Top 10 Wedding Readings

You can choose anything from a Bible reading to a quirky love song

By Lynette DiPalma

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Wedding readings help set the tone not only for the ceremony but also for the years to come. The readings at your ceremony might range from serious biblical readings all the way to fun and quirky song lyrics. You may choose a familiar reading or one that's obscure but meaningful to you as a couple.

Biblical Readings

You'll find dozens of appropriate readings in the Bible, the most popular of which are I Corinthians 13:1-13, Psalm 128:1-4, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Song of Solomon 2:10-13 and I John 4:7-19.

A Shakespeare Sonnet

Look to Shakespeare for inspiration. His sonnets are full of passion and what better emotion to bring to a wedding? Sonnet 116 is relatively short, but delivers a powerful message of the constancy of love and its ability to endure through time and temptation.

Benediction of the Apaches

Whether your ceremony is to be religious or not, consider the classic reading known as the Apache Wedding Prayer. (Though its title suggests a sacred Native American source, don't be fooled: The original was written by Elliott Arnold and included in his 1947 novel "Blood Brother.")

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sonnet

For a romantic touch, have someone read the sonnet that begins with the timeless "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Elizabeth Barrett wrote this sonnet for Robert Browning in 1845. In only 14 lines, she expresses her past, present and future -- and her undying devotion to her lover.

Traditional Scottish and Irish Readings

If you've decided to plan your wedding around your Scottish or Irish heritage, consider traditional readings such as "My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns, "Irish Wedding Blessing" or the "Scottish Wedding Prayer." Each of these readings not only talks of romantic love, but also speaks of the love of the beautiful landscapes of the Emerald Isle or the old castles and clans of Scotland.

Marlowe's Love Poem

Look to "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe, one of the most popular English language love poems ever written, for a moving reading for a classic wedding.

A Reading and a Response

Create a sense of balance with readings for both the bride and the groom. Though written by two different poets nearly three centuries apart, "A Dedication to My Wife" by T.S. Eliot and "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet go together for couples who wish to do their own readings as if in response to each other.

Elegantly Brief

Use "Wedding Prayer" by Robert Louis Stevenson for shorter, less formal ceremonies. Written specifically for the purpose of being read at a wedding, this prayer is short and to the point while still being elegant. It is brief enough to be appropriate for a courthouse wedding.

Literary Metaphor

Take an excerpt from "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams for an unconventional approach. You can use the popular "what is real" passage, a conversation in the early part of the novel about how toys become "real" through the love of a child, as a tender metaphor for the intimate bonds of marriage.

Personal Selections

Search for meaningful lyrics in your favorite song, a touching passage in a mutually favorite book or even in the dialogue of the movie you saw together on your first date. There are no limits to wedding readings. A popular option is to use a passage that has profound meaning for the couple regardless of its traditional usage.

About the Author

Lynette DiPalma is a freelance writer in the weddings field who co-owns a small wedding services business and has officiated at weddings.

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Choose ceremony readings

Sacred texts might perfectly reflect your sentiments on your wedding day, but the humorous poetry of Ogden Nash or a quote from a Supreme Court decision on marriage might work better if you're looking for something secular. Research online to discover readings to personalize your wedding ceremony.

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Wedding Glossary


A popular Bible reading for weddings that includes the statement, "Love is patient, love is kind."

View the Full Weddings Glossary
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