“Love is patient, love is kind…” Even if you don’t know 1 Corinthians 13, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it before. This bible passage is often recited at weddings, both in real life and in the movies.
There’s a reason why 1st Corinthians chapter 13 is so popular – it defines love in a really beautiful way! But what if you’re not Christian, don’t want religion involved in your wedding ceremony or just don’t want to use the Corinthians passage on love? What alternatives are there to 1 Corinthians 13?
What is 1 Corinthians 13?
First things first, let’s see what all of the hype is about. Below is the passage in its entirety from the NIV (New International Version) of the bible. Some couples will have the entire chapter read at the their wedding while others focus on just verses 4-7 (in bold below).
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Why is 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 so popular?
While the entire 1st Corinthians chapter is well known, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is what we often hear at weddings. And it’s pretty easy to see why these four verses have become so popular for couples, both religious and non-religious.
Not only do these verses beautifully describe and define love, but they also speak to love being our driving motivation. It says that love is the purpose of being human. The love described in these bible verses isn’t just a romantic love shared between newlyweds, but could apply to all kinds of love. It’s an aspirational piece of wedding scripture and one that most people will be able to connect to.
What other wedding bible verses can we use at our wedding?
So if you want to include bible verses in your wedding but don’t want to go with the popular (if over-used) 1st Corinthians passage, there are lots of options for you. Many couples look to the books of Ruth and Song of Solomon for their wedding bible verses.
Ruth 1:16-17 speaks to a partner’s devotion to her spouse. This level of commitment is definitely on-theme for a wedding ceremony.
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Song of Solomon 2 is another popular wedding bible passage where a maiden describes her feelings of love towards her beloved. It’s quite a romantic passage, ending with, “My beloved is mine and I am his.” Below are a few verses from Song of Solomon chapter 2; you can read the entire chapter here.
Song of Solomon 2:3-4
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
The Lord’s Prayer is another popular bible verse recited at weddings. It works well as an opening prayer or closing prayer for your wedding ceremony, especially if you’re getting married in a Christian church and community where your guests can join in.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
What wedding prayers can we use at our ceremony?
Including a wedding prayer in your ceremony is a great way to connect to your faith and centre your ceremony on what’s most important to you. But you don’t have to be Christian or even religious to include a wedding prayer. Many wedding blessings are non-denominational or more spiritual in nature. You could even take a shot at writing your own wedding prayer or wedding blessing that best captures what you and your partner value most!
Short prayer or long prayer, religious or spiritual, light-hearted or serious, you can find (or write!) the perfect blessing for your wedding ceremony. Check out our list of wedding prayers here!
Not sure if a wedding blessing is right for you? Read our post on how to add a wedding prayer to your ceremony to see if it’s a good fit!
What if we don’t want scripture for our wedding?
If you don’t want bible scripture or verses to be part of your wedding ceremony, you absolutely don’t have to include them! Remember, this is your wedding and every word should reflect your values and be meaningful to you. If wedding scripture is not of interest, don’t include it!
Of course, if you are getting married in a religious venue or under religious jurisdiction, it’s best to check with your wedding officiant about what will be included in your ceremony script. Some religious institutions will insist on scripture readings at your wedding. Chat with your officiant to see what options you have.
Note: At Young Hip & Married, our wedding officiants will never include scripture, bible verses or religious content in your wedding ceremony unless you specifically request it!
What non-religious readings can we include in our wedding ceremony?
Want to have a reading at your wedding ceremony but don’t want it to be 1 Corinthians 13, come from the bible or be religious at all? We’ve got you. There are lots of readings to choose from:
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Songs
- Romantic Wedding Ceremony Readings
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from TV & Movies
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Literature
- Offbeat Wedding Ceremony Readings
If you love the meaning behind 1st Corinthians 13 but don’t want to use the actual scripture, why not write your own version? Let 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 inspire you to create your own definition of love and share that on your wedding day. We can’t think of a more meaningful addition to your wedding ceremony.
Of course, you can also opt to not include a reading, bible verse, scripture, quote or prayer in your wedding ceremony. All of these creative additions are optional and not at all required. If you’re stressing to find the perfect reading or not connecting with any of the options, consider leaving it our of your wedding ceremony entirely.
That way, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to the ceremony elements that mean the most to you!
Now that you have a better idea of what wedding readings and blessings you may want included in your ceremony, it’s time to find your perfect wedding officiant. Get to know our team and our packages, then get in touch to book!