Written by Paula Jones Last updated: June 6, 2006
Choosing the right words for your reading can make all the difference to your wedding ceremony
Even if you have opted for a non‐religious or civil wedding ceremony, there’s no escaping the fact that you will need to choose suitable wedding readings.
The choice of readings is up to you; the only rule is that you must make sure you have had them approved by your registrar beforehand.
Wedding readings are not a legal requirement but they can add real romance, importance and, if you choose something funny, even humour and giggles to the ceremony… so you wouldn’t want to be without, but what on earth do you choose?
Well before you start your search by raiding the local library or staring at each other in abject panic, let’s start with outlining what your readings should be like.
Ideally, all your readings should simply, but sincerely reflect to everyone else at the ceremony how much you love your husband or wife‐to‐be.
Now think about where you could find a piece of writing that will reflect how you feel.
A great idea is to dig out romantic books by famous authors. Whether you choose past authors like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tolkien or Hemingway or someone more modern like Toni Morrison, you can easily find passages of their ‘prose’ which is truly romantic, possibly even funny, (which would guarantee some laughs on the day) and would be great to read out at your wedding ceremony.
For example, you could try the ending of James Joyce’s Ulysses. You’ll have to be careful to avoid the more racy bits, but it’s an incredible monologue and sums up all the passion, love and commitment in the world (and you don’t have to plough through the whole thing ‐‐ it’s right there in the last ten pages!).
As you are looking for a piece of writing that is incredibly romantic and expresses what you believe about love and marriage, poetry makes a natural choice to use for wedding readings (and makes you look really clever too!).
Again, you could dig through passages by past poets, like Tennyson, Byron or Rossetti, or even a super‐modern poet (have a look through Brian Patten’s Love Poems for a great collection from the past few years). Poetry will be a doddle to find, just take a look in your local library, online or in a large bookshop.
Now this resource for inspiration is definitely the most fun to try! Find a free evening, gather all your old CDs, get a bottle of wine and have loads of fun playing through all your old favourites for a song that matches your feelings for the wedding.
Song lyrics make fabulous wedding readings for couples who don’t want anything religious and you don’t have to read out the words from the whole song ‐ just a couple of verses will be fine.
For starters, (and you might think they are too cheesy), but what about songs like Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion, At Last by Etta James, Wonderwall by Oasis or big screen inspiration from Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor? We certainly wouldn’t mind Ewan singing that to us on our wedding day!
When you have decided on your ideal reading, check whether it is still in copyright. If it is, you can’t reproduce it (for instance in an order of service), without getting permission from the copyright holder first. Just send them a short email or letter and explain what you would like to reproduce it for.
If you are still struggling (or trying to talk your husband‐to‐be out of Ozzy Osbourne lyrics), take a look at our ideas for non‐religious wedding readings by famous authors and poets or our more ideas for non‐religious readings page.
Alternatively, you could write your own speech from scratch with our book, “How to write a wedding speech”.