Nine Favorite Ceremony Readings

Celebrant A.C. Warden selects her favorite readings to personalize a wedding ceremony.

Officiant A.C. Warden of Capital Ceremonies. Photograph courtesy of A.C. Warden

The expert: A.C. Warden, wedding officiant at Capital Ceremonies

Her best advice: “Readings are not mandatory at weddings, but couples often include them to incorporate a favorite writer, religious verse, poem, or even a quote from a children’s book, or to give a close relative or friend a special honor. There are hundreds of sites online and books where you can find ideas, or you can ask for suggestions from your officiant.”

Here are nine of Warden’s favorite selections for all types of ceremonies.

“Song of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman

“Whitman is so quintessentially American, which works well in Washington, DC. The message is that the couple is on a journey together.”

“[i carry your heart with me (i carry it in)]” by e.e. cummings

“I once had a couple use this poem as their vows. They alternated lines, and it was just lovely.”

Passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

“This is a wonderful excerpt from a children’s story. It really explains that marriage is a journey and it only gets better. It’s nice for an older child to read, or for someone who’s young at heart.”

“In the Arc of Your Mallet” by Rumi

“I like how this poem is just so visual, and talks about the everyday expressions of love. I’ve used this reading many times for couples who are from or have lived in the Middle East.”

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

“Weddings are joyous occasions, and there should be some fun in them. This reading offers some good advice, too.”

“Wake Up My Love” from The Song of Songs, translated by Chana and Ariel Bloch

“This is a passage from the Old Testament, but I particularly love this translation. It can be used in Christian or Jewish ceremonies, or at multi-faith weddings.”

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

“Who doesn’t love Shakespeare? Make sure the person who reads this sonnet is used to reciting poetry, so it flows off the tongue.”

Excerpt from the I Ching

“Such a simple and beautiful Asian reading. It’s a nice, short reading that’s good to give to a friend or relative who might be nervous about speaking in front of a crowd.”

“We Give Thanks” by Michael Leunig

“I use this as a benediction for civil ceremonies that take place outdoors in a beautiful setting.”

This article appears in the Winter/Spring 2012 issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom.