Are you planning to have wedding readers at your wedding ceremony? If so, you’re going to want to forward them our best tips below. But first, check out how to choose the perfect reader and our favourite readings in weddings below!
For the couple getting married: How to choose the best wedding readers
Before we dive into tips for those doing the readings in weddings, how should a couple go about choosing a wedding reader to start with?
Step 1) Chat with your wedding officiant
As you and your officiant are designing your wedding ceremony, let them know you’re interested in including readings. You can discuss together how many readings you’d like and when they should happen in the ceremony.
Step 2) Select readings
Some couples like to select the wedding readings first and others prefer to select the readers first or even let the readers pick their own readings. If you want to choose the reading or have some say over it, check out our favourite wedding readings below for inspiration!
Step 3) Select readers
Now that you’ve thought about your readings, it’s time to choose the readers! There are three things you’ll want to consider here:
- Choose readers who can do the job: This means you want to select people who are reliable, good at or at least comfortable with public speaking, and physically able to do the reading (so probably not an infant).
- Choose readers who mean something to you: A wedding reader is a position of honour and the people you choose to speak should be special to you. This may be a close friend, family member or someone you couldn’t include in your wedding party, like a grandparent.
- Match the reading to the reader: If you’ve already selected your readings, now it’s time to match them with your reader candidates. For example, you might not ask your eight year old niece, buddy from college and 78 year old grandpa to all read the same kind of thing.
Step 4) Have a back up plan
While no couple wants to think of a worst case scenario, it’s always good to have a back up plan. If for some reason your reader can’t do the reading on the big day, what do you want to do? You can remove the reading from your ceremony, ask another friend or family member to do it, or even have your wedding officiant read it (we have lots of experience with readings!).
12 tips for wedding readers
So you’ve been asked to do a reading at a close friend or family member’s wedding? Awesome! If you’re feeling nervous or just want to make sure you nail it, read on for our 12 tips below:
1) Wait to be asked
Like most roles in weddings, it’s usually not your place to volunteer or ask for the position outright. It’s up to the couple getting married to decide if they’re going to have readers and then who those readers might be. Of course, if they come to you and ask what role you’d like to have in their wedding day, you can offer to be a reader.
But please don’t send an unsolicited email with your favourite readings and a reel of your past public speaking work!
2) Get clear instructions on the reading
Once you have been asked to be a reader, it’s your job to get very clear instructions on how best to fulfil your role. While the couple or their wedding planner may provide some of this info for you, make sure you know:
- Will the reading be chosen by the couple or by you?
- If you’re choosing the reading, do they want to sign off on it? (If not, can their officiant sign off on it?)
- If you’re choosing the reading, how long should it be and what vibe or sentiment are they going for?
- When in the ceremony will you be reading?
- Where will you stand to do your reading?
It’s also helpful for wedding readers to attend the wedding rehearsal to get a very clear idea of when and where things will happen. This is another situation where it’s a bit awkward to invite yourself to the rehearsal (as that usually means an invite to the rehearsal dinner too), so hopefully the couple has already thought to invite you!
3) Practice, but don’t memorize
It’s very important that you practice your wedding reading. Practice reading it often and out loud so you’re comfortable with it. You may even want to read it in front of a few people to get feedback on your delivery.
But what you don’t want to do is try and memorize the wedding reading. The last thing you want is to freeze on the big day because you thought you had your reading memorized but all of a sudden your mind is blank!
4) Have a hard copy of the wedding reading
Since you’re not memorizing your reading, you want to have a hard copy of it for the ceremony. Even if you are comfortable with the words, it’s good to have the reading to reference.
Ensure that your hard copy is printed or written onto a piece of paper, card or book that will look nice in photos (so not a torn sheet or a napkin!) and is very legible. Even if the couple or wedding planner says they’ll have a printed version of the reading for you, it’s always best to bring your own, just in case.
Lastly: Don’t read off your phone! Not only do you risk technology failing (batteries die all the time!) but it just looks tacky.
5) Dress your best
As wedding readers, all eyes will be on you for a small portion of the ceremony. You’ll also be in wedding photos and videos, so want to look polished and put together. Adhere to the wedding dress code and ask the couple if they have anything specific they want or don’t want you to wear (e.g. they may ask you to wear the same colour as the wedding party or request your favourite hat stay at home).
You also want to be comfortable. Depending on the logistics, you may need to walk from your seat in the ceremony to the front and stand while doing your reading. This means an outfit (and shoes!) that you can comfortably walk and stand in. This may also mean water-proof makeup if you’re prone to tears!
6) Be prepared
In addition to dressing for the role, wedding readers need to do a few other things to prepare for the big day. Make sure you get a good night of sleep beforehand and don’t arrive hungover or without your voice thanks to a night of drunken karaoke.
On the day of the wedding, arrive early so you don’t have to stress about finding parking or getting to your seat. Get yourself some water, use the facilities and double check that nothing has changed with the ceremony schedule.
7) Have a back up plan
No wedding reader plans to bail on their reading but things happen! Just in case you get sick or forget your reading at home, have a back up plan. Email your reading to someone else and have a friend on stand-by to read in case you can’t make it (though the couple getting married will have final say on this sub).
8) Be yourself
The couple asked you to be one of their wedding readers for a reason! Yes, you should practice and read what they’ve selected for you, but you don’t have to be a completely different person. They asked you – not a professional speaker or a monotone robot.
If you’re known as the ham of your friend group and the couple has selected a funny reading, go ahead and be funny! If you’re a cryer and feel emotional during the reading, shed a tear or two.
9) But don’t steal the spotlight!
Yes, you should be yourself… but this moment is not about you. It’s the couple’s big day, not your chance to be the centre of attention or work on your stand-up routine. Keep the focus where it should be during your wedding reading – on the couple getting married!
10) Take a deep breath and slow down
It’s only natural that you’ll have some nerves as you make your way to the front of the ceremony venue and turn to face the hundreds of guests waiting to hear your reading. So before you dive in, take a moment. Inhale deeply, ground yourself and remember who this reading is all about.
And slow down! As wedding officiants, we’ve heard way too many nervous wedding readers race through their words when the nerves get the best of them. Assuming you’ll be a bit nervous, plan to speak even slower than normal. Trust us, it will sound like the perfect speed!
11) Follow up with a thank you
Usually the newlywed couple will reach out to you to thank you for doing a reading in their wedding. But it’s always nice to send a thank you of your own! Even a quick text or email to say how much it meant to you to be included in their big day will put huge smiles on their faces.
And if you’re looking for a sentimental wedding gift idea, why not frame a beautiful copy of your reading? It’s the perfect way for them to remember their wedding day (and their thoughtful wedding reader!).
12) Remember what this moment is all about
It’s easy to get in your head about your wedding reading but at the end of the day, this wedding is all about the couple getting married. They chose you for this role not just because you’re a great speaker, but because you’re someone important to them.
Remember: They selected a meaningful reading, with words they wanted shared on their special day by someone very important to them. That’s a huge honour.
Bonus: How to say no if you’ve been asked to read at a wedding but don’t want to
What happens if a couple asks you to do a reading at their wedding but you really don’t want to for whatever reason? Here’s how you let them down gently:
First, take some time to really consider their request. If you’re nervous, could you practice enough to get over your fears? Could you do it if it was a shorter reading or if you shared the reading role with a friend?
If the answer is still no, let the couple know as soon as you can so they can make other plans. Tell them you thought it over, and while you’re so honoured they asked, you truly don’t feel you’re the right fit.
If the push back, politely hold firm. If they ask for your input, you could offer other roles you might be better suited to (like helping with DIYs before the wedding) or suggest other people who might be more comfortable doing a reading. At the end of the day, you’re doing everyone a kindness by not committing to a role you don’t feel you can fill.
Our favourite readings in weddings
Need some wedding reading inspiration? Check out our list of wedding readings, scripture, sayings, wedding prayers, blessings and more!
- Our Top 10 Readings for Weddings
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Songs
- Romantic Wedding Ceremony Readings
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from TV & Movies
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Literature
- Offbeat Wedding Ceremony Readings
- Alternatives to 1 Corinthians 13 for Your Wedding
- The Best Wedding Prayers & Blessings for Your Wedding Ceremony
- 33 Wedding Love Quotes to Include in Your Wedding Ceremony
A wedding reading is just one small part of your wedding ceremony. To make sure your ceremony is the most meaningful and memorable part of your day, check out our ceremony packages and meet our team of officiants!
Written by Riana Ang-Canning
Feature image by John Bello Photography