As you know I am being a bridesmaid cum joint Maid of Honour for my lovely best friend this year, which is very exciting! But I also said I would do a reading for her at the church. I’m not sure how this happened but hey I am doing it, no backing out now.
She is getting married in a local church which is actually our old primary school church, so it will feel a bit surreal seeing her married where we took part in Harvest and Christmas services as kids and delivering a reading, but it will be nice. Despite this though I wouldn’t say she (or her intended) are particularly religious, the church is more a choice based on sentimental and personal reasons I would say.
So it felt quite tricky when choosing a potential wedding reading, as should it be religious or not religious? I also think it can be quite hard to find a wedding reading that accurately reflects the couple without much guidance and my friend didn’t offer any suggestions on readings that she wanted so I was going a bit blind and was frantically searching suggestion sites where there are hundreds upon hundreds of suggestions. I considered a few choices from Winnie the Pooh, Shakespeare’s sonnets to passages from a novel but I finally settled on Corinthians: 13 as I love the words, and for me they are a celebration of love and that is what a wedding is; a celebration of love.
How did I choose?
But I thought I’d share some tips I gathered when choosing my reading:
Consider how long you have to say the reading, if you are the only person perhaps you can get away with something longer, or are you one of a few? Perhaps keep it shorter. Some that I read were lovely, beautiful pieces but very very long. You also want to keep the attention of all those gathered, they have a long day ahead with more speeches to come, don’t overload early.
Another factor is also the location of the ceremony as registry offices and civil ceremonies can’t have religious readings, which luckily for me wasn’t an issue but I know this can make it harder to choose and find a reading that seems right to the location. A formal non-religious reading is appropriate perhaps in a church, town hall or registrar but for an outside location, beach etc. you may want something lighter and more relaxed. But this isn’t gospel and depends on the feel the couple are going for at their wedding, if it is very traditional perhaps don’t go too out there but if they are more relaxed try something different.
Do you understand the words? I don’t mean this in a patronising way but you always read better when you understand a text. This is perhaps more important when someone presents you with a reading, if you aren’t comfortable with Shakespearean phrase then you aren’t going to be comfortable reading it aloud, and similarly when choosing something it helps to understand the context and meaning of the passage or poem as this really helps with delivery.
I think this is the most important and I mean it in a number of ways, are the words authentic and reflective of the couple and their relationship (or even yours with them), but I also feel that it’s just as important that the words feel authentic to you? Are you comfortable saying them? You will be standing up in a church with friends and strangers, you want to feel at ease and believe in what you are saying. I read some great humorous poems, or readings that were less traditional but I didn’t believe in them, (perhaps I am a bit more of a romantic than I thought!), but I felt they wouldn’t set the right tone. I also struggled finding something I felt was real to my friends. I did at one point consider writing something myself as I was struggling to find words I believed in saying and that I felt would ring true.
If in doubt however check in with either the bride or groom, depending on who has asked you, you don’t want to ruin their big day by getting it terribly wrong.
I am sure there are many other guides to choosing a wedding reading but those were my top takeaways from my search. I hope they help!