Relationships

One Hard Part of Weddings

Joanna Goddard and Alex Williams

Are you going to any weddings this summer? When Alex and I got married seven years ago, we luckily didn’t have too many hitches with our wedding planning. But one part threw us for a loop…

The wedding readings. Did you feel the same? It felt weirdly impossible to find a romantic reading that didn’t either sound corny or pat or end with a depressing twist. We were big readers — couldn’t we come up with something? — but somehow we kept hitting walls. Should we just scrap that part of our ceremony?

Finally, in the eleventh hour, we found two poems we really loved.

First, our friend Kenan read “Our Union” by Hafiz. This beautiful poem still breaks my heart:

Our union is like this: You feel cold, so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet. / A hunger comes into your body, so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes. / You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance, and I quickly kneel by your side offering you a whole book as a gift. / You ache with loneliness one night so much you weep, and I say here is a rope, tie it around me, I will be your companion for life.

And, for bit of comic relief, our friend Nora read “I’ll Be There For You” by Louise Cuddon:

I’ll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin
When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin
When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train
When life is just threatening to drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page
When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age
When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm
When the forecast said, ‘Fine,’ but you’re out in a storm
When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum
And your holiday photos show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay
And return to discover you’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste
Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist
When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear…
When you break a rule, when you act the fool
When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew
When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue
’Cause I’m telling you, I’ll be there.

Emma Straub wedding

For her lovely small wedding, writer Emma Straub chose Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” David Sedaris’s essay “The End of the Affair,” and the last paragraph of Jane Austen’s Emma:

The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own. — “Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! Selina would stare when she heard of it.” — But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.

Diana Moss wedding

Says graphic designer Diana Moss: “I found our wedding reading — Union by Robert Fulghum — pretty quickly and immediately knew, this is it. There’s something so straightforward about it, much like our relationship. Anton and I are not very mushy or sentimental people, and this was just the right mix of touching and true without making me want to, well, gag.”

And when I asked her about wedding readings, the author Una LaMarche told me about the best one she’d ever seen: “The bride and groom met through Craigslist in the early 2000s, so they had two friends do a staged reading of their first months of online messages.”

What readings would (or did) you have at your wedding? Help out any future couples! I’d love to hear…

P.S. A casual City Hall wedding and 15 wedding dos and don’ts. Plus, did you have sex on your wedding night?

(Photos from our wedding by Max Wanger. Emma Straub’s photo by Cappy Hotchkiss. Diana Moss’s photo by Love Made Visible.)

  1. Rebecca says...

    This was read at a friends wedding several years ago and has always stuck in my head ever since.

    ‘Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become 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 of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.’
    Louis de Bernières

    • This is so so lovely. Making a note of this for my own wedding one day!

  2. Bianca says...

    I married my middle school sweetheart outside in Banff, Canada surrounded by mountains. When we saw this it just felt right.
    “Blessing for a Marriage” – James Dillet Freeman

    May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.

    May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.

    May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
    May you want one another, but not out of lack.
    May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
    May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
    May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
    May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.

    If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.

    May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
    May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
    May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

  3. Izzy says...

    We had two friends split up this great piece from a children’s book!

    I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

    I like you and I know why.
    I like you because you are a good person to like.
    I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
    And you remember it a long, long time.
    You say, “Remember when you told me something special?”
    And both of us remember

    When I think something is important
    You think it’s important too
    We have good ideas
    When I say something funny, you laugh
    I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
    Hah-hah!

    You know how to be silly
    That’s why I like you
    Boy are you ever silly
    I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
    I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
    Maybe day after tomorrow
    Maybe never

    If you go away, then I go away too
    Or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
    If I go away, I send you a postcard too
    And I like you because if we go away together
    And if we are in Grand Central Station
    And if I get lost
    Then you are the one that is yelling for me

    And I like you because when I am feeling sad
    You don’t always cheer me up right away
    Sometimes it is better to be sad
    I like you because if I am mad at you
    Then you are mad at me too
    It’s awful when the other person isn’t

    If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
    If I find four, I give you two
    If we only find three, we keep on looking
    Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t

    I like you because
    Everything that happens is nicer with you

    On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
    On the fifth of July, I like you too
    If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
    If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
    We could be a HOLIDAY
    We could be a CELEBRATION
    We could be a WHOLE PARADE

    Even if it was August
    Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
    Even if it was no place particular in January
    I would go on choosing you
    And you would go on choosing me
    Over and over again

    That’s how it would happen every time
    I don’t know why
    I guess I just like you

    • Amy Mixell says...

      I read this book at my brother’s wedding!

    • meredith says...

      we used this too. i love this book. and give it at every baby shower along with my gift too :)

    • Sarah says...

      I love this! Thank you :)

  4. This passage from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. Still makes my heart swell.
    “It was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon – the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her – if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood – then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.”

    • Kathleen says...

      yes. just yes!!!

  5. Meagan says...

    We had a Hafiz poem at our wedding too!

    Now is the time to know
    That all that you do is sacred.

    Now, why not consider
    A lasting truce with yourself and God.

    Now is the time to understand
    That all your ideas of right and wrong

    Were just a child’s training wheels
    To be laid aside

    When you can finally live
    With veracity
    And love.

    Hafiz is a divine envoy
    Whom the Beloved
    Has written a holy message upon.

    My dear, please tell me,
    Why do you still
    Throw sticks at your heart
    And God?

    What is it in that sweet voice inside
    That incites you to fear?

    Now is the time for the world to know
    That every thought and action is sacred

    This is the time
    For you to deeply compute the impossibility
    That there is anything
    But Grace.

    Now is the season to know
    That everything you do
    Is sacred.

    ~ Hafiz ~

  6. Jessica says...

    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 they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, 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 marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

    -Ranier Maria Rilke

  7. Megan says...

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time as my fiance` and I are getting married next month!! We’re still looking for a reading but here’s one that we’ve chosen:

    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 roots have 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.

  8. Cynthia says...

    We didn’t have readings except the traditional scripture readings from the Bible. Readings and writing your own vows were not in vogue, and I wanted a traditional ceremony right down to the “till death do us part.”

  9. Lorie says...

    We used this from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

    I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy – my better self – my good angel – I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you – and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.

    And Words of Wisdom by Bill Swetmon, which is rather long but we broke it into sections and had several friends each read 2 lines.

  10. Samantha says...

    Almost ten years before my wedding (March 2016), I read For Whom the Bell Tolls the first time and I knew exactly what I’d want read at my wedding. One particular passage:

    “Then they were together so that as the hand on the watch moved, unseen now, they knew that nothing could ever happen to the one that did not happen to the other, that no other thing could happen more than this; that this was all and always this was what had been and now and whatever was to come. This, that they were not to have, they were having. They were having now and before and always and now and now and now. Oh, now, now, now, the only now, and above all now, and there is no other now but thou now and now is thy prophet. Now and forever now. Come now, now, for there is no now but now. Yes, now. Now, please now, only now, not anything else only this now, and where are you and where am I and where is the other one, and not why, not ever why, only this now; and on and always please then always now, always now, for now always one now; one only one, there is no other one but one now, one, going now, rising now, sailing now, leaving now, wheeling now, soaring now, away now, all the way now, all of all the way now; one and one is one, is one, is one, is one, is still one, is still one, is one descendingly, is one softly, is one longingly, is one kindly, is one happily, is one in goodness, is one to cherish, is one now on earth with elbows against the cut and slept-on branches of the pine tree with the smell of the pine boughs and the night to earth conclusively now, and with the morning of the day to come.

    Then he said, for the other was only in his head and he had said nothing, “Oh, Maria, I love thee and I thank thee for this.”

    -Ernest Hemmingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (Robert Jordan to himself)

    • Samantha says...

      Except, we left out the last two lines…

  11. Rose says...

    We had two readings, one serious and one funny.

    The funny one was How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog (because our dog was the ring-bearer and is a big part of our love story), and it got a lot of laughs: http://www.taylormali.com/poems-online/how-falling-in-love-is-like-owning-a-dog/

    The serious one was from Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” and it still makes me emotional:

    The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival.

    Our little planet floats like a mote of dust in the morning sky. All that you see, all that we can see, exploded out of a star billions of years ago, and the particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us. We are made of star stuff. We are the mechanism by which the universe can comprehend itself. The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth. We should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. The sum of all our evolution, our thinking and our accomplishments is love. A marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two questioning natures a renewed reason for living. It brings a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, and a new mystery to life.

    • emily says...

      That’s beautiful!

  12. Isabelle says...

    As a writer and a poet, selecting the absolute perfect reading was so difficult! Though, ultimately the right poem found us! We knew right away that it was the only reading we needed.

    Bronzed by Dean Young
    That dusty bubble gum, once ubiquitous as starlings,
    is no more, my love. Whistling dinosaurs now populate
    only animation studios, the furious actions of angels
    causing their breasts to flop out in mannerist
    frescos flake away as sleet holds us in its teeth.
    And the bus-station’s old urinals go under
    the grindstone and the youthful spelunkers
    graduate into the wrinkle-causing sun. The sea
    seemingly a constant to the naked eye is one
    long goodbye, perpetually the tide recedes,
    beaches dotted with debris. Unto each is given
    a finite number of addresses, ditties to dart
    the heart to its moments of sorrow and swoon.
    The sword’s hilt glints, the daffodils bow down,
    all is temporary as a perfect haircut, a kitten
    in the lap, yet sitting here with you, my darling,
    waiting for a tuna melt and side of slaw
    seems all eternity I’ll ever need
    and all eternity needs of me.

  13. Ivy says...

    For our beach wedding in 2009, we had a bible passage (1 Cor. 13) and “The Owl and the Pussy Cat”. It was very beachy :)

  14. Rachel says...

    We are getting married next weekend! Here are ours:

    Les Misérables, Chapter IV. A Heart beneath a Stone 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.”

    And my fiance’s little sister is reading, “Your Personal Penguin”, by Sandra Boynton! I good mix, I think :)

  15. We had an eight day engagement and a surprise wedding. Vows only. Finished in 2 minutes. I wore a $20 H & M cream jumpsuit and we ordered Indian food. It was lovely. ❤️

    • Katie says...

      Amen, man, that sounds gorgeous!

  16. Julie says...

    We are getting married in two weeks! In addition to Philippians 4:8-9, we are using “Patagonia” by Kate Clanchy:

    “I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
    a peninsula, wide enough
    for a couple of ladderback chairs
    to wobble on at high tide. I thought

    of us in breathless cold, facing
    a horizon round as a coin, looped
    in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
    from sea to sun. I planned to wait

    till the waves had bored themselves
    to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
    growing worried in the hush, had
    paddled off in tiny coracles, till

    those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
    had dropped slack into your lap,
    until you’d turned, at last, to me.
    When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant

    skies all empty aching blue. I meant
    years. I meant all of them with you.”

    • Love that!!

  17. Amy says...

    I didn’t even know a “wedding reading” was a thing!

  18. Caitlin Dyck says...

    I was married just recently (on May 7!!) :) so everything is still so fresh in my mind. We were brought up in the Christian faith, so we knew our ceremony would be centered around that. Two Bible verses were important to me, but we included a small excerpt from 1 John 4:7-19 on our invites and had the longer passage read at our wedding. There is one part that is so vital to me –

    “18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    19 We love because he first loved us.”

    I really wanted to emphasize the “there is no fear in love”. I come from divorced parents (really recently) and once we were engaged .. I kind of began to fear the idea of eventually getting divorced. Once I read this passage, I knew that our love together, is perfect for us. We should have no fear, for there is no fear in love. I went into that ceremony with no reservations, no fear, no nervousness because it felt so right. It was perfect for us.

    Love reading everyone else’s, too! :)

    • Nikki says...

      I got married on the same day! Congrats!!

  19. Lauren says...

    Our wedding was in Berlin and was bilingual (German and English). We had readings from the book of Proverbs that pertained to relationships and love in English, and our poet friend read selections from his aphorisms in German. So it was a sentence in English, and then one in German. We had singer and actor friends read them. It turned out really beautifully and was thought-provoking– not sentimental or cheesy at all.

  20. Sam says...

    I found this excerpt from James E. Faust. My dad read it at our civil ceremony and cried:

    “In the enriching of marriage the big things are the little things. It is a constant appreciation for each other and a thoughtful demonstration of gratitude. It is the encouraging and the helping of each other to grow. Marriage is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine.”

  21. Sara says...

    We had two poems – one by my husband’s favorite poet (ee cummings) and one by mine (W.H. Auden): “O Tell Me the Truth About Love.” The Auden is a little irreverant and lighthearted, this is the final stanza:
    When it comes, will it come without warning
    Just as I’m picking my nose?
    Will it knock on my door in the morning,
    Or tread in the bus on my toes?
    Will it come like a change in the weather?
    Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
    Will it alter my life altogether?
    O tell me the truth about love.

  22. Katy says...

    We had this:

    Us Two

    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.

    • I wish I had seen this before my own wedding! Though I wouldn’t change a thing, this made me teary eyed just now!

  23. Barbara says...

    My grandmother was in the Shakespeare club in college. Each member was assigned a sonnet. Her sonnet was 116. So at every wedding in our family one of our family members reads it.

    Sonnet 116
    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.
    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.

  24. Katie V says...

    My husband wrote a poem when he was sixteen years old about finding the perfect mate. We had a friend read that. It was perfect. Not a dry eye in the room.

    • Lori says...

      I would love to read that poem, if you cared to share it.

  25. The Little Prince has always been my favourite book, and I have always loved the profound, innocent way it describes love. I asked one of my best friends Emilie to read a passage from the book. Emilie is an effortlessly beautiful French girl, so hearing the reading in her accent was absolutely gorgeous! Many of my friends asked if I could give them her accent and her style from Christmas ;)

    Here is the reading – it still makes me cry!

    “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

    “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

    “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

    “It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

    “Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .”

    “I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

    • Hannah says...

      We’re reading this at our wedding next Saturday! The whole darn chapter!

      My fiancé and I used to sign our names on letters we wrote back and forth with “tamed”, I had it inscribed on his wedding ring. It makes my heart swell knowing it meant so much to someone else on their wedding day.

    • Samantha says...

      There’s another part I really loved when I read The Little Prince that can be easily interpreted in a romantic way, which is:

      “It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this, so so sweet.

    • Lissa says...

      We all used an excerpt from the Little Prince (among others), read by my MIL, a former French teacher. It included this bit:

      “What does that mean–‘tame’?”

      “It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

      “‘To establish ties’?”

      “Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”

  26. We did a bible reading as we figured that our belief would set the foundation for our marriage. I think the key to choosing the right reading is not that the reading sounds all mushy and romantic. The key os for the reading to mean something significant to the couple…

  27. Stacie says...

    We also had a sillier reading at our wedding and a more serious one! I loved both of them, but it did take me a while to find the more serious one.

    My sister-in-law and her husband read the silly one together, which was great:

    “Though you know it anyhow
    Listen to me, darling, now,
    Proving what I need not prove
    How I know I love you, love.

    Near and far, near and far,
    I am happy where you are;

    Likewise I have never larnt
    How to be it where you aren’t.

    Far and wide, far and wide,
    I can walk with you beside;

    Furthermore, I tell you what,
    I sit and sulk where you are not.

    Visitors remark my frown
    Where you’re upstairs and I am down,

    Yes, and I’m afraid I pout
    When I’m indoors and you are out;

    But how contentedly I view
    Any room containing you.

    In fact I care not where you be,
    Just as long as it’s with me.

    In all your absences I glimpse
    Fire and flood and trolls and imps.

    Is your train a minute slothful?
    I goad the stationmaster wrothful.

    When with friends to bridge you drive
    I never know if you’re alive,

    And when you linger late in shops
    I long to telephone the cops.

    Yet how worth the waiting for,
    To see you coming through the door.

    Somehow, I can be complacent
    Never but with you adjacent.

    Near and far, near and far,
    I am happy where you are;

    Likewise I have never larnt
    How to be it where you aren’t.

    Then grudge me not my fond endeavor,
    To hold you in my sight forever;

    Let none, not even you, disparage
    Such a valid reason for a marriage.”

    And then my best friend read the more serious one:

    “There is an art to marriage as there is to any creative activity we human beings engage in. This art asks that we pay attention to the little things as well as the big ones that are part of the closeness of marriage. Never grow too old to hold hands. At least once each day, remember to say, “I love you.” In so much as it is possible, develop the capacity to forgive and forget and heal quarrels as they happen so that you do not go to bed angry. Your courtship should not end with the honeymoon; so pay attention that you do not come to take each other for granted, and remember to speak words of appreciation and demonstrate your gratitude in thoughtful ways.

    It is important to have a mutual sense of values and common objectives so that you stand together as you work through the world and do things for each other, not as a duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. Do not expect perfection of each other. But do give each other room to grow and cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding, and sense of humor in your relationship. And your marriage is not just for two people. Use it to form a circle of love that gathers in your families and the children who may be part of your lives.

    Find room for the things of the spirit and make your search for the good and the beautiful a common search. In the words of a counselor, make yours a relationship in which “the independence is equal, the dependent is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal.” Remember that standing together never means dissolving your individual selves into each other, but indeed means the strengthening of the individuality of each. A good marriage evolves when two distinct souls face life’s joy and its sorrow in harmony, not in unison.

    This list sounds very long and very heavy, yet it is only a small part of what is required of two people who would truly accept that making a marriage over the years is an artistic endeavor worthy of our best efforts. It is not just another relationship in our lives; it is the one that gives us courage and the support to reach out to other people in love and wholeness.”

  28. Susan says...

    Great post! It encouraged me to return to some of our wedding readings from 9 years (!) ago. My husband’s best man read the poem below and I love how wise and romantic, yet un-mushy it is.

    Always Return

    It is good to know your strength
    but always return to your flexibility
    If you can cradle you beloved in your arms
    in nurturing gentleness
    love will flow through you.

    It is good to achieve things
    but always return to anonymity.
    Your beloved does not need your achievements
    but needs your uncomplicated soul.

    It is good to work for change,
    but always return to what is.
    If you accept all things whether painful or joyful
    you will always know
    that you belong to each other.

    LaoTzu, Tao Te Ching.

  29. Caryn says...

    I’m just curious, and don’t mean any offense. Is having a reading at at wedding, a Christian custom? Only reason that I am asking is because I am Jewish and we don’t do this, we have the service + the Seven Blessings. Just wondering, and would be interested to know! I’ve been to Non Jewish weddings as well, but they did not have readings either…

    • Sam says...

      I think it’s usually for ceremonies outside of a church. Any Catholic ceremony I’ve been to has gone “by the book” with only bible readings. We had a civil ceremony so there were no rules :)

    • I’m getting married in the Church of England and the we’ve been told that at least one of our readings should come from the Bible, but if we want to we can have a secular reading too. I’m struggling to limit it to two though – the service is what I’m most looking forward to, and the readings (and music) are part of the reason why! I’m loving all these suggestions! X

  30. Alison James says...

    We got married a couple of Saturdays ago (still on a high!) and I felt the readings were spot on! My granny read “I Carry Your Heart” by E.E. Cummings and made everyone in the room cry, followed by a wonderfully theatrical rendition of Hovis Presley’s “I Rely On You” by our lovely pal Seamus…brilliant!

  31. Christine says...

    Master Oar by Robert Frost……had the same issue 29 yrs ago.

  32. Ellen K says...

    My approach was to have each of our parents (4 in total) pick their own readings for us. It was so interesting to see what they each chose in their wishes/wisdom for us starting out our marriage.

    • Stephanie says...

      LOVE this.

  33. We also had the hardest time finding readings! We chose “Love” by Roy Croft pretty quickly, but couldn’t seem to find anything for the second reading. Finally, less than a month before our wedding (after digging through books and the Internet), my husband found our second reading — “I Like You” by Mister Rogers. It was so simple and sweet, and we had said those three words to each other for a long time before we dove into “I love you.”

    I worried that people would think the reading was silly, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after my brother read it at our ceremony:

    It’s you I like, It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, But it’s you I like. The way you are right now. The way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you. Not your diplomas… They’re just beside you. But it’s you I like, Every part of you: your skin, your eyes, your feelings, whether old or new. I hope that you’ll remember even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like, it’s you yourself, it’s you. It’s you I like.

    • Angela says...

      We also used the poem Scaffolding at our wedding.

  34. Union is a really beautiful reading; my best friend read it at her sister’s wedding – it is so unsentimental yet so practical and true. It really resonated and, in fact, that was the reading that moved me to tears!

    At my wedding, we are having ‘Falling in love is like owning a dog’ – we were going to have it anyway, but we just got a dog, so even more fitting! And a friend is going to read a Japanese poem for us :)

    I would always vote for short and sweet!

  35. I didn’t know so many people went with having wedding readings. I totally love the idea, though! Reading through these felt so beautiful and heart-felt. Have a good weekend xx

    Life in Blue Skies | A Lifestyle Blog

  36. Alea says...

    Wedding readings are not common in my culture, but I love “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran and would love to have it included in some form
    in my future wedding.

    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    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.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

    • Adriana says...

      That was my wedding reading. It was perfect. Really, anything from The Prophet. On Love and One Friendship are also good ones for the occasion.

  37. My sister read “I will be here” by Stephen Curtis Chapman at our wedding. I cried. My sister told me beforehand: “Don’t cry at your wedding. Some people cry pretty and some don’t. You shouldn’t cry at your wedding.” But I cried. Apparently everyone did.

    Yesterday my sister asked me to read at her wedding next summer and I had to tell her that I’m not sure I can. I’m not sure I can get through it!

    One idea if you have a hard time finding a piece that speaks to you: read a song. We all have songs that say exactly what we want and they can be read just like a poem.

    I will be here
    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.

    http://www.minipiccolini.com

    • Lindsey says...

      I wanted to have this read at my upcoming wedding but just found out he and his wife will be invited to the wedding (friend of the groom’s parents) and think it might be weird to highlight a guest I don’t know in that way.

      So sweet!

  38. L.R. says...

    We had a bunch of readings at our wedding, but this is my favorite, from Wendell Berry:

    The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another only by joining the unknown.

    In life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is. Marriage rests upon the immutable givens that compose it: words, bodies, characters, histories, places. Some wishes cannot succeed; some victories cannot be won; some loneliness is incorrigible.

    But there is relief and freedom in knowing what is real; these givens come to us out of the perennial reality of the world, like the terrain we live on. One does not care for this ground to make it a different place, or to make it perfect, but to make it inhabitable and to make it better. To flee from its realities is only to arrive at them unprepared.

    Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. You have committed yourself with faith.

    Faith has nothing to do with what is usually called optimism. As the traditional marriage ceremony insists, not everything that we stay to find out will make us happy. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.

    • JB says...

      Wow, I love this. This is so timely – planning my own wedding for next spring!

  39. I had my best friend read a beloved, but super short poem by George Eliot, knowing that she was prone to crying!
    “What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”

  40. Kristin S. says...

    My husband and I chose Rilke’s “Love Song “. I adore it! Hope y’all like it, too. xo

    How shall I hold on to my soul, so that
    it does not touch yours? How shall I lift
    it gently up over you on to other things?
    I would so very much like to tuck it away
    among long lost objects in the dark
    in some quiet unknown place, somewhere
    which remains motionless when your depths resound.
    And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
    takes us together like a single bow,
    drawing out from two strings but one voice.
    On which instrument are we strung?
    And which violinist holds us in the hand?
    O sweetest of songs.

  41. Jenni Walker says...

    When we got married, I asked my sister-in-law to read C.S. Lewis on marriage from Mere Christianity. I was surprised how much I loved hearing how she read it- what she emphasized and paused at. It’s still one of my favorite things I’ve ever read on marriage: http://pin.it/8fyThae.

  42. Anna says...

    We had the last line from Jane Austen’s Emma and “it’s you I like” from Mister Rogers

  43. Jade says...

    I am not married but my favourite poem is Love Poet my Rudy Francisco. It moves me every time I read or hear it. If ever I am lucky enough to get married I would love that as a reading.

  44. Emily says...

    My sister read a definition of marriage from the massachusetts supreme court decision which legalized gay marriage. It was important to me to have a reference to our support for the issue (I don’t think it would matter to me as much now, but it was a bigger controversy then), and the legal language was actually very beautiful.

  45. Harlie Jean says...

    Ha! We met through Craigslist, too — Missed Connections — and had our friend read the actual Craigslist post at our ceremony. :)

  46. Aya says...

    We didn’t have readings when we married because we had a short ceremony at city hall. But later that evening, I read a Sylvia Plath quote to my husband and to our families. When I first found this quote, it so captured the peace and contentment I have with my husband (and uncannily some of his quirks and interests as well). I saved it, telling myself one day we would marry and I would read this to him.

    “I feel good with my husband: I like his warmth and his bigness and his being-there and his making and his jokes and stories and what he reads and how he likes fishing and walks and pigs and foxes and little animals and is honest and not vain or fame-crazy and how he shows his gladness for what I cook him and joy for when I make him something, a poem or a cake, and how he is troubled when I am unhappy and wants to do anything so I can fight out my soul-battles and grow up with courage and a philosophical ease. I love his good smell and his body that fits with mine as if they were made in the same body-shop to do just that. What is only pieces, doled out here and there to this boy and that boy, that made me like pieces of them, is all jammed together in my husband. So I don’t want to look around any more: I don’t need to look around for anything.”

    • Jade says...

      Perfection. I have never come across this before but it is wonderful!

    • Love this!

  47. I went to a wedding last year where there was a reading from the Velveteen Rabbit. I wondered about it when I saw it in the program but I totally teared up when it was read by a friend of teh grooms.

  48. Alexandra S says...

    Oh my goodness, this has absolutely been the hardest part of wedding planning! We’re getting married in three months, and I have been searching for something that feels right. I love “I wish in the heart of your city” and “I Like You” from the comments. Bawling my eyes out right now and looking forward to sharing with my fiance tomorrow!

    • Amanda says...

      I read from the same passage for my friend’s wedding. We had SO MUCH TROUBLE finding a secular passage about love and marriage that suited them. This one fit the bill.

  49. ditherings says...

    my partner read ‘Parachutes, My Love, Could Carry Us Higher’ by Barbara Guest for a friend’s wedding. It’s more abstract that some suggestions but intensely beautiful.

    Parachutes, My Love, Could Carry Us Higher
    Barbara Guest

    I just said I didn’t know
    And now you are holding me
    In your arms,
    How kind.
    Parachutes, my love, could carry us higher.
    Yet around the net I am floating
    Pink and pale blue fish are caught in it,
    They are beautiful,
    But they are not good for eating.
    Parachutes, my love, could carry us higher
    Than this mid-air in which we tremble,
    Having exercised our arms in swimming,
    Now the suspension, you say,
    Is exquisite. I do not know.
    There is coral below the surface,
    There is sand, and berries
    Like pomegranates grow.
    This wide net, I am treading water
    Near it, bubbles are rising and salt
    Drying on my lashes, yet I am no nearer
    Air than water. I am closer to you
    Than land and I am in a stranger ocean
    Than I wished.

  50. cuillean says...

    After dating for nearly 8 years, we decided to make the leap. And less than 1 month later, we were standing in a field at a quiet nature preserve on a Wednesday afternoon in October with a justice of the peace, a bagpiper, & our immediate family.
    Along with 1 Corinthians 13, some Kahlil Gibran, and a few other readings, we read Wendell Berry’s poem “The Wild Rose”:

    Sometimes hidden from me
    in daily custom and in trust,
    so that I live by you unaware
    as by the beating of my heart,

    Suddenly you flare in my sight,
    a wild rose looming at the edge
    of thicket, grace and light
    where yesterday was only shade,

    and once again I am blessed, choosing
    again what I chose before.
    _____________

    Now, almost 14 years later, nestled in the familiar spaces and quotidian details of this life we continue to build together, from time to time I catch sight of my dear husband, seeing him as if anew, and, yes, choosing again what I chose before.

    • Jennifer says...

      Oh how I love this poem. It reminds me of my husband. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robin says...

      I love this! Thank you.

    • Sara says...

      That poem is lovely, thank you so much for sharing. I also love this excerpt from Berry’s “The Country of Marriage”-

      A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
      still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
      like the earth’s empowering brew rising
      in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
      I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
      who feels the solace of his native land
      under his feet again and moving in his blood.
      I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
      my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
      that lay before me, but only the level ground.

      III.

      Sometimes our life reminds me
      of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
      and in that opening a house,
      an orchard and garden,
      comfortable shades, and flowers
      red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
      made in the light for the light to return to.
      The forest is mostly dark, its ways
      to be made anew day after day, the dark
      richer than the light and more blessed,
      provided we stay brave
      enough to keep on going in.

      IV.

      How many times have I come to you out of my head
      with joy, if ever a man was,
      for to approach you I have given up the light
      and all directions. I come to you
      lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
      into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
      slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
      in you, when I arrive at last.

  51. I love seeing everyone’s selections! We didn’t have a reading at our wedding ceremony, but my now-husband included the audiobook version of David Sedaris’ “Keeping Up” as part of the proposal (instead of having ” our song,” I guess we have “our Sedaris essay”). Also, I read the Hafiz poem aloud to my husband just now, and he said, “It had you at the ‘digging potatoes’ part, didn’t it?” And in fact, that is my favorite line. :) Thanks for the added Thursday night romance!

  52. Chrissy Shea says...

    I’m so excited to share ours, because we were in the SAME BOAT. we had your same Union read by the officiant, “love” by Roy Croft (read by my husband to me), and I read the short but so so sweet “wild awake” by Hillary t. Smith:

    People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.

    • Hayley says...

      This is such a lovely quote!

  53. Katherine Wells says...

    This is a great post, I love your readings! We got married in September of 2014. We asked my husband’s sister Aria and our friend Johanna to do readings and chose anything they wanted. Aria chose Ecclesiastes 4: 7-12 and we reference it in our prayers often. Our friend Johanna chose a quote from Kurt Vonnegut without even knowing that it was something my family would say all the time on vacation! It was meant to be.

    “My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

    So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

  54. Laura says...

    These are great. We also had an excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I saw someone else referenced. I know you’ve also done a post on first dance songs, but one thing we had a really hard time with was a father-daughter/mother-son dance song. Some of them are so cliched by this point, and others sound downright incestuous. We finally landed on “We’re All in the Dance” by Feist, which was literally perfect. Just posting it in case someone else needs a suggestion!

  55. We agonized over the reading at our wedding and settled on Union by Robert Fulghum and then our officiant paraphrased it! I was so upset!

  56. meredith says...

    this was at a friend’s wedding and i love it;

    The Archipelago Of Kisses by Jeffrey McDaniel

    We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don’t
    grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
    does one find love? When you’re sixteen it’s easy,
    like being unleashed with a credit card
    in a department store of kisses. There’s the first kiss.
    The sloppy kiss. The peck.
    The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
    shouldn’t be doing this kiss. The but your lips
    taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
    The I wish you’d quit smoking kiss.
    The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
    sometimes kiss. The I know
    your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
    older, kisses become scarce. You’ll be driving
    home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
    with its purple thumb out. If you
    were younger, you’d pull over, slide open the mouth’s
    red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
    does one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.
    Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
    Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
    Now what? Don’t invite the kiss over
    and answer the door in your underwear. It’ll get suspicious
    and stare at your toes. Don’t water the kiss with whiskey.
    It’ll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
    but in the morning it’ll be ashamed and sneak out of
    your body without saying good-bye,
    and you’ll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
    on the inside of your mouth. You must
    nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
    illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
    and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
    special beach. Place it on the tongue’s pillow,
    then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
    a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
    But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
    intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
    The I’ll love you through a brick wall kiss.
    Even when I’m dead, I’ll swim through the Earth,
    like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.

    • Rachl says...

      Wow. Those last two lines and “just to be next to your bones.” SO beautiful.

  57. Midge says...

    We didn’t have a reading, but thirteen years ago, our officiant said, “Every day, you must ask yourself: ‘what can I do to help my dearest friend?'” So simple and true.

    • Keeley says...

      This is really lovely and a wonderful reminder of how to treat your spouse.

    • Aya says...

      Writing this down–so sweet and simple. This is what marriage is about.

  58. meredith says...

    we read excerpt’s from “I like you” by Sandol Stoddard Warberg, a children’s book.

    “I like you because I don’t know why but
    Everything that happens is nicer with you
    I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
    It must have been lonesome then
    I like you because because because
    I forget why I like you but I do

    So many reasons
    On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
    On the fifth of July, I like you too
    If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
    If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
    We could be a HOLIDAY
    We could be a CELEBRATION
    We could be a WHOLE PARADE

    See what I mean?
    Even if it was the 999th of July
    Even if it was August
    Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
    Even if it was no place particular in January
    I would go on choosing you
    And you would go on choosing me
    Over and over again”

    We also had a friend help us recreate the tired Corinthians “Love is patient, love is kind” by having us give him what we thought love was.
    “Love is a battlefield, love is eating each other’s cooking and saying it’s good”
    it got a good laugh and was personal.

    • Keeley says...

      We had this one too, it was perfect for us for many reasons, and since our wedding was on July 6th the groomsman who read that part ad-libbed “6th of July” instead of fifth :)

  59. Carrie says...

    My little brother read Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love”
    It was perfect

  60. Stephanie says...

    We let my sister-in-law choose what she would read and it ended up being so perfect. It is about being individuals who create something stronger together. Love rereading it often.

    On Marriage, from The PROPHET, by Kahlil Gibran

    When Almitra spoke again and said, “And what of Marriage, master?”
    And he answered saying:
    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
    Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
    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.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
    Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together, yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

  61. This is one of many reasons I am so grateful for the beautiful Catholic liturgy! We had only a few wonderful options to chose from; we didn’t have to invent our own script.

    • That was our experience too. I think I’ve only been to one non-church wedding, and they didn’t have a reading either. I guess I didn’t even know it was a thing! That said, there are a lot of beautiful passages being shared here so I can see why people like having a reading at their ceremony. But still, I can’t think of any better to get married than in the presence of the Eucharist. :-)

    • jen says...

      Yes. I did like the readings in “Love Story” tho.

  62. Lizzy says...

    We used another Hafiz love poem called “I cherish your ears.” I’m a Unitarian, so it was important to have readings from different faith traditions. Doesn’t get much better than Hafiz!

  63. Julie says...

    I just got married last weekend (!!) and my husband, then fiancé, found “A Lovely Love Story” to read. It’s an adorable story about dinosaurs who fall in love! It’s actually a children’s book, which is perfect for us because I’m a kindergarten teacher and his favorite movie was Jurassic Park!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Congratulations, Julie!!!!

    • Amy says...

      We used this one, too! Our friend and our young nephew read alternating lines and he really stole the show, it was great. Also used the Louis de Bernieres piece that others have mentioned and an excerpt from Goodridge v. Department of Public Health about the importance of civil marriage.

      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.

  64. chris says...

    My husband I (3 years ago today!) were looking for something that captured who we were as a couple, something that reflected the seriousness of the day and our commitment, while not taking ourselves too seriously. And something that was completely non-religious. We ended up with a number of readings, but my favorite was:

    Paublo Neruda
    SONNET LXIX
    Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
    without you moving, slicing the noon
    like a blue flower, without you walking
    later through the fog and the cobbles,
    without the light you carry in your hand,
    golden, which maybe others do not see,
    which maybe no one knew was growing
    like the red beginnings of a rose.

    In short, without you being, without you coming
    suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
    burst of a rosebush, wheat of the wind:
    and since then I am because you are,
    and since then you are, I am, and we are,
    and through love I will be, you will be, we will be.

  65. John Donne’s “The Flea”

  66. Angela says...

    We didn’t have a reading, but I did include this poem in our invitations by Stephen Crane:
    I looked here;
    I looked there;
    Nowhere could I see my love.
    And — this time —
    She was in my heart.
    Truly, then, I have no complaint,
    For though she be fair and fairer,
    She is none so fair as she
    In my heart.

    • jen says...

      Love Stephen Crane’s poetry!

  67. Sacha says...

    Joanna, your post today couldn’t have come at a better time. As we’re working to finalize the details of our wedding, the readings were something we hadn’t been able to pin down yet. After spending the evening reading through the comments here (and tearing up at each one), we’ve picked our readings! Special thanks to your readers who turned us on to Union by Robert Fulghum and the passage from the Velveteen Rabbit about becoming real :)

  68. Jennifer says...

    Maybe someone already mentioned this one, but my dear brother-in-law read this at our wedding (it was our “borrowed”, from their wedding):

    Blessing of the Hands

    These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

    These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

    These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

    These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

    These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

    These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

    These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

    These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

    And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

    • Anja says...

      Love love love this!! it’s definitely wedding season in our lives, so have heard a lot of these readings, but this is a new one to me. Have bookmarked it for our wedding next year in March. Thank you

    • jones says...

      We had that blessing at our wedding too Almost everyone said it was one of their favorite parts of the ceremony.

  69. I hope to have a court wedding to skip everything else altogether :) It does seem difficult to carry on all the traditions.

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  70. stacey says...

    We went with the lyrics to “The Book of Love” by Magnetic Fields:
    “The Book Of Love”

    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

  71. micaela says...

    Ours was Rainer Maria Rilke, Again and Again

    Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
    and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
    and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
    fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
    under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
    among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

    • Emily says...

      So so beautiful.

  72. Courtney says...

    I went to a (fabulous, gay) wedding on a cruise ship where the two grooms said the lyrics to “I Will Walk 500 Miles” as their vowels…and IT. WAS. AMAZING.

  73. Melissa says...

    My husband and I just got married last October! We aren’t religious and our ceremony was brief. We had our officiant do one reading. We chose Mark Twain’s “A Marriage:”

    A marriage…..
    makes of two fractional lives
    a whole,
    it gives to two purposeless lives
    a work, and doubles the strength
    of each to perform it,
    it gives to two
    questioning natures
    a reason for living,
    and something to live for,
    it will give a new gladness
    to the sunshine,
    a new fragrance to the flowers,
    a new beauty to the earth,
    and a new mystery to life

    We met in college as English majors so it seemed perfect. I love the sentiment it has without being too much. Thanks for the reminder, something about our wedding I wouldn’t change!

  74. Kate says...

    As we started our lives together in NYC and I was in grad school for Art History, I chose ‘Having a Coke with You’ as well. It made for a wonderful interlude between Biblical readings and hymns, and it was a surprise to my husband, so I enjoyed seeing his reactions.

  75. Dianna says...

    We had a reading from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. She had the most lovely description of how she learned the meaning of the word love.

  76. Callen says...

    I always love to hear your reading selections, Joanna! You have such marvelous taste for words. Alex must too!

    We didn’t have a wedding, but I put a favorite quote on the envelope of our reception invite: “It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does.”

  77. What a great resource this will be for those on the hunt!

    I was recently the reader of “Autonomy” by A.R. Ammons, which was a tricky one, but seemed to go over well with the crowd.

    We had a friend read a Wendell Berry excerpt –
    ““Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing”

    A friend used an excerpt from Still Life with Woodpecker (a surprising choice!) that begins, “Who knows how to make love stay?” and is quite lovely.

    My favorite is probably “Litany” by Billy Collins, which begins —
    You are the bread and the knife,
    the crystal goblet and the wine.
    You are the dew on the morning grass
    and the burning wheel of the sun.
    You are the white apron of the baker,
    and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

    However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
    the plums on the counter,
    or the house of cards.
    And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
    There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

  78. Lauren says...

    these are all so beautiful and wonderful! I’m not married, I’m single as can be, and this thread has made me so happy :-)

  79. Shane says...

    I read “Prayer for a Marriage” a poem by Steve Scafidi (and featured on the Writer’s Almanac) for a friend’s wedding. She loved it, and I happen to think it’s just perfect for the occasion: sweet but not sappy, with depth without being complicated. http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2001/05/13

  80. A popular but AMAZING reading (which my husband and I used for our wedding two years ago) is “Love is Friendship Caught Fire” by Laura Hendricks. It’s short, sweet, and very real. It was perfect for our non-religious ceremony…

    “Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.” — Laura Hendricks

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Really beautiful.

    • meredith says...

      love this.

  81. Sarah says...

    Love this post! We read through hundreds of readings and poems to find the right fit for us…it was tough! We ended up with this excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road…

    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 called riches,
    You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
    However sweet the laid-up stores,
    However convenient the dwellings,
    You shall not remain there.
    However sheltered the port,
    And however calm the waters,
    You shall not anchor there.
    However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you
    You are permitted to receive it but a little while
    Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before you,
    The long brown path before you,
    leading wherever you choose.
    Say only to one another:
    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 each other as long as we live?

  82. I loved reading these readings so much! The ones you chose are unique and personal. My husband and I had the same problem and ended up having only one reading, a poem called “Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog.”

    It was the perfect mix of humor and sentimentality that represents us well.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!!!

  83. Kellie P. says...

    I love this post! The idea of reading the first messages between the couple who met online is such a cute idea. Here was ours, which seemed appropriate as our wedding took place outside in the late fall:

    The Promise
    By Jane Hirshfield
    Stay, I said
    to the cut flowers.
    They bowed
    their heads lower.

    Stay, I said to the spider,
    who fled.

    Stay, leaf.
    It reddened,
    embarrassed for me and itself.

    Stay, I said to my body.
    It sat as a dog does,
    obedient for a moment,
    soon starting to tremble.

    Stay, to the earth
    of riverine valley meadows,
    of fossiled escarpments,
    of limestone and sandstone.
    It looked back
    with a changing expression, in silence.

    Stay, I said to my loves.
    Each answered,
    Always.

  84. I loved selecting the readings – but I love poetry, and am a writer as well as a post-graduate literature student so perhaps this was one of the few useful outlets for my degree (joke). We chose this poem, as one we’d loved for a long time , as well as a Shakespeare sonnet (we married on his birth/death date after all) and also anther poem that I am having trouble finding online…

    I dwell in Possibility – (466)
    BY EMILY DICKINSON
    I dwell in Possibility –
    A fairer House than Prose –
    More numerous of Windows –
    Superior – for Doors –

    Of Chambers as the Cedars –
    Impregnable of eye –
    And for an everlasting Roof
    The Gambrels of the Sky –

    Of Visitors – the fairest –
    For Occupation – This –
    The spreading wide my narrow Hands
    To gather Paradise –

  85. Chelsea says...

    We had the Peace Prayer read at our wedding. It felt like a way of committing ourselves not only to loving each other but committing our marriage to purposes beyond and outside of ourselves…

    “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    To be consoled as to console,
    To be understood as to understand,
    To be loved as to love;
    For it is in giving that we receive;
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

    • Abbie says...

      We used to sing a little song to this in parochial school. I never thought of it for a wedding reading, but it is truly perfect!

  86. Theresa says...

    We had two readings. One that I picked and one that my husband picked. I picked “Gorecki” by Lamb. It’s actually a song, one of my favorite songs. If you’ve never heard it, find it! The lyrics are below. My husband chose a passage about love from the book “Captain Corelli’s Mandolins”. It is a favorite passage of his.

    “Gorecki”
    If I should die this very moment
    I wouldn’t fear
    For I’ve never known completeness
    Like being here
    Wrapped in the warmth of you
    Loving every breath of you
    Still my heart this moment
    Or it might burst
    Could we stay right here
    Until the end of time until the earth stops turning
    Wanna love you until the seas run dry
    I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
    All this time I’ve loved you
    And never known your face
    All this time I’ve missed you
    And searched this human race
    Here is true peace
    Here my heart knows calm
    Safe in your soul
    Bathed in your sighs
    Wanna stay right here
    Until the end of time
    ‘Til the earth stops turning
    Gonna love you until the seas run dry
    I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
    The one I’ve waited for
    All I’ve known
    All I’ve done
    All I’ve… Full lyrics on Google Play

    • so beautiful

    • meredith says...

      i love the passage from captain corelli’s mandolin. I wanted it for our wedding but my husband thought it was depressing. he’s weird.

  87. Amy S says...

    My husband and I used the ever-popular “Union” by Robert Fulghum and this Isaac Asimov quote:

    “The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday’s love is part of today’s and the confidence in tomorrow’s love is also part of today’s. And when one dies, the memory lives in the other, and is warm and breathing. And when both die — I almost believe, rationalist though I am — that somewhere it remains, indestructible and eternal, enriching all of the universe by the mere fact that once it existed.”

  88. Union is a good one – we STRUGGLED with the same thing, and upon reading it, I was like, yep, that’s the one. So simple, and so perfect, and so true.

  89. Caroline says...

    Love is More Thicker than Forget – e.e. cummings

    love is more thicker than forget
    more thinner than recall
    more seldom than a wave is wet
    more frequent than to fail

    it is most mad and moonly
    and less it shall unbe
    than all the sea which only
    is deeper than the sea

    love is less always than to win
    less never than alive
    less bigger than the least begin
    less littler than forgive

    it is most sane and sunly
    and more it cannot die
    than all the sky which only
    is higher than the sky

  90. Hannah says...

    It’s a sometimes tradition in my extended family (uncles & cousins weddings) to have my grandfather sing John Denver’s ‘Follow Me’ in place of a reading. My grandfather is a large, strict, old school type of man that happens to have a beautiful voice (he has sung in all male Grieg choruses for years and years). It’s kind of fun to hear him sing such a lovely, sappy, hippie song.

  91. Grace says...

    We did an excerpt from Thomas Jefferson’s Head/Heart letter and Whitman’s poem “To a Stranger”
    It was tricky business finding non-religious readings that weren’t gag-worthy! I feel you!

    Love the idea of reading online messages. I’m sure my husband and I had some gems from AOL instant messenger circa 2006! Haha!

  92. Katie says...

    We thought we wouldn’t have any, but we ended up with three! The first was called “I Wish in the City of Your Heart” by Robley Wilson. It goes:
    I wish in the city of your heart
    you would let me be the street
    where you walk when you are most
    yourself. I imagine the houses:
    It has been raining, but the rain
    is done and the children kept home
    have begun opening their doors.

    The second was a Billy Collins poem that I’m sure everyone thought was an odd choice for a wedding, but it is a favorite of ours called “Litany”:
    You are the bread and the knife,
    the crystal goblet and the wine.
    You are the dew on the morning grass
    and the burning wheel of the sun.
    You are the white apron of the baker,
    and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

    However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
    the plums on the counter,
    or the house of cards.
    And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
    There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

    It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
    maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
    but you are not even close
    to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

    And a quick look in the mirror will show
    that you are neither the boots in the corner
    nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

    It might interest you to know,
    speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
    that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

    I also happen to be the shooting star,
    the evening paper blowing down an alley
    and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

    I am also the moon in the trees
    and the blind woman’s tea cup.
    But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
    You are still the bread and the knife.
    You will always be the bread and the knife,
    not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

    And finally, an excerpt from “A Farewell to Arms”:
    Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others … But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

    • I mentioned this one too! I think it’s sweet and light hearted.

  93. Jessica says...

    We didn’t have a wedding party, but we did have two of our best friends write and read something during the ceremony. They were perfect. They were personal, a little funny, very heartfelt, and we felt like we got to share a bit of ourselves with our community. It was fun to have our love reflected to us. They both did such an amazing job. My best friend then framed the last bit of her speech for us (which I think is a quote from something) and gave it to us to open on our honeymoon:

    Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
    Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
    Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
    Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
    Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days

    • Alex says...

      I’m really deep in the comments on this post (which is why this comment is so long after yours!), and out of curiosity I googled the last bit of the speech which you thought was a quote. It’s the last five lines (and, IMHO, the best ones) of A Blessing for Wedding by Jane Hirshfield

  94. Rachael says...

    We found a beautiful excerpt from the Massachusetts court decision to allow same-sex marriages. Back when it was only them and California… it was really important to us to take a moment to say that love is love.

  95. Laura says...

    I’m getting married a week from Saturday and this has been the biggest struggle! Our officiant is reading this Rainer Marie Wilke quote from Letters to a Young Poet:

    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 they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, 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 marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

    We want our sisters to read something, too – this post is so useful and timely!!

  96. We used I Saw in Louisiana A Live-Oak Growing
    By Walt Whitman –
    “I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
    All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,
    Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,
    And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,
    But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,
    And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,
    And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,
    It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
    (For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)
    Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love;
    For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,
    Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,
    I know very well I could not.”

  97. Kate says...

    This has stuck with me since I first read it in 2007, in the Times piece on the wedding of poet Moira Egan and Damiano Abeni: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/fashion/weddings/18VOWS.html

    “Ms. Egan recited her poem “Notes on a Potion,” in which the third stanza concludes:

    There are things I have grown used to needing, but never grow used to: His arms warm around me, the long migration home.

    Dr. Abeni followed with his Italian translation, choking back tears as he gently kneaded his wife’s shoulder.”

    The whole poem is beautiful:
    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=39896

  98. Jamie says...

    I don’t even have a main squeeze, but I love reading these and all the comments. Lotta great love poems to enjoy!

  99. Kelsi says...

    We aren’t religious, but my husband wanted this rather serious Bible reading in our ceremony. It seemed, to many, like a nod to his Baptist upbringing…but he actually wanted it because it is the speech Kevin Bacon gives in “Footloose” at the town council meeting. Our best friend read it with the perfect little smile on her face because she knew exactly why Mike wanted it. Still makes me smile.

    • Jade says...

      I love this!

  100. Adrienne says...

    My grandmother and two dear friends shared reading the passage from the Velveteen Rabbit where the Old Skin Horse explaines how love makes you real, how it happens slowly bit-by-bit over time. How it hurts sometimes but you don’t mind. And how it doesn’t matter if your hair falls out or you start looking shabby, because once you are real you can never be ugly, except to those who don’t understand. My grandparents were married for more than 60 years so it was perfect coming from Gram. I can’t even think about it without tearing up.

    • Perfection!

  101. Gillian says...

    We just got married a few months ago, we had a short, sweet and beautiful ceremony that was a combination of our own writings and traditional existing ones…same with our vows.

    At the end our very good friend (who officiated) read the “Apache Wedding Blessing”…it’s short, beautiful and interdenominational. It also was read at my sister’s wedding, so it served as our something borrowed- which I loved.

    Now you will feel no rain, For each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, For each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, For each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, But there is one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, To enter into the days of your togetherness. And may your days be good and long upon the earth

    • Lisa says...

      Love this so much. I find it so comforting.

    • Love this!!

  102. Katie says...

    We had a reading of Mark Twain’s letter to his wife on their wedding day. I still love it!:

    “This will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, the holiest, & the most generous toward us both — for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, & doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, & something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; & it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In that day the scales will fall from our eyes & we shall look upon a new world. “

    • Abbie says...

      Whew…tears!

    • Kate says...

      “it gives to two purposeless lives a work […], it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, & something to live for” this is so perfect

  103. LG says...

    I got married last Friday! After reading all the comments, I so wish we’d had this as a reference. My father-in-law was our officiant, and we were having a very hard time landing on readings that struck the right tone for us and for our families, so we let him and my mother-in-law select the readings. They chose some really lovely pieces (albeit more religious than I would have chosen on my own) and delivered us the perfect short (9 minute!), simple, personal ceremony that we really wanted.

    They chose Psalm 67, which has some beautiful thoughts on our place in the world and the call to live with integrity and justice, and A Blessing for Marriage by John O’Donahue which includes the great lines:

    “As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
    May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.

    As twilight harvests all the day’s color,
    May love bring you home to each other.”

  104. Katheo says...

    We have wild geese by Mary Oliver. It’s not weddings, but I loved how it speaks to finding your place.

  105. Jorie says...

    I chose this excerpt from the book “Recipes for a Perfect Marriage” by Kate Kerrigan. When I first read it, it evoked the kind of strong love my parents and grandparents had over a lifetime of happy marriage. It’s also such a good reminder that in order to grow in love with your partner over many years, you have to continue to give love.

    “What my marriage taught me is that real love is only what you give. That’s all. Love is not ‘out there,’ waiting for you. It is in you. In your own heart, in what you are willing to give of it. We are all capable of love, but few of us have the courage to do it properly. You can take a person’s love and waste it, but you are the fool. When you give love, it grows and flowers inside you like a carefully pruned rose. Love is joy. Those who love, no matter what indignities, what burdens they carry, are always full of joy.”

    • emily says...

      I love this!

  106. Lynsey says...

    We had I’ll be there for you by Louise Cuddon too (I’m wondering now if I first saw it here!) and The Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats. It’s our first wedding anniversary on Monday and this post made me smile x

  107. Sasha says...

    Choosing wedding readings was the hardest! But I chose 3 in the end, and it was very hot, and everyone, including us, was melting by that point. If I was doing it again, I would only choose one short reading, with the vows and the ring exchange the ceremony will be longer than it seems!

    Here’s a short and beautiful one I loved but didn’t use.
    “In that book which is my memory,
    On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you,
    Appear the words, ‘Here begins a new life’.” Dante.

  108. Bernadette says...

    We did traditional Bible reading which were beautiful and meaningful to us. The priest said the most beautiful and inspiring homily. My husband and I read a poem by Mother Teresa, each of us alternating lines. It was a beautiful moment and because our wedding was in France we read it in French.

    Life Is – Mother Teresa

    Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
    Life is beauty, admire it.
    Life is a dream, realize it.
    Life is a challenge, meet it.
    Life is a duty, complete it.
    Life is a game, play it.
    Life is a promise, fulfill it.
    Life is sorrow, overcome it.
    Life is a song, sing it.
    Life is a struggle, accept it.
    Life is a tragedy, confront it.
    Life is an adventure, dare it.
    Life is luck, make it.
    Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
    Life is life, fight for it.

  109. alexandra says...

    Love reading these! I’m getting married next month, and so far we’ve decided on this quote: “People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.” – Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith
    I WILL BE HERE, STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN

    But now I’m really considering ‘Our Union’ thanks to this post! What a wonderful representation of a marriage, this is how we’ve always striven to treat each other :)

  110. krystal says...

    We had a variation of the Apache wedding blessing when we eloped in the Rockies last winter.
    “May your love be as pure as the snow on the peaks, and enduring as the rock of these mountains amongst which you have chosen to wed
    May the sun bring you new energy by day,
    May the moon softly restore you by night,
    May the rain wash away your worries
    And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
    And all of the days of your life may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life together, as you live and fulfill the terms of this promise you have made with one another” It was pretty nice ;)

  111. Ashley says...

    My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and my dad got ordained so that he could marry us (many years later). When I was a junior and my husband a senior in high school, we started dating, but he had only met my parents briefly. My husband (not so much my dad) can be a little old fashioned, yet he hadn’t found a chance to ask my parents for permission to ask me to his prom, so he wrote them a letter and dropped it our mailbox. During our wedding ceremony my dad pulled out the original letter and read it to our friends and family. Slightly embarrassing, but lovely and fun!

  112. Rachel says...

    We read Robert Mapplethorpe’s first note to Patti Smith from her book “Just Kids,” a book about New York City, where we live, that we both loved.

  113. Nikki says...

    Just got married 3 weeks ago (woo woo!!), and we had my cousin read this poem from Pablo Neruda (my fave):

    “And now you’re mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
    Love and pain and work should all sleep now.
    The night turns on its invisible wheels,
    and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

    No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
    we will go together, over the waters of time.
    No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
    only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

    Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
    and let their soft drifting signs drop away;
    your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move

    after, following the folding water you carry, that carries
    me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
    Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.”

    • Kelly says...

      Oh man, Neruda gets me every time! Great choice.

  114. We had a Catholic Mass, which makes reading picking a lot simpler, but I love this reading from my friend’s wedding. From Letters to a Young Poet, by Ranier Maria Rilke:

    “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 they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, 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 marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

    • (and, it’s one of my personal favorite quotes about marriage, in general :)

  115. Lauren says...

    My good friend read a passage from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and my sister-in-law read a lovely poem that Harold Pinter wrote for his wife called It Is Here…

    What sound was that?

    I turn away, into the shaking room.

    What was that sound that came in on the dark?
    What is this maze of light it leaves us in?
    What is this stance we take,
    To turn away and then turn back?
    What did we hear?

    It was the breath we took when we first met.

    Listen. It is here.

  116. Mollie says...

    We had two, and I LOVED them.

    We had someone read an excerpt of Robert Frost’s “The Master Speed”

    Two such as you with such a master speed
    Cannot be parted nor be swept away
    From one another once you are agreed
    That life is only life forevermore
    Together wing to wing and oar to oar

    And excerpts from a letter from John Steinbeck to his son about falling in love:

    First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

    Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

    And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

    • Emily M. says...

      Thank you for sharing that John Steinbeck quote– it is just the truest thing I’ve ever read. I’ve had both loves and I am grateful for that. And can’t wait to marry the second! xo

    • emily says...

      We just got married in April and had a friend read the same Steinbeck letter. It was extra special to us because my husband’s father passed away before we met and it felt like a nice, quiet way to honor him. I’m tearing up even now reading the last three lines. <3

      We also had a version of the Apache Wedding Blessing (which is not Apache at all, but lovely nonetheless!)

      "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth."

      "Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives — remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight."

  117. Kate says...

    It was simple: we didn’t do it! It felt forced and not “us” so we skipped over it. I hate all the weird pressure on couples to perform all these “traditions” that aren’t important to them. A lot of my friends picked very “twee” things to appear hip and still appeal to tradition, and they all seemed so try hard.

    The person who married us was my friend’s mom and has known me since I was two. She threw in her own part about how wonderful it is to be a parent and to watch your kids grow (with a shout-out to her son who was in attendance), and how important family is. She said a couple nice things about both of our families and how loved we are. That was way, way more us than a reading would have been. We didn’t know she was going to do that, and it was beautiful.

  118. Monique says...

    We are getting married in-oh my goodness!- 3 weeks, and have decided on an edited version of Blessing for a marriage, by James Dilley Freeman.

    May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
    May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness.
    May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
    May you want one another, but not out of lack.
    May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
    May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.
    If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
    May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
    May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

  119. Laura says...

    Our one and only reading was “I Carry Your Heart With Me” by E.E. Cummings. My husband is a real stoic and that poem is just abstract enough that it feels meaningful but isn’t too Saccharine.
    We had my sister in law’s boyfriend, who is a good friend of ours, read it. Mostly because he’s really into literature and is just an all around great guy, but also because he’s from Ohio. Our families are all from Long Island, Brooklyn and Connecticut, and I couldn’t bear to hear those accents during my wedding ceremony!

  120. Christy says...

    It was hard for us too! We settled on “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg (like someone else here commented), and also ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by Yeats:
    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half-light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

  121. lynn says...

    I’ve heard Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet at two different weddings. One wedding had it read in English and German I believe.

    “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 they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, 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 marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

    And then another friend’s wedding poem was also Seamus Heaney but Lovers on Aran

    The timeless waves, bright sifting, broken glass,
    Came dazzling around, in the rocks,
    Came glinting, sifting from the Americas

    To possess Aran. Or did Aran rush
    To throw wide arms of rock around a tide
    That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?

    Did sea define the land or the land the sea?
    Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
    Sea broke on land to full identity.

    I also recently went to a beautiful Russian/Canadian – Iranian/American wedding where there was lots of Pushkin and Rumi.

  122. Sarah says...

    My Grandfather, a minister who officiated at our wedding chose the reading and surprised us. When it started I thought ‘what the…’ but realized that the reading is perfect for us. He chose A. A. Milne’s ‘Us Two’:

    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.

    • Lillian says...

      We had an AA Milne quote too! We had three beautiful readings, and then my brother read out as his last words, “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

      AA Milne was such a huge, beautiful part of my family’s life growing up that I really wanted to include some of his words in our ceremony.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh that is so sweet. Love this!

  123. Amy says...

    My husband and I had an excerpt from Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz in our ceremony. I read this book long before I met my husband, but I knew it was how I wanted to love and be loved. (We are both Jesus followers so this made sense to us.) I just think it’s beautiful.

    “I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.

    God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.”

    At a friend’s wedding I read Madeline L’Engle’s The Irrational Season:
    “But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

    To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take.If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.”

    • Jenica says...

      My husband and I chose this for our ceremony too! We actually had his sister and her husband read all of “Polaroids” back and forth with each other while we signed our papers. My husband was the one who gave me Blue Like Jazz to read while we were dating, so it was special to us. We both agreed it is the most beautiful depiction of love. It’s really cool to see you had the same idea!

    • Love, love, love Donald Miller! And that quote!

    • Amy says...

      Jenica, I remember reading it and thinking it was the most beautiful way to look at love. I’m not always good at it, but “the clock itself will wear thin its time” before I have it down. I’m glad others had the idea to use it too!

      Kirstie, I love his writing so much! I don’t often purchase books, but I have all of his. It feels like talking to a friend.

  124. Sue says...

    Our minister-ish person surprised us with a Walt Whitman poem that was so perfect, called We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d. Made me tear up just now reading it again. http://www.bartleby.com/142/23.html

    • Sue says...

      I think she omitted the “Coarse smut of beasts” line. Ha! I mean, parents were there ya know.

  125. My best friend who was my maid of honor thankfully helped us with picking our readings as she’s a total poetry and Shakespare buff. So I had her send me a few of her favorite poems and sonnets. We ended up going with Love is Thicker then Forget by EE Cummings:

    [love is more thicker than forget]
    ee cummings

    love is more thicker than forget
    more thinner than recall
    more seldom than a wave is wet
    more frequent than to fail
    it is most mad and moonly
    and less it shall unbe
    than all the sea which only
    is deeper than the sea
    love is less always than to win
    less never than alive
    less bigger than the least begin
    less littler than forgive
    it is most sane and sunly
    and more it cannot die
    than all the sky which only
    is higher than the sky

    <3
    heather
    fashionistanygirl.com

  126. HILLARY says...

    We also used the children’s book “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg… my husband and I are like 2 silly little kids so it was perfect for us- my favorite part is the end:

    I would go on choosing you.
    And you would go on choosing me.
    Over and over again.
    That’s how it would happen every time.
    I don’t know why.
    I guess I don’t know why I really like you.
    Why do I like you.
    I guess I just like you.
    I guess I just like you.
    because I like you.

  127. We had “Union” by Robert Fulghum read during our ceremony. When I heard it, I also knew it was “the one.” I also struggled & was so happy when I found this—it spoke to us wonderfully.

  128. My husband is a big poetry geek, so he had one in his mind for a long time. It’s called Epithalamium by Adam Zagajewski. And then one of my dear friends used to write the most beautiful poetry, and there was one she wrote that always struck me, long before I had met my husband, and I thought, “This poem has to be read at my wedding.” It was so beautiful. Funnily enough, it’s one of her least favorite poems, but she so graciously agreed to read it for us on our special day. :)

  129. ND says...

    We had a religious ceremony and used the 1st Corinthians “love is patient, love is kind” verse, which, while cliche, has been a favorite of mine since I child, it’s just simple and beautiful, so we used it anyway :) This isn’t a reading exactly, but our officiant also had us write letters to each other as inspiration for his words, and unbeknownst to us, he ended up reading the entire letters out throughout the ceremony! It was so personal and really fun to hear what the other person was thinking and feeling leading up to that day. It was one of my favorite parts of our wedding day.

  130. Kelsey Leftwich says...

    My husband and I had the traditional Bible readings but what really stood out to me were two things:
    1. His oldest sister did the readings and we realized as she started reading she had terrible stage fright. I was so touched that she put herself out there and didn’t discourage us when we asked her. I don’t remember the exact readings but I remember her courage.
    2. We had a reading for our priest but he surprised us with a homily (sermon) he had written about us. He knew my husband and I both since we were in high school and he had some touching words to share.

  131. I managed to forget all about this. I suddenly remembered during the ceremony when it was a bit too late! Didn’t matter, as it turned out, and I think I was the only one who noticed. Also managed to forget to ask one of my bridesmaids to take my flowers at the altar but a helpful verger stepped in. I may be mistaken, but I feel he might have also done a reading for us. It was nearly 26 years ago…gaps in memory permitted.

  132. Jeanine says...

    Our readings included, “And Then” by Lang Leav and a bit of dialogue from Before Sunrise:
    Celine: I mean, I feel this pressure to be a strong and independent icon of womanhood and not have it look like my life is only revolving around some guy, but the love of a man and returning that love means a lot to me. I always make fun of it and stuff, but isn’t everything we’re doing in life a way to be loved a little more or something?

    Jesse: Sometimes I dream of being a good father and a good husband. Sometimes that feels really close, but other times it just seems silly, and that it would ruin my life. It’s not that I have a fear of commitment or I’m incapable of loving or caring about someone else, because I can. It’s just that if I’m totally honest with myself, I’d rather die knowing that I was really good at something, that I was special or had excelled in some way, than to have only been in a really nice, caring relationship.

    Celine: You know, I had worked for this older man, and once he told me that he had spent all his life thinking about his career and his work, and how he was fifty-two and it suddenly struck him that he had never really given anything of himself, that his life was for no one and nothing. He was almost crying saying this.
    (a beat)
    I really believe that if there’s any kind of god, he wouldn’t be in any one of us – not you, not me – but just this space in between. If there’s some magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone else, sharing something, even if it’s almost impossible to succeed. But who cares – the answer must be in the attempt.

    • Rach in Oz says...

      I so adore this scene; it’s magical. I think I need to re-watch soon!

  133. Maggie says...

    One of the hardest parts of wedding planning … My now-husband chose Seamus Heaney’s “Scaffolding,” which I loved:
    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.

    • Kirsten says...

      Yes! My dear friend read this at our wedding a few weeks ago ❤️

      Also, we picked our readers and gave them a short list of options but also told them they could choose something else if they liked. They didn’t, but it made me relax about choosing the ONE reading because someone else had to validate the choice!

  134. lindsay says...

    When we married last summer, we used Union, a reading from Capt. Corelli’s Mandolin that begins “Love is a temporary madness…” and then for the benediction, we had our officiant read from the Goodrich v. MA Dept of Public Health decision (it was one of the earliest cases in the landslide of cases that allowed gay marriage). That was a nod to our friends who were finally able to get married, but we also thought it was a beautiful example of our thoughts on marriage as well. I especially loved this part: “Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

    • Emilie says...

      I love the idea of readings from the Goodrich decision; and what a lovely expression to friends who can now more fully enjoy the privileges of this institution – Bravo!

    • meredith says...

      great taste!
      the captain corelli’s mandolin one and the goodrich one are both some of my favorites!

  135. Josephine says...

    Our wedding was all the way back in 2003, so some of the details are being lost to the mists of time! Our main reading was the Desiderata – a poem about navigating life. We are not mushy folk, nor are we religious, so it offered positive long-life/love vibes without being corny or having religious overtones.

    • Josephine says...

      Oops, just re-read it. There are religious overtones! But not overbearing…

  136. Robin says...

    We used an excerpt from the children’s book “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Its simple and sweet. Its fairly long, so we picked the bits we liked. It starts like this:
    I like you, and I know why.
    I like you
    because you are a good person
    to like
    I like you because
    When I tell you something special,
    You know it’s special,
    And you remember it
    A long, long time…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my goodness, i really love this. it’s so simple, but i’m tearing up.

    • My husband and I read that book as well! We alternated sections, and it just really fit our relationship and personalities so well.

    • Eve says...

      We’re using this at our wedding next year! I bought it for my husband to be on our first anniversary of when we met. We’ve been trying to cut it down for the reading at the wedding but we love it all so much we can hardly find anything to cut out!

    • HILLARY says...

      We just got married in October and used the same book!! It’s just the cutest!

    • I’m with Joanna on this! It’s so simple and sweet yet it makes me tear up. LOVE IT!

    • Cait says...

      I love that book so much! I gave it to my now-husband on our first Valentines Day during our relationship. A friend had previously given it to me. What a lovely idea.

    • Megan says...

      We used that book too! We also had some friends read a selection of our text message history. It was pretty hilarious.

  137. Amanda says...

    While planning for my recent wedding I read “On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran and fell in love. It is sweet without being saccharine, and highlighted many of the things that I value most in my relationship. My favorite lines were, “And let your best be for your friend. If they must know the ebb of your tide, let them know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek them with hours to kill? Seek them always with hours to live. For it is theirs to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

  138. Melanie says...

    We did the Union at my wedding as well and the reader, my sister-in-law started crying and there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. I also did a snippet from one of Donald Millers’ books (my fav), just slightly altered:
    It’s spiritual without being an actual bible-verse or preachy which I loved
    Donald Miller “Blue Like Jazz” excerpt
    I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery, save God’s own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed Himself in me. And I will do this to my death. I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding you love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.

    • Amy says...

      We did that same part! I love that take on love. It’s so beautiful.

  139. I wanted a reading that was romantic–yes–but also one that reflected our years together before marriage; a wedding is one day, a relationship is longer. A relationship, unlike a wedding, is a living, ever-evolving thing.

    “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.”

    –From Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

  140. After much, much brain wracking, we did a reading from The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

    “When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke – the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”

    I tried to sell my husband on Anne of Green Gables when she marries Gilbert but I couldn’t bring it home!

  141. We met with the Presbyterian minister my future mother-in-law insisted we have marry us; he was in his 80s. He showed us the wedding ceremony and I hated it. It wasn’t a celebration of love and life, it was all about how we’d have to stick together when things got bad, and how things would get very, very bad. I was honest with him. He said he’d never had one complaint about it, and where had I gone to school? I said, “Swarthmore, in Pennsylvania; we learned to question and critique everything.” Fortunately, he had gone there, too! He let me rewrite it. I included this poem by Wallace Stevens: “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour.” I’m not very religious, but enough:

    Light the first light of evening, as in a room
    In which we rest and, for small reason, think
    The world imagined is the ultimate good.

    This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
    It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
    Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

    Within a single thing, a single shawl
    Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
    A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

    Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
    We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
    A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

    Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
    We say God and the imagination are one…
    How high that highest candle lights the dark.

    Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
    We make a dwelling in the evening air,
    In which being there together is enough.

  142. Laura R. says...

    Those readings are so beautiful! I chose an excerpt of Homer’s Odyssey for our ceremony. My husband and I spent a lot of our dating years in a long distance relationship, so I really related to the words and the feeling of being reunited after a long time apart (although Homer’s situation was much more dramatic).

    Now from his breast into his eyes the ache
    Of longing mounted, and he wept at last,
    His dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms,
    Longed for
    As the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer
    Spent in rough water where his ship went down
    Under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea.
    Few men can keep alive through a big surf
    To crawl, clotted with brine, on kindly beaches
    In joy, in joy, knowing the abyss behind:
    and so she too rejoiced, her gaze upon her husband,
    her white arms round him pressed as though forever.

  143. Sarah Beth says...

    We had a traditional, (reform) religious Jewish ceremony, so we didn’t have any readings. The rabbi did his thing, we recited traditional vows, and that was that. Most of the weddings I’ve been to, in fact, have been religious, so no readings! I didn’t even realize it was such a big thing!
    All that to say, I *love* the poem “Prayer for a Marriage,” by Steve Scafidi, so I had it printed on the back of our wedding program. It was a nice way to incorporate it while still allowing us to have the type of ceremony we had in mind.

  144. Beth says...

    I am one for short and efficient ceremonies (much to my mom’s disdain), so I only had one reading, and we asked the officiant to do it. We had him read 1 Corinthians 4-13–cliche, but a classic and no less important to us! Our entire ceremony was 20 minutes.

    • Beth says...

      Rather, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 :)

    • We had the same…we hadn’t discussed this with our pastor beforehand (it was a super casual ceremony!) and about five minutes before we started he asked if 1 Corinthians 13 would be ok. What were we going to say at that point? Ha! I barely remember the ceremony anyway…most of what I “remember” now is from watching the video my father-in-law took.

      I had no idea that choosing readings was such a big deal! Most in our circle are traditional and/or religious and have chosen a Bible passage or two. Very interesting to read these selections!

  145. My wedding is in 2 months and I’m just crying reading this because I’m so excited to marry by best friend! This will be our reading –

    “You are the light when they’re is no sun. You are the rainbow once the rain is done. You are the star that twinkles in the night. You are the moon that glows so bright. You are the wind that whistles my name. You are the love when the world is the same. You are the flower the bees never miss. You are the beach and the warm suns kiss”

    Love this post Joanna!

    http://www.touchofcurl.com

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations, colleen! xoxo

  146. They sound corny to anybody but the couple. It’s the same thing for funerals, which, overall, are much less fun.
    C’est la vie.
    No, we didn’t do a reading at our wedding. And at the funerals I unhappily have been to lately, I wrote my own readings.