Appendix C

Readings for Your Wedding


Whenever I celebrate a wedding, I work with the couple to determine what readings they would like to include. Due to copyright concerns, I cannot include the full text of any of them here, but I do want you to have some of the ones that I've used and that have been significant to many of my couples.

You can also Google “wedding readings” and there will a plethora to choose from online!

Here are some others you might consider:

• Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

• William Shakespeare, Love Sonnets

• I Corinthians 13:4-8

• Kahlil Gibran, excerpts from The Prophet and from Jesus

• Audre Lord, Recreation

• Paul L’Herrou

• Richard Bach, excerpts from The Bridge Across Forever

• Hugh Walpole, The Most Wonderful of All Things in Life

• Rainer Maria Rilke, excerpts from Letter to a Young Poet

• Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

• Anne Morrow Lindbergh, excerpt from Gift From The Sea

• Madeleine L’Engle from The Irrational Season

• Lord Byron: She Walks in Beauty

• Roy Croft: Love

• John Lennon: Grow Old With Me

• Teilhard de Chardon: The Hymn of the Universe

• Frederick Buechner: The Hungering Dark

• Toni Morrison: excerpt from Jazz

• Sappho: Two Fragments

• J.R.R. Tolkien: Roads Go Ever Ever On

• Percy Bysshe Shelley: Love’s Philosophy

• Maya Angelou: Touched by an Angel

• Hafiz: Our Union

• Max Erhmann: Desiderata

• Pablo Neruda: Sonnet 17

• Rumi: Almost anything written, but especially Love Poems

In addition, your readings don’t have to come from literature. They can equally come from law, as this reading from the decision on Goodridge vs Department of Health by Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margaret H, Marshall:

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations … Without question, civil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance." 

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family … Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.

You may also want to think about what lines from movies and films have moved you. I particularly like this one, taken from the 2004 movie Shall We Dance?:

Why is it that people get married? Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet. What does any one life really mean?

But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything … The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, All of it … all the time, every day. You’re saying “Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed—because I will be your witness.”

And then there is Tina Modotti’s wonderful toast, “To Diego and Frida,” from the movie Frida:

I don't believe in marriage. No, I really don't. Let me be clear about that. I think at worst it's a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it's a happy delusion—these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they're about to make each other. 

But, but … when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don't think it's conservative or delusional. 

I think it's radical and courageous—and very romantic.