As experienced wedding officiants here at Young Hip & Married, we’ve been to a lot of wedding ceremonies. And one of our favourite ways to personalize a ceremony is with a wedding ceremony reading. Choosing the words that will represent your union can bring a lot of meaning and personality to your day.
Traditionally, wedding ceremony readings are passages from a biblical text that are read aloud during the ceremony. However, nowadays it’s totally fine to pick a reading that speaks to you and honours your relationship, whether that be from a religious text or not. Hey, we even know a couple who had a reading from Seinfeld delivered at their wedding!
The options for wedding ceremony readings are endless and it can be a little overwhelming to select one. Below we list ten of our favourite readings you may not have heard before. But at the end of the day, you should pick a reading that resonates with you as a couple, even if that means asking your brother to come up to the podium and recite the lyrics to a ACDC song. If it means something to you and your partner, it’s the perfect choice for your wedding!
If you’ve been through a lot but are stronger because of it:
“Scaffolding” by Seamus Heaney
Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.
If you want to extend past the traditional vows:
“The Art of Marriage” by Wilferd A. Peterson
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 all 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 in 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 expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel.
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.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
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.
If “in sickness and health” sounds too dreary for you:
“Invitation to Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.
You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.
Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.
If you want your marriage to be #blessed:
“Blessing for a Marriage” by James Dillet 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 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 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.
If you’re a real romantic:
“Love Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
If you can’t wait to grow old together:
“Glaucoma” by Rives
When you and I
are old and grey…
I’ll have a belly,
a hound dog named Shakespeare
and a pickup truck.
You will have
a pretty cotton dress
which will steal your sight.
And you’ll stand on our porch in the morning
with your face to the sky,
and I’ll come outside
with the birdseed or something, going:
“Whoa, whoa, baby–don’t stare
right into the sun like that!”
And you’ll say:
“Oh, you old poop!
I may be blind, but I’m not a dope…
I’m a heliotrope.
That’s a fancy word for sunflower,
if you don’t remember!”
And I’ll go:
“Awwwww–I know heliotrope, hell…
I invented it!”
And then I’ll whisper: “Hey.
The yonder is just as wild and blue
as people say it is today.
And you can’t see, but…
I haven’t done yard work for weeks.
The crabgrass is practically piggyback
on the buttercups, Buttercup,
but I love you. I love you.
And I’m gonna keep you mine
like a crow loved to hold
an old telephone line, remember those?”
And you’ll say:
And I’ll go:
Remember? Back in the days
when the bedding was yours
but the bed was mine.
You remember that, Sunshine?”
And then I’ll shuffle back indoors,
bent but still feisty,
and I’ll do what I always do.
I’ll lie on the floor
with a scrap, and a pen,
I’ll write a poem,
describe the rest of the day for you
you blind, old…
If you want something religious but not from the Bible:
“Wedding Hymn” by Sidney Lanier
Thou God, whose high, eternal Love
Is the only blue sky of our life,
Clear all the Heaven that bends above
The life-road of this man and wife.
May these two lives be but one note
In the world’s strange-sounding harmony,
Whose sacred music e’er shall float
Through every discord up to Thee.
As when from separate stars two beams
Unite to form one tender ray:
As when two sweet but shadowy dreams
Explain each other in the day:
So may these two dear hearts one light
Emit, and each interpret each.
Let an angel come and dwell tonight
In this dear double-heart, and teach.
If you prefer something short and simple:
“The Gift” by Hafiz (excerpt)
All this time
The sun never says
to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.
If you’re childhood sweethearts:
“The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss (excerpt)
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
If you’re a ride or die couple:
“Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins (excerpt)
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.
Now that you have chosen the perfect wedding ceremony readings for your special day, it’s time to book your officiant. Get in touch today!