Personalizing your wedding isn’t limited to custom color schemes and floral selections. Your readings have a massive impact on how your ceremony will be perceived and remembered, and unique passages call for unique sources.
We researched where some of the most distinctive passages that work well for weddings can be found, as well as some clever tips for repurposing more traditional sources. Consider our list of resource options for readings below, and be sure to share your ideas and favorites with other brides in the comments section.
Bible Scripture Combinations
The Bible passages most often integrated into weddings (1 Corinthians 13 and Ruth 1:16-17) aren’t the only ones that speak eloquently of love; rather, the issue is finding appropriate alternatives that are the right length to work as readings. If you can’t find a passage that both speaks to you and seems long enough, piece together several verses to form a single reading like the one below compiled by BibleGateway.com (just make sure to clear it with your clergyman in advance).
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8] “Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” [Ephesians 4:2-3] “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” [Ephesians 4:32]
A treasured tome can also be an excellent resource for a ceremony reading, and there are virtually no category restrictions. Literary classics (A Tale of Two Cities; Wuthering Heights), Young Adult novels (Every Day; The Twilight Saga), and even children’s books (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; The Velveteen Rabbit) are all game, and shouldn’t be overlooked as sources if they’re meaningful to you.
If the two of you wrote to each other during your relationship, excerpts of those communications may be edited into a truly meaningful reading. Weren’t big on exchanging messages? Elizabeth Barrett Browning was as famous for the love between her and her husband Robert Browning as she was for her poetry, and their epic romance began by writing letters to each other, all of which can be found in The Browning Letters Collection via Baylor Digital Collections. Other famous writers of epic love letters include Ludwig van Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, Ronald Reagan (yes, the former President wrote beautifully), and Frida Kahlo.
Plays and Musicals
It makes perfect sense for theatre buffs to draw from their favorite stage plays, which can feature beautiful lines and – in the case of musicals – lyrics. And nothing is off limits – everything from Shakespeare (As You Like It) to Rodgers and Hammerstein (The King and I) includes wonderful monologues and dialogue about love, and even tragic love stories such as Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera have passionate passages. Whatever your favorites, review the manuscripts for sections that speak to you.
Poetry (Beyond Barrett Browning)
Although Elizabeth Barrett Browning has long been the go-to resource for readings at weddings (“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”), there are scores of other legendary writers who have composed poetry worthy of a wedding ceremony. Look to the sonnets of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Pablo Neruda, and Robert Browning, as well as the poems of Louise Bogan and Robert Burns for exquisite examples that may work with your wedding. If you’re a writer yourself, consider trying your hand at composing a poem – the ultimate infusion of personal style.
Opening photo by Karlisch Studio