The Best Wedding Readings That'll Give Guests All the Feels

Craft the perfect nuptials with these wedding ceremony readings.
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Senior Editor
  • Hannah writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a focus on real wedding coverage.
  • Hannah has a passion for DE&I and plays an integral role in ensuring The Knot content highlights all voices and all love stories.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hannah was the Social Media Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Updated Jan 22, 2024

What's the scoop with wedding readings? When couples start to think about the wedding ceremony, the decision of wedding vows is usually top-of-mind. But that's not the only part of the ceremony you need to account for during wedding planning. Wedding readings are customarily also included in a wedding ceremony.

From lighthearted and joyful to solemn and inspirational, the options for perfect wedding ceremony readings are nearly limitless, which is freeing but might also make you feel lost. Don't fret—we're here to help you select the best wedding reading or quote for your wedding ceremony program. We're taking a look at frequently asked questions related to readings for weddings and even gathered up all of our favorite popular wedding readings to consider for the big day.

Wedding Reading Inspiration in This Story: What Is a Reading at a Wedding? | Bible | Spiritual & Religious | Songs | Movies & Television | Poem | Literature & Books | Serious & Meaningful | FAQs

What Is a Reading at a Wedding?

A wedding reading is an excerpt of text often included in a wedding ceremony script. According to expert wedding officiant Maria Northcott, owner of A Sweet Start, a reading during a wedding ceremony has a few different purposes. Couples include readings to "personalize the ceremony and bring in additional voices, so it's not just the officiant talking the whole time. Another key purpose is to further develop and deepen the theme of the ceremony or the wedding in general."

"A wedding reading can be almost anything, it can be scripture from a religious text, a poem, words of advice, song lyrics, a movie quote, a literary passage, or best of all something written especially for the wedding couple," suggests Northcott. "There are traditional wedding readings, but it's more meaningful when couples find a reading resonates with both them and the person doing the reading." In addition to saying their vows and possibly listening to a short speech or homily from the officiant, couples traditionally include a few readings in the wedding ceremony script.

Cutting board with Bible verse quote

Wedding Bible Readings for Ceremony

Bible readings for weddings are common ceremony inclusions for Christian couples, especially verses that touch on love and marriage. We've outlined some of our favorite wedding Bible readings for a ceremony below. And if you need even more inspiration for Christian wedding readings, check out our comprehensive roundup of Bible verses about love.

1. Song of Solomon/ Song of Songs 7:10 (NIV)

"I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me."

2. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

3. Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

4. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?

5. Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)

"But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."

6. Genesis 1:31a (NIV)

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day."

7. Colossians 3:12-15 (NIV)

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Spiritual and Religious Wedding Ceremony Readings

The Bible isn't the only religious text you can read from at the wedding. Torah and Qu'ran passages are among some of the best wedding readings for a religious ceremony. According to The Knot Real Wedding Study, 17% of couples included a religious reading in their wedding ceremony in 2022. There are also many famous theologians and religious thinkers whose prayers and musings have been recorded in books, so feel free to think outside the box slightly if there's a scholar you want to have recited as a spiritual wedding reading.

8. Tobit 8:7

"I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together."

9. The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh

"The Buddha spoke about four elements that constitute true love: the capacity to be kind and offer happiness, maitri in Sanskrit, compassion, the capacity to relieve suffering, karuna; the capacity to bring joy every day, mudita; and finally, the capacity of nondiscrimination, upeksha. When there is true love, there is nondiscrimination. The pain of the other is our own pain; the happiness of the other is our own happiness...To make our love meaningful, we need to nourish our bodhicitta, our mind of boundless love and compassion...First, we learn to love one person with all our understanding and insight; then we expand that love to embrace another person, and another, until our love is truly boundless."

10. Prayers for a Thousand Years by Freya Matthews

"Is this love that rushes towards the rim to meet you. A main thread in the inwardness of things? Without it would the great externality loosen and unravel? 
Is it our purpose to see and say that the world is good?
 And could we have seen this and said it, beloved, while you seemed indubitable?
 I do not know. I stand with hands dangling empty at my sides. 
I have no wisdom bequeathed to me by ancestors. The stars are equivocal, and around me
nature is in sorest travail, weeping. I love you. This is the only sacred word in my keeping.
 This is the last trace, the last print in our hearts' waste,
of the migration of a thousand traditions, a thousand embodiments of wisdom.
 I stand with useless hands, and out of the transparency of my poverty, I offer you this, my single gift."

11. Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

"Many human relationships are like the interlocking fingers of two hands... Human relationships are meant to be like two hands folded together. They can move away from each other while still touching with the fingertips. They can create space between themselves, a little tent, a home, a safe place to be. True relationships among people point to God. They are like prayers in the world. Sometimes the hands that pray are fully touching, sometimes there is distance between them. They always move to and from each other, but they never lose touch. They keep praying to the One who brought them together."

12. The Committed Marriage by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

"Under the huppah (marriage canopy) we pronounce a special blessing that renders the couple loving, kind friends, always at each other's side, always encouraging each other, and when necessary, criticizing and gently showing where the other erred. God has endowed each of us with unique gifts. When our mates become our best friends, we pool our spiritual resources and strengthen each other. In such a relationship, life's trials become less threatening, and even the most formidable challenges become manageable. 'Two are better than one' is the wise teaching of King Solomon. If one falls, the other is there to pick him/her up. If one is attacked, the other is there to rescue him; if one is depressed, the other is there to buoy her spirits. When husband and wife are loving, kind friends, they perceive each other's feelings so totally that there is no need for explanations. Their relationship is virtually symbiotic. There is total empathy with the needs of the other."

13. Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC's of Faith by Frederick Buechner

"They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days. They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always. They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even—for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health—when they don't feel like it at all. In other words, the vows they make could hardly be more extravagant. They give away their freedom. They take on themselves each other's burdens. They bind their lives together... The question is, what do they get in return? They get each other in return... There will always be the other to talk to, to listen to... There is still someone to get through the night with, to wake into the new day beside. If they have children, they can give them, as well as each other, roots and wings. If they don't have children, they each become the other's child. They both still have their lives apart as well as a life together. They both still have their separate ways to find. But a marriage made in heaven is one where a man and a woman become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could ever have managed to become alone."

14. The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin

"O God, your Son Jesus began his ministry at a wedding celebration. May the joy that is experienced as two people begin a life together continue to grow and deepen through all that life has to offer along the way. May Jesus continue to transform the water of their every day to the wine of new vision, so what seems ordinary becomes transformed by love. May couples grow old together knowing the best wine is saved till last and that Jesus is the abiding guest and their companion on the way. We ask this in Jesus's name."

15. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

"The idea that 'being in love' is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: It is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do. And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: No one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry."

16. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works by C.S. Lewis

"If the old fairy-tale ending 'They lived happily ever after' is taken to mean 'They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,' then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be 'in love' need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense—love as distinct from 'being in love'—is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be 'in love' with someone else. 'Being in love' first moved them to promise fidelity: This quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."

17. Hindu Blessing, Anonymous

"Let the earth of my body be mixed with the earth my beloved walks on. Let the fire of my body be the brightness in the mirror that reflects her face. Let the water of my body join the waters of the lotus pool she bathes in. Let the breath of my body be air lapping her tired limbs."

18. Cherokee Prayer, Anonymous

"God in heaven above please protect the ones we love. We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor mother earth—and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grown stronger through the seasons; We honor fire—and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts; We honor wind—and ask that we sail through life safe and calm as in our father's arms; We honor water—to clean and soothe our relationship, that it may never thirst for love; With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together."

19. Buddhist Marriage Homily, Anonymous

"Nothing happens without a cause. The union of this man and woman has not come about accidentally but is the foreordained result of many past lives. This tie can therefore not be broken or resolved. In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. Difficult times will come as surely as night. When things go joyously, meditate according to the Buddhist tradition. When things go badly, meditate. Meditation in the manner of the Compassionate Buddha will guide your life. To say the words love and compassion is easy. But to accept that love and compassion are built upon patience and perseverance is not easy. Your marriage will be firm and lasting if you remember this."

20. A Time to Laugh by Sister Joan Chittister

"1. Laugh when people tell a joke. Otherwise you might make them feel bad.

2. Laugh when you look into a mirror. Otherwise you might feel bad.

3. Laugh when you make a mistake. If you don't, you're liable to forget how ultimately unimportant the whole thing really is, whatever it is.

4. Laugh with small children… They laugh at mashed bananas on their faces, mud in their hair, a dog nuzzling their ears, the sight of their bottoms as bare as silk. It renews your perspective. Clearly nothing is as bad as it could be.

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5. Laugh at situations that are out of your control. When the best man comes to the altar without the wedding ring, laugh. When the dog jumps through the window screen at the dinner guests on your doorstep, sit down and laugh awhile.

6. When you find yourself in public in mismatched shoes, laugh—as loudly as you can. Why collapse in mortal agony? There's nothing you can do to change things right now. Besides, it is funny. Ask me; I've done it.

7. Laugh at anything pompous. At anything that needs to puff its way through life in robes and titles… Will Rogers laughed at all the public institutions of life. For instance, "You can't say civilization isn't advancing," he wrote. "In every war they kill you in a new way."

8. Finally, laugh when all your carefully laid plans get changed; when the plane is late and the restaurant is closed and the last day's screening of the movie of the year was yesterday. You're free now to do something else, to be spontaneous… to take a piece of life and treat it with outrageous abandon."

21. "Love, I Assure You, Is Passion" in The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti by Jiddu Krishnamurti

"You cannot be sensitive if you are not passionate. Do not be afraid of that word passion. Most religious books, most gurus, swamis, leaders, and all the rest of them say, 'Don't have passion.' But if you have no passion, how can you be sensitive to the ugly, to the beautiful, to the whispering leaves, to the sunset, to a smile, to a cry? Sirs, please listen to me, and do not ask how to acquire passion… I am talking of something entirely different—a passion that loves. Love is a state in which there is no 'me'… And how can one love if one is not passionate? Without passion, how can one be sensitive? To be sensitive is to feel your neighbor sitting next to you; it is to see the ugliness of the town with its squalor, its filth, its poverty, and to see the beauty of the river, the sea, the sky. If you are not passionate, how can you be sensitive to all that? How can you feel a smile, a tear? Love, I assure you, is passion."

22. "When There Is Love, Self Is Not" in The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti by Jiddu Krishnamurti

"A man rich with worldly riches, or a man rich in knowledge and belief, will never know anything but darkness, and will be the center of all mischief and misery. But if you and I, as individuals, can see this whole working of the self, then we shall know what love is. I assure you that is the only reformation which can possibly change the world. Love is not the self. Self cannot recognize love. You say, 'I love,' but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not."

23. Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up by Norman Fischer

"Conversation is the culmination of listening. It includes everything... self-confidence, receptivity, give-and-take, even disagreement and conflict. Conversation is dialogue, real communication and communion through our words and our presence. Founded on deep listening, deep speech, and an honest self-awareness without too much fear or judgment, conversation is a way to connect with ourselves and with each other, to enter each other's lives and help each other heal."

24. "The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song" in Bhagavad Gita by Vyasa (translated by Graham M. Schweig)

"Hear still further the greatest secret of all, my supreme message: 'You are so much loved by me!' Therefore I shall speak for your well-being. Be mindful of me with love offered to me; sacrificing for me, act out of reverence for me. Truly you shall come to me—this I promise you for you are dearly loved by me. Completely relinquishing all forms of dharma, come to me as your only shelter. I shall grant you freedom from all misfortune—do not despair!"

Wedding Readings From Songs

Is there a song you love that didn't quite make the cut for your first dance or wedding processional? Turn it into a wedding reading from a song. Ask a loved one to read some poignant lyrics from a musical number you find meaningful as your reading for the wedding ceremony. Below are some of our favorite song lyrics for a wedding reading.

25. "Aztec Love Song," Anonymous

I know not whether thou has been absent: I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee, In my dreams thou art with me. If my eardrops tremble in my ears, I know it is thou moving within my heart."

26. "Navajo Chant," Anonymous

"Rising Sun! when you shall shine/ Make this house happy/ Beautify it with your beams/ Make this house happy/ God of Dawn! Your white blessings spread/ Make this house happy/ Guard the doorway from all evil/ Make this house happy/ White corn! Abide herein/ Make this house happy/ Soft wealth! May this hut cover much/ Make this house happy/ Heavy Rain! Your virtues send/ Make this house happy/ Corn Pollen! Bestow content/ Make this house happy/ May peace around this family dwell/ Make this house happy."

27. "Eskimo Love Song," Anonymous

"You are my husband/wife. My legs run because of you. My feet dance because of you. My heart shall beat because of you. My eyes see because of you. My mind thinks because of you. And I shall love because of you."

28. "Historia de un Amor," by Carlos Almaran

"Siempre fuiste la razón de mi existir/ Adorarte para mí fue religión/ Y en tus besos yo encontraba/ El amor que me brindaba/ El calor de tu pasión"

"Always you were the reason for my existence; To adore you for me was religion...It is the story of a love like unto which there is no equal, which made me understand all that is good, all that is bad; that gave light to my life, extinguishing it afterwards... Oh! What a darkened life! Without your love I will not live."

29. "Love Me Tender," by Elvis Presley

"Love me tender, love me sweet/ Never let me go/ You have made my life complete/ And I love you so/ Love me tender, love me true/ All my dreams fulfill/ For my darling I love you/ And I always will/ Love me tender, love me long/ Take me to your heart/ For it's there that I belong/ And will never part/ Love me tender, love me true/ All my dreams fulfill/ For my darling I love you. And I always will/ Love me tender, love me dear/ Tell me you are mine/ I'll be yours through all the years/ 'Til the end of time/ Love me tender, love me true/ All my dreams fulfill/ For my darling I love you/ And I always will"

30. "Something," by The Beatles

"Something in the way she knows/ And all I have to do is think of her/ Something in the things she shows me/ I don't want to leave her now/ You know I believe and how"

31. "Make You Feel My Love," by Bob Dylan

"I could make you happy, make your dreams come true/ Nothing that I wouldn't do/ Go to the ends of the Earth for you/ To make you feel my love/ To make you feel my love"

32. "Two Step," by Dave Matthews Band

"Say love, watch me celebrate together/ Celebrate we will/ Cause life is short/ But sweet for certain/ We're climbing two by two/ To be sure these days continue/ Things we cannot change"

33. "Grow Old With Me," by John Lennon

"Grow old along with me/ The best is yet to be/ When our time has come/ We will be as one/ God bless our love/ God bless our love"

Wedding Ceremony Readings From Movies and Television

Hollywood is no stranger to love stories. There are plenty of talented cinematic writers who've crafted scripts for characters that involve waxing poetic or even exchanging wedding on-screen vows. Take stock of your favorite TV shows and movies to consider whether any on-screen quotes deserve a spot in your wedding script. Below are some of our favorite movie quotes to use for wedding readings.

34. John Nash in A Beautiful Mind (2001)

"I've always believed in numbers and the equations and logics that lead to reason. But after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask: 'What truly is logic?' 'Who decides reason?' My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional—and back. And I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discovery of my life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found."

35. Broken Arrow (1950)

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no loneliness for you, now there is no more loneliness. Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, and enter in your days together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth."

36. Beverly Clark in Shall We Dance (2004)

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, 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 of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness."

37. Noah Calhoun in The Notebook (2004)

"Well, that's what we do. We fight. You tell me when I am being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you are being a pain in the ass—which you are, 99 percent of the time. I'm not afraid to hurt your feelings. You have like a two-second rebound rate, and you're back doing the next pain-in-the-ass thing... So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day."

38. Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999)

"Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love."

39. Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

40. Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer (1998)

"Now, we don't need a big house/ We don't need any money/ All we need is you and me/ And Sadie and Sunny/ I got everything I want/ Growing old with you"

41. Carrie's Poem in Sex and the City (Season 2, Episode 7)

"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 she knew/ She was a question to be answered/ And his answer was 'I do'"

42. Patrick Brewer in Schitt's Creek (Season 4, Episode 12)

"I don't want to add more stress to your day, but I love you."

43. Edward Cullen in Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Part One) (2011)

"It's an extraordinary thing to meet someone who you can bare your soul to, and who will accept you for what you are. I've been waiting, what seems like a very long time, to get beyond what I am. And now…I feel like I can finally begin…No measure of time with you will be long enough. But let's start with forever."

Poem Wedding Readings

Poetry is an age-old art form and many poetic works, from Pablo Neruda to e.e. cummings, touch on the topic of love, so why not add a poem to your wedding ceremony? Since poems are often contemplative, consider printing the words to the wedding poem reading in your ceremony program so guests can really immerse themselves in the piece as it's read aloud. Take a peek at some of our favorite poems to read at a wedding and make sure to save the wedding poem readings that pique your interest.

44. "One Swaying Being" by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

"Love is not condescension, never that, nor books, nor any marking on paper, nor what people say of each other. Love is a tree with branches reaching into eternity and roots set deep in eternity, and no trunk! Have you seen it? The mind cannot. Your desiring cannot. The longing you feel for this love comes from inside you. When you become the Friend, your longing will be as the man in
the ocean who holds to a piece of wood. Eventually, wood, man, and ocean become one swaying being, Sham Tabriz, the secret of God."

45. "The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri

"The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way light rushes into a transparent object. The more love we receive, the more love we shine forth; so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other."

46. "My True Love Hath My Heart" by Sir Philip Sidney

"My true love hath my heart and I have his/ By just exchange, one for another given/ I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss/ There never was a better bargain driven/ My heart in me keeps him and me in one/ My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides/ He loves my heart, for once it was his own/ I cherish his, because in me it bides/ My true love hath my heart and I have his."

47. "This Marriage" by Rumi

"May these vows and this marriage be blessed. May it be sweet milk this marriage, like wine and halvah. May this marriage offer fruit and shade, like the date palm. May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a paradise. May this marriage be a sign of compassion, a seal of happiness here and hereafter. May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen as welcome as the moon in a clear blue sky. I am out of words to describe how spirit mingles in this marriage."

48. "Untitled" by Christina Rossetti

"What is the beginning?/ Love/ What the course/ Love still/ What the goal/ The goal is love/ On a happy hill/ Is there nothing then but love?/ Search we sky or earth/ There is nothing out of Love/ Hath perpetual worth/ All things flag but only Love/ All things fail and flee/ There is nothing left but Love/ Worthy you and me."

49. "Love is Enough" by William Morris

"Love is enough: though the World be a-waning/ And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining/ Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover/ The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder/ Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder/ And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass'd over/ Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter/ The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover."

50. "Sonnet CXVI/Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments. Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds/ Or bends with the remover to remove:/ O no; it is an ever-fixed mark/ That looks on tempests, and is never shaken/ It is the star to every wandering bark/ Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken./ Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/ Within his bending sickle's compass come;/ Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks/ But bears it out even to the edge of doom./ If this be error and upon me proved/ I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

51. "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring with your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes!' It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand alone in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back...."

52. "Shoshone Love Poem," Anonymous

"Fair is the white star of twilight, and the sky clearer at the day's end; But she is fairer, and she is dearer. She, my heart's friend. Fair is the white star of twilight, and the moon roving to the sky's end; But she is fairer, better worth loving. She, my heart's friend."

53. "A Wedding Toast" by James Bertolino

"May your love be firm, and may your dream of life together be a river between two shores—by day bathed in sunlight, and by night illuminated from within. May the heron carry news of you to the heavens, and the salmon bring the sea's blue grace."

54. Celtic Wedding Poem, Anonymous

"May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rainfall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."

55. "The Moment We Choose to Love" from All About Love by bell hooks

"The moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom... When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other."

56. "No One Who Says" by Mary Oliver

"Not anyone who says, "I'm going to be careful and smart in matters of love, who says, 'I'm going to choose slowly,' but only those lovers who didn't choose at all but were, as it were, chosen by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable and beautiful and possibly even unsuitable—only those know what I'm talking about in this talking about love."

57. "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman

Line 42: "If we merge mercy with might, and might with right then love becomes our legacy and change our children's birthright"

58. "Stardust" by Lang Leav

"If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a name I have never heard, I would still know you. Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you."

59. "How Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog" by Taylor Mali

Third Stanza: "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."

60. "To Love is Not to Possess" by James Kavanaugh

First Stanza: "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."

61. "I Like You" by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

Final Stanza: "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."

62. "Red String Of Fate," Anonymous

"This red string of fate binds us, through all eternity, we once were to blinded by heartbreak, to hurt to see. We lived our lives separate, always feeling incomplete, to ignorant to notice this invisible red thread at our feet. No matter the distance it can become tangled, yet never broken, the moment we met it was as if destiny had spoken. The red string of fate can stretch throughout the world, yet will always lead us to eachother, forbidding us to successfully love another. We are forever connected, by this string tied around your ankle and mine, binding our hearts together since the beginning of time. It led me to you, now we have found our way, in my heart and soul forever is where you will stay. When this life ends and we begin anew, I have no doubt that this red string of fate will again lead me to you."

Literature and Book Quote Wedding Readings

Wedding readings from literature are some of the best options available. From Jane Austen and Shakespeare to modern-day writers like Danielle Steele, there's no shortage of authors with a thing or two to say about love and marriage. Let the wedding readings from books (and some wedding readings from children's books!) below inspire your wedding day plans.

63. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

"When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke—the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. Something that exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met, as had theirs here at the well. She smiled, and that was certainly an omen—the omen he had been awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert."

"It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it's easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it's in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one's dreams would have no meaning."

64. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

"Oh Love! Adorations! Voluptuousness of two minds which understand each other, of two hearts which exchange with each other, of two glances which penetrate each other! You will come to me, will you not, bliss! Strolls by twos in the solitudes! Blessed and radiant days! I have sometimes dreamed that from time to time hours detached themselves from the lives of the angels and came here below to traverse the destinies of men."

65. The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill

"The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go… Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong… or you, too, will break. Learn the power of the trees. Let it flow. Let it go. That is the way you are going to make it through this storm. And that is the way to make it through the storms of life."

66. The Art of Marriage by 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 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 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 humour. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old. 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."

67. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by 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 root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is."

68. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly."

69.Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you."

70. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

"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."

71. The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach

"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."

72. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

"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."

73. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

"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 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."

Serious and Meaningful Wedding Readings

Talk with your partner about the feeling you want to cultivate with your ceremony. If solemn and contemplative feels better for you than funny and jovial, pick a wedding ceremony reading that aligns with that vibe. For example, many LGBTQIA+ couples choose to include an excerpt from the Supreme Court opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges as a wedding reading for the ceremony as a celebration of the legal community affirming their right to love whomever they love and marry whomever they wish to marry. Let the wedding reading ideas below inspire you.

74. The 22 (Non-Negotiable) Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson

"The greatest pursuit is not good health, unsurpassed wisdom, economic surplus, political freedom, or even faith that can move mountains. It is the daily practice of the greatest of the non-negotiable laws of wellness, the Law of Unconditional Loving. Unconditional, nonjudgmental loving. This is our aim, life's single highest and most rewarding pursuit… The highest expression of Divine Design is applied love found in loving relationships between people. Not the erotic love we see on television and in the movies but love rooted in a decision to serve. It is a dynamic state of consciousness, a giving, creative flow, and a harmony. It's an acceptance of the human condition as perfectly imperfect. And it is a choice to love without regard to any conditions; no 'ifs' are allowed in this, the greatest of laws."

75. Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 Summary Opinion by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

76. The Awakened Heart by Gerald May

"There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake. It is the human desire for love. Every person in this earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire...Love is the 'why' of life: why we are functioning at all, what we want to be efficient for... I am convinced [love] is the fundamental energy of the human spirit, the fuel on which we run, the wellspring of our vitality. And grace, which is the flowing, creative activity of love itself, is what makes all goodness possible. Love should come first; it should be the beginning of and the reason for everything."

77. The Chocolate Cake Sutra: Ingredients for a Sweet Life by Graham M. Schweig

"This is what should be done
. By one who is skilled in goodness, and who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited,contented and easily satisfied. Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, 
not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing 
that the wise would later reprove. Wishing: in gladness and in safety, 
may all beings be at ease!
 Whatever living beings there may be; whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, 
the great or the mighty, medium, short, or small. The seen and the unseen, those living near and far away,
those born and to-be-born—
may all beings be at ease! 
Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state, 
let none through anger or ill will 
wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart
should one cherish all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world: 
Spreading upwards to the skies, and downwards to the depths; outward and unbounded, freed from hatred and ill will, whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
free from drowsiness, one should sustain this recollection."

78. Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 Summary Opinion by Chief 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. The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens."Barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law."

"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. 'It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.'"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."

79. "He's Not Perfect" by Bob Marley

"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."

80. "Union" by Robert Fulghum

"You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks—all those conversations that began with, 'When we're married,' and continued with 'I will' and 'you will' and 'we will'—all those late-night talks that included 'someday' and 'somehow' and 'maybe'—and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, 'You know all those things that we've promised, and hoped, and dreamed—well, I meant it all, every word.'"

"Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same. For after today you shall say to the world—This is my husband. This is my wife."

81. Albert Einstein on Relativity

"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."

Wedding ceremony
Photo: East 95th Street Photography

Wedding Reading Frequently Asked Questions: What You Need to Know

To answer some of your most pressing questions about readings for a wedding ceremony, we sat down with expert wedding officiant Maria Northcott of A Sweet Start. Keep the advice below in mind as you decide on what wedding ceremony readings you want to incorporate into your own nuptials.

Wondering how to choose wedding readings?

The best way to choose a wedding reading is to look at your relationship, hobbies and interests. Personalize your ceremony by selecting a wedding reading that pays homage to what you enjoy. Think about authors you like, quotes that motivate you and the overall sentiment you wish to convey during the wedding ceremony. Did you and your soon-to-be spouse bond over a certain song, book or movie early in your relationship? Then a quote from that'll piece of art, music or literature that bonded you would be a great ceremony addition.

Who typically does readings at weddings?

A VIP, such as a close friend or family member, wedding guest who isn't in the wedding party will give the wedding reading. This is a great task for a family member if you want to include them in the wedding but they aren't part of your wedding party. Additionally, a close friend or someone who you know to be a talented orator can be tapped for this role.

Northcott encourages to-be-weds to consider the content of the reading when deciding who to tap for the task. "The who really depends on the reading itself. If it's a reading giving advice, then it would make sense to have a long-married couple read it together. If it's a silly reading about love being like owning a dog, then think of a friend who has great comedic timing and can pull that off."

How many readings do you have at a wedding?

Traditionally, one to two readings happen at a wedding. However, couples can include as many as they want. If you're following a strict religious or cultural template for your ceremony script then you may need to follow a prescriptive plan for what readings to include. But if you're looking to personalize your vow exchange then it's totally up to you. Many couples settle on one or two readings.

The length of the readings you want to include plays a role in which readings you settle on. If there's a long book excerpt you want a friend to read, it may be best to stick with just one reading. However, if you have a few short snippets you like then consider including multiple readings for your special day.

How long should a reading be at a wedding?

The readings section of your wedding should ideally take under five minutes.

When do readings happen in a wedding ceremony?

Traditionally, readings happen toward the beginning of the wedding ceremony. Typically the officiant will give a welcome or introduction and the readings will follow immediately after. Then the officiant may give a longer speech or message and then the vows happen, but it's nice for the readings to come before those two main elements to set the stage.

However, the traditional format doesn't have to be strictly adhered to. Northcott encourages couples to think of the content of the readings when deciding when it should be included. The placement of readings in a wedding ceremony really depends on the content of the readings. For example, if my clients pick a poem about how exciting it is that everyone is gathered together today, then that's going close to the beginning of the ceremony script. If they choose the Irish wedding blessing, I always put that near the end as a way to bring the ceremony to a close."

Do parents do readings at weddings?

Yes—It's a thoughtful and meaningful idea to ask parents to give a reading at a wedding.

Do readers at weddings get flowers?

Yes—Giving all wedding participants (readers, ushers, officiant) flowers, like a corsage or boutonniere, is a thoughtful way to acknowledge their contribution.

Do readers walk down the aisle?

Readers should be seated along the aisle, or in the front row, so they can easily stand up when it's time to read. However, they don't need to be part of the formal processional. Make sure someone communicates with them ahead of time about where they should sit and they can make their way to their seat prior to the ceremony.

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