Even though a Hindu wedding is incomplete without the saptapadi, the exact process may differ from one culture to another. In some cultures it is done by making heaps of rice and taking one step on each heap; in others it is by drawing seven lines and the bride making a promise on each line; in some customs, the groom holds the right hand of the bride in his right hand, and holds the right foot toe with his left hand and helps take one step at a time. In some cultures it is said that it is not appropriate for the groom to hold the foot of the bride, therefore he should only hold her right hand and complete the saptapadi. So, it does not matter what process was followed but the intent is the same, the shanti mantras used are similar. The idea is to bind the husband and wife through mutually agreed upon promises. Unfortunately, very few people know what promises they make, so here is an attempt to present the same to those interested in knowing.
Whether one uses rice or wheat or earth or whatever, the key is appreciate what each of these symbolizes.
The groom takes the bride along with him chanting a mantra at each step. The bride moves by keeping the right foot forward. After taking the seven steps the bride stands facing the east and the groom stands facing the bride and makes a few more promises. Following are the saptapadi mantraas:
Immediately after taking the seven steps, the groom stands facing the bride and proclaims the following (still holding the hands):
सखा सप्तपदा भव । सखायौ सप्तपदा बभूव । सख्यं तॆ गमॆयं सक्यातॆ मयॊषं सख्यान्मॆ मायोष्ठास्समयाव सङ्कल्पावहै संप्रियौ रॊचिष्णू समनस्यमानौ । इषमूर्जमभिसंवसानौ सन्नौमनांसि संव्रता समुचित्तान्याकरम् । सात्वमस्यमूहममूहमस्मि सा त्वं द्यौरहं पृथिवी त्वगं रेतॊऽहं रॆतोभृत्वं मनोहमस्मि वाक्त्वं सामाहमस्मि ऋक्त्वं सा मामनुव्रता भव पुंसे पुत्राय वॆत्तवै श्रियै पुत्राय वेत्तव एहि सून्यते ।