Modern Wedding Ceremony Readings

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.

winter elopement in stowe VT
Madison Anne Studio

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! 

Kelsey Regan Photography

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.”


Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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.


Colossians 3:12-14

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.

Michael Tallman Photography

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

A woman getting married
Juniper Studios
Idena Beach Photography

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.

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.  


“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.

Colette Kulig Photography

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.

A man reads his wedding vows during his winter elopement in Vermont surrounded by a winter landscape. 
Hallie Jade Pictures

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! 

A couple exchanges vows during their elopement on top of Mount Mansfield in Vermont
Jenna Brisson Photography
Couple posing with their dog during elopement ceremony in VT
Kate Seymour Photography

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!