Sample Ceremony Readings

Wedding Ceremony Reading 1: A Reading from the Book of Ruth

…Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you and to stop going with you, for wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I shall die.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 2: From The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

You shall be together forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. You shall be together even in the silent memory of God. Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond love; let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: for the pillars of the Temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 3: Carl Sandburg

I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be. I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals. I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little. A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall. The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desires are working for larger and finer growth. Not always shall you be what you are now. You are going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 4: Author Unknown

Love me because I try to touch life within the framework of uncertainty. Love in me the shadows of my indecision as I strive to gain knowledge. Love in me the silence of my hurts and the noise of my confusions. Love me for the feeling of my heart not the fears of my mind. Love me in my search for the truth though I may stumble upon fallacy. Love me as I pursue my dreams sometimes retarded by illusions. Love me as I grow to know myself even during the times of stagnation. Love me because I seek God’s harmony not man’s discord. Love me for my body that I wish to share with affection, wrapping you in warmth. Love me because we are different as we are the same. Love me that our time together will be spent in growing, kindling the world with understanding. Love me not with expectations but with hope. I will love you the same.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 5: Eric Fromm

Love is not simply a relationship to a specific person; It is an attitude; an orientation of character, which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow person, this love is not love but a selfish attachment, or an enlarged egotism. If you truly love one person, you love all persons, you love the world, you love life. If you can say to somebody else, “I love you” you must be able to say, “I love through you the world, I love in you also myself.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 6: Matthew 5:1-12a

Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak.
This is what he taught them: How blessed are the poor in spirit: the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance.
Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognized as children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 7: A Touch of Heart

There was a time… a moment I felt all alone but then the sun shined upon me bearing gifts of love, friendship and harmony Everlasting love shared and expressed through you to me. The prayers, the cares, the gestures brought forth to me heal my soul For at times I’d only known to give but failed to accept and receive with grace. I’m not alone now for your warmth overwhelms me your spirit fills my sour, and I am ALIVE with your love.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 8: 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 everyday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the 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.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 9: From The Gift of the Sea, By Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity — in freedom in the sense that dancers are free barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation but in living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands; one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits… islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 10: Sonnet XXIV by William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with Fortune and Men’s eye’s, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d, Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate, For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 11: Dance Me to the End of Love

Dance me to your beauty, with a burning violin, Dance me through the panic, till I’m gathered safely in, Lift me like an olive branch, and be my homeward dove, Dance me to the end of love. Let me see your beauty, when the witnesses are gone, Let me feel you moving, like they do in Babylon, Show me slowly what I only know the limits of, Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on, Dance me very tenderly, and dance me very long, We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above, Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the children, who are asking to be born, Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn, Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn, Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to your beauty, with a burning violin, Dance me through the panic, till I’m gathered safely in, Touch me with your naked hand, touch me with your glove, Dance me to the end of love.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 12: Blessing For A Marriage, by James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another!

Wedding Ceremony Reading 13: Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz or arrow of carnations that propagate fire: I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers, and thanks to your love, darkly in my body lives dense fragrance that rises from the earth. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 14: On Marriage, by Edmund O’Neill

Marriage is a commitment to life – to the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other human relationship can equal, a joining that is promised for a lifetime. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. There may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child. Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller; memories are fresher; commitment is stronger; even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly. Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing love through the seasons of life. When two people pledge to love and care for each other in marriage they create a spirit unique to themselves, which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential, made in the hearts of two people who love, which takes a lifetime to fulfill.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 15: Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In 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 a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 16, Author Unknown

I do…
Want to laugh with you,
Learn with you,
Grow with you.
I do…
Want to be with you
All my life through,
For I love you with all of my heart,
And today I’m so happy to tell you…
I do

Wedding Ceremony Reading 17: The One, by Bernie Taupin

I saw you dancing out on the ocean Running fast along the sand A spirit born of earth and water Fire flying from your hands In the instant that you love someone In the second that the hammer hits Reality runs up your spine And the pieces finally fit All I ever needed was the one Like freedom feels where wild horses run When stars collide like you and I No shadows block the sun You are all I have ever needed Baby, you’re the one

Wedding Ceremony Reading 18: Paul’s Letter to the Romans 12:9-18

Love must be sincere. Look away from what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 19: Two Souls, One Life

Before the heavens and the earth, when we were still a part of the Great Spirit, you and I asked for a journey to be remembered for all time. Out of Love our hearts desires answered and we were granted these lives.

Today we fulfill that destiny and begin the journey of a lifetime. We were once one soul, then we became two, and were born into this world. We have lived lives separate. Now let us give thank to the Great Spirit for loving us enough to allow our love for each other to be expressed. yesterday we were two souls, today we are one life.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 20: Memories

Within my book of memories are special thoughts of you, and all the many nice things you often say and do. As I turn the pages and recall each single thought, I realize the happiness that knowing you has brought. There are memories of the times we’ve shared both bright and gloomy days. There are memories of your kindness and your friendly thoughtful ways. There are memories of your laughter and your bright and cheery smile, that add a bright note to each day and make life more worthwhile. There are memories of the things we planned, each friendly little chat, when we would get together and just talk of this and that. And when I recall these memories I go along life’s way, and find they grow more precious still with every passing day.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 21: 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:8

Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all. Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever. Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 22: Thoughts In a Garden, by R. Gerhardt

This is a special place, a place where people have brought beautiful living plants, here to establish them, to nurture and care for them, that they may forever surround us with the beauty we now see. And into this place where we stand, you have brought something beautiful — the relationship that is becoming your marriage. Here you are declaring it and pledging it, promising to establish and nurture it. We are aware of the special beauty between the two of you, just as we are aware of the special beauty of this place. We are with you now in this appropriate place to celebrate your relationship as it is and as it is yet to be, and in doing so, we ask only that you remember how your life together will have the same seasons and needs as this garden. There will be growth like spring and loss like fall; there will be giving as the blossoming flower, and rest as the seed beneath the snow. All the seasons will be yours, but remember, too, that gardens are not must happenings. The more wonderful the garden, the more skilled the gardener. So you will have to care deeply for the life that is yours together, and nurture it. You will have to appreciate your differences and cultivate them. You will have to take care of yourself, if for no other reason than out of love for the other. And you will need the support of family and friends to reach full growth. As you caringly chose this place to declare your marriage, so remember its lessons for your life together through the seasons that are yours to share. And may those seasons bring you and yours joy and happiness.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 23: Tribute

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.

I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish and frivolous and weak things which you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful, radiant belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.

I love you for ignoring the possibilities of the fool and weakling in me, and for laying firm hold on the possibilities of good in me. love you for closing your eyes to the discords in me, and for adding to the music in me by worshipful listening.

I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern but a Temple, and of the words of my every day not a reproach but a song.

I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy.

Wedding Ceremony Reading 24: The Covenant of Marriage

Marriage has certain qualities of contract, in which two people take on the housekeeping tasks of living, together, to enhance life’s joy. However, marriage is more than a contract. Marriage is a commitment to take that joy deep, deeper than happiness, deep into the discovery of who you most truly are. It is a commitment to a spiritual journey, to a life of becoming — in which joy can comprehend despair, running through rivers of pain into joy again. And thus marriage is even deeper than commitment. It is a covenant — a covenant that says: I love you. I trust you. I will be here for you when you are hurting, And when I am hurting I will not leave. It is a covenant intended not to provide haven from pain or anger and sorrow. Life offers no such haven. Instead, marriage is intended to provide a sanctuary safe enough to risk loving, to risk living and sharing from the center of oneself. This is worth everything.