Readings can consist of scripture, poetry, song lyrics, excerpts of prose 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.
This can be a great way to honor a friend or family member by including them directly in the ceremony, but readings should be included with some degree of caution.
Readings are unfortunately, the element in the wedding when you are most likely 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. You can prevent this in several ways.
- Do not be tempted to include more than two readings in your wedding.
- Keep each reading to a reasonable length. – i.e. short.and sweet
Long readings or too many readings are a great way to hypnotize your guests and I suspect that's not the goal.
- Only invite friends and family who are comfortable speaking in public to read at your wedding.
- Pick out readings that are meaningful to you. Guests are turned off when a reading does not reflect what they know of the couple. It has to sound genuine rather than contrived.
- Consider doing a responsive reading if you are able to provide your guests with a printed program. The reader and your guests alternate reading portions of the text aloud.
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 he was 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 moments before the ceremony begins.
I highly recommend extemporaneous speaking be done at the reception. This is not the time for someone to ramble off the top of his or her head. It disrupts the flow of the ritual and their message may not be representative of the view of marriage you wish to convey in your ceremony. Alas, I have indeed witnessed a few unwelcome remarks in this type of situation.
Having someone besides the officiant read can add interest to your wedding simply because of the motion of changing speakers and providing a different voice for a few moments. If you choose a passage that captures who you are, your regard for one another and your hopes for your marriage, you can't go wrong.
Photo Attribute: Wendy Fisher of Wendy Fisher Art & Photography