Adding a reading to your ceremony is great for a few different reasons:
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!
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!
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
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
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
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
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
the excitement of planning things together
the excitement of doing things together
Love is the source of the future
the fury of the storm
the calm of the rainbow
Love is the source of passion
giving and taking in a daily situation
being patient with each other’s needs and desires
Love is the source of sharing
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.