24 Jun Choosing the perfect reading for your ceremony
How do we choose the readings for our ceremony?
Choosing an independent celebrant led ceremony has lots of advantages; mainly that the ceremony is created and written with the couple’s preferences, choices and wishes front and centre. We can include whatever the couple want and ensure each ceremony reflects the beliefs, personality and style of each couple. With that in mind, an important component of our ceremonies are the readings.
How many readings can we choose?
In each of our ceremonies, we include at least one reading, but sometimes up to four, depending on the couple’s preferences. In most of our ceremonies, we include two readings just after the couple’s story, and we sometimes add another reading just before the pronouncement. On some memorable occasions, a close family member has written something personal for the couple, and in those cases, we often include those readings just after the Welcome piece. We discuss all of the readings and the best places to include them during our consultation.
How do I choose which reading to include?
Couples sometimes come to us with ideas about what they want to include, but more often than not, couples look to us for advice. We have created a 30 page document with readings, poems and song lyrics and it’s rare we have to look further than that document for inspiration. We officiate at non-religious, semi-religious and mixed faith ceremonies so we ensure we have a reading to suit every ceremony.
As we have indicated we love music and song lyrics so for all music lovers we have a huge choice of song lyrics which fit beautifully in to ceremonies. My personal favourite from my wedding is Bruce Springsteen, “If I should Fall Behind”
We said we'd walk together baby come what may That come the twilight should we lose our way If as we're walkin a hand should slip free I'll wait for you And should I fall behind Wait for me We swore we'd travel darlin' side by side We'd help each other stay in stride But each lover's steps fall so differently But I'll wait for you And if I should fall behind Wait for me Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true But you and I know what this world can do So let's make our steps clear that the other may see And I'll wait for you If I should fall behind Wait for me Now there's a beautiful river in the valley ahead There 'neath the oak's bough soon we will be wed Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees I'll wait for you And should I fall behind Wait for me Darlin' I'll wait for you
One of the questions I ask each couple is to tell me about their favourite musicians, gigs they went to or first song they danced to. I love including lyrics from their favourite songs, ones that I know will be even more meaningful for them as it will invoke a memory of a first date, proposal or first dance. One of my favourite proposal stories was when the groom had the engagement ring wrapped in the ticket stubs of a Mumford and Sons gig which was the first gig the couple had gone to so I had to include the following lyrics;
“Nothing is written”, Mumford and Sons
"Well I came home Like a stone And I fell heavy into your arms These days of dust Which we've known Will blow away with this new sun And I will wait, I will wait for you Now I'll be bold As well as strong And use my head alongside my heart A tethered mind free from the lies And I will wait, I will wait for you."
Bob Marley is another personal favourite of ours, and a perfect addition to a ceremony
“They’re not perfect”, Bob Marley
They’re not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if they can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if they admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto them and give them the most you can.
They aren’t going to quote poetry, they’re not thinking about you every moment, but they will give you a part of them that they know you could break. Don’t hurt them, don’t change them, and don’t expect for more than they can give. Don’t analyse. Smile when they make you happy, yell when they make you mad, and miss them when they’re not there.
Love hard when there is love to be had.
Because perfect people don’t exist, but there’s always one person that is perfect for you.
Readings for children
We love including children in to our ceremonies and there are some perfect readings for them to read; short, sweet and meaningful. Why not consider, Dr Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll go”,
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the couple who’ll decide where to go.”
We often suggest Irish poets and lyricists, and my favourite is John O’Donohue, an author and poet who grew up in the Burren and has written poetry covering every aspect of life. He has written about love, relationships and marriage and one of my favourites is “For Marriage”
As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.
As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.
As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.
As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.
As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.
As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other’s every gift.
As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.
As twilight harvests all the day’s color,
May love bring you home to each other.
We are often lucky enough to have poets or lyricists as part of the wedding party who write personal readings for the couple. They are always such a lovely inclusion and we have had a father of the bride writing a poem, a groomsman, aunt, cousin, mother; the list goes on. If you are inviting a poet, lyricist or just someone with a lovely way with words, I would recommend asking them to put pen to paper for the day. Most of the times they offer anyway. I love to include a standalone piece just after the Welcome or else just before the pronouncement. A lovely way to begin or end a ceremony.
We always include a poem while the couples hands are bound and sometimes we read them or we ask a guest to read. One of our favourites to recite is “Blessing of the Hands”.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Who will we choose to read?
We often recite the readings, particularly if we are officiating an elopement and it’s just the couple, celebrant and photographer. But if you have other guests I always recommend asking someone who will be comfortable reading. For some people they will be so nervous the whole lead up to the ceremony will be ruined. Don’t do it to them. Ask someone who is comfortable speaking in public and will be happy to do it. If you can’t decide, your celebrant will be happy to recite them for you.
Our main advice is to choose what suits you both, have fun choosing and ask your celebrant for advice.
Love isn’t always perfect, by Anonymous
“Love isn’t always perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or a storybook. And it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on & never letting go. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define, & impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, Love is realising that very hour, every minute, & every second was worth it because you did it together.“