Isabel Hicks, Guest Author
Readings are one of the easiest ways to personalize your wedding ceremony and what type you choose will depend on your venue – religious readings and hymns, for example, are often not permitted in a civil ceremony location (e.g., court house weddings).
Having readings at your ceremony is also a great way of including a special friend or relative in the day, especially if you haven’t been able to choose them as a member of the main bridal party.
It’s important that you both choose something that reflects your relationship and the way you feel about marriage. If you and your husband-to-be (h2b) have been together for a long time, then you might find that some of the more popular wedding readings focus too much on young or new love to suit you. We’ve gathered some of our favorite non-cheesy wedding readings that are suitable for long-term couples – hopefully you’ll find the perfect match!
From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis De Bernieres
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become 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 promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
This is an oldie and a goodie – it truly speaks to what long-term love should be about, which makes it perfect for couples who have already been together for a while. As this character is speaking to his daughter, this reading would be particularly beautiful if it was read by the father of the bride on the day.
Why Marriage, by Dena Acolatse
“Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person,
With all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body…
Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me,
Who won’t hold them against me,
Who loves me when I’m unlikable,
Who sees the small child in me, and
Who looks for the divine potential of me…
Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night
With someone who thanks God for me,
With someone I feel blessed to hold…
Because marriage means opportunity
To grow in love, in friendship…
Because marriage is a discipline
To be added to a list of achievements…
Because marriages do not fail, people fail
When they enter into marriage
Expecting another to make them whole…
Because, knowing this,
I promise myself to take full responsibility
For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness
I create me,
I take half of the responsibility for my marriage
Together we create our marriage…
Because with this understanding
The possibilities are limitless.”
We think this reading answers the question of ‘why bother getting married?’, which many long-term couple who have already built a life together may be asked. We particularly love the line, “Because marriage means opportunity/To grow in love, in friendship”. Just be aware that if you’re having a non-religious ceremony, you may not be allowed a reading like this due to the Christian aspects of it – it’s best to check with your officiant.
I will be here, by Steven Curtis Chapman
“If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.
I will be here,
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind I will listen.
Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together,
And I will be here.
If in the morning when you wake,
If the future is unclear,
I will be here.
As sure as seasons were made for change,
Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.
I will be here,
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.
We’ll be together and I will be here.
I will be true to the promises I’ve made,
To you and to the one who gave you to me.
I will be here.”
If you and your h2b (husband to be) hate cheesy poetry, then this simple, beautiful piece might be for you! It’s about sticking together through thick and thin, which makes it a great choice if you’ve been through some ups and downs together, and the line “I will be true to the promises I’ve made, To you and to the one who gave you to me,” makes it definite wedding material.
A Chinese Wedding Poem
“I want to be your friend
For ever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry,
When it lightens and thunders in winter,
When it rains and snows in summer,
When Heaven and Earth mingle
Not ’til then will I part from you.”
This translation of a traditional Chinese reading is short but sweet – if you’re not a fan of schmaltz, then this might be perfect. We love that it talks about unending friendship, as that’s one of the most important parts of a successful marriage.
Blessing For A Marriage, by James Dillet Freeman
“May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, ‘I love you!’ and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”
This is another classic wedding reading, and one of our favourites. Many wedding readings talk about being the same soul or person, but this one is more about complementing each other’s unique personalities. It’s just the right amount of formal to suit the solemnity of the occasion, but also has some real, useful advice that will stand the pair of you in good stead.
Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
Of course no collection of love poems would be complete without The Bard of Avon. One of his most famous sonnets, this piece is about love being unwavering even in the face of adversity, and being unaffected by time. We think this reading would be perfect for a formal ceremony, especially if you’ve chosen to leave religion out of it.
He’s not perfect, by Bob Marley
“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, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
We’re finishing with these real words of wisdom from Bob Marley. This is a brilliant reading for more informal ceremonies, and would make a great choice if you or your h2b are Marley fans. By now you and your partner have been together long enough to know you’re not perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on to have a truly wonderful marriage.
Larry’s NOTE: Want scripture in your ceremony. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New International Version (NIV)) is a good one.
“Verse 4. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Copyright 2015 – Isabel Hicks. Izzy, Wedding Ideas Online Content Co-ordinator spent her 22nd birthday drinking Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida and said that she has: “never been so happy.” That’s how she rolls!
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