When you film as many weddings as I do, things can get a bit repetitive. The same songs, the same googled best man jokes and the same ceremony readings over and over again. Now there is nothing wrong with the 1 Corinthian “Love is Patient, Love is kind” verse or Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney but the last thing you want is for your guests to think ‘this ceremony reading, again?”. So I have collated some of my all time favourite wedding readings. The ones that caught me off guard and ultimately made the couple’s wedding video all the more unique. Enjoy!
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First things first. You don’t need a ceremony reading. I’d say 30% of the weddings I film don’t have ceremony readings at all. Traditionally, Christian wedding services will have 2 bible readings and the concept has migrated over to civil ceremonies, usually in the form of a poem or excerpt from a book.
From a selfish videographer’s perspective, I love ceremony readings. The more the better. They are a great when used as voice over for mingling of scene setting shots. And they lengthen the ceremony. Without readings, the ceremony can be 10 minutes long. If it’s that little bit long the ceremony just feels a bit more grand.
But which ceremony reading should you choose? You should choose something that speaks to you. Written by someone important to you, or something is the writing reflects your relationship. You could choose something that reflects your cultures or backgrounds. Because I am Canadian and my husband is British, at our wedding we had 2 readings, one from a British poet and one from a Canadian songwriter. With all that said, if nothing stands out to you or you want a super quick ceremony then just omit the ceremony reading from your wedding.
This is such a beautiful and down to earth ceremony reading that captures the essence of marriage perfectly. It’s not over done and it would be so suitable for any music-loving couple’s out there. Sometimes weddings can feel a little ‘bride-focused’ so this reading is an excellent way to balance things out. Check out how it sounds in situ. This is From Nikita and Sam’s wedding I shot at Ocean Kave in North Devon. To see how it I use the readings in my wedding videos then click here.
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
When I first heard an excerpt of this poem used as a ceremony poem I was buzzing. It is so sweet and playful an all around joyful reading that will resonate with your wedding guests. The one thing I’ll say is that the remainder of the poem does pivot a bit so maybe have a read of the whole thing and see if you and your partner are still onboard.
“As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’
Vows? More like Wows. Am I right? If you loved GoT and are looking for a wedding ceremony reading with a slight nerd-factor then look no further. This reading is really romantic and only a choice few in the audience will twig that it is from Game of Thrones. An added bonus is that it is super quick for any nervous readers. The video below was shot at Eemily and Tom’s wedding at The Old Rectory House in Redditch.
“As you are the Moon of his life, he shall be your Sun and Stars. Your love shall be as ever present as those two celestial bodies…even though they are sometimes hidden from one another’s sight. Your love will be the guiding force that charts the course of your tomorrows, holds your world together in difficult times, and will make life itself shine bolder and brighter than we human beings have a right to dream of.”
This is such an adorable reading and when I heard it used as ceremony reading I genuinely thought it was about the bridesmaid’s love for her friend. I guess that’s the beautiful thing about weddings, it’s not just the love of the couple that is celebrated, it’s also the love everyone in the room has for them. This piece can be cut down to your desired length too.
“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
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
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
You want to think about things
It takes time
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 can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
And that’s how it would happen every time”
So this one is amazing with the right crowd, tragic with the wrong crowd. Make sure your guests are sort who love a laugh and your reader can nail the tone. But who he says is 100% true. Often times the heaviness and challenges of a marriage are overshadowed by the love and joyful moments you will share. This reading reminds your guests of all the crap you are voluntarily signing up for.
“It turns out it’s quite hard to come up with something original about love, but I’ve had a go. Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. It makes you selfish. It makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you never thought you would do.
It’s all any of us want, and it’s hell when we get there. So no wonder it’s something we don’t want to do on our own. I was taught if we’re born with love then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, feeling right, when it feels right, it’s easy. But I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope. I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.”
More often than not, if a Robert Fulghum poem is going to be used as a wedding ceremony reading it’s going to be “From Beginning to End”. don’t get me wrong that poem is lovely, but it is used a lot. We are going for a more unconventional list here. This poem is simple. it’s true. Entering school isn’t that different from entering a marriage. It’s uncharted territory, and all of our actions need to have underlining of respect and kindness. Sometimes after decades of marriage, advice like this is necessary.
“All of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned…
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
If you and your partner are crazy dog people then this poem is perfect for you. I filmed Jenny and John’s wedding ages ago and when I arrived at their home to film bridal prep I immediately noticed the framed photos of their bulldog, the cutesy cushions and wall décor with sayings like “home is where the dog is” so when I hear this being used as their ceremony reading it all fit perfectly. Have a look at how I incoporated this reading into their wedding video.
This is a fabulous choice for any couple who loves the theatre. It is romantic and powerful. It’s short for any anxious readers and it’s phrasing means it’ll hit home for so many of your guests. If you believe in juju then maybe this isn’t the best choice because while this bit and this song are so loved up, fate has other ideas for the characters.
I don’t know why people run
I don’t know why things fall through
I don’t know how anybody survives in this life
Without someone like you
I could protect and preserve
I could say no and goodbye
I want to be your wife
I want to bear your child
I want to die
Had a long, full life in your arms
That I can do
Forever, with you
There is something so special about the things we share with our partners. The songs we both can’t help but sing in the car to, that show we have watched a hundred times and still find new moments to laugh. Well if you and your partner skew towards the fantasy genre, consider this doozy.
“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 ato- ms, 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.”
If you are looking for a ceremony reading that complements a more traditional wedding might is suggest this one. The flowery language and imagery really lends itself well to a classic and sophisticated wedding, whilst still being truthful and impactful. Afterall, marriage is the grandest thing you can do so why not commemorate it with a grand reading.
We are resolved into the supreme air,
We are made one with what we touch and see,
With our heart’s blood each crimson sun is fair,
With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree
Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.
And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
Critics of nature, but the joyous sea
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
Part of the mighty universal whole,
And through all Aeons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!
We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World’s throbbing heart shall be
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!
I hope you found this little list useful. If you are looking for a videographer to capture your wedding film, why not have a look at my portfolio I’d love to have a chat with you to hear what you have planned and I can tell you what I’d bring to the table. Get in touch