I was a marriage registrar and attended around 2000 weddings over a period of 10 years so I have heard a lot of readings. Some were great, some were boring and some were just plain awful. I'm going to share 5 of my favourite readings with you today.
All of these readings are non-religious so are perfectly safe to use in civil ceremonies conducted by a local authority registrar.
5. American Indian Marriage Ceremony
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.
There are two versions of this reading but I opted for the shorter version. While it is used at a lot of weddings it is with good reason; I think that the sentiment is perfect.
4. Yes I'll Marry you my Dear by Pam Ayres
Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.
And here’s the reason why.
So I can push you out of bed
When the baby starts to cry.
And if we hear a knocking
And it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch you see,
And you investigate.
Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it.
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him.
Yes, I’ll marry you,
You’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!!!
It’s you who has to work the drill
And put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so before you see the light,
I DO, I DO, I DO!!
If you like your readings funny and light-hearted then this poem by Pam Ayres fits the bill perfectly. For some reason the chipolata line always seems to get the biggest laugh!
3. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by 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 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 blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
This reading is popular because it acknowledges that love evolves over time, but it is no less special because of that. It is well suited to couples who have had a long engagement.
2. O Mistress Mine from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
O Mistress mine where are you roaming?
O stay and hear, your true love's coming,
That can sing both high and low.
Trip no further pretty sweeting.
Journeys end in lovers' meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.
What is love, 'tis not hereafter,
Present mirth, hath present laughter:
What's to come, is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty:
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
When you think of William Shakespeare and weddings you might automatically think of the sonnet True Love which begins 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds...' but I've seen so many people trip over the archaic language in that I would personally avoid it.
1. My own reading based on a Bob Marley quote
He’s not perfect.
You aren’t either.
And the two of you will never be perfect.
But if he can make you laugh at least once, and she can cause you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and she admits to making mistakes, hold onto each other and give each other the most you can.
He isn’t going to quote poetry, she’s not thinking about you every moment, but you will give give each other a part of yourself that the other knows they could break.
Don’t hurt him, don’t change her, and don’t expect more than the other can give.
Smile when he makes you happy, yell when she makes you mad, and miss each other when they’re not there.
Love hard when there is love to be had.
Because perfect people don’t exist, but there’s always two people perfect for each other.
In all my time at 2000 weddings I never heard this. It is a reading attributed to Bob Marley. I modified it quite a bit to fit Lyndsey and Michael whose wedding I was reading it at. Like the Captain Corelli's Mandolin reading, it is best suited to couples who have been together for some time before the ceremony. It acknowledges that love and people are never perfect and it attracted a lot of knowing nods from the older married couples during the wedding.
One tip I'd like to leave you with regarding readings is that they don't have to be perfectly delivered. Many readers chickened out at the last moment and left it up to the registrar to read, which they did perfectly competently but without the emotional punch that it would have had if read by someone close to the couple. So if you have to do a reading at a wedding, don't worry if you get a word wrong or start sobbing. It just makes the wedding even more unique!
What are your favourite wedding readings? Leave a message below and let me know.
Image used under Creative Commons licence Kate Ter Haar