Most people like to include one or two readings in their wedding ceremony - it's a nice way to include special guests and to express sentiments that are important to you. So, you will likely turn to Google, and realise there are 1,000s of possibilities! Let's break it down a little... Remember you don't have to have any readings - so be sure this is something you actually want to include before you go any further. Next step; if you decide to include readings think about who you might invite. It's lovely to include a grandparent, parent, special friend, child or sibling, but only if they are someone who enjoys public speaking. Watching someone struggle through a reading, clearly not enjoying it, is pretty uncomfortable. If reading out loud isn't their jam, give them a different way to feel included in the ceremony, and permission to decline the invitation.
So you have picked (let's say) 2 people who you would like to read and they have agreed. Now it's just a matter of choosing the reading. Occasionally, the reader suggests something themselves, or might write a little piece for you, and that can be such a wonderful, personal touch. If you are choosing, try to pick something that reflects the nature of your relationship and something that fits with the vibe of your wedding. If the reader is a sibling or friend; you might have a little fun and use something like: Falling in love is like owning a dog by Taylor Mali, or I'll be there for you by Louise Cudden. These are both light-hearted and sweet and usually result in some laughter. If your ceremony is more romantic and heart-felt then, I'd suggest choosing a romantic reading that speaks to your beliefs about love. Perhaps; Love is friendship caught fire by Laura Hendricks or; To love is not to possess by James Kavanaugh. If you and your partner are avid readers, a piece from a favourite book can be a great choice. Have a look at Captain Corelli's Mandolin or A farewell to arms, both offer lovely passages that might fit the bill.. And who could resist the opening line in Pride and Prejudice; " It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife!". If the reader is a parent, godparent or grandparent, it can be really lovely to have them offer a reading of good wishes/ what they know about marriage/what they hope for you (of course being sensitive to their own marriage history). There are some lovely pieces that speak to good wishes such as Blessings for a marriage by James Dillet Freeman, or A good marriage by Pearl S Buck. Children can be great readers, (again check that they really want to do it and perhaps have a backup in case they change their mind) and choose something age appropriate. You can't go wrong with a short Winnie the Pooh quote!
If you would like to include 4 or 5 readers, consider including a " Prayers of the faithful" offering, which can be secularised to simply offering good wishes, if you are having a non -religious ceremony. You might include the couples' family, those who have passed and cannot be present, the friends of the couple, the couple themselves, all couples getting married today etc. All the readers come up together, each person reads their piece in turn, and they return to their seats together.
Preparation: Do give your readers a copy of what they will be reading ahead of time so they can look it over. As a seasoned celebrant, I always have the readings printed out in a big font and ready on a music stand, with the mic at the right height. It just looks classier than people reading off their phones, pulling a piece of paper out of their pocket, or rummaging for their glasses. I will make a point of meeting the readers before the ceremony begins and invite them to sit somewhere handy for coming up to read.
After that, well it will be what it will be. The ceremony is a celebration of your love, and your public commitment to each other. Readings offer a sense of inclusion in a ceremony, it's not a play in the Abbey theatre, it doesn't have to be word perfect!
Enjoy choosing your readings and remember to thank your readers after the big day.
I'll finish with a little favourite of mine; you never know where your inspiration for readings will come from so be creative1
“His hello was the end of her endings.
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle.
His hand would be hers to hold forever.
His forever was as simple as her smile.
He said she was what was missing.
She said instantly she knew.
She was a question to be answered.
And his answer was ‘I do.’”