More Ideas For Non-Religious Wedding Readings

Written by    Last updated: January 30, 2007

If you choose wisely, your wedding readings can add real romance, importance and, if you choose something funny, even humour and giggles to the ceremony. 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.

Order of Service BookletsAbove: December Darlings – Ruth and Toby’s Real Wedding by Douglas Fry Photography

Rather than breaking out in a sweat at home, we suggest you head for your local library and start the search for your readings by delving into novels and plays by famous authors. After all, they got into print, so they must have been written well. Get inspired!

Here’s some more suggestions for you:

Extract from
Les Miserables

Victor Hugo (1802‐1885)

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.

Extract from
Letters to a Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875‐1926)

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all tasks, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.

Love is at first not anything that means merging, surrendering, and uniting with another (for what purpose would a union of something unclarified serve?), rather it is high inducement to the individual to

Ripen, to become something in ourselves, to become a world in ourselves for the sake of another person. Love is a great, demanding claim on us, something that chooses us and calls us to vast distances.

Extract from
Letters

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875‐1926)

Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two young people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness – a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus each shows the other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to existi, it is a hemming‐in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvellous living side‐by‐side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them a possibility of always seeing each other as a while and before an immense sky.

Extract from
Sonnests from the Portuguese

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806‐1861)

If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say,
‘I love her for her smile – her look – her way
Of speacking gently, ‐ for a trick of thought
That falls well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’ –
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, ‐ and love, so wrought
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping cheeks dry, ‐
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

A Birthday

Christina G. Rossetti (1830‐94)

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleur‐de‐lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

The Passionate Shepherd to his love

Charlotte Marlowe(1564‐93)

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle,
Embroid’red all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair‐lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy‐buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs,
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning.
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

First Love

John Clare (1793‐1864)

I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete
My face turned pale and deadly pale
My legs refused to walk away
And when she looked what could I ail
My life and all seemed turned to clay

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noon day
I could not see a single thing
Words from my eyes did start
They spoke as chords do from the string
And blood burnt round my heart

Are flowers the winters choice
Is love’s bed always snow
She seemed to hear my silent voice
Not loves appeals to know
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before
My heart has left its dwelling place
And can return no more.

Extract from
Love Song

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875‐1926)

Everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like violin’s bow,
which draws one voice out of two
separate strings
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

Forgive me but I needs must press

Alice Cary (1820‐1871)

Forgive me, but I needs must press
One question, since I love you so;
And kiss me, darling, if it’s Yes,
And, darling, kiss me if it’s No!

It is about our marriage day,
I fain would have it even here;
But kiss me if it’s far away,
And, darling, kiss me if it’s near!

Ah, by the blushes crowding so
On cheek and brow, ‘tis near, I guess;
But, darling, kiss me if it’s No,
And kiss me, darling, if it’s Yes!

And with what flowers shall you be wed?
With flowers of snow? Or flowers of flame?
But be they white, or be they red,
Kiss me, my darling, all the same!

And have you sewed your wedding dress?
Nay, speak not, even whisper low;
But kiss me, darling, if it’s Yes,
And, darling, kiss me if it’s No!

A Dream

Robert C. O. Benjamin (1855‐1900)

I dreamed that I loved a sweet maiden,
With hair of bright rippling gold;
And the story I told of my love to her
Is the same one that’s ever been told.

I dreamed that her eyes, bright and gladsome,
Were dark as the raven’s black wing;
And I thought that upon her third finger
I placed a plain gold wedding ring.

I dreamed that her lips, red as cherries,
Were dangerously close to my own;
And the kiss that I gave her whilst dreaming,
Awoke me, so loud was its tone.

But when I awoke I remembered
The cause of my fancy’s sweet flight,
And the reason of happy dreaming,
Which made blissful the visions of night.

‘Twas a picture which looked from the canvas,
Painted though perfect to life,
And so sweet was the face and the tresses,
I dreamed that I made her my wife.

My Lady Love

Robert C. O. Benjamin (1855‐1900)

There are none so happy as my love and I,
None so joyous, blithe and free;
The reason is, that I love her,
And the reason is, she love me.

There are none so sweet as my own fond love,
None so beauteous or true;
Her equal I could never find,
Though I search the whole world thro’.

There’s no love so true as my lady sweet;
None so constant to its troth;
There’s naught on earth like her so dear,
No queen her equal in her worth.

So there’s none so happy as my love and I;
None so blissful, blithe and free,
And the reason is that I am hers,
And she, in truth, belongs to me.

A red, red rose

Robert Burns (1759‐1796)

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune. –

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry. –

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run. –

And fare thee weel, my only Luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile. –

Extract from
Song of the Open Road

Walt Whitman (1819‐1892)

Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but
Offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.

However sweet these laid‐up stores,
however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain there.

However shelter’d the port, and however
calm the waters, we must not anchor here,
however welcome the hospitality that
surrounds us we are permitted to receive
it but a little while.

Afoot and light‐hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading
Wherever I choose.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come
Travel with me?
Shall we stick by eachother as long as we live?

A Good Wedding Cake

Author Unknown

4lb of love
½ of good looks
1 lb of sweet temper
1 lb of butter youth
1 lb of blindness of faults
1 lb of pounded wit
1 lb of good humour
2 tablespoons of sweet argument
1 pint of rippling laughter
1 wine glass of common sense
Dash of modesty

Put the love, good looks and sweet temper
Into a well‐furnished house. Beat the butter
of youth to a cream, and mix well together
with the blindness of faults. Stir the
pounded wit and good humour into the
sweet argument, then add the rippling
laughter and common sense. Add a dash
of modesty and work the whole together
until everything is well mixed. Bake gently
for ever.

Married Love

Kuan Tao‐Sheng (1263‐1319)

You and I
Have so much love
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Moulded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,

And mix the pieces with water,
And mould again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.

Chinese Poem

Author Unknown

I want to be your friend forever and ever
When the hills are all flat
and the rivers run dry
When the trees blossom in winter
and the snow falls in summer,
when heaven and earth mix –
not till then will I part from you.

 

For further inspiration, take a look at our to ideas for non‐religious wedding readings by famous authors and poets in our article pages. You can also discuss this topic and more with hundreds of brides and brides-to-be in the Confetti forums!

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Readings for the reception

You may like to have a short reading at your reception before you sit down to the wedding breakfast, or...

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