A collection of paper back novels arranged into a love heart

32 modern wedding readings for non-traditional couples

Want a wedding reading your guests won't have heard before? Whether you want to personalise your ceremony with something simple and romantic or funny and contemporary, our readings edit has you covered. We'll also take you through how to choose the perfect readings, including how many is too many!

While some couples know instantly the readings they would like to feature in their wedding ceremony, others may struggle for ideas. There are plenty of tried-and-tested wedding readings that crop up in ceremonies time and time again. While these are certainly popular for a reason, they’re not for everyone.


If you’re not sure which readings you’d like, but you do know that you want to stay away from traditional choices and popular favourites, you’re in the right place! We’ve found the best alternative wedding readings, from laugh-out-loud funny to romantic and, dare we say it, somewhat sexy.

Like just about everything else involved in your big day, wedding readings are a deeply personal choice and the process of choosing yours shouldn’t be rushed. In the same way that you can use your wedding speeches to add personality to your reception, your wedding readings are a chance to tell your own unique love story at your ceremony.

Of course there are other ways to personalise your wedding ceremony, from clever aisle styling to writing your own vows, but the advantage of readings is that they’re a great way to include people in the day. You may have a close friend who didn’t quite make the cut to be bridesmaid; perhaps your mother-in-law isn’t feeling as involved she’d like: simply give them a reading to make sure they have an active role in your wedding!

How many readings should you have at a wedding?

This is an important question, as the number of readings you’re having will affect the way you choose. A smaller number means you have to be more ruthless and targeted; there’s no point falling in love with eight amazing readings when you only need one. When it comes to wedding readings, there is no definitive amount, but bear in mind that as keen as your guests are to celebrate your love, it takes an SAS commando-level of resilience to sit through an apparently endless parade of readings, however delightful. We’d say two, or at a push, three. You also need to check with your celebrant, whether that’s the registrar for your civil ceremony or a religious officiant, as they may have particular guidelines. Having a humanist wedding ceremony? You can have as many readings as you like!

Do you have to have readings at a wedding?

Again, it depends on the type of ceremony. In a Church of England wedding, for example, you must have at least one Bible reading. For a civil ceremony, you don’t need any readings at all, but bear in mind that this might make the ceremony feel a bit short!

How to pick a wedding reading

Romantic novels, poems and movies often contain the perfect material for wedding readings, but for something a little more original we recommend looking further afield. Think of the books you love, films or songs – not all of them will be romantic but they may feature a line or passage that says something about you as a couple. Whether it’s a story or statement that just feels right for you, it’s the perfect alternative wedding reading.

If you’ve scanned your brain for fitting material but you still can’t find something that speaks to you then don’t fear. We have plenty of ideas that you may not have thought of and every single one is totally unique – just like you. Remember, there are no rules when it comes to choosing your wedding readings. The choice is all yours and you should only feature words that are true to you as a couple. Happy reading!

Vic and Crispin: The stationery

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Link past and present with wedding readings from children’s books, such as this beautiful extract from Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass.

It’s not overly sentimental making it a dream choice for couples who want an alternative wedding reading to the typical gushingly romantic pieces – this text is romantic but in it’s own way. Who doesn’t feel compelled by the idea of atoms searching for their other half and becoming totally inseparable? It perfectly describes the totally consuming, passionate love that is the basis for a dream marriage.

Couple in wedding outfits kissing amid white smoke
Photo | Elvis Bekmanis at Unsplash

I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till i find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… we’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… and when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…

The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

This beautiful reading is both practical and romantic, and is a great recipe for your lives together.

It is not only marrying the right person/ It is being the right partner

A good marriage must be created.
In the marriage, the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once each day,
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and objectives.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each person can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right person
It is being the right partner.

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

If you’re looking for a poem with a bit of humour for your wedding ceremony, what about ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ by John Cooper Clarke? It’s guaranteed to raise a smile from your guests.

Couple smiling at each other
Photo | Giorgio Trovato at Unsplash

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
for those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
when you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
you’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
that’s how deep is my devotion

READ MORE: The best Disney quotes for your wedding ceremony

The Kindly Ones (Sandman series) by Neil Gaiman

Taken from Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic book series, this quote is all-but-guaranteed to get a laugh with the opening gambit, but is also subtly moving.

Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defences, you build up a whole suit of armour, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.

To Love Is Not To Possess by James Kavanaugh

We love the equality message of this poem, which looks at love not as dependency or losing your identities, but as staying true to yourselves.

Newlywed couple in traditional red Hindu wedding costumes

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Let Me Put it This Way by Simon Armitage

This short, simple poem by Simon Armitage is one of our favourite modern wedding readings – it’s about someone who would rather remove their own arm than disturb their sleeping partner. We think it’s the ideal choice if you don’t want a romantic wedding reading as that’s not your style, but instead want something that suits your love in a totally non-slushy way.

I should rather/ cleave it from the joint or seam/ than make a scene

Let me put it this way:
if you came to lay
your sleeping head
against my arm or sleeve,
and if my arm went dead,
or if I had to take my leave
at midnight, I should rather
cleave it from the joint or seam
than make a scene
or bring you round.
how does that sound?

First Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke

If you’re looking for a brief ceremony reading, this beautiful piece by Rainer Maria Rilke is short but definitely sweet.

First Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke
Photo | Getty

Understand, I’ll slip quietly
Away from the noisy crowd
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows,
With only this one dream:
You come too.

READ MORE: Wedding readings from literature

One Day by David Nicholls

Fns of this much-loved British novel will know it strikes the perfect balance between wit and poignancy, making it an ideal choice for a moving but tears-free wedding reading.

Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference.

What are you going to do with your life?” In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer… “Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.

Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

This poem is a gorgeous piece of writing about having secure foundations to your relationship. It’s beautiful without being overly sentimental.

Heterosexual couple in bed kissing
Photo | Toa Heftiba at Unsplash

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

Albert Einstein on Relativity

If we were to say ‘Albert Einstein’ to you, you’d probably think of wild hair and science, right? However, the guy had some pretty nice things to say about love too – specifically, how it fits in to his theory of relativity. It’s ideal if you want a non-religious wedding ceremony reading that is sweet but scientific.

Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute.

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.

A Wedding Reading by Mark Twain

Mark Twain is mainly known for his humorous pieces, but it turns out he was pretty great at cringe-free romance, too, as this poem shows.

Same-sex male couple in suits on their wedding day
Image | Getty

A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole;
It gives two purposeless lives a work,
And doubles the strength of each to perform it.
It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living
And something to live for.
It will give new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth
And a new mystery to life.

READ MORE: Questions to ask your registrar

The Book And The Brotherhood by Iris Murdoch

This is a bit more… intense than some of the other readings here. But you know what, if you’re in the mood to go ultra-romantic, this is the day to go all out.

It was a marvel that we ever met. It is some kind of divine luck that we are together now.

I hereby give myself. I love you. You are the only being whom I can love absolutely with my complete self, with all my flesh and mind and heart. You are my mate, my perfect partner, and I am yours. You must feel this now, as I do. It was a marvel that we ever met. It is some kind of divine luck that we are together now. We must never, never part again. We are, here in this, necessary beings, like gods. As we look at each other we verify, we know, the perfection of our love, we recognise each other. Here is my life, here if need be, is my death.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

If you’re looking for the perfect wedding reading for a child, what about this cute extract from ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ about how love makes everything real?

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Photo | Getty

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was known for his tough-guy persona and love of adventure, but he also wrote some pretty beautiful prose. This extract from his wartime novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ is ideal if you’ve overcome obstacles together or really see yourselves as a team.

We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but i can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

READ MORE: Who to choose as your wedding witnesses

Bob Marley on Love

Bob Marley didn’t just make great music – he also had some pretty lovely ideas about love to share too. We think this reading would be great for a best man to read during the ceremony, or as part of a best man’s speech.

Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.

She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together – but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold on to her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyse and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

Feel like you’ve found the perfect partner in crime? This quote from American novelist Tom Robbins’ comedy-romance could be right up your street.

My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.

Greg’s Declaration Of Love, Love Island

Have we lost our minds? That depends how much of a Love Island fan you are. A quote from the finale of this ITV fan favourite will certainly be different. Perhaps a good one if you’re among the last of your friendship group to tie the knot. Just make sure ‘Hideaway’ changes to where you met and ‘Amber Gill’ to one of your names…

You are so unique with your stand-out hair and the way you speak.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, just like when we first came to meet. Up in the Hideaway sheltered from the trouble, we instantly connected and formed our own little bubble. You are so unique with your stand-out hair and the way you speak. The perfect balance of honesty and sass… and of course we can’t forget about your gorgeous ass. You made my Love Island journey one to remember, and it’s okay if we aren’t the first couple to cross the line, because I’m really into you, Amber Gill, and I can’t wait for you to teach me how to control the whine.

READ MORE: 20 greatest love quotes from films

Touched By An Angel by Maya Angelou

When it comes to matters of the heart, poet and activist Maya Angelou is the one to turn to. We adore her wise take on love, showing how meeting your match really can transform your life.

Couple standing against a sunset
Photo | Frank McKenna on Unsplash

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach

If you think of your partner as your soul mate, this dreamy definition of soul mates by Richard Bach could be the perfect reading for your wedding ceremony.

Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.

A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.

READ MORE: 6 wedding readings for true romantics

I Like You by Sandol Stoddard

This cute poem by Sandol Stoddard is a little different to your traditional wedding reading and would actually work really well as a reading for a younger person, if you have children attending your wedding. This would be good either as a ceremony reading or as the opening to one of the speeches. Know someone who’s nervous about giving their speech? Direct them to our amazing guide to everything you need to know about wedding speeches.

Bride in white dress dances as groom looks on smiling

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, ‘Remember when you told me something special?’
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
You think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too

…And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad…
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t…

I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do.

READ MORE: Watch Taylor Swift’s Maid of Honour speech

I Wanna Grow Old With You performed by Adam Sandler

If you’re a Nineties couple, or just love a bit of Nineties nostalgia, this is the perfect choice for you: the finale song from The Wedding Singer. Bonus points if the reader sings it.

So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink/ Put you to bed if you’ve had too much to drink

I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad,
All I wanna do is grow old with you,
I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches,
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks,
Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you,
I’ll miss you,
Kiss you,
Give you my coat when you are cold,
Need you,
Feed you,
Even let you hold the remote control,
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink,
Put you to bed if you’ve had too much to drink,
I could be the man who grows old with you,
I wanna grow old with you

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is famous for her beautiful use of words, and her description of how she feels about her husband makes for a lovely reading for a bride, whether as part of the ceremony or as the basis for a bride’s speech. You could even be inspired by it and write your own version about how your partner makes you feel.

I don’t want to look around anymore: I don’t need to look around for anything.

I feel good with my husband: I like his warmth and his bigness and his being-there and his making and his jokes and stories and what he reads and how he likes fishing and walks and pigs and foxes and little animals and is honest and not vain or fame-crazy and how he shows his gladness for what I cook him and joy for when I make him something, a poem or a cake, and how he is troubled when I am unhappy and wants to do anything so I can fight out my soul-battles and grow up with courage and a philosophical ease. I love his good smell and his body that fits with mine as if they were made in the same body-shop to do just that. What is only pieces, doled out here and there to this boy and that boy, that made me like pieces of them, is all jammed together in my husband. So I don’t want to look around anymore: I don’t need to look around for anything.

Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali

If you want to include pets at your wedding but it’s not allowed, you can still do it with a reading. This cute reading about dogs will go down a storm at a wedding where the couple’s pet is their baby.

Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali
Image | Getty

Falling in love is like owning a dog

First of all, it’s a big responsibility, especially in a city like London.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security: when you’re walking down the street late at night and you have a leash on love
Ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable. Who knows what love could do in its own defence?
On cold winter nights, love is warm. It lies between you and lives and breathes and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs. It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long. But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life, but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad.
Bad, love, bad!
Very bad love.
Love makes messes. Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after. Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper and swat love on the nose,
Not so much to cause pain, just to let love know don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk. Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting. It pulls you in several different directions at once,
Or winds around and around you until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go. People who have nothing in common but love Stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Want wedding vow inspiration from literature? What about this wonderful excerpt from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated? It will leave no doubt about how you feel about your partner.

I love you in a way that I love no one else

I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you,

or has loved you, or will love you,

and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you,

or has loved you, or will love you, and also,

I love you in a way that I love no one else,

and never have loved anyone else,

and never will love anyone else.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about getting married outdoors in the UK

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

If music is a big part of the couple’s life, this reading from Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago could be ideal as it compares the couple’s thoughts to songs.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Image | Getty

Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.

They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.

If you love this idea, we bet you’ll love our edit of the most unusual first dance song choices.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy has a magical way with words and this extract from The Road is truly powerful. If you’re having a star themed wedding this is the perfect fit.

When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept

Lying under such a myriad of stars.

The sea’s black horizon.

He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again.

When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.

Having a Coke with You By Frank O’Hara

For a really unusual reading, this poem by Frank O’Hara is a great choice. The rhythm is unusual, so be sure to pick someone who is confident reading out loud.

I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world

Having a Coke with you is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully as the horse it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

Wide Awake by Hilary T. Smith

When you truly love someone, you know all their flaws and secrets and still think they are the most wonderful person in the world. This is totally summed up in this Hilary T. Smith piece.

Wide Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Photo | Getty

People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.

Anthony Hopkins’ speech in Meet Joe Black

One for all the passionate couples out there – just make sure the person you ask to read it can deliver with confidence.

To make the journey and not fall deeply in love — well, you haven't lived a life at all.

I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart… Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love — well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

At Princess Eugenie’s wedding, her sister Beatrice read this passage from The Great Gatsby, explaining that it brought Jack to mind as soon as she read it.

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it

“He smiled understandingly- much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.

It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.  Precisely at that point it vanished—and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.”

Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton

If you’re looking for something cute and a bit tongue-in-cheek for your wedding ceremony reading, this sweet little poem about penguins could be ideal – bonus points if you both love penguins!

Penguins cake topper on sea shore
Image | Getty

I like you a lot.
You’re funny and kind.
So let me explain
What I have in mind.
I want to be your personal penguin.
I want to walk right by your side.
I want to be your personal penguin.
I want to travel with you far and wide.

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

This extract from Henry James is really lovely – and despite the title, it doesn’t just have to be directed to a lady. If you’re writing your own wedding vows you can definitely be inspired by this passionate piece of prose.

Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.

It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and — I won’t pretend to deny — brighter and nicer and even stronger. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them. Theoretically I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.


If you need more ceremony ideas, our ultimate wedding ceremony playlists will have you dancing down the aisle.