Weddings celebrate the love of two people for one and other and their intention to spend the rest of their lives together. However, the traditional church service, where the readings and, in fact, the entire ceremony, is based on religious traditions, is no longer the only option. Now, you can choose to get married virtually anywhere and, with the correctly certified person, you can create your own marriage vows and non-religious wedding readings. With so many beautiful buildings and open spaces to chose from it’s not surprising that the church is no longer the most common place for a wedding ceremony.
But, if you’ve decided to create your own reading, or use a pre-written non-religious version, then you may suddenly find that it’s very difficult to choose the right one for your wedding day.
There are plenty of options available, that’s why this guide is here! We can help you to choose the very best non-religious wedding readings to ensure your wedding day is truly special.
Many of the following readings are inspired by movies, famous books, and poems. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t choose something completely different; it is your wedding ceremony!
16 Non-Religious WeddingReadings
1. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
This has become a popular reading for civil wedding ceremonies or even as a reading in a religious ceremony. The short extract shows that love is more than just what you can see, real love is much deeper and longer lasting.
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”
2. From Beginning To End by Robert Fulgham
There are many non-religious wedding readings to choose from but this one is particularly powerful and relevant for your wedding ceremony:
“You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.”
That’s a pretty big commitment!
There are many texts you can choose for your wedding ceremony, but this one does seem like a good choice for most scenarios.
The title may not sound like the sort of reading you want at your wedding ceremony, but never judge a book by its cover!
This is one of the best non-religious wedding readings to share before the vows are said as it reminds everyone at your wedding ceremony of how love is so much more than just a physical attraction.
“Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude.
Madly in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much as the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.”
It may not be the most elegant of wedding readings but it is true to the point and a great choice.
4. Love Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda
This reading is beautiful in both its simplicity and depth. It doesn’t pretend that love will have you floating on clouds, there will be times when things are tough but real love comes from deep within and lasts forever.
What better expression could you be looking for on your wedding day?
“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of the carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other waythan this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”
This intensity will leave your guests shaken and stirred, it’s the perfect reading for any size of wedding ceremony or even if you feel like eloping.
5. The Art Of Marriage by Wilfred Arlan Peterson
Marriage is an important milestone for many couples. The wedding reading needs to reflect the seriousness of the commitment while acknowledging that love conquers all. It can be a difficult balance.
In addition, you need to find the right reading for the theme of your wedding ceremony, not just the expression of love you’re making. The Art of Marriage neatly expresses the love and commitment it takes to make your marriage work:
“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 having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice,
but in the spirit of joy.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.”
If you’re not sure what wedding reading to choose then this is the perfect default option, it really does portray the journey you’re about to go on.
6. How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Talking about how much you love someone is a good starting point for any wedding reading. This reading is perhaps one of the most famous non-religious wedding readings and a fantastic way to express your undying love for each other.
The wording may be archaic but the words are as true today as when they were written.
“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.”
It’s a beautiful piece of prose and one that is sure to get people listening, and responding during your wedding ceremony.
7. Buried Light by Beau Taplin
This reading is short but it is an apt analogy for the start of your married life, as well as for life in general.
“Home is not where you are from it is where you belong.
Some of us travel the whole world to find it.
Others, find it in a person”
If you read this slowly it will allow time for the words to sink in during your wedding ceremony. Although it is short and simple, it is also powerful and true. Take a moment to consider the words and be grateful that you’ve found that person.
Of course, you can always be inspired by famous lines, readings or wedding ceremonies in the movies, there are several of these that make great non-religious wedding readings.
8. When Harry Met Sally
Everyone knows the film and story of how Harry met Sally. However, unless you’ve watched this film a multitude of times you may not realize how apt some of the wording is for your wedding ceremony.
Once you’ve looked at the following you’ll realize that this not only makes a great reading, it can even be customized to express the things you love about your partner. It’s a great way of getting both a smile and a real message across during your wedding ceremony.
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Again, take your time with this reading to allow the words to float across the room.
9. The Wedding Singer
The Wedding Singer is probably not the first movie you think of when considering readings for your ceremony, despite the fact it has a wedding in the title.
However, if you stop and consider the words you’ll quickly realize that this beautifully expresses love in the real world. It is, after all, the small things that make a difference in life.
“I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad and carry you around when your arthritis is bad. Oh all I wanna do is grow old with you. I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches, build you a fire if the furnace breaks. Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you. I’ll miss you, kiss you, give you my coat when you are cold. Need you, feed you, even let ya hold the remote control. So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink, put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink. Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you. I wanna grow old with you.”
You may need to put the image of funny man Adam Sandler out of your mind for the duration of your wedding ceremony, but it is worth it!
It’s worth noting he sung these words, you don’t have to at your wedding ceremony unless you’re a great singer!
Frozen is one of Disney’s most famous and perhaps surprising movies. The words are actually poignant, making it a great wedding ceremony reading, especially if there are children present!
Depending on the type of wedding ceremony you’re having you could even play a clip from the film!
“We’re not sayin’ you can change him,
‘Cause people don’t really change.
We’re only saying that love’s a force
That’s powerful and strange.
People make bad choices if they’re mad,
Or scared, or stressed.
Throw a little love their way.
And you’ll bring out their best.
True love brings out their best!
Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
That’s what it’s all about!
We need each other to raise us up and round us out.
Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
But when push comes to shove
The only fixer-upper fixer that can fix up a fixer-upper is true love.”
Or take a look at some song lyrics for your reading inspiration, it can be hard to go wrong with a song; even if you read the words instead of singing them.
11. I Choose You by Sara Bareilles
Songs are often about love or overcoming trials and tribulations. That makes many of them a great choice for your wedding ceremony reading. The lyrics from this song tell everyone that you’ve found the right one and are ready to commit to them for life.
“Let the bough break, let it come down crashing
Let the sun fade out to a dark sky
I can’t say I’d even notice it was absent
‘Cause I could live by the light in your eyes
I’ll unfold before you
Would have strung together
The very first words of a lifelong love letter
Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I will become yours and you will become mine.”
This is probably exactly how you feel on your wedding day if you ignore the nerves!
12. Kathy’s Song by Paul Simon
It doesn’t matter that you’re not marrying Kathy, her name isn’t in the song! But, what makes this a great wedding reading is how it summarizes the power of love.
Love really can block out the mundane and illuminate the truth, what a great way to start your married life together!
“I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls
And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies
My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day
And as a song I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme
And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you.”
13. Thank You by Led Zepplin
Here’s another band that may not be the first thought when considering a powerful wedding reading. However, check out these lyrics and you’ll see why it has become a favorite for many people.
“If the sun refused to shine
I would still be loving you
When mountains crumble to the sea
There will still be you and me
Kind woman, I give you my all
Kind woman, nothing more
Little drops of rain whisper of the pain
Tears of loves lost in the days gone by
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong
Together we shall go until we die
My, my, my inspiration is what you are to me
Inspiration look, see
And so today, my world it smiles
Your hand in mine, we walk the miles
Thanks to you it will be done
For you to me are the only one
Happiness, no more be sad
Happiness, I’m glad.”
The song lyrics should inspire you and your wedding guests, that’s why it is a good reading choice.
14. Be My Wife by David Bowie
The late, great, David Bowie ha several songs that would make great wedding ceremony readings, but this offering is particularly good and appropriate.
“Sometimes you get so lonely
Sometimes you get nowhere
I’ve lived all over the world
I’ve lived every place
Please be mine
Share my life
Stay with me
Be my wife.”
It’s short and simple but still says what you need it to say, that nothing can compare to you. What better sentiment is there at a wedding?
Of course, you can always turn to children’s book to find some surprising inspiration for your wedding ceremony:
15. Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne
Winnie the Pooh is actually much wiser than he appears. That’s why today there are still so many quotes used from this children’s book.
The following reading is both sweet, sentimental, and surprisingly accurate for your wedding day as well as the start of your life together.
“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together,
There is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is,
Even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”
You didn’t think a bear that loves honey could give you such a poignant wedding ceremony reading, did you?
16. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This children’s book is a classic and offers several potential wedding ceremony readings. After all, this book is about a toy rabbit that wants to become real, the love of its owner can do this.
If you up the ante, by getting a child to do this reading at your wedding ceremony, you’re virtually guaranteed not to have a dry eye in the house.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nanna came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
When considering which wedding reading you want it is essential that you think about what you want to say, and how you express your love for each other.
Whether you have a civil ceremony or a more traditional wedding, the words you express will stay with you forever. That’s why they need t to be relevant to you and it doesn’t matter where they originate from.
Also, check out these 12 tips to get the perfect evening wedding invitation wording.