10 Gender-Neutral Readings for Your LBGTQ+ Wedding Ceremony

One of the biggest aspects of organizing a wedding ceremony is picking the readings you and your partner want to feature. Here's a list of gender-neutral options to consider for your wedding.

By Anni Irish

Gender-Neutral Readings for Your Wedding
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • If you have a specific poem, piece of writing, or even song lyrics in mind that fit the sentiment of your wedding, feel free to change the gendered wording in it to better match a gender-inclusive ceremony.
  • However, if you don't have specific readings in mind there are many options by a variety of writers that capture the spirit of love in ways that don't specify gender. Jump to a few examples.

When it comes to planning your wedding, there are many important details to keep track of—everything from planning your queer wedding shower to choosing flowers, making seating arrangements for the guests at your LGBTQ+ wedding to choosing your music, writing your wedding vows to choosing which traditions to incorporate into your wedding ceremony.

As an LBGTQ+ couple, sometimes there are aspects of it that you may want to make non-gender specific—like your wedding readings.

When it comes to selecting readings for your queer or gay wedding ceremony, picking gender-neutral ones may be the way to go. However, if you aren't sure where to start and want to strike just the right tone for yourself, your partner, and your LGBTQ+ wedding guests, there are some things you can do to help make the selecting process fun and easy.

Gender-Neutral Language Tips

Here are some tips for picking the best gender-neutral readings that best represent you and your partner:

Pick Something Significant

If you’re looking for just the right gender-neutral language to use in your wedding, the sky's the limit. Nowadays everything from song lyrics, poems, parts of speeches, quotes from movies, and even books are incorporated into people's weddings. But when you’re looking for something gender-neutral, sometimes it can be a bit harder to find.

Try to find something that has significance for both you and your partner. Maybe lyrics from your favorite song or lines from a poem that sums up you and your love for one another.

Consider Changing the Gender Pronouns to Make It More Inclusive

If you have something specific in mind for your ceremony that you want to be used as a reading but the language is too gendered, don't worry. Because it’s your ceremony, feel free to take some creative license with it, and use language that is gender identity inclusive. If there are male and female pronouns used in a particular song or poem that you want to use, but are iffy about that aspect, changing it to they/them is perfectly acceptable. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding ceremony, and making these adjustments will help make your wedding day exactly what you want.

10 Gender-Neutral Readings for Your LGBTQ+ Wedding Ceremony

8 Gender-Neutral Readings for Your LGBTQ+ Wedding Ceremony Photo Credit // Windy City Photography

Need some help choosing the perfect gender-neutral wedding readings to add to your ceremony scripts (either before or after you say “I do”)? Here are 10 you’ll definitely want to consider:

1. Memorable Passages from the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

In 2015, same-sex marriage was made legal in the US and following the landmark case Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy offered this majority opinion:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. Informing a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

“Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds” by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height is taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

3. “Forever – is composed of Nows” by Emily Dickinson

Forever – is composed of Nows – ‘Tis not a different time – Except for Infiniteness – And Latitude of Home – From this – experienced Here – Remove the Dates – to These – Let Months dissolve in further Months – And Years – exhale in Years – Without Debate – or Pause – Or Celebrated Days – No different Our Years would be From Anno Dominies –

4. “Songs of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman

You air that serves me with breath to speak! You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers! Your paths were worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

The poem can be found in its entirety here.

5. “A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water'd shoot; My heart is like an apple-tree Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these Because my love comes to me. Raise me a dais of silk and down; Hang it with vair and purple dyes; Carve it in doves and pomegranates, And peacocks with a hundred eyes; Work it in gold and silver grapes, In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; Because the birthday of my life Is come, my love comes to me.

6. “I carry your heart with me" by EE Cummings

"I carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) I fear no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet) I want no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)"

7. "Untitled" by Christina Rossetti

"What is the beginning? Love. What the course. Love still. What the goal. The goal is love.

On a happy hill.

Is there nothing then but love? Search we sky or earth There is nothing out of Love Hath perpetual worth: All things flag but only Love, All things fail and flee; There is nothing left but Love Worthy you and me."

8 Gender-Neutral Readings for Your LBGTQ+ Wedding Ceremony Photo Credit // Kathleen Marie-ward Photography

8. “Touched by an Angel" by Maya Angelou

"We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life. Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love's light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free."

9. Excerpt From ”The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nanna came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

10. The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

"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 each day. It is never going to sleep angry. 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 speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. 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 not only marrying the right partner –- It is being the right partner."

Are you an LGBTQ+ couple—and want to work with LGBTQ+ vendors to bring your dream wedding to life? Make sure to check out Zola’s guide on how to find LGBTQ+ wedding vendors!

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