Wedding readings

Festival HQ would like to give a warm welcome to our guest blogger, Sheila Sims.  Sheila is a retired lecturer, all round language whizz kid, a beautiful Mum (mine in fact) and is here to talk to us about the perfect reading for your special day.


The Wedding Reading

By Sheila Sims

The New Beginning

So,  your wedding is fully organised:  the venue is booked;  outfits ordered;  cake chosen;  menus decided on;  Festival Events & Planning dressings selected;  so you can now relax and look forward to the Big Day.  Then you start to think about the actual ceremony and realise that you will need to have a reading of some kind.  That thought raises several questions:  who should you ask to do it?;  what type of reading do you want?;  should it be serious,  romantic,  humorous,  religious,  a poem?; how long should it last?;  and so on. 

If the ceremony will be a religious one,  then it is likely that you will want the reading to reflect this.  There are obviously so many to choose from and that makes it more difficult to select the one you want,  unless you already have a favourite one yourselves.  If you are not sure,  why not ask family members and/or friends if they have any suggestions or favourites that they think you will also like.

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It must of course reflect the denomination or religion, if any, of the actual wedding but the choices are enormous.  One of the most popular readings comes from the Bible but the wording makes it suitable for almost every type of wedding.  It is part of a letter in 1 Corinthians and is all about love. 

The Beloved

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

- 1 Corinthians, The Bible


The Traditionals

If you decide on a less formal reading,  it could be a romantic love poem such as “Sonnet 43 -How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”  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 every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. 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. 

- Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Browning

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From the traditional reading there is always “Sonnet 18 - Shall I compare thee to a  summer's day”  by William Shakespeare. 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

- Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

Or even “My love is like a red red rose” by Robert Burns.   

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,  
That's newly sprung in June:  
O my Luve's like the melodie,  
That's sweetly play'd 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' 'twere ten thousand mile! 

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- My Love is like a red, red rose, Robert Burns

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Or Rachel's personal favourite by Sir Philip Sidney.

My 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 received 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.  

- My true-love hath my heart, Sir Philip Sidney


The Giggles

It could be an amusing one such as:

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear. 
And here’s the reason why. 
So I can push you out of bed
When the baby starts to cry. 
And if we hear a knocking
And it’s creepy and it’s late, 
I hand you the torch you see, 
And you investigate. 

Yes I’ll marry you, my dear, 
You may not apprehend it, 
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it. 
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him, 
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him. 

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, 
You’re virile and you’re lean, 
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean. 
That sexy little dinner
Which you served by candlelight, 
As I do chipolatas, 
You can cook it every night!!! 

It’s you who has to work the drill
And put up curtain track, 
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak, 
I do see great advantages, 
But none of them for you, 
And so before you see the light, 
I DO, I DO, I DO!! 

- Yes I'll marry you my dear, Pam Ayres  


Though you know it anyhow  
Listen to me, darling, now, 

Proving what I need not prove  
How I know I love you, love. 

Near and far, near and far,  
I am happy where you are; 

Likewise I have never larnt  
How to be it where you aren't. 

Far and wide, far and wide,  
I can walk with you beside; 

Furthermore, I tell you what,  
I sit and sulk where you are not. 

Visitors remark my frown  
Where you're upstairs and I am down, 

Yes, and I'm afraid I pout  
When I'm indoors and you are out; 

But how contentedly I view  
Any room containing you. 

In fact I care not where you be,  
Just as long as it's with me. 

In all your absences I glimpse  
Fire and flood and trolls and imps. 

Is your train a minute slothful?  
I goad the stationmaster wrothful. 

When with friends to bridge you drive  
I never know if you're alive, 

And when you linger late in shops  
I long to telephone the cops. 

Yet how worth the waiting for,  
To see you coming through the door. 

Somehow, I can be complacent  
Never but with you adjacent. 

Near and far, near and far,  
I am happy where you are; 

Likewise I have never larnt  
How to be it where you aren't. 

Then grudge me not my fond endeavor,  
To hold you in my sight forever; 

Let none, not even you, disparage  
Such a valid reason for a marriage. 

- Tin Wedding Whistle, Ogden Nash

The Loved One

It is not just about the reading though.  It is also important to choose the right person to do the reading. It must be someone who is confident enough to deliver it audibly and clearly,  who can pace it so that everyone can follow the words and who is happy and able to read it.  Of course,  you may have a queue of willing friends or relations who would be delighted to be asked to read,  but you will still need to choose the reader carefully. 
In summary then,  the reading for your wedding should reflect you and your ceremony and should be something that you are both happy with by someone whom you both have confidence in, so that you can look back on the day with fond and happy memories of every aspect. 

Have a wonderful day.


- Sheila Sims

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A massive thank you to Sheila for providing us with food for thought about the choices and what to consider when choosing the words to reflect your relationship.


Why not chat to us about using our simple checklist, designed to help you think of everything you need to do before your special day, including things such as choosing beautiful readings and other ceremony finishing touches, that take it from simply special to being your dream "I do" moment.

Rachel Farrington-Allen - Director - 07495 055048 -    Lara Oakes - Director - 07971669798 -  Bespoke, creative solutions for your dream wedding. 

Rachel Farrington-Allen - Director - 07495 055048 -  

Lara Oakes - Director - 07971669798 -

Bespoke, creative solutions for your dream wedding. 

Rachel Farrington-Allen