How to choose civil ceremony readings

All the inspiration you need for choosing fabulous civil ceremony readings

You don’t necessarily have to have a reading as part of a civil ceremony, but most couples usually include at least one… and the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to choosing it!


Ideally you want something that explains how much you love your husband or wife‐to‐be… but without being too cheesy or making people laugh for the wrong reasons!

The best way to find a suitably romantic reading that will make all your wedding guests green with envy at how clever and in love you are, is to raid your bookshelves, head for the library, or look online for inspiration.

You could use an extract from your favourite book or poem, some lyrics from a song, a specialist wedding reading or some words especially written for the day, it doesn’t really matter.

The only rule is that your reading can contain no religious or spiritual references at a civil ceremony and you must make sure you have had your chosen reading approved by your registrar beforehand.

First find your reading…

Before you start wildly flicking through your chick lit books or playing your entire back catalogue of Coldplay albums in a desperate search for a reading… ask your registrar how many readings you are allowed and then think about these pointers to get you started:

  • Get together and have a think about whether either or both of you have a favourite poet/author/passage of writing that might be suitable.
  • Head for the library and look in books of quotations, under sections such as ‘love’ and ‘marriage’’ to see if anything takes your fancy.
  • Have a scan through our wedding readings, poems and vows book, that contains a huge selection of appropriate things you could use.
  • Take a look at our suggestions for non‐religious wedding readings, non‐religious wedding readings, and more non‐religious wedding readings.


…then check it is suitable.

When you have found one or more perfect readings, your next mission is to speak to the registrar and check they agree that it is suitable, as well as ask their advice on when in the service you can have them read out.

Finally, decide who will read it!

Lastly… you need to decide who will be reading for you at the ceremony.

Most couples choose a close friend or relative, (which makes a great way to include them in your big day if they aren’t already helping out as bridesmaid or usher for example), but you could also choose to read it out yourself if you like, or hire a professional speaker if you are feeling particularly grand!

Just make sure you think carefully about who you ask, as they will need to be able to speak clearly and loudly and, although being asked to give a wedding reading is an honour, it can also be quite a daunting experience, so you shouldn’t take it for granted that the person you ask will be thrilled to bits!

The trick is to get someone who you are happy to give the reading and who is happy to do it (and can ideally project their voice to the back of the room!)

All you need to do then, is let the registrar know the name of who will be reading and you’re all done!

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