Reception, Wedding Day Responsibilities, Wedding Speeches

The Best 13 Real Wedding Ceremony Readings

When it comes time to select your wedding party, you may quickly create a list that’s a little too long for groomsmen. Though your want to include everyone who has made a significant impact on your life in your big day, having double-digits on both sides can becoming overwhelming, fast.

That’s why many couples decide to honor important friends and family in their lives in different ways — from officiants to readers. As part of the ceremony, various people will take the microphone to express poems, scriptures and other meaningful words. While you and your partner should agree on the flow and what’s said for this one-of-a-kind commitment, there are some traditional readings to consider. Here, we list the top 13:

A wedding ceremony reading for your best friends

Ecclesiasticus 6:5-6, 14-17
When it’s usually read: Before the vows
Preview: “A loyal friend is a safe shelter: whoever finds one has indeed found a treasure. A loyal friend is something beyond price, there is no measuring his worth.”

Weddings are chock full of opportunities to honor romantic and familial connections in our lives, but it’s a little more rare for a married couple to dedicate a portion of the proceedings to their friends. Still, the way weddings are becoming modernized, we’ll probably see more readings assigned to friends of the couple in the years to come. This bit from the Bible is a great place to start.

A wedding ceremony reading for the officiant

‘A Marriage’ by Mark Twain
When it’s usually read: Before or after vows as a blessing of marriage.
Preview: “A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole; It gives two purposeless lives a work, And doubles the strength of each to perform it.”

Sure, Mark Twain is primarily known as a satirist, but all the best humor writers are capable of a bit of earnest emotion. If you’re looking for something non-denominational and frank for your officiant to say about love, you can do worse than Mr. Twain’s musings.

A wedding ceremony reading for your parents

‘To Love Is Not to Possess’ by James Kavanaugh
When it’s usually read: Before the vows.
Preview: “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.”

Your parents can do a little more at your wedding, other than walk you down the aisle and pony up some funds. Invite them into the intimate ceremony, and if they’re too nervous to come up with something original to say, you can hand them a pre-approved reading.

A wedding ceremony reading for emotional intensity

Song of Solomon 8:6-7
When it’s read: During the ceremony
Who reads it: Officiant
Preview: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.”

If you know your original vows are going to be funny and irreverent, or if you’ve hired your goofiest pal to be your officiant for whatever reason, bring things back to a place of meditative affection with this classical biblical passage. Just don’t read the more salacious bits!

A wedding ceremony reading for your in-laws

‘Sonnet 116’ by Mark Twain
When it’s read: Various times
Preview: “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 wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”

Mark Twain appears again on our list, this time delivering a perfect sentiment for your parents, of your partners’ parents. Whoever wants to give an earth-shattering statement on the power of love, really.

A wedding ceremony reading to wrap things up

Psalm 121
When it’s read: At the end, after vows to bless marriage
Who reads it: Officiant
Preview: “The Lord will keep you from all harm–
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”

Now this is a note to leave your ceremony on, just after you’ve read your vows, but just before the officiant has re-introduced you and your partner as a married couple.

A wedding ceremony reading for the maid of honor

Corinthians 13:4-12
When it’s read: Before vows
Preview: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Yes, this reading is bordering on cliche, but that’s good reason. It’s a timeless description of what love could and should be. Give this reading to the kindest and most gentle member of your wedding party, and you’ll have more like a few folks in the audience tearing up.

A wedding ceremony reading for all the parents

Traditional Irish Blessing
When it’s read: Ending as a blessing
Who reads it: Officiant or parents
Preview: “May you know nothing but happiness
from this day forward
May green be the grass you walk on
May blue be the skies above you,
And from this day forward.
May the joys of today
Be those of tomorrow.”

This folksy Irish classic is a surefire way to get some guests’ eyes misty, especially if more than one parent takes turns reading.

A wedding ceremony reading for affirmation

‘Marriage Joins Two People in the Circle of Its Love’ By Edmund O’Neil
When it’s read: Beginning or middle
Who reads it: Officiant
Preview: “Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.”

Keep things straightforward and leave the frills behind with this succinct reading.

A wedding ceremony reading to end on

Romans 12:9-16
When it’s read: End as a blessing
Who reads it: Officiant
Preview: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Here’s another final note for you, if you’re looking for something your officiant can read before announcing the happy couple.

A wedding ceremony for groups of loved ones

‘The Prayer’ by St. Francis of Assisi
When it’s read: Various
Preview: “Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.”

If you’re looking to have something akin to a Greek chorus at your wedding, try this group reading out.

A wedding ceremony reading for the last moment

‘Wedding Prayer’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
When it’s read: End as a blessing
Who reads it: Officiant
Preview: “We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow.”

Another last message, or first message, that works especially well for religious ceremonies or those with a lot of pomp and circumstance.

A wedding ceremony reading for your friend group

‘Thoughts on Marriage’ by Kahlil Gibran
When it’s read: Various
Who reads it: Friends or family
Preview: “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.”

This one always causes guests to reflect on their own experiences with love, which deeply connects them to your wedding and can be a real cue for waterworks.

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