You’ve asked your closest friends and family members to be in your wedding party, but there’s still probably other people you’d like to include in your big day. The solution? Ask them to be a wedding reader. Wedding readers have the important job of reading selected poems, passages, or religious texts during your ceremony. Sometimes wedding readers choose their own texts, or they’ll be assigned a meaningful reading by you.
It’s an important job—and public speaking isn’t for everyone. Here are a few things to consider before you choose your wedding readers.
Even though your 8-year-old cousin is adorable, he or she probably isn’t the best pick for a wedding reader. You want someone who is at least a pre-teen or teenager so they can handle the responsibility. If it’s the first time they’ve spoken in front of a crowd, make sure they rehearse beforehand so that they’re comfortable with the reading.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may not want the eldest member of your extended family to do the honors either. However, in both cases, age is nothing but a number. If you have an exceptionally sharp kid cousin and grandma is still remarkably with it—ask them to read. You know your family best so you’ll know who’s really up for the task.
A reading should mean something to you and your spouse, but it should also suit the person reciting it. More importantly, though, reading at your ceremony means, well, reading at your ceremony. People will be watching. Choose some who’s comfortable with—and good at—public speaking.
You want your wedding readers to be able to deliver the messages with confidence. If someone is afraid of being in the spotlight or would be anxious delivering any speech, keep that in mind. You don’t want anyone to feel pressured or uncomfortable.
This goes without saying, but your wedding readers should be close to both you and your partner. If there’s any family tension, don’t involve someone who isn’t totally on board with your relationship or your partner. They probably wouldn’t want to be involved anyway and that would make your soon-to-be spouse uncomfortable. Choose someone who’s spent ample time with both of you, knows your backstory, and can articulate your love through their reading.
Not that you want anyone to bail last-minute—but things happen. So, you need a backup plan for every reading at your wedding. In the event that your plan A wedding readers can’t fulfill your duties, you need people in place to step up and read. We recommend asking someone from the wedding party. They’re already involved in the ceremony process anyway. Plus, this eliminates any hurt feelings. It’s uncomfortable to ask someone to be a plan B so choosing someone who’s already in the mix takes away that pain point.
OK, so who should you choose to read at your wedding? In some cases, this may be obvious already. There may be stand out individuals you couldn’t include in the wedding party—this is their time to shine. If you're still stuck or you have too many options, here are some suggestions for wedding readers.
If your grandparents are able to attend your wedding, we definitely recommend including them in the ceremony. Unlike parents who often walk the groom or bride down the aisle, there’s no official role for grandma and grandpa (even though they are typically considered part of the larger wedding party) beyond just being recognized as your grandparents.
Let them know how much they mean to you by asking if they’ll read at your wedding. If you and your partner are both close with your grandparents, you can invite one from each side of the family to read.
Godparents or close family friends make fantastic wedding readers. Not only have they known you for most of your life, but inviting them to read is also a nice way to acknowledge their significance in your life. These people are basically members of your family anyway so it’s an easy fit. Bonus points if they’re particularly close with your partner, too.
Maybe a sibling lives out of town and can’t be in the wedding party or maybe you aren’t having bridesmaids or groomsmen at all. If you have a sibling that’s not included in any other formal role—and you’d like to include them—invite them to read at your wedding. Having your sister or brother next to you for a portion of your ceremony can add a touch of familiarity and relax you a little, too. It’s awkward to stand up there in front of everyone after all.
Your best man and maid of honor will likely give speeches at your reception, so honor other friends during the ceremony by asking them to read. If there are close friends that aren’t in your wedding party (or, again, if you’re forgoing a wedding party altogether), they’re great wedding reader options. Think of your best from growing up, a childhood neighbor, or a college roommate you remained close with. Obviously, this person should be someone you still spend time with or talk to regularly. A good test of closeness: Who is the person that would pick up your phone call in the middle of the night even if you haven’t spoken in a while?
If you and your partner were set up by a mutual friend, this is a nice way to thank them. Where would you be without them? It’s the least you can do, really.
Wedding readers are an important part of your ceremony, so ask someone who is not only up for the job but close to you. Work with loved ones to ensure they are comfortable with their readings and understand their role. While the most important words you’ll say are “I do,” you still want all the other words spoken during your ceremony to feel meaningful, too.