Much ado about Wedding Ceremony Readings

A traditional section that often causes much apprehension for couples is the wedding ceremony Readings. After the Address to the Couple the traditional structured ceremony will have a presentation of Readings. Couples wonder what these are for, what they should have and how many.

The section of Readings comes from the traditional church ceremony where two readings preceded the Gospel reading. Typically, they are about love and marriage relationships from a Biblical point of view. The weddings I conduct are of multiple faiths to non-faith origins. My advice is to make this section a message from the couple to the audience about how they feel about their love and marriage relationship. With this in mind, the section takes on a different meaning as it is a chance for the couple to tell their story.

Some couples decide not to have any Readings. Many couples stick to the two readings format. Their choice of readings comes from various sources. It can be a poem of particular significance to them, a song, or something they come up with.  

If you decide to add a personal story about how you met it will make for a very personalized ceremony. The message is clear and it really adds something of yourselves. For example, I had this story to tell once (names have been changed ):

Laurie and Melody met a bit later in life on the web dating site, ‘Match.com’. After Laurie’s exhaustive 44 year search for just the right person, he finally came upon a  bright smile and lovely face with one upturned eyebrow, showing the mischievious irish gal from Ottawa.  On their first date Laurie told Melody that he was a Republican.  After regaining consciousness, Melody decided that despite Laurie’s horrific lack of judgement, she would go on a second date.  The rest is history.

When a couple goes through the effort to really personalize a ceremony, including the readings, it makes for a very powerful and emotionally moving ceremony. For example, this is an adaptation from the poem “Advice from a Tree” by Ilan Shamir:

Your marriage, like that tree, will sink its roots deep into the earth to ground itself,

extracting from the soil only that which it needs to flourish,

It will reach for the sky and grow tall and strong,

sometimes bearing the weight of the world on its lower boughs,

It will survive with the right balance of exposure to water and sunshine,

When nourished properly, it will blossom and bear fruit, 

It will reflect the light of a greater source enabling others to benefit from its radiance,

It will embrace with joy the changing seasons, for each yields its own fare,

The Energy and Birth of Spring, The Growth and Contentment of Summer,

The Wisdom to let go of leaves in Fall, The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter,

It will bend and sway with the winds of time and sometimes go out on a limb, and

It will grow really, really old.

After this was read, I heard several sighs and saw tears in the audience from the beauty of the message they had just heard. This ceremony had impact and touched the hearts of the people gathered there.

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