Once the bulk of your wedding planning is done you can start thinking about the smaller details such as your wedding ceremony readings. If you are having a civil wedding ceremony (like one at a register office or a venue) or a celebrant led ceremony, then the world is your oyster when it comes to your readings so get searching!
I hope you find this useful as a way to start thinking about what readings you and your partner might like during your service that really represent you as a couple. Are there books or films that you both love that you want to incorporate? Are you going to pick one each?
Firstly, let’s look at some of the rules and norms around readings during weddings ceremonies.
WHAT ARE THE RULES AROUND CEREMONY READINGS?
While church weddings must have at least one reading from the Bible verses and usually include between one and three readings, civil ceremonies are far more relaxed. You usually have a maximum of two readings because of time constraints of the ceremony slot and these can be anything you’d like. HOWEVER, in a civil ceremony led by a registrar you may not have any religious elements at all, and the registrar can annul your marriage if you try and incorporate any religious readings, songs, prayers or items such as candles.
In a celebrant led ceremony, you can do whatever you want so you can merge religious elements with secular ones, if that suits you as a couple.
WHO CAN DELIVER READINGS AT A WEDDING?
Anyone! Usually couples pick people close to them that didn’t get another role such as a member of the wedding attendant. Family friends or old friends are often prime picks for people chosen to do readings, but it’s totally down to you who will deliver the readings.
HOW SHOULD PEOPLE INTRODUCE A READING?
Usually the registrar or the celebrant will do this for you and say something along the lines of “now Bob will come and read a passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin for us”. Your guest will know when they’re due up at the front for their important role, fret not!
POPULAR WEDDING READINGS
WEDDING READINGS FROM ADULT BOOKS
CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN BY LOUIS DE BERNIERES
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love,” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
FEAST OF LOVE BY CHARLES BAXTER
“Here’s a profundity, the best I can do: sometimes you just know… You just know when two people belong together. I had never really experienced that odd happenstance before, but this time, with her, I did. Before, I was always trying to make my relationships work by means of willpower and forced affability. This time I didn’t have to strive for anything. A quality of ease spread over us. Whatever I was, well, that was apparently what she wanted… To this day I don’t know exactly what she loves about me and that’s because I don’t have to know. She just does. It was the entire menu of myself. She ordered all of it.”
LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET BY RAINER MARIA RILKE
“For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person—it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distance…
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distance exists, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole before an immense sky.”
CUTE WEDDING READINGS
There’s only one for me – the ultimate cute wedding reading… I’m biased, I had this at my own wedding!
THE LOVELY DINOSAURS – EDWARD MONKTON
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold, he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.
Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
Although he is fierce, he is also tender and he is funny.
He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also overly fond of things.
Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?
But her mind skips from here to there so quickly, thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
Look at them.
Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.
And the world is a beautiful place.
WEDDING READINGS FROM CHILDREN’S BOOKS
These could be great options if you have your own children or young guests doing readings at your wedding.
EXTRACT FROM ‘THE VELVETEEN RABBIT’ BY MARGERY WILLIAMS
‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’
‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’
‘I suppose you are real?’ said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse only smiled.
‘Someone made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’
SOME THINGS GO TOGETHER BY CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW
Pairs of things that go together.
Pigeons with park
Stars with dark
Sand with sea
and you with me.
… Hats with heads
Pillows with beds
Sky with blue
and me with you.
WE ARE ALL A LITTLE WEIRD BY DR. SEUSS
We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.
POEM WEDDING READINGS
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – SONNET 116
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fixed mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool,
though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
LOVE SONNET 17 – PABLO NERUDA
“I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
Secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers, and thanks to your love, darkly in my body lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.”
YES, I’LL MARRY YOU – PAM AYRES
Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
And here’s the reason why;
So I can push you out of bed
When the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking
And it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch, you see,
And you investigate.
Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it,
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him.
Yes, I’ll marry you,
You’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!
It’s you who has to work the drill
and put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so before you see the light,
I do, I do, I do!
CARRIE’S POEM FROM SATC!
His hello was the end of her endings
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
His hand would be hers to hold forever
His forever was as simple as her smile
He said she was what was missing
She said instantly she knew
She was a question to be answered
And his answer was “I do”.
ROMANTIC WEDDING READINGS
APACHE WEDDING PRAYER
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
THE ART OF MARRIAGE BY WILFRED A. PETERSON
The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice,
but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating
gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
WEDDING READINGS FROM FILMS
If you’re a crazy movie fan, why not incorporate you’re favourite film somehow?
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
SO THIS IS LOVE, FROM CINDERELLA
So this is love
So this is what makes life divine
I’m all aglow
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine
My heart has wings
And I can fly
I’ll touch every star in the sky
So this is the miracle
That I’ve been dreaming of
So this is love
TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN
“It’s an extraordinary thing to meet someone who you can bare your soul to, and who will accept you for what you are. I’ve been waiting, what seems like a very long time, to get beyond what I am. And now…I feel like I can finally begin…No measure of time with you will be long enough. But let’s start with forever.” —Edward Cullen
“Poets often describe love as an emotion that we can’t control, one that overwhelms logic and common sense. That’s what it was like for me. I didn’t plan on falling in love with you, and I doubt if you planned on falling in love with me. But once we met, it was clear that neither of us could control what was happening to us. We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has happened only once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory.” —Noah
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is wat bwings us togeder today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wifin a dream…
And wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you foweva…” —The Impressive Clergyman
And if you have The Princess Bride, please invite me!!
So what do you think you might opt for for your readings? I’d love to be there to capture these moments for you so take a look through my happy, relaxed photography and then get in touch and let’s see if we’re a good fit for your wedding day!