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SPECIAL READINGS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY One way to personalize your wedding or include others in your ceremony is to select a reading that is meaningful to you. Incorporating a reading or two into your ceremony is a wonderful way to honor a friend or relative who would not otherwise be able to participate in your ceremony. Here is a list of readings to consider including in your ceremony. We have included some of the actual excerpts below, as well.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Perfect Love ~ Author Unknown
Seven Blessings, The ~ From “The New Jewish Wedding” by Anita Diamant
The Jerusalem Bible, Song of Songs – 2:8-10, 14, 16a; 8:6-7a
The Prayer ~ By St. Francis of Assisi
Traditional Irish Blessing
Wedding Prayer ~ By Robert Louis Stevenson
A New Beginning ~ By Gwen Frostic
Bridal Song ~ By John Ford
Excerpts from 100 Love Sonnets ~ By Pablo Neruda
Fidelity ~ By D.H. Lawrence
Hope is the Thing With Feathers ~ Emily Dickinson
Hindu Marriage Poem
How Do I Love Thee? ~ By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If Thou Must Love Me ~ By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In Love Made Visible ~ By Mary Swanson
Love ~ By Roy Croft
Love Lives ~ By John Clare
Love’s Philosophy ~ By Percy Bysshe Shelley
Marriage ~ By Mary Weston Fordham
My Love ~ By Linda Lee Elrod
My True Love ~ By Sir Phillip Sydney
Passionate Shepherd to His Love, The ~ By Christopher Marlowe
She Walks In Beauty ~ By Lord Byron
somewhere i have never travelled ~ By e.e. cummings
Sonnet 18 ~ By William Shakespeare
Sonnet 116 ~ By William Shakespeare
Sonnet CXVI ~ By William Shakespeare
Sonnet LXIX ~ By Pablo Neruda
Sudden Light ~ By Dante Gabriel Rossetti
‘Til Death Do Us Part ~ By Carol D. Bos
To Althea, from Prison (Last Stanza) ~ By Richard Lovelace
Touched by an Angel ~ By Maya Angelou
True Love ~ Author Unknown
Why Marriage? ~ Author Unknown
A Gift From The Sea (Excerpt) ~ By Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A History of Love ~ By Diane Ackerman
A Marriage ~ By Michael Blumenthal
Apache Marriage Blessing
Art of Marriage, The ~ Author Unknown
Blessing For A Marriage ~ James Dillet Freeman
Bridge Across Forever, The (Excerpt) ~ Richard Bach
Country of Marriage, The (Excerpt) ~ By Wendell Berry
Eskimo Wedding Song
Excerpts from “A Song For Hiawatha”
Foundations of Marriage ~ By Regina Hill
I Ching (Excerpt)
I Promise ~ By Dorothy Colgan
Letters ~ By Rainer Maria Rilke
Love ~ Author Unknown
Love Is A Great Thing ~ By Thomas a Kempis
Marriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love ~ Edmund O’Neill
Most Wonderful Of All Things In Life, The ~ By Sir Hugh Walpole
Never Marry But For Love ~ By William Penn
On Love ~ By Thomas a Kempis
On Marriage ~ From The Prophet By Kahlil Gilbran
Prophet, The (Excerpt) ~ By Kahlil Gilbran
Sound of Silence ~ By Raymond J. Baughan
Speak to Us of Love ~ From The Prophet By Kahlil Gilbran
Symposium, The ~ By Plato
Tuesdays With Morrie (Excerpt) ~ By Mitch Albom
The Velveteen Rabbit (Excerpt) ~ By Margery Williams
What Is Love? ~ Author Unknown
What of Marriage? ~ From The Prophet ~ By Kahlil Gilbran
“Sonnet from the Portuguese” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning How do I love thee?Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
TITLE UNKNOWN ~ By Carl Sandburg ~ I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be. I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals. I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little. A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall. The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for a larger and finer growth. Not always shall you be what you are now. You are going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you. An excerpt from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gabran You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Another excerpt from “The Prophet” by Kahil Gibran Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.
Cherokee Prayer 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 grow 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 we sail though life safe and calm as in our father’s arms;
We honor water – to clean and soothe our relationship – that it may never thirsts for love;
With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together.
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.
The Prayer, St. Francis of Assisi Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is discord, union; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, Grant that we may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
“My Luve” by Robert Burns O my luve is like a red, red rose, That`s newly sprung in June: O my luve is like the melodie, That`s sweetly played in tune. As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I; And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a` the seas gang dry. Till a` the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi` the sun; And I will luve thee still my dear, While the sands o` life shall run. And fare thee weel, my only luve! And fare thee weel a while! And I will come again, my luve, Tho` it were ten thousand mile
From the “Song of Solomon”, King James Bible version My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over, and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away
“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe Come live with me, and be my love, And we will all the pleasures prove That valleys, groves, hills and fields, Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks, Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks By shallow rivers, to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses, And a thousand fragrant posies, A cap of flowers, and a kirtle, Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool Which from our pretty lambs we pull, Fair lined slippers for the cold, With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds, With coral clasps and amber studs, And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing For thy delight each May-morning; If these delights thy mind may move, Then live with me, and be my love.
“Wedding Prayer” by Robert Lewis Stevenson Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank you for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day, for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth. Amen
“My True Love” by Sir Phillip SydneyMy true-love hath my heart, and I have his, By just exchange one for the other given: I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss; There never was a bargain better driven. His heart in me keeps me and him 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. His heart his wound receivèd from my sight; My heart was wounded with his wounded heart; For as from me on him his hurt did light, So still methought in me his hurt did smart: Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss, My true love hath my heart and I have his.
“Song of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman Allons! the road is before us! It is safe–I have tried it–my own feet have tried it well–be not detain’d! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d! Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d! Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
UNTITLED ~ modification from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road~ I do not offer the old smooth prizes, But offer rough new prizes, These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is called riches, You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve. However sweet the laid-up stores, However convenient the dwellings, You shall not remain there. However sheltered the port, And however calm the waters, You shall not anchor there. However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you You are permitted to receive it but a little while Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before you, The long brown path before you, leading wherever you choose. Say only to one another: Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love, more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law: Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
“Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIV” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only. Do not say ‘I love her for her smile–her look–her way Of speaking gently,–for a trick of thought That falls in well with mine, and certes brought A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’– For these things in themselves, Beloved, may Be changed, or change for thee,–and love, so wrought, May be unwrought so. Neither love me for Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,– A creature might forget to weep, who bore Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! But love me for love’s sake, that evermore Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.
An Irish Wedding Blessing You are the star of each night, You are the brightness of every morning, You are the story of each guest, You are the report of every land. No evil shall befall you, on hill nor bank, In field or valley, on mountain or in glen. Neither above, nor below, neither in sea, Nor on shore, in skies above, Nor in the depths. You are the kernel of my heart, You are the face of my sun, You are the harp of my music, You are the crown of my company
“A Dedication to My Wife” by T.S. Eliot To whom I owe the leaping delight That quickens my senses in our wakingtime And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime, The breathing in unison
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other Who think the same thoughts without need of speech And babble the same speech without need of meaning.
No peevish winter wind shall chill No sullen tropic sun shall wither The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only
But this dedication is for others to read: These are private words addressed to you in public.
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were loved by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me ye women if you can. I prize thy love more that whole mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold. My love is such that rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. Thy love is such I can no way repay, The heavens reward thee manifold I pray. Then while we live, in love let’s so persever, That when we live no more, we may live ever.
“The Bargain” 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 true love hath my heart, and I have his.
His 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.
Scottish Wedding Prayer Lord help us to remember when We first met and the strong love that grew between us. To work that love into practical things so that nothing can divide us. We ask for words both kind and loving and hearts always ready to ask forgiveness as well as to forgive. Dear Lord, we put our marriage into your hands
“The Art Of Marriage” by Anon 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 having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together and facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and beautiful. It is not only marrying the right person – It is being the right partner.
Hindu Marriage Poem You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours. Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me. Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, unite. You are thought and I am sound. May the nights be honey-sweet for us. May the mornings be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us.
Blessing for a Marriage, James Dillet Freeman May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitement marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.
Marriage, Mary Weston Fordham The die is cast, come weal, come woe Two lives are joined together, For better or for worse, the link Which naught but death can sever. The die is cast, come grief, come joy. Come richer, or come poorer, If love but binds the mystic tie, Blest is the bridal hour.
From This Day Forward, Marianne Williamson From this day forward, You shall not walk alone. My heart will be your shelter, And my arms will be your home
These I Can Promise I cannot promise you a life of sunshine; I cannot promise riches, wealth, or gold; I cannot promise you an easy pathway That leads away from change or growing old. But I can promise all my heart’s devotion; A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow; A love that’s ever true and ever growing; A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow. Yes, I’ll Marry You.
Never Marry But For Love, William Penn Never marry but for love; but see that thou lovest what is lovely. He that minds a body and not a soul has not the better part of that relationship, and will consequently lack the noblest comfort of a married life. Between a man and his wife nothing ought rule but love. As love ought to bring them together, so it is the best way to keep them well together. A husband and wife that love one another show their children that they should do so too. Others visibly lose their authority in their families by their contempt of one another, and teach their children to be unnatural by their own examples. Let not enjoyment lessen, but augment, affection; it being the basest of passions to like when we have not, what we slight