Choosing your own modern wedding ceremony readings is a great way to personalize your ceremony with your beliefs, values and interests. Your readings help to set the tone for your ceremony and provide your guests with glimpses into your life.
After talking over ideas with your partner, discuss your ideas with your officiant (who will likely have suggestions as well!) to select the perfect readings for your wedding ceremony.
How many readings should you have in a wedding ceremony?
There’s no hard and fast rule with the number of readings required (you could skip them entirely if you want!) but generally speaking, two readings is a good number.
Where do readings go in the ceremony?
Often the readings are done after the opening remarks and before the vows. You may also choose to close your ceremony with a reading (such as the Traditional Hand Blessing below) as a closing prayer or blessing.
Who do you ask to do the ceremony readings?
Anyone you want! Your officiant could read them, or you could ask someone from your wedding party (who doesn’t mind public speaking). Ceremony readings are also a great way to include loved ones who are not part of your formal wedding party, such as a younger sibling or an aunt/uncle.
Can I modify a ceremony reading?
Of course! This is your wedding, so use these readings as guides – not as final. You can shorten a reading or modify it to match the tone, your beliefs, or your ceremony length.
Do I need to explain why I chose my readings?
You don’t, but if there is a special meaning, it can be a nice touch. For example, at my wedding my sister in law read a (modified) version of a lovely book called Love Is by Martha Everds. She shared, “This reading is from a book that Tricia’s grandma, who can’t join us in person today, used to read to her” before starting the reading.
You could also put a note in your programs (if you’re doing them) to explain the meaning behind your choices as well. Or… don’t! You don’t owe anyone an explanation!
Traditional and Religious Readings
Traditional Celtic Blessing
“May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow
May the soft winds freshen your spirit
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again my friend(s)
May God hold you in the hollow (palm) of his hand.”
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward 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 lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.
Love never fails.
Blessing of the Hands – Rev. Daniel L. Harris
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Ceremony Readings from Children’s Books
Your Personal Penguin – Sandra Boynton
I like you a lot
You’re funny and kind
So let me explain
What I have in mind
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to walk right by your side
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to travel with you far and wide
Wherever you go, I’ll go there too
Here and there and everywhere
And always with you
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
From now on
A quote from Dr Seuss
We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.
Using Song Lyrics as Wedding Ceremony Readings
“If I Should Fall Behind” – Bruce Springsteen
“We said we’d walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we’re walking a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me.
We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lover’s steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me.
Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me.”
“Forever Young” – Bob Dylan
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Poems for Wedding Ceremonies
“Our Souls Are Mirrors” – By Rupi Kaur
god must have kneaded you and i
from the same dough
rolled us out as one on the baking sheet
must have suddenly realized
how unfair it was
to put that much magic in one person
and sadly split that dough in two
how else is it that when i look in the mirror
i am looking at you
when you breathe
my own lungs fill with air
that we just met but we
have known each other our whole lives
if we were not made as one to begin with
“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.
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.
“One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” – 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.
Lighthearted Wedding Ceremony Readings
“Growing Old With You” – Adam Sandler, from The Wedding Singer (Bonus points if you can sing it!)
I want to make you smile whenever you’re sad. Carry you around when your arthritis is bad.
All I want to do is grow old with you.
I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches. Build you a fire if the furnace breaks.
Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you.
I’ll miss you, Kiss you, Give you my coat when you are cold. Need you, Feed you, Even let you hold the remote control.
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink. Put you to bed if you’ve had too much to drink.
I could be the man who grows old with you.
I want to grow old with you.
“A Word to Husbands” – Ogden Nash (While this title is gendered, the sentiment and advice couple be applicable to any couple)
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
“I’ll Be There For You” – Louise Cuddon
I’ll be there my darling, through thick and through thin
When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin
When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train.
When life is just threatening to drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page
When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age
When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm
When the forecast said “Fine”, but you’re out in a storm
When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum
And your holiday photos show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay
And return to discover you’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste
Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist
When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear…
When you break a rule, when you act the fool
When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew
When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue ’cause
I’m telling you, I’ll be there.
Ceremony Reading for the Nature & Dog Lovers
“Untitled” – R.M. Drake
You will be the clouds
and I will be the sky.
you will be the ocean
and I will be the shore.
you will be the trees
and I will be the wind.
whatever we are, you and I
will always collide.
“Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog” – Taylor Mali
A fantastic and highly relatable funny wedding reading for all the dog loving couples out there.
Falling in love is like owning a dog
First of all, it’s a big responsibility, especially in a city like [insert city].
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security: when you’re walking down the street late at night and you have a leash on love ‘ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable. Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm. It lies between you and lives and breathes and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs. It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
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 be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad.
Bad, love, bad!
Very bad love.
Love makes messes. Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after. Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper and swat love on the nose, not so much to cause pain, just to let love know don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk. Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting. It pulls you in several different directions at once, or winds around and around you until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go. People who have nothing in common but love stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops
Hopefully these ideas inspire your own selection!
Choosing Your Own Wedding Ceremony Readings with Care
Hopefully you’ve found an idea or two for your own modern wedding ceremony readings. When choosing your readings, remember to consider your values and personalities as a couple – your readings should reflect that! Choosing your readings is a big step, and we celebrate your progress!
Your Next Read:
Find ways to honor your loved ones during your wedding ceremony or include your dog in your wedding ceremony!