Wedding Ceremony Readings: How to Choose Readings for Every Wedding

Find the wedding ceremony readings that feel right and uniquely you. Read our guide for how to choose wedding readings. Plus, find wedding reading examples for inspiration.

By Deanna deBara

couple celebrates wedding and wedding ceremony readings
Photo by Zola

It doesn’t matter if your wedding ceremony is religious or secular, traditional or modern, lengthy and poetic or short and to-the-point—wedding ceremony readings are the great common denominator. Plus, they’re a great way to personalize your ceremony and infuse the proceedings with a serious dose of love and commitment-inspired emotion.

Fortunately, there’s a seemingly endless array of readings to choose from. Unfortunately, there’s a seemingly endless array of readings to choose from. Don’t let choosing wedding readings add to your wedding planning stress! Here’s how to choose your wedding ceremony readings—no matter what kind of wedding vibe you’re going for. Plus, some wedding readings we love.

INLINE PhotobyOneLovePhotography Jenny&Justin Photo Credit // One Love Photography

Plan the logistics.

First things first—logistics. Here are a few tasks you’ll want to tackle before you start narrowing down your options for wedding ceremony readings:

  • Talk to your wedding officiant. Because the readings are a part of the ceremony, it makes sense to loop in the person who’s actually going to be officiating the ceremony. Your officiant can let you know how many readings you need, when to do the readings, and any other logistical details.
  • Figure out how many readings you want to have. Before you choose your wedding ceremony readings, you need to know how many you’re going to choose. Do you envision a single reading—or do you want multiple readings spread throughout the ceremony? If you’re having a traditional religious wedding, the number of wedding readings may already be determined for you.
  • Who’s going to read? Once you figure out how many wedding ceremony readings you want to have, you need to figure out who’s going to read them.
  • Determining the friends or family members you want to read can help you choose the right readings. For example, if you’re having someone read who isn’t super comfortable speaking in front of large crowds, you probably want to stick to a shorter reading. If the friend you’ve asked to read during the ceremony is a staunch atheist, something super religious might not be appropriate.

Different Types Of Wedding Readings

Before you choose your wedding ceremony readings, it’s helpful to understand what kinds of readings are out there for the choosing! There are a number of different types of wedding ceremony readings.

  • Readings from religious texts (Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita, etc.)
  • Traditional prayers and blessings
  • Poems
  • Song lyrics
  • Movie quotes
  • Book excerpts

No one type of wedding ceremony reading is better than the other. The type of wedding ceremony reading that’s right for you is going to depend on who you and your partner are, what you want to say about love and marriage, and the general vibe that you’re going for with your wedding ceremony. If you’re hosting a very traditional, religious ceremony, for example, a movie quote might feel out of place or even confusing to guests.

That said, hey, it’s your wedding and if you want to quote “The Notebook” during your ceremony, please do.

Religious or Secular Readings?

In addition to choosing the type of wedding ceremony readings you want to have at your wedding, you also have to decide if you want your readings to be religious or secular.

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer. If you and your partner practice a particular religion, then having a religious reading can be a nice way to honor your faith during your wedding ceremony. If you and your soon-to-be spouse practice different religious, try having a reading that represents each faith. For example, if you’re a Christian and your partner is a Muslim, have a reading from the Bible and the Quran.

If you don’t carry any religious or spiritual beliefs, not to worry—there are plenty of non-religious wedding ceremony readings to choose from.

INLINE PhotobyAirenMillerPhotography Kathleen&Joe Photo Credit // Airen Miller Photography

How To Choose Meaningful Wedding Ceremony Readings

Here are a few tips to help you choose the most meaningful wedding ceremony readings for your big day:

  • Make it personal. Your wedding ceremony readings should represent you, your partner, and how you feel about love, commitment, and marriage. Choose a reading that feels personal and meaningful and there won’t be a dry eye in the house (including yours).
  • Keep with the vibe of the wedding. Ideally, your wedding readings will jive with the overall tone of the wedding. So, for example, if you’re having a fun, laid-back ceremony, a funny, quirky song lyric would make sense—but that same song lyric would feel out of place in a more traditional ceremony.
  • Keep the readings short and sweet. No one wants to listen to a novel in the middle of your wedding ceremony—so keep your readings short and sweet (two minutes or less is a good rule of thumb).

Wedding Ceremony Readings

Need a little more inspiration? Let’s take a look at some of the more popular wedding ceremony readings to get those creative juices flowing:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Irish Wedding Blessing

“May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace. May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase. May the saddest day of your future, be no worse than the happiest day of your past. May your hands be forever clasped in friendship and your hearts joined forever in love.”

Ecclesiastes: 4:9-12

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.”

Hebrew Wedding Prayer

“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hath created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May there soon be heard in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from the wedding canopy, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who gives the Bridegroom joy in his bride.”

Song of Solomon

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely. Set me as a seal upon your heart and seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy cruel as the grave. It flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Hindu Love Poem

“Let the earth of my body be mixed with the earth My beloved walks on. Let the fire of my body by the brightness In the mirror that reflects his face. Let the water of my body join the waters Of the lotus pool he bathes in. Let the breath of my body be air Lapping his tired limbs. Let me be sky, and moving through me the cloud-dark Shyama, my beloved.”

Apache Wedding Prayer

“Now you will feel no rain, For each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, For each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, For each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, But there is one life before you.”

Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s leash hath all to short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed, And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed: By thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall death brag thou wader’st in this shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st, So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

This Marriage, Rumi

“May these vows and this marriage be blessed. May it be sweet milk, this marriage, like wine and halvah. May this marriage offer fruit and shade,like the date palm. May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a paradise.”

I carry your heart with me, E.E. Cummings

*“here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of 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)”*

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being 'in love', which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”

Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach

“A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.”

The Art of Marriage, William 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.”

Sonnet #43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the end of Being and ideal Grace.”

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

“Oh, love, adoration, the rapture of two spirits which know each other, two hearts which are exchanged, two looks which interpenetrate! You will come to me, will you not, this happiness! To walk together in solitude! Blessed and radiant days! I have sometimes thought that now and then moments may be detached from the lives of angels to enrich the lives of men.”

Thoughts on Marriage, Kahlil Gibran

“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Yes, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of head dance between you.”

Carrie’s Poem, Sex and the City

“His hello was the end of her endings Her laugh was their first step down the aisle His hand would be hers to hold forever His forever was as simple as her smile He said she was what was missing She said instantly she knew She was a question to be answered And his answer was ‘I do.’”

He’s Not Perfect, Bob Marley

*“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect.

But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being a human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can.

He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break.

Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there.

Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist—but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”*

Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog, Taylor Mali

“Love doesn’t like being left alone for long. But come home and love is always happy to see you. It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life, But you can never stay mad at love for long.”

Touched by an Angel, 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.”*

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