I don't know about you, but for me, wedding season is that part of the year when I spend a whole lotta time trying to figure out how I can steal all my BFFs’ spectacular party throwing ideas without them noticing. Secular wedding readings from books, in particular, totally get me. (Do you think my pals Alex and Barb will notice that I used their reading as inspiration for my next tattoo?)
It takes all kinds of couples to make wedding season go ‘round, and if you and your betrothed are planning a non-religious ceremony, what better an opportunity to boast your creative, literary side, than with a few not-often-heard wedding readings that will totally impress your guests? I mean, I’m not hating on Corinthians (although “love is infuriating, love is a lot of dirty socks” is a little more my speed than “love is patient… love is kind…”) but we’ve all heard it before. Why not mix it up a little, and do something uniquely YOU on the big day?
Whether you’re entering nuptial bliss in a secular ceremony, or are simply a book-lover like me, who wants to honor your relationship with the words penned by your favorite writer, here are 13 secular wedding readings from books that are perfect for a non-religious wedding ceremony.
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
"It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know, or how you came here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where, or what, or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
“For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us; the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person — it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person. It is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him, and calls him to vast distance."
The Irrational Season by Madeleine L'Engle
"Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling."
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
"I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I L-O-V-E Y-O-U. Want it backward? You love I. I’ve been saying it for so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said: ‘Farm Boy, do this,’ you thought I was answering, ‘As you wish,’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.”
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
"Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side."
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 wandering 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 proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
"But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving."
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
“If there is no love in the world we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweller’s felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn’t exist, and I have tried everything that does.”
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
“It has made me better loving you. It has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter, and nicer, and even stronger. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them ... Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.”
In One Another’s Arms by Rumi
"The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
they're in each other all along."
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
“I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.”
How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali
"Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Somethimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose ...
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops."
Just Kids by Patti Smith
"Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves."
Images: Sandra Elford(2); John Mueller(2); Gretchen Lee; kmadrone; Kitty Schweizer; erin m; Sami Keinänen; Maria Panayiotou(2); Katie Swift; Katherine McAdoo; mad.andy/Flickr