal and spiritual needs of parents and friends.

Promises to Keep is broadly religious for a contemporary world where no one religion describes the whole of personal relationships; it is inclusive of many religious approaches and supports a unity of world religious traditions; it offers spiritual advice in an accessible, yet no less profound language, that fits a variety of personal and family contexts.

Promises to Keep covers territory lost and forgotten in the landscape of rote and trivialized ritual so evident in our religious climate where weddings are akin to a USDA seal of approval for social, economic and family structures.

It thoughtfully plumbs ground like love and transformation, the couple's vows and what they mean to themselves, family and friends; what's at the heart of the decision to marry, ceremony as gift to self and community. And what is more, it provides samples of vows, lessons from the ceremonies of others — some which worked some which did not. And the appendix provides worksheets to help couples think about the important spiritual and personal questions in concrete and simple ways.

I loved this book. I wish I had encountered Ann Keeler Evans vision and imagination years ago when I first began to officiate at weddings. It would have enlarged my thinking and I'm sure it would have entranced the couples who came to me to share a uniquely important moment in their lives.

In an age hungry for meaning and hope Promises to Keep serves it up like a spiritual feast for Thanksgiving. This book will help and inspire anyone searching for integrity in their lifelong vows and commitments. This book is more than a practical wedding guide or spiritual handbook for beginning new lives. It's a blessing of wonderful proportion. —The Rev. Barry L. Stopfel, Priest, (Episcopal) and Executive Director of River Ministries


Ann performed our wedding ceremony over five happy years ago. We have often said to one another, "What would we have done, if we hadn't found Ann?" We're a mixed-race, mixed-religion couple whose parents were unsettled about our marriage. With Ann's guidance, we included elements from different facts of our faith and heritage. This helped our parents see how much we both honored where we came from. There were so happy, and what we said enabled them to embrace the beauty of another culture and another faith. (Now they go on cruises together!) We continue to hear how wonderful our ceremony was: how much it revealed about who we are, how much it reminded folk about the joy and power of love. Friends of ours who have used Ann's services with or with out the complex family issues have had very similar experiences. The work we did with Ann forged a bond: Melissa became very ill and Ann visited us at the hospital and at home; a beloved Aunt died and her husband asked Ann to lead the memorial; when our daughter was born, Ann led the blessing and dedication ceremony. And now, even though everyone can't have Ann perform their ceremony, they can have her wisdom and her warmth. Now people everywhere can build a ceremony that reflects all of who they are. The book is great — practical and accessible. Even though Ann will perform the blessing for the child we are expecting, we want to see her write a book on that too! Buy this book. You'll use it. —Melissa & John


This book is about more than just marriage. It's about love, about who you are rather than what you do. ... an intellectual framework to understand how we feel about one another and how we demonstrate it, this book is one of the best guides I know. —Stanlee Gatti, wedding designer


Warmth, wit and wisdom are the hallmarks of Ann's wedding ceremonies and she's captured her expertise in her book. Whether clients say, "we don't know what we want" or "we're looking for a really special ceremony" I'll refer them to Ann. Clients show up at rehearsals, relaxed and prepared, because they know what's important and what happens next. On their wedding day nerves are pushed aside in the delight to share their ceremony with their communities. If you want a meaningful, well-balanced, personalized wedding and you live in the Bay Area, call Ann. Otherwise, this book will help you create that for yourself. What a gift to couples and their communities at this very important time in their lives! —Dianne Breivis, wedding consultant


"At last — a multi-denominational guide to creating your own ceremony, easy to use, full of ideas, and open to more than the just the standard heterosexual dyads. This book will be used by many to treasure the bonds of love. —Anodea Judith, Ph.D. author of Wheels of Life, Eastern Body, Western Mind


Emily Post, stand aside! The book we've needed for decades shows how to create a commitment ceremony reflecting the values of a new age. Comprehensive, accessible, and deeply spiritual. —Patricia Monaghan, Author, Meditation: The Complete Guide and The Goddess Path


"If you're planning a wedding or a commitment ceremony you need this book! We are a lesbian couple, each turning fifty. We'd been together twelve years, but had never had a public celebration of our lifetime commitment to each other. With Ann's guidance we were able to create a ceremony that really reflected our hopes and aspirations for our relationship, integrated elements of our commitment to Zen Buddhist precepts and invited the love and support our very diverse community of family and friends. It was a perfect ceremony! We cried, we laughed and we will carry the words we said to each other in our hearts forever.

Ann's book shows you how to celebrate who you are and who you wish to become as a couple. She tells you how to incorporate your own cultural and religious traditions into a meaningful ritual. She covers everything from crafting your ceremony, to hiring your officiant, to including your family and friends in this important celebration. You will find that this book serves as your anchor, deepening your commitment to each other, as you prepare to share the rest of your lives together. —Carroll and Dianne

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