Weddings By Will

Your Wedding Your Way

Readings For A Civil Wedding Ceremony


One of the most common questions I see online from couples concerns the choice of readings at a civil wedding. Generally speaking, lots of people are unsure about what to choose, they wonder what is appropriate?  How many should there be? Can they be religious? Should they be secular? Where can I find them? Here is some advice that I offer the couples that I work with.


1.       It is your wedding ceremony so we can have as many readings as you like. However we don’t want to turn your wedding into a poetry recital so my recommendation is two or three. It can be nice to scatter them throughout the ceremony to add a variety of voices.

2.       If there is a religious reading that you like (and there are many, many beautiful religious readings) then by all means use those. There are some beautiful poems about love in the book of psalms from the old testament equally there are some charming reflections on love from St. Paul’s letters in the new Testament.  Many couples like to include a nod to the religion that they were brought up in and the readings can be a good way to do that.

3.       Poetry is good. There are so many websites that have collections of poems that are suitable for weddings. Maybe you could go that extra mile and write your own? Who wouldn’t be impressed by that!!

4.       Many couples, if they have a favourite song, or film or TV show take quotes or lines or lyrics and work them into a personalised reading that means a lot to them. This can be a bit of work but it can be very special if done well.

5.       If you are having two readings I would suggest putting a piece of music between them. This not only breaks them up to it gives your guests a little time to reflect on what they have just heard.

6.       As a general rule of thumb if you are going for a funny poem or reading go for one that is clean and age appropriate for all your guests. We don’t want dear old Aunt May in the corner falling over from the fright.

7.       Try and choose people who are good public speakers. For many people speaking in front of a large crowd is their worst nightmare, so while you may want a particular person to play a part in your ceremony, if public speaking is not their thing then maybe give them another job. Remember, you have chosen these readings for a reason – you want them read aloud with heart and gravitas – so try and choose the best person for the job.

8.       If you and your partner are not from the same country if can be lovely to choose two readings – one from each country. A true sign of collaboration. Or indeed if you are from different counties you could source some writings from each and use those in the ceremony.

9.       Where are the best place to find readings?  Here is a selection of some sites where I have sourced them in the plast.


Good luck with making your choice.