How to choose a reading for your wedding ceremony

Choosing a reading for your wedding ceremony

No matter what the style of ceremony, readings are a great way of personalising your wedding.

There really is an endless array of readings to choose from… but don’t let the fact there are so many scare you off! Start with the basics!


Work with your officiant to plan your ceremony and the readings

Do you want to have one longer reading, or multiple readings spread throughout the ceremony? If you’re having a traditional, religious ceremony, the number of readings you have may already be determined for you. Think about the type of ceremony you are having, is it religious, celebrant-led, long or short and talk to your officiant. They’re super experienced in working with couples, and can talk you through how many readings you can have and when to have them.


Who will be reading them?

Once you know how many you’re going to have then you can start thinking about who might read them. But remember to think about the person that will be reading it too… if they aren’t very comfortable with public speaking, then you may want to ask them if they’d be happy to do a shorter reading.

And remember, you don’t have to choose them all. It’s common for close family and friends to choose a reading that they feel reflects you as a couple and your commitment to each other.

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What makes a good reading?

A reading can be anything, a poem, song lyric, film quote, excerpt from a book, or more traditionally a reading from a religious text, prayer or blessing.

Every ceremony is different, and no reading better than another. Readings should be personal, right for you and express your thoughts and feelings about love and marriage. I would also suggest thinking about your overall day, choosing readings that make sense within the context. For example, choosing a quote from a scene in When Harry Met Sally (no, not that one!) may not feel in-keeping if you’re having a traditional, religious ceremony.


Choosing meaningful ceremony readings

So in summary…

  1. Make them personal – they need to represent you as a couple
  2. Keep them relevant to your day – laid-back, quirky or traditional, whatever works for you
  3. Short and sweet, because quite honestly no one wants to listen to a novel in the middle of your ceremony – aim for around three minutes or less per reading


Need a little more inspiration? Here’s a few of my favourites too…

I carry your heart with me, E.E. Cummings

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

Carrie’s Poem, Sex and the City

“His hello was the end of her endings. Her laugh was their first step down the aisle. His hand would be hers to hold forever. His forever was as simple as her smile. He said she was what was missing. She said instantly she knew. She was a question to be answered. And his answer was ‘I do’.”

When Harry Met Sally

“I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour-and-a-half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

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Us Two by A A Milne

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.
(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)
“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”
“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.
“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,
But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.
“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
“I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!”- and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

“Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan

“When the rain is blowing in your face,
And the whole world is on your case,
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.

When the evening shadows and the stars appear,
And there is no one there to dry your tears,
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet,
But I will never do you wrong.
I’ve known it from the moment that we met,
No doubt in my mind where you belong.

I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue,
And I’d go crawling down the avenue.
No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love.

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret.
The winds of change are blowing wild and free,
You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn’t do.
Go to the ends of the Earth for you,
To make you feel my love
To make you feel my love”

Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

“Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.”

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

This is a great one if you’re looking for a rding for a child:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


If you’re still not sure what readings to choose, or you’d like some help planning your wedding, please get in touch.

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