October 31, 2013. Written by Paula Jones
Looking for excerpts to read at a wedding ceremony? Look no further. Over the following pages are a round-up of some of the most beautiful words of poetry and prose that have become classic wedding readings for civil and religious ceremonies. Choose wisely and your reading will add real romance, importance or even humour to your marriage ceremony.
The choice of readings is up to you; the only rule is to have them approved by your registrar or minister beforehand. Your chosen reading should ‘speak to you’ instantly whether it brings a sense of comfort or joy or is simply a piece you both feel you can relate to.
If you’ve read through earlier sections of our wedding reading guide you’ll know that even if you have opted for a non-religious or civil wedding ceremony, you will still need to choose suitable wedding readings.
Here are some of the oldest and most lovely readings:
George Eliot (1819-1880)
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
The fountains mingle with the rivers And the rivers with the oceans, The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by law divine In one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high heaven And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdained its brother, And the sunlight clasps the earth And the moonbeams kiss the sea: What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me?
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam’d upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn;
A dancing shape, an image gat,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A coumtenance in which did meet
Sweets records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human natures daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect woman, nobly plann’d,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.
But never doubt I love.
John Clare (1793-1864)
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true
Love lives in sleep,
The happiness of healthy dreams
Eve’s dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.
‘Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angels’ wing
Bring love and music to the mind.
And where is voice,
So young, so beautiful and sweet
As nature’s choice,
Where Spring and lovers meet?
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young and true.
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
So, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outweighs it sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving,
By the light of the moon