Wedding Readings Your Way

Wedding Readings, Inclusive CeremoniesAre you avoiding having wedding readings?

When you think of readings for your ceremony, do you stop at “we don’t think we want readings, because we don’t want anything religious” or are you just tired of the same readings you’ve heard at all of your friends weddings?

Did you know that readings actually can be anything from poetry to prose, a collection of quotes, song lyrics, love letters, even dialog from a movie or play?

When choosing your readings, you can:

  • Make a statement.
  • Have a reading written for your ceremony.
  • Use whatever words are meaningful to you.

Make a Statement with Your Wedding Readings

Some couples choose to use their wedding readings to make a statement. This is a chance, for example, to share with your friends and family how you view marriage.

Many couples have also used their wedding as a platform to voice their support for marriage equality. A popular reading for this purpose has been this excerpt from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health (2003).

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations…Without question, civil marriage enhances the welfare of the community. It is a social institution of the highest importance. Civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient ones…Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. 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.

Have A Reading Written for the Your Ceremony

When I met with Erika and Shaun to talk about their wedding, they already knew they wanted their friend Julia to write part of their ceremony. Julia’s reading was a tribute to Erika, to the person she’d known all her life and the kind of wife she was going to be, and what it meant to Julia (and everyone) to share this day.

At first, it seemed something more suitable to the wedding toast, but then I realized that Julia’s reflection on Erika would be a great between the opening remarks thanking everyone for their presence and their love story. To balance things out, they asked Shaun’s cousin, Scarlett to write (and speak) about Shaun. Both tributes were beautiful and heartfelt. Here’s how I worked them in to the ceremony:

Celebrant: Erika and Shaun, now that we’ve heard a bit about what it means to you to have your family and friends here today, I invite Shaun’s cousin Scarlett and your good friend, Julia, to come forward on behalf of your friends and family. Erika, Scarlett is going to speak about the man you’re about to marry. And Shaun, Julia is going to say a little bit about the woman you’re marrying and about what it means to everyone here to share this moment with the two of you.

You can even write your own readings. Write a love letter to your soon-to-be spouse. Write about what it means to have your friends and family gathered around you. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, just write from your heart.

Another couple I worked with, Shannon and Steven, had overcome many obstacles on the road to their wedding day. They chose, for their reading, a poem written by the Shannon called “This We Believe” that summed up the their definition of family and the values they were choosing to live by. It was a very powerful moment.

Use Whatever Words Are Meaningful to You as a Wedding Reading

Don’t limit your search to words specifically about love. Do you have a favorite song that really speaks to you? How about a quote or two that inspire you? Choose the words that reflect your feelings, your outlook, or your beliefs and tell your officiant what the reading means to you, so it can be worked into your ceremony.

Wedding Tip: Possible Sources for Readings

When you’re looking for wedding readings, you may find some inspiration here:

For more tips, see how Megan and Johnnie used four wedding readings in their ceremony and how you can help your readers do a great job and feel comfortable participating in your wedding.

Contact Cris about your wedding ceremony today!

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