Non-Traditional Wedding Readings
Updated: Jun 29
Poems, a passage from your favorite book, song lyrics— there are so many ways to incorporate non-traditional words into your wedding ceremony that will leave you moved and feeling all the love! I always encourage my couples to allow space for creativity when exploring readings to incorporate; there’s truly no “right or wrong” here, and sometimes thinking outside of the box can help you to find words that you truly connect with or ones that hold special meaning to you. I hope the following excerpts spark joy in your heart and have you feeling excited for your big day!
I *love* including words from Diego Perez, you may of heard of him before, when he rights on instagram using the pen name @yung_pueblo. Below are just a few of my favorites of his:
“Find a partner who can accept you as you are but also inspires you to evolve because they take their own growth seriously. Love will not seek to change you, but will embrace you so unconditionally that you will feel safe enough to heal the old and put effort into the new. The courage you both have to stay committed to the inner journey will reflect brightly on your relationship, all the good qualities that you develop as empowered individuals will help you calmly, compassionately, and creatively handle the challenges you may face as a couple. Because you both know that growing is not easy, you will warmly support each other when one of you feels down and rejoice when victorious steps forward have been taken.”
”It is not about finding a partner who has flawless emotional maturity; it is about finding someone who can match your level of commitment — not just to the relationship, but commitment to heal themselves so they can love better, see more clearly, and have more presence.”
“love is not:
I will give this to you if you do this for me. love is:
I will give this to you so that you may shine.”
“Find a partner that is ready to build with you. It is not about finding perfection in another person, it is about realizing when you come across an undeniable connection that nourishes your being and matches the support you are looking for. Getting lost in the idea of perfection is a hindrance. Being with someone who is committed to going through the ups and downs of life together is truly priceless. When two people embrace their imperfections and commit to growing into better versions of themselves, it will naturally enhance the happiness they share in the relationship.”
One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Mark Eisner
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz, or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things, secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself, and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you directly without problems or pride: I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love, except in this form in which I am not nor are you, so close that your hand upon my chest is mine, so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
I Will Love You Forever
from the ‘The Amber Spyglass’
by Phillip Pullman
I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.
All I Know About Love
by Neil Gaiman, written for the wedding of his best friends.
This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing. This is everything I've learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain, and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes, is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze, and not to be alone.
It's not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it's what they mean. Somebody's got your back. Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn't want to rescue you or send for the army to rescue them.
It's not two broken halves becoming one.
It's the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing, like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them. Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else's love, nobody else's marriage, is like yours,
and it's a road you can only learn by walking it, a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.
And that's all I know about love.
“However love arrives at your door, it is always a brave path. It is like taking a long walk in a deep dark forest and never quite knowing where your soul will land. It isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it ever to be taken lightly. Real love is heartcore. You have to be tenacious. You have to be innovative. You have to be willing to drop to your knees time and again before its wisdom. And you have to forge the tools you will need from your own imaginings, as very few who have walked the path before can describe the terrain. Most fell into quicksand soon after the romantic phase ended. Relationship is always a spiritual practice, even when we imagine it otherwise.” — Jeff Brown
Poems by Joy Harjo
Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us. We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? they ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.
Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also. Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. Remember language comes from this. Remember the dance language is, that life is. Remember.
Love Like Water
by Mark Nepo
Water in its clear softness fills whatever hole it finds. It is not skeptical or distrusting. It does not say this gully is too deep or that field is too open. Like water, the miracle of love is that it covers whatever it touches, making the touched thing grow while leaving no trace of its touch.
Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.
Of course, we are human and are easily hurt if not loved back or if loved poorly. But we waste so much of life’s energy by deliberating who and what shall be worthy of our love when in the deepest elemental sense, these choices are not in our province, any more than rain can choose what it shall fall upon.
In truth, the more we let love flow, the more we have to love. This is the inner glow that sages and saints of all ages seem to share: the wash of their love over everything before then; not just people, but birds and rocks and flowers and air.
Beneath the many choices we have to make, love, like water, flows back into the world through us. It is the one great secret available to all. Yet somewhere the misperception has been enshrined that to withhold love will stop hurt. It is the other way around. As water soaks scars, love soothes our wounds. If opened to, love will accept the angrily thrown stone, and our small tears will lose some of their burn in the great ocean of tears, and the arrow released to the bottom of the river will lose its point. Only love with no thought of return can soften the point of suffering.
“The mark of a wild heart is living out the paradox of love in our lives. It’s
the ability to be tough and tender, excited and scared, brave and afraid—
all in the same moment. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our
courage, being both fierce and kind.”
An Excerpt from The Art Of Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. 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 at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years. 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 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 speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old. 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.
Soulmates by Lang Leav
I don’t know how you are so familiar to me—or why it feels less like I am getting to know you and more as though I am remembering who you are. How every smile, every whisper brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I have known you before, I have loved you before—in another time, a different place, some other existence.
Ever Increasing Circles – by Helen Marsh
Joining hands, we become a circle, Complete, connected and timeless, We are whole, but not exclusive, We are one and we will live as one, But with endless others encircled around us,
Our marriage is neither beginning or end, But a natural progression of our union, Which finds us bound but not restricted, All that was separate yields and flows, Softly, towards the shared path of our future,
On the foundation of past knowledge,
We build modern family, a space of love, An expanding community of new and old, Emitting love, light and sublime acceptance, We find all things reflected back at us,
Everything is provided for,
Together we hand-craft our next life phase, It is all embracing, welcoming and generous, The sensuous safety of our self made space, Helps us to live bravely and without boundaries, Here we nurture, thrive and multiply,
All history is ours now, set down by us, made by us, Strong roots continually feed us, everything is possible, We grow, we build, we share eternally now, And holding hands, we look up, prepare, For there is still far to go…
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
These I Can Promise by Mark Twain 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.