Ideas for Wedding Readings

To read or not to read, that is the question. Well it’s not always quite as simple as that. I’m often asked about wedding ceremony readings, so I thought I’d put together a little blog post to hopefully help.

Q: Do I have to have a reading at my Civil Ceremony?

A: No, you don’t. But bear in mind a Civil Ceremony is a lot shorter than a Church Ceremony, so if you choose not to have a reading, your ceremony many be completed within 20 minutes.

Q: How many readings can I have?

A: During a Church Ceremony it is not unusual to hear two or three readings. It’s worth keeping in mind that a Vicar or Priest will often include their own readings too within the Ceremony.

Civil Ceremonies are usually one or two. Registrars who deliver your ceremony will usually have another ceremony to attend after yours, they do not have the same time allocation as a Church Ceremony, (worth bearing mind in case your reading of choice is War & Peace).

Q: Who does the readings?

A: I don’t believe there is a right answer to this. Often it’s close family member or friend who you would like to include within the ceremony on your special day, young, old, solo reader or if it’s a long reading, two people sharing a reading.

If you are having a Church ceremony, you have probably already been advised by your Vicar or Priest that readings are generally extracts from the bible, don’t worry there really are lots to choose from. However, most churches will also allow non religious readings though do clear these with your Vicar or Priest first to make sure they deem them suitable. It is no unusual for a wedding to have 2 or 3 readers and these are often mixed with religious and non religious readings.

By the very nature of a Civil ceremony, these readings cannot be religious or biblical. Civil ceremony readings range from poems, extracts from a book or film, song lyrics and readings specifically written for weddings.

Having witnessed over 500 weddings, I’ve heard a lot of readings! Don’t worry, I’m not going to detail all 500 readings, that would be crazy. However, I have listed below some of the more popular readings, but also the quirky, unique ones which I just loved hearing. I hope you enjoy some of these too!

Religious Readings

The number 1 most popular reading for weddings is 1 Corinthians Chapter 13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Thoughts on Marriage from Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your
days.

Yes, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of heaven dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but each one of you be
alone–even as the strings of a lute are alone though the quiver
with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not in each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the Cyprus grow not in each other’s shadows

A love poem between two lovers – Song of Solomon, Chapter 2, verses 10-13; Chapter 8, verses 6&7

Chapter 2
My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.’

Chapter 8
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

Getting the perfect relationship – Colossians Chapter 3, verses 12 – 17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ* dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Being a good lover! – 1 John Chapter 4 verses 7 – 12

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Jesus teaches about marriage, and welcomes children – Mark, Chapter 10, verses 6-9 and 13-16

Verses 6-9
‘But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

Verses 13-16
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Genesis 2:18-24

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Non Religious Readings

An Apache Wedding Blessing

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,But there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion to the place where the river meets the sun.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

The Art of Marriage

“A good marriage must be created.
In the marriage, 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 each day,
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and objectives.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each person can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right person
It is being the right partner.”

 

This extract from 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 root was 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. 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. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

The Velveteen Rabbit (a great reading for a younger guest).

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nanna 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 a child 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.”

Winnie the Pooh – Now We Are Six by AA Milne

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh. There’s always Pooh and Me. Whatever I do, he wants to do. “Where are you going today?” says Pooh. “Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too. Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he. “Let’s go together,” says Pooh…

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh. “Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me. We crossed the river and found a few. “Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh. “As soon as I saw their beaks I knew. That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he. “That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh. “That’s right,” said Pooh to Me. “I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh, and I held his paw and I shouted, “Shoo! Silly old dragons!” – and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he, “I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh. There’s always Pooh and Me. “What would I do?” I said to Pooh, “If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True, it isn’t much fun for one, but two can stick together,” says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s very long ears. He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening.

“Guess how much I love you,” he said.

“Oh, I don’t think I could guess that,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

“This much,” said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.

Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms. “But I love YOU this much,” he said.

Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you as high as I can reach.” said Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That is quite high, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that.

Then Little Nutbrown Hare had a good idea. He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet.

“I love you all the way up to my toes!” he said.

“And I love you all the way up to your toes,” said Big Nutbrown Hare, swinging him up over his head.

“I love you as high as I can HOP!” laughed Little Nutbrown Hare, bouncing up and down.

“But I love you as high as I can hop,” smiled Big Nutbrown Hare – and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.

That’s good hopping, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I could hop like that.

“I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river,” cried Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you across the river and over the hills,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That’s very far, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think any more. Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be further than the sky.

“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes.

“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. “That is very, very far.”

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night.

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, “I love you right up to the moon – AND BACK.

 What Colour Is Love? By Linda Strachan

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey  “Could it be green?”

Said old wrinkly granddad “I’m not sure if that’s true the grass is green, so love might be blue”

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey “Could it be blue?”

Tiger turned over and rolled on his back “I don’t know little fellow but the sky is blue, maybe love could be yellow?”

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey “Could it be yellow?”

Lion looked up too tired to play, he yawned and then said “but this hot sun is yellow, isn’t love red?”

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey “Could it be red?”

Parrot looked down from his perch in the tree, “Red is for flowers, but love is so bright It’s really quite simple, love must be white!”

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey “Could it be white?”

But Zebra said, “Nooooooo , love isn’t white, I think love is so wonderful it must be pink!”

“What colour is love?” asked Small Smooth and Grey “Could it be pink?”

“Pink?” screeched flamingo “No that can’t be right, Love should be orange like the sunset at night.”

Tired and worn out at the end of the day, “I know who to ask” said Small Smooth and Grey.

He left the Flamingo with tall slender legs, and passed by the zebra by the old river bed.

Lion had gone from his rock in the sun, and Tiger out hunting set off for a run.

He went to the water and dipped in his toe, he said to his mother “Does nobody know?

I’ve tried ALL of the colours; from the grass to the flowers, from the sky to the clouds, to the sun up above,

But NO ONE could tell me the colour of love.”

“What colour is love?” I say little one; It’s as dark as the night and as bright as the sun,

Imagine a colour and love is right there, Love’s every colour, everything, everywhere.

“What colour is love?  Every colour, all around… Because nothing else matters when it’s love that you’ve found.” 

A Lovely Love Story by 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.

Baz Luhrmann Lyrics – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind, you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded, but trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked, you’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you. Sing. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss. Don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen.

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I wanna Be Yours – John Cooper Clarke

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
for those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
when you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
you’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
that’s how deep is my devotion

Love Me When I Am Old by Bee Rawlinson

Love me when I’m old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let’s be randy bad old dears.
Push around my chromed Bath Chair
Let me tease your white chest hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures
Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it’s meant to be
Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles
As the need for love enthralls
Wrestle with my damp-proof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint
Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it’s true
I’ve waited all my life for you

 

Love Me When I Am Old by Bee Rawlinson

Love me when I’m old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let’s be randy bad old dears.
Push around my chromed Bath Chair
Let me tease your white chest hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures
Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it’s meant to be
Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles
As the need for love enthralls
Wrestle with my damp-proof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint
Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it’s true
I’ve waited all my life for you

 These I Can Promise by Mark Twain

 I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise riches, wealth or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old.
But I can promise all my heart’s devotion
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
A love that’s ever true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.