Selecting Readings for Your Ceremony

A list of faith-based & secular readings that are popular at ceremonies.

During their wedding ceremony, it is common for couples to select either faith-based readings, secular poems and romantic readings, or even to have someone share a short speech to commemorate the moment.

Faith-Based Readings

If you’re religious you might already know some of these popular Christian faith-based readings.

*Disclaimer: there are a variety of Bibles, so the readings listed below may not correspond word-for-word with your faith or religion. Consider reading the chapters in the version of the Bible you use before selecting a reading to ensure that you like the phrasing.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Genesis 2:24-28

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

This one shall be called ‘woman,’

For out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

1 John 4:10

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Love one another. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. This is his command to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us. We love because he first loved us.

Secular Readings

If you’ve opted for a more secular ceremony, here are some great reading options! Pulling from romantic literature, couples are now choosing to go with readings that are a little more modern and outside of the box. Many civil ceremonies allow you to quote from anything - is there a song that has special meaning to you both, a scene from your favorite movie or television show? Be careful not to get too lengthy though! As a general rule of thumb, a reading should last about two minutes before your guests will start to grow bored and tune you out.

Sex and the City, extract

His hello was the end of her endings.

Her laugh was their first step down the aisle.

His hand would be hers to hold forever.

His forever was as simple as her smile.

He said she was what was missing.

She said instantly knew.

She was a question to be answered, and his answer was, “I do.”

Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May and summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often is his gold complexion dimm’d; And every fair from fair sometimes declines, by chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, nor lose possession of that fair thou growest; Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 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 promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. 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.

Les Miserables, extract, Victor Hugo

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.

How Do I Love Thee, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


One more piece of advice when selecting readings: choose the right person. It doesn’t take a lot to stand up and say a few words, so this is a great opportunity to get your extended family or best friends involved if they couldn’t be a part of the wedding party itself.