Words take on a whole new meaning when they're uttered minutes before your wedding vows. After all, this is your time to express your love for your partner as you tie the knot in front of friends and family. But it can definitely be tricky to find the perfect wedding reading for that moment.
Chances are, there are passages from literature, poetry, movies, or songs that have spoken to you and served to clarify what love, marriage, and commitment mean. So why not use them as readings? To find your perfect non-religious wedding reading, think about what will mean the most to you as a couple. Choose something that resonates with your relationship or fits with your wedding style. An avant-garde wedding reading pulled from a favorite poem will flow beautifully into your modern vows. Did you see a movie on your first date? Check for meaningful lines from the film. Have a shared super-fandom? Tie in your favorite Harry Potter or Star Wars quotes.
Whether your wedding is religious or non-religious, one of these passages just might be the beautiful addition to the ceremony you’ve been seeking. Read on for 30 non-religious wedding readings, from poems, literature, songs, and film.
Wedding Ceremony Readings Inspired by Novels
1. "From Beginning to End" by Robert Fulghum
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, "You know all those things we've promised and hoped and dreamed—well, I meant it all, every word." Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another—acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this—is my husband, this—is my wife.
2. "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" by Louis De Bernieres
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 roots have 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, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. 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.
Use your wedding theme to find the perfect reading. For example, if you're having a backyard garden party, begin your search with something like Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.
3. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez
Madly in love after so many years ... they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out old people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.
4. "Jasper Jones" by Craig Silvey
A photograph couldn't ever tell its story. It's like something you have to live to understand. One of those freak collisions of fizzing meteors and looming celestial bodies and floating debris and one single beautiful red ball that bursts into your life and through your body like an enormous firework. Where things shift into focus for a moment, and everything makes sense. And it becomes one of those things inside you, a pearl among sludge, one of those big exaggerated memories you can invoke at any moment to peel away a little layer of how you felt, like a lick of ice cream. The flavor of grace.
One of those sweet, significant moments that leaves a footprint in your mind. A photograph couldn't ever tell its story. It's like something you have to live to understand.
5. "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë
I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely; a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.
6. "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway
At night, there was the feeling that we had to come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.
Wedding Ceremony Readings Inspired by Poetry
7. "Love Sonnet 17" by Pablo Neruda
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers, and thanks to your love, darkly in my body lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
8. "Untitled" by R.M. Drake
You will be the clouds
and I will be the sky.
you will be the ocean
and I will be the shore.
you will be the trees
and I will be the wind.
whatever we are, you and I
will always collide.
9. "Untitled" by R.M. Drake
10. "The Art of Marriage" by Wilferd A. Peterson
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 all the years.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating
gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
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.
11. "Always" by Lang Leav
You were you
and I was I;
we were two
before our time
I was yours,
before I knew
and you have always
been mine too.
12. "How Do I Love Thee" 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 candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a 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.
13. "Love's Philosophy" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single:
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle—
Why not I with thine?
See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
14. "Untitled" by Christina Rossetti
What is the beginning? Love. What the course. Love still. What the goal. The goal is Love. On a happy hill Is there nothing then but Love? Search we sky or earth There is nothing out of Love Hath perpetual worth; All things flag but only Love, All things fail and flee; There is nothing left but Love Worthy you and me.
15. "Buried Light" by Beau Taplin
Home is not where
you are from
it is where
Some of us
travel the whole
world to find it.
find it in a person.
16. "Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
Wedding Ceremony Readings Inspired by Film and Television
17. "The Wedding Singer"
I want to make you smile whenever you're sad. Carry you around when your arthritis is bad. All I want to 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 you hold the remote control. So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink. Put you to bed if you've had too much to drink. I could be the man who grows old with you. I want to grow old with you.
For so long I wondered if I would ever find my prince, my soulmate. Then three years ago, at another wedding, I turned to a friend for comfort. And instead, I found everything that I'd ever been looking for my whole life. And now here we are with our future before us, and I only want to spend it with you, my prince, my soulmate, my friend.
19. "Sex and the City"
His hello was the end of her endings.
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle.
His hand would be hers to hold forever.
His forever was as simple as her smile.
He said she was what was missing.
She said instantly she knew.
She was a question to be answered.
And his answer was "I do."
20. "Boy Meets World"
She taught me how to dance. She was always talking about these crazy things and I never understood a word she said. All I understood was that she was the girl I sat up every night thinking about, and when I'm with her I feel happy to be alive. Like I can do anything. Even talk to you like this. So that's, that's what I feel is love... When I'm better because she's here...
We’re not saying you can change them, ‘cuz 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 (throw a little love their way) and you’ll bring out their best / True love brings out their best!
22. "One Tree Hill"
Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always. A promise. Like a reward for persisting through life so long alone. A belief in each other and the possibility of love. A decision to ignore, simply rise above the pain of the past. A covenant, which at once binds two souls and yet severs prior ties. A celebration of the chance taken and the challenge that lies ahead. For two will always be stronger than one, like a team braced against the tempest civil world. And love will always be the guiding force in our lives. For tonight is a mere formality. Only an announcement to the world of feelings long held. Promises made long ago. In the sacred spaces of our hearts.
23. "The Notebook"
Poets often describe love as an emotion that we can't control, one that overwhelms logic and common sense. That's what it was like for me. I didn't plan on falling in love with you, and I doubt if you planned on falling in love with me. But once we met, it was clear that neither of use could control what was happening to us. We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has happened only once, and that's why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory
Wedding Ceremony Readings Inspired by Song Lyrics
24. "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake
'Cause I don't wanna lose you now, I'm looking right at the other half of me. The vacancy that sat in my heart, Is a space that now you hold. Show me how to fight for now, And I'll tell you, baby, it was easy, Coming back into you once I figured it out. You were right here all along. It's like you're my mirror. My mirror staring back at me. I couldn't get any bigger, With anyone else beside of me. And now it's clear as this promise, That we're making two reflections into one. 'Cause it's like you're my mirror My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me.
Music is known to evoke powerful memories, so think about what songs may have been playing during key moments in your relationship—they don't have to be love songs, just meaningful to you as a couple.
25. "I Choose You" by Sara Bareilles
My whole heart. Will be yours forever. This is a beautiful start, To a lifelong love letter
Tell the world that we finally got it all right. I choose you. I will become yours and you will become mine...
We are not perfect we’ll learn from our mistakes, And as long as it takes I will prove my love to you. I am not scared of the elements I am underprepared, But I am willing. And even better I get to be the other half of you.
26. "There Will Be Time" by Mumford and Sons, featuring Baaba Maal
But in the cold light I live to love and adore you
It’s all that I am, it’s all that I have
In the cold light I live, I only live for you
It’s all that I am, it’s all that I have
27. "The Book of Love" by Stephin Merritt, featuring The Magnetic Fields
The book of love is long and boring. No one can lift the damn thing. It's full of charts and facts, some figures and instructions for dancing.
But I, I love it when you read to me. And you, You can read me anything.
The book of love has music in it. In fact, that's where music comes from. Some of it is just transcendental, Some of it is just really dumb.
But I, I love it when you sing to me. And you, You can sing me anything.
The book of love is long and boring, And written very long ago. It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes, And things we're all too young to know.
But I, I love it when you give me things. And you, You ought to give me wedding rings.
Wedding Readings Inspired by Children's Books
28. "Winnie the Pooh" by A. A. Milne
If ever there is 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.
29. "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams
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 the 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.
30. "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you—the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.