It is always a challenge to pick out your readings. Not only do you have to think about that you'd like to have read, you have to think about who is going to read them, will it work with your theme and how will they be delivered.
How to find a reading
- The internet
- The library (old literature, poem books, old speeches, period works such as in the renaissance era)
- Your ceremony venue (priest, celebrant, rabbi or religious representative can guide you)
- Referrals from friends
- The bible or other religious documents)
- Song lyrics
It is REALLY crucial that you both spend time searching through different options. Your ceremony is an expression of your love for one another and the start of your married life. Be sure to select readings that really and truly mean something to you BOTH and will stay close to your heart forever. We won't lie, it is probably one of the more challenging parts of your wedding but it will be so worth it when you have found the perfect ones.
Try to pick readings that are suited to your wedding theme and venue choice
- If you are getting married in an old historical church then it might be nice to pick some readings from the period the church was built in
- If you are in a garden you could pick something that talks about the season you are being married in
- If you are planning a vintage themed wedding then why not pick your readings from that particular period, say the 1920's
- If a black tie Hollywood inspired wedding then you could pick readings from famous Hollywood couples weddings or even presidential speeches
Include your ideas in your wedding storyboard to make sure they work in with your overall vision of the day
Who will be reading them out?
We recommend selecting a different person for each reading. They could be someone that you couldn't fit in the bridal party, a family member or close friend. Just be sure when selecting the person that they will be not only happy to present a reading, but that they are the type of person who can successful pull it off. Not everyone is comfortable about public speaking.
- Does the reading suit the person who will deliver it?
- Is it their style and can they easily pull it off?
- Can they pronounce ALL the words without trouble?
- Are they comfortable with the reading you have selected for them? This includes are they comfortable religiously with what you have selected as this can be an issue for some people.
How long is it?
A reading should be no more than 1-2 minutes (less if possible). Keep them SHORT so that you're guest reading does not have too much to learn or trip up on. The simpler the better.
How many readings will you have?
Try to pick no more than 2-3 readings. A reading can be anything from a passage, psalm, poem, personalised verse, prayer or quote . We think it is nice to select different styles (not all poems or all prayers).
What does it mean?
It is really important that you pick readings that YOU both understand and believe in. It is also really important that the message in the reading are correctly interpreted and understood.
- If any words don't make sense then research what they actually mean. That way you don't misinterpret the message.
- Read the readings OUT LOUD so that you can hear what they sound like. Even tape yourself reading them and see if they sound as you'd like your readings to sound. You'd be surprised how different something can sound when read aloud to when it is written down on paper.
Ask a friend to write something special
To personalise your wedding ask a trusted friend to write something to say at your ceremony and then have them surprise you with it on the day.
- Give this friend some guidelines, such as length and style
- This should not be a speech, it is simply a short verse on something nice about you both and the celebration of marriage
Style and timing of your readings
Your guests are being told a story at your ceremony. It is like they are watching a movie which begins as soon as you walk down the aisle. So it is really important that you make your story easy for your guests to follow. Each reading tells part of this story so should be in a logical order with clear and easily understood messages.
- Readings should be clear and easily understood by the majority of the audience (some may not speak a certain language for instance)
- When selecting the order of your readings try to think about what each one is conveying. For example:
- Start with a passage that is talking about young love;
- Then move on to a poem that talks about the joining of two hearts to say 'I do';
- Then close with a personalised reading that speaks about old love and a lifetime journey together.
Of course it isn't always as straight forward as this example, particularly in religious ceremonies, however it gives you an idea that each reading should nicely follow one another with a start, ending and finish order.
Speak with your ceremony representative (celebrant, priest, rabbi...) about any religious readings that you might like. They should be able to direct you to excepts that would suit you religious beliefs and ideologies.
Preparing your readings for the day
It is a nice idea to have a special copy of the reading ready for the person on the day. Try to think about your theme and location when selecting how these can be presented. Some options are:
- Print the readings on lovely paper (strong that won't flop) and can be held in ONE HAND ONLY as they may have a microphone in the other
- Place them in a nice bound book (if a period wedding you might find an old vintage book for them to be stuck inside)
- If in a book or folder, put a paper clip on the page so they know exactly where to go and if there is any wind that the page does not keep turning over.
- Make sure the font is clear enough to read - think Arial, Times New Roman
- Make sure the font is LARGE enough for them to read from a distance
- For a modern wedding, you could even have them already set up on an ipad or tablet (with extra battery or charger on hand!). The readings should be easy to flick through and in order so those reading can just flick across and find their reading quickly.
Ask those who are reading to rehearse MANY TIMES prior to the ceremony. You'd be surprised how many do not practice and end up stumbling on the day. Delivery of these readings is crucial.
- Ask them to practice at home (in front of a friend or mirror)
- Ask them to practice at your ceremony rehearsal. If a secret reading, have them practice with the bridal party as their audience once you've left the room.
- Have microphones ready for them on the day - when people get nervous they are not always able to project their voice. This will help them be sure to reach the back of the room.
Here are some popular readings that might help start your process.