Planning

CIVIL CEREMONY READINGS

Choosing the wedding readings for your ceremony is one of the nicest jobs of wedding planning - whatever type of ceremony you are having, there is usually room for a personal reading or two. Often it's something that you'll work on with your fiancé, choosing meaningful literary extracts or poems that really relate to your relationship. And alongside the vows, it's often the part of the wedding ceremony that brings the tears of joy.

Choosing your wedding readings

The world is full of beautiful writing on love - from passionate and intense Bronte novels to light-hearted poems by Edward Monkton, there's something for everyone out there. Our lovely couples often mention which wedding readings they've chosen for their big day so we've selected some of our favourites to share with you. Some of the choices I think would make excellent wedding readings for little ones to read, but if you go down this route, make sure you have a backup plan in case of stage fright! If you want even more inspiration, read to the end to find links to some of our other articles on wedding readings. We also have a podcast episode all about wedding readings too! You can pin any of the images below to your wedding readings Pinterest board.

On love

by Thomas à Kempis

Love is a mighty power,
a great and complete good.
Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth.
It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders
all bitterness sweet and acceptable.

Nothing is sweeter than love,
Nothing stronger,
Nothing higher,
Nothing wider,
Nothing more pleasant,
Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God.

Love flies, runs and leaps for joy.
It is free and unrestrained.
Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil,
attempts things beyond its strength.

Love sees nothing as impossible,
for it feels able to achieve all things.
It is strange and effective,
while those who lack love faint and fail.

Love is not fickle and sentimental,
nor is it intent on vanities.
Like a living flame and a burning torch,
it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.

Union

by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way.
All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with

“I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late-night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart.
All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –

This is my husband. This is my wife.

The Velveteen Rabbit

by Margery Williams

“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 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.”

Maybe

by Unknown

Maybe we are supposed to meet the wrong people before we meet the right one so when they finally arrive we are truly grateful for the gift we have been given. 

Maybe it's true that we don’t know what we have lost until we lose it but it is also true that we don’t know what we’re missing until it arrives. 

Maybe the happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, but make the best of everything that comes their way. 

Maybe the best kind of love is the kind where you sit on the sofa together, not saying a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you ever had. 

Maybe once in a lifetime, you find someone who not only touches your heart but also your soul, someone who loves you for who you are and not what you could be. 

Maybe the art of true love is not about finding the perfect person, but about seeing an imperfect person perfectly. 

If thou must love me

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for nought   
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say,   
“I love her for her smile—her look—her way   
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought   
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought 
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day”—   
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, 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 my 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.

I wanna be yours

by John Cooper Clarke

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
for those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
when you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
you’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
that’s how deep is my devotion

 

I love you because

by Jim Reeves

I love you because you understand, dear
Every single thing I try to do
You’re always there to lend a helping hand, dear
I love you most of all because you’re you
No matter what the world may say about me
I know your love will always see me through
I love you for the way you never doubt me
But most of all I love you ‘cause you’re you
I love you because my heart is lighter
Every time I’m walking by your side
I love you because the future’s brighter
The door to happiness you opened wide
No matter what the world may say about me
I know your love will always see me through
I love you for a hundred thousand reasons
But most of all I love you ‘cause you’re you

I do not love you

by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Gift from the sea

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time,
in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.
It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to.
And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.
We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.
We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb.
We are afraid it will never return.
We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity;
when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass,
but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing,
not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even.
Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia,
nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation,
but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.
Relationships must be like islands,
one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea,
and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

Guess how much I love you

by Sam McBratney

Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s very long ears. He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening. 
“Guess how much I love you,” he said. 
“Oh, I don’t think I could guess that,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. 
“This much,” said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go. 
Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms. “But I love YOU this much,” he said. 
Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. 
“I love you as high as I can reach.” said Little Nutbrown Hare. 
“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. 
That is quite high, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that. 
Then Little Nutbrown Hare had a good idea. He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet. 
“I love you all the way up to my toes!” he said. 
“And I love you all the way up to your toes,” said Big Nutbrown Hare, swinging him up over his head. 
“But I love you as high as I can hop,” smiled Big Nutbrown Hare - and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above. 
That’s good hopping, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I could hop like that. 
“I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river,” cried Little Nutbrown Hare. 
“I love you across the river and over the hills,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. 
That’s very far, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think any more.
Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night.
Nothing could be further than the sky. 
“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes. 
“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. “That is very, very far.” 
Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. 
Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, “I love you right up to the moon AND BACK.”

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

by Louis de Bernieres 

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.
That is just being in love, which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

 

Carrie's Poem

from 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”

The book of love

by Magnetic fields

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing

But I, I love it when you read to me
And you, you can read me anything

The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

But I, I love it when you sing to me
And you, you can sing me anything

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know

But I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings
I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings

I carry your heart with me

by E E Cummings

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

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)

How being in love is like owning a dog

by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.

On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security: when you’re walking down
the street late at night and you have a leash on love ain’t no one going to mess with you.

Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable. Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and
stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.

It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad!
Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.

Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece
of newspaper and swat love on the nose, not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know don’t you ever do that again!

Sometimes love just wants to go out for
a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common
but love stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again.

But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.

And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Les Miserables

by Victor Hugo

The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds.
Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite,
the inexhaustible is requisite.

Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven…

What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.

If there did not exist some one who loved, the sun would become extinct.

To love is not to possess

by James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are--and always secretly were,In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wand’ring bark, 
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. 
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle’s compass come; 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me proved, 
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Winnie the Pooh

by A A Milne

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” 
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.

“Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” 

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.” 

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet. 

“Even longer,” Pooh answered. “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” 

 

The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman

I will love you forever; whatever happens.
Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead,
I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again.

I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment.
And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart.

Every atom of me and every atom of you. We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams. 

And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.

A lovely love story

by Edward Monkton

The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.
Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.

Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with
kind words and loving thoughts.

“I like this Dinosaur,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
“Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.
He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.”

“I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur,” thought the Dinosaur.
“She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.”

“But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.  “He is also overly fond of things.  Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?”

“But her mind skips from here to there so quickly,” thought the Dinosaur.  “She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.  Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?”

“I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur, “for they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.”

“I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping,” thought the Dinosaur, “for she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either."

Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.  Look at them.  Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.

And that, my friends, is how it is with love.

Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.  And the world is a beautiful place.

That still and settled place

by Edward Monkton

In that still and settled place
There’s nobody but you
You’re where I breath my oxygen
You’re where I see my view
And when the world feels full of noise
My heart knows what to do
It finds that still and settled place
And dances there with you

Northern Lights

by Philip Pullman

I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment.
And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart.

Every atom of me and every atom of you...
We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds
and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams...

And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight.

I will be here

by Stephen Curtis Chapman

If in the morning when you wake, If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.

If in the dark we lose sight of love, Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.

I will be here,
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind I will listen.
Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together,
And I will be here.

If in the morning when you wake, If the future is unclear,
I will be here.

As sure as seasons were made for change, Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.

I will be here,
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.

We’ll be together and I will be here.
I will be true to the promises I’ve made,
To you and to the one who gave you to me.
I will be here.

For me

by Tracey Emin

Hurry
But do not hurry me,
Push
But do not push me,
Hold
But do not crush me’
Love
But do not change me
Let us stay the way we are
Devour
But do not consume me,
Thrill
But do not frighten me,
Excite
But do not scare me.
Teach
But do not change me
Let us learn from the way we are
Kiss
But do not smother me,
Embrace
But do not break me, 
Adore
But do not suffocate me,
Love
Let me love you
Just the way you are.

Did This Help You Choose Your Wedding Readings?

 

Which is your favourite? 'I Will Be Here' really resonates with me, I love the words and that they are just such a simple promise. I'm also a big fan of 'That Still & Settled Place' - this would be a really sweet one for a little one to read. Check out these extra links for even more inspiration.

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Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

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