Words of Love – Choosing Your Ceremony Readings
by Jean Neuhart
You’re getting married and you want the world, or at least your closest friends and family, to know what’s in your heart. Choosing ceremony readings that represent the beauty and love of your relationship is a wonderful and relatively easy way to share these feelings and personalize your ceremony. Your readings should be beautiful, moving and interesting to your guests, reflect the words and feelings in your heart, yet still adhere to the formality and “feel” that you want for your ceremony.
There are so many wonderful sources to find suitable readings. You can find them in scripture; (I Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Love is patient. Love is kind . . . ,” Ephesians 5:21-32 – “Honor Christ by submitting to each other. . . . And the two shall become one.”, Song of Solomon 6:3 – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine . . . ”; from selections of poetry (Alfred, Lord Tennyson – “In true marriage lies, Nor equal, or unequal,” anonymous Chinese poet, Han Dynasty – “O, celestial beings, Let our feelings for each other, continue without diminishing,” ); or excerpts from literature, William Shakespeare from As You Like It – “ . . . no sooner met but they looked, no sooner looked but they loved, no sooner loved but they sighed, no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason, no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy . . . ”). However, since there are so many, it can get so overwhelming. Don’t let this send you down the simple route of merely looking at a list of possible selections (usually provided by your officiant or person who is helping with the ceremony), and picking a couple readings only because they’re on his/her list and therefore must be the appropriate choices. Visit your local library and look under topics such as poetry, literature, and wedding readings. Check your (and your fiancé’s) bookshelves, and music collection. Some of the most beautiful words of love are song lyrics.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss readings that have “been done.” If you find yourself hesitating over a particular selection because you’re afraid that your guests will groan, “Oh, no! Not this one again,” stop a moment and give it a thorough once over. Read the selection out loud, or have someone read it to you. The spoken word has a much greater impact than just seeing them on a piece of paper. You may need to back up a bit to include a preceding verse or sentence or two, or if you have someone who is creative with words, can write a suitable introduction. Including this intro can help make the “same old” come alive, becoming something that is new and fresh. In a beautiful introduction to Corinthians 13:4-8, an aunt of the bride described the differences between love and infatuation. An excerpt follows. “Infatuation is fleeting desire. True love is a friendship that has caught fire. Infatuation says we must get married right away, I can’t risk losing you. Love says be patient, don’t panic, plan your future with confidence. Infatuation might lead you to do things you will regret. Love never steers you in the wrong direction. God, in His amazing, infinite wisdom, said it perfectly in Corinthians.”
Of course, you’ll want to take special care in choosing the person(s) who will be your readers. Look for someone who is comfortable in front of a crowd, and can read in a good speaking voice. Even the most beautiful, emotion evoking words will lose their meaning if read in a droning, monotone voice.
Finally, to avoid any unpleasant surprises on your wedding day, make sure to obtain a list of rules and regulations from your ceremony site regarding what they do and do not permit for a wedding ceremony, and get your officiant’s okay before finalizing any choices. And remember, if worse comes to worse, and you aren’t allowed to use a reading that you just cannot imagine doing without – have someone read it at the reception. Words of Love aren’t just for the ceremony.
About the Author
Jean Neuhart is the owner of Weddings From The Heart. As a Professional Bridal Consultant, she helps busy brides and their fiances plan creative, personalized and stress-free weddings. Visit Jean at www.weddingsfromtheheart.net. You can email her at jean[at]weddingsfromtheheart[dot]net.