In addition to the opportunity for those close to you to participate without being attendants, readings allow you to blend faiths and cultures. When the bride and groom practice different religions, celebrants can alternate readings from both faiths. When one partner comes from another country, readings in both languages keep foreign guests involved in the ceremony. Selections fall into four categories: scripture, poetry, philosophical and media.
One or all of the readings in religious marriage ceremonies comes from a sacred book. Christian couples commonly choose passages that stress love and its importance. According to Rev. Phil Landers, a Chicago officiant, 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 -- "Love is patient and kind" -- is the most popular scripture reading. Together For Life reports most Catholic couples choose Matthew 5:1-12a, the Beatitudes, for a Gospel reading. The most common passage from the book of Psalms is 33:12, which reads, "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."
Verses on Love
Meaningful selections need not come from religious texts. Ancient Greeks introduced poetry as part of the wedding program. Lord Byron's "She Walks in Beauty," Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" and "I carry your heart with me" by E.E. Cummings are common choices according to Plan Your Perfect Wedding website. Shakespeare works, especially Sonnet 116, appear on lists of most popular wedding poetry as do verses by Pablo Neruda.
Like poetry, excerpts of prose lend a less formal air to a wedding ceremony than scripture readings. They also make an acceptable choice for venues in which religious texts might not be appropriate, such as courthouses. Choices include selections from Margery Williams' children's book "The Velveteen Rabbit"; the Apache wedding blessing; "Gift From the Sea" by Ann Morrow Lindbergh; Khalil Gabran's "The Prophet"; and "The Bridge Across Forever" by Richard Bach.
Lyrics and Lines
Film buffs and music lovers have chosen lyrics from favorite songs and adapted lines from films for wedding readings. The words to Nat King Cole's "L.O.V.E." hold meaning for some couples, while others prefer John Lennon's "Grow Old With Me" or Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road," according to officiant Jeff Petersen. Adapting or quoting romantic lines from films the couple enjoys makes them special reading choices. For example, proposals from "The Runaway Bride" and "When Harry Met Sally" join dialogue from "The Notebook" on lists of popular Hollywood-sourced readings.
- Wedding Planning and Management: Consultancy for Diverse Clients; Maggie Daniels, Carrie Loveless
- Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day; Reverend Judith Johnson, PhD
- I Do Weddings, Ltd.: Religious Readings
- Together for Life: The Most Popular Catholic Wedding Readings
- Academy of American Poets: Wedding Poems
- Plan Your Perfect Wedding: Top 10 Readings for Wedding Ceremonies
- Todays-Weddings.com: Wedding Ceremony Readings
- EleGALA.com: Popular Wedding Readings
- Wedding Ideas: 6 of the Most Romantic Wedding Readings From Books
- Wedding Day Officiant: Wedding Poems and Wedding Lyrics
- Photo Credit Aleksandr Pakhay/iStock/Getty Images
How to Choose Readings for Your Wedding Ceremony
Readings during a wedding ceremony reflect the values of the bride and groom as well as their families, so consulting family, friends...