When it comes time to choose the readings for your wedding ceremony, it’s important that you and your fiancé choose something that reflects you both personally, your relationship, and your feelings toward marriage.
Regardless if the ceremony is taking place in a church or at an outdoor wedding venue, or if it’s following religious or nonreligious practices, more couples are choosing nontraditional readings to represent their love and partnership. Choices can range from poetry to book excerpts to even song lyrics! The choices are endless – just make sure you discuss any parameters or requirements with your officiant.
To get you started, I pulled a few of my favorite unique ceremony readings that would be appropriate for any type of wedding.
1. BLESSING FOR A MARRIAGE, JAMES DILLET FREEMAN
If you still want more of a classic, traditional reading, this one will be a good fit for your ceremony. It maintains a level of formality for the solemnity of the occasion, but it still provides useful advice that will resonate long after the ceremony is over.
“May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter in to the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”
2. EXCERPT FROM JANE EYRE, CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Words from a classic novel will forever stand the test of time, so it’s always a safe bet to pull a favorite excerpt from a novel or book that you or your fiancé hold close to your hearts.
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy – my better self – my good angle; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you – and kindling in purse, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
3. I WILL BE HERE, STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN
This poem is perfect for the couple who wants to demonstrate that they will be there for one another through thick and thin.
“If in the morning when you wake, If the sun does not appear, I will be here. If in the dark we lose sight of love, Hold my hand and have no fear, I will be here. I will be here, When you feel like being quiet, When you need to speak your mind I will listen. Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together, And I will be here. If in the morning when you wake, If the future is unclear, I will be here. As sure as seasons were made for change, Our lifetimes were made for years, I will be here. I will be here, And you can cry on my shoulder, When the mirror tells us we’re older. I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty, And tell you all the things you are to me. We’ll be together and I will be here. I will be true to the promises I’ve made, To you and to the one who gave you to me. I will be here.”
4. SONNET 116, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
A reading from Shakespeare is an absolute for the true romantics who are choosing to have a traditional ceremony but with no religious traditions or undertones. This sonnet in particular represents that love can overcome anything, even in the presence of great adversity.
“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: O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; Is is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rose 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.”
5. HE’S NOT PERFECT, BOB MARLEY
More suitable for a casual ceremony, Bob Marley’s words will speak volumes to you and your fiancé because at this point in your relationship, you know that neither of you are perfect, but you still can have an idyllic marriage.
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
As you choose your readings, make sure you take a good amount of quality time to sort through your ideas – whether it be religious readings, books, poems, etc. – and read the words that are in front of you. The words and message of the readings that you choose to be read at your wedding should stick with you and your fiancé long after the big day has come and gone.