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Adding a reading to your ceremony is great for a few different reasons:

  1. It helps personalize the ceremony. Choose a reading that has meaning to you! It doesn't have to be serious or formal - do you have a favourite book? Pick a beautiful paragraph from your favourite part! Favourite movie? Grab the text from that romantic monologue spoken by the main character. Even lyrics from a meaningful song can work... it's really just poetry, after all!

  2. It can give someone important a role in the ceremony. Often, I hear from couples that they have wonderful friends or family members that they would love to include in their ceremony in some way. A reading is a great way to do that!

  3. It breaks up the ceremony. With a fully customized wedding ceremony, the Officiant might do a lot of talking. A reading is a great way to break things up and incorporate some other voices into the ceremony.

Looking for some inspiration? here are my top 10 not-too-cheesy readings for wedding ceremonies, in no particular order!

Top 10 wedding ceremony readings

"Love" by Roy Croft

I love you,

Not only for what you are,

But for what I am

When I am with you.

I love you,

Not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what

You are making of me.

I love you

For the part of me

That you bring out;

I love you

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart

And passing over

All the foolish, weak things

That you can't help

Dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out

Into the light

All the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked

Quite far enough to find.

"The Magic of Love" by Helen Steiner Rice

Love is like magic

and it always will be

For love still remains life's sweet mystery

Love works in ways that are wondrous and strange

And there's nothing in life that love cannot change

Love can transform the most commonplace

Into beauty and splendor and sweetness and grace

Love is unselfish

understanding and kind

For it sees with its heart

and not with its mind

Love is the answer that everyone seeks

Love is the language that every heart speaks

Love can't be bought

it is priceless and free

Love, like pure magic, is life's sweet mystery.

"To Love is Not to Possess" by James Kavanagh

To love is not to possess,

To own or imprison,

Nor to lose one's self in another.

Love is to join and separate,

To walk alone and together,

To find a laughing freedom

That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able

To be who we really are

No longer clinging in childish dependency

Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,

It is to be perfectly one's self

And perfectly joined in permanent commitment

To another–and to one's inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,

Receding and returning gently or passionately,

Or moving lovingly like the tide

In the moon's own predictable harmony,

Because finally, despite a child's scars

Or an adult's deepest wounds,

They are openly free to be

Who they really are–and always secretly were,

In the very core of their being

Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

"Apache Marriage Blessing" by Anon

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" by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the art of 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 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 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 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 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 old.

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.


Sooner or later we begin to understand

that love is more than verses on valentines

and romance in the movies

We begin to know that love is here and now

real and true

the most important thing in our lives

For love is the creator of our favorite memories

and the foundation of our fondest dreams

Love is a promise that is always kept

a fortune that can never be spent

a seed that can flourish in

even the most unlikely of places

And this radiance that never fades

this mysterious and magical joy

is the greatest treasure of all

– one known only by those who love.

"Blessing of the Hands" by Unknown

These are the hands of your partner,

young and strong and full of love,

holding your hands as you promise to love each other

today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours

as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will hold you

and comfort you

in grief and uncertainty.

These are the hands that will countless times

wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and joy.

These are the hands that will hold your family as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength.

And these are the hands that

even when wrinkled and aged,

will still be reaching for yours,

still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

“All I Know About Love” by Neil Gaiman

This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing. This is everything I've learned about marriage: nothing. Only that the world out there is complicated, and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain, and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes, is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze, and not to be alone. It's not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it's what they mean. Somebody's got your back. Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn't want to rescue you or send for the army to rescue them.

It's not two broken halves becoming one. It's the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home because home is wherever you are both together. So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing, like a book without pages or a forest without trees. Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them. Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials. Because nobody else's love, nobody else's marriage, is like yours, and it's a road you can only learn by walking it, a dance you cannot be taught, a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing. And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again. And that's all I know about love.

"Blessing for a Marriage" by James Billet Freeman

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 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 into the mystery

which 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.

"Love is" by Susan Polis Schutz

Love is

being happy for the other person

when they are happy

being sad for the other person

when they are sad

being together in good times

and being together in bad times

Love is the source of strength

Love is

being honest with yourself at all times

being honest with the other person at all times

telling, listening, respecting the truth

and never pretending

Love is the source of reality

Love is

an understanding that is so complete that

you feel as if you are a part of the other person

accepting the other person just the way they are

and not trying to change them to be something else

Love is the source of unity

Love is

the freedom to pursue your own desires

while sharing your experiences with the other person

the growth of one individual alongside of

and together with the growth of another individual

Love is the source of success

Love is

the excitement of planning things together

the excitement of doing things together

Love is the source of the future

Love is

the fury of the storm

the calm of the rainbow

Love is the source of passion

Love is

giving and taking in a daily situation

being patient with each other’s needs and desires

Love is the source of sharing

Love is

knowing that the other person

will always be with you regardless of what happens

missing the other person when they are away

but remaining near in heart at all times

Love is the source of security

Love is the source of life

Plus a bonus, because it's important and also beautiful:

From "Goodridge vs. Department of Health" by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return, it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations....Without question, civil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance."

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.... Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.

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