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A Guide To Non-Religious and Humanist Wedding Readings

Many couples decide to add readings, poems or stories to their wedding ceremony.

Readings can add a surprisingly personal touch to any wedding. Your officiant needn’t be the one doing the reading either. This particular element is a great way to honor someone who was not able to be a member of your wedding party or simply capture a facet of marriage you wish to highlight in your wedding ceremony. Readings work very well immediately after the opening words or right after the exchange of rings or a unity ritual or other such ceremonial element.


Readings can consist of scripture, poetry, song lyrics, excerpts from books, etc. Yes, anything that captures what you wish to express is fair game. A quick internet search for wedding readings or a romp through wedding planning books will provide you with oodles of ideas.




A few notes of caution:


Readings are the best place to “lose” your guests. I have a great view of your family and friends and you are just going to have to trust me that this is where they tend to squirm and check their watches the most. I highly encourage couples to include no more than two readings for their wedding and try to keep each reading to a reasonable length – i.e. short. Long readings or too many readings are a great way to hypnotize your guests and I suspect that’s not the goal.


If you want someone else to read besides your officiant, it is generally a good idea to ask that individual first. I have been in the position of inviting someone forward to read who had no idea they were going to be asked to do this. Public speaking is unnerving to many people and should never come as a surprise.


It is always a good idea to give your readers a copy of their text well in advance of the wedding so they can practice. I have seen people become needlessly embarrassed stumbling over some pretty tough words. This is not something to thrust in their hands momenmoments before the ceremony begins.

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