Modern Wedding Reading Ideas
Updated: Sep 9
It will come as no surprise that the couples I work with are often looking for a modern wedding reading, something that is unusual and fun. Non-religious wedding readings are scattered across the internet so I thought it would be useful to pull a few together to provide some wedding reading inspiration for modern couples.
There’s a little bit of everything here from song lyrics that make good wedding readings to a wedding reading about pizza that I wrote recently. Hopefully you’ll find something you like that your guests haven't heard before.
Why Is Marriage Like Pizza - Vikki Harris
All good pizza starts with a well-rounded base. It's a strong foundation to load everything else on. It needs to be made of tough stuff, a perfect proportion of ingredients to make it stick together, and then patience and faith for it to rise and grow. The base for a strong marriage is love, friendship, mutual respect, unwavering support and laughter and some flexibility. Without the crust there is no pizza.
Next comes the sauce. It’s red for passion with a hint of sweetness and some spice (sometimes a little and sometimes a lot). It’s the bit that doesn't have a set recipe it’s the little tweaks until it is just right that invokes the chef’s kiss. It’s the knowing looks, the compliments, the holding hands, the snuggling up and the little smooches. Without the sauce, pizza is just cheesy bread. Without the sauce, marriage is just friendship.
Next come the toppings. Some toppings you like more than others. It’s board games, roast dinners, walks, sharing food, going to gigs, trips away, discovering new music, listening to old music, dancing in the kitchen, comfortable silences and great adventures. There’s an infinite mix of combinations and you’ll never tire of any of it.
Then there’s the pineapple - always controversial and a dispute as old as time…. If you can’t agree, then there’s always a half-and half - which is an essential part of a marriage - the art of compromise.
Cheese is the fun - it’s the thing that keeps everything else in place. It’s the laughter and countless selfies. It’s also the support, the crowning glory, the thing that makes you go oooohhhhh and it’s the glue that holds it all together.
Pizza is meant to be enjoyed and it’s a complete meal which is just like meeting the person you want to spend the rest of your life with completes you as you enjoy life's journey together.
2. Extract from Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman
I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… we’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… and when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…
3. All I Know About Love, Neil Gaiman
This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing. This is everything I've learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated, and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain, and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes, is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze, and not to be alone.
It's not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it's what they mean. Somebody's got your back. Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn't want to rescue you or send for the army to rescue them.
It's not two broken halves becoming one. It's the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing, like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them. Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials. Because nobody else's love, nobody else's marriage, is like yours, and it's a road you can only learn by walking it, a dance you cannot be taught, a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again. And that's all I know about love.
4. A Passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become 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. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
(Optional change to last sentence)
May your roots grow towards each other underground and, when all the pretty blossom has fallen from your branches, may you find that you are one tree and not two.
5. Extract from Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton
I know that love can be loud and jubilant…It can be dancing in the swampy mud and the pouring rain at a festival and shouting “YOU ARE AMAZING” over the band. It’s introducing them to your colleagues and basking in pride as they make people laugh and make you look lovable just by dint of being loved by them.
It’s laughing until you wheeze.
It’s waking up in a country neither of you have been in before.
It’s skinny-dipping at dawn. It’s walking along the street together on a Saturday night and feeling an entire city is yours.
It’s a big, beautiful, ebullient force of nature.
I also know that love is a pretty quiet thing.
It’s lying on the sofa together drinking tea, talking about where you’re going to go and drink more tea that morning.
It’s hanging up their laundry when they leave the house having moronically forgotten to take it out of the washing machine.
It’s saying ‘You’re safer here than in a car’ as they hyperventilate on an EasyJet flight.
It’s the texts: ‘Hope your day goes well’, ‘How did today go?’, ‘Thinking of you today’ and ‘Picked up loo roll’.
I know that love happens under the splendour of moon and stars and fireworks and sunsets but it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up airbeds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport, or in a traffic jam.
Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.
6. From ‘Wild Awake’ - Hilary T Smith
People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.
7. A Mouthful of Forevers - Clementine von Radics
I am not the first person you loved. You are not the first person I looked at with a mouthful of forevers. We have both known loss like the sharp edges of a knife. We have both lived with lips more scar tissue than skin. Our love came unannounced in the middle of the night. Our love came when we’d given up on asking love to come. I think that has to be part of its miracle.
This is how we heal. I will kiss you like forgiveness. You will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms will bandage and we will press promises between us like flowers in a book. I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat on your skin. I will write novels to the scar of your nose. I will write a dictionary of all the words I have used trying to describe the way it feels to have finally, finally found you.
And I will not be afraid of your scars.
I know sometimes it’s still hard to let me see you in all your cracked perfection, but please know; whether it’s the days you burn more brilliant than the sun or the nights you collapse into my lap your body broken into a thousand questions, you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.
8. Poem by Bee Rawson
Love me when I’m old and shocking Peel off my elastic stockings Swing me from the chandeliers Let’s be randy bad old dears.
Push around my chromed Bath Chair Let me tease your white chest hair Scaring children, swapping dentures Let us have some great adventures
Take me to the dogs and bingo Teach me how to speak the lingo Bone my eels and bring me tea Show me how it’s meant to be
Take me to your special places Watching all the puzzled faces You in shorts and socks and sandals Me with warts and huge love-handles As the need for love enthrals Wrestle with my damp-proof smalls Make me laugh without constraint Buy me chocolate body paint Hold me safe throughout the night When my hair has turned to white Believe me when I say it’s true I’ve waited all my life for you.
9. Barry White - Just The Way You Are
I never take anything for granted
Only a fool maybe takes things for granted
Just because it's here today
It can be gone tomorrow
And that's one thing that you'll
Never in your life ever have to worry about me
If I'll ever change towards you because
Baby, I love you
Girl, I love you
Just the way you are
Don't go changing, trying to please me
You never let me down before
I don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are
10. A Lovely Love Story - Edward Monkton
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage. Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur. The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts. I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now. I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit, which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur. But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things? But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping? I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual. I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs. And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place.
11. He/She Is Not Perfect, by Bob Marley He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyse. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you. …and of course it goes both ways. Here’s the same quote in reverse; also attributed to Bob Marley. She’s not perfect—you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break—her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyse and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect women don’t exist, but there’s always one woman that is perfect for you. Or, you may like to combine both these quotes into one reading that covers both parties, eg: He’s not perfect, but if he can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. She’s not perfect either, and the two of you may never be perfect together. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break—her heart. So don’t hurt each other, don’t change each other, don’t analyse and don’t expect more than each other can give. Smile when your beloved makes you happy, let them know when they make you mad, and miss them when they’re not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect people don’t exist, but there’s always one person that is perfect for you.
12. Never Gonna Give You Up - Rick Astley
We're no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
You wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
Gotta make you understand
Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
13. Marriage – Anon
Marriage is about giving and taking And forging and forsaking Kissing and loving and pushing and shoving Caring and sharing and screaming and swearing
About being together whatever the weather About being driven to the end of your tether About sweetness and kindness And wisdom and blindness
It’s about being strong when you’re feeling quite weak It’s about saying nothing when you’re dying to speak It’s about being wrong when you know you are right It’s about giving in, before there’s a fight It’s about you two living as cheaply as one (you can give us a call if you know how that’s done!)
Never heeding advice that was always well meant Never counting the cost until it’s all spent And for you two today it’s about to begin And for all that the two of you had to put in Some days filled with joy, and some days with sadness Too late you’ll discover that marriage is madness.
14. I Wanna Be Yours - John Cooper Clarke
I wanna be your vacuum cleaner breathing in your dust I wanna be your Ford Cortina I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot let me be your coffee pot You call the shots I wanna be yours
I wanna be your raincoat for those frequent rainy days I wanna be your dreamboat when you want to sail away Let me be your teddy bear take me with you anywhere I don’t care I wanna be yours
I wanna be your electric meter I will not run out I wanna be the electric heater you’ll get cold without I wanna be your setting lotion hold your hair in deep devotion Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean that’s how deep is my devotion.
I wanna be yours.
15. Maybe - Unknown
Maybe we are supposed to meet the wrong people before we meet the right one so when they finally arrive we are truly grateful for the gift we have been given. Maybe it's true that we don’t know what we have lost until we lose it but it is also true that we don’t know what we’re missing until it arrives. Maybe the happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, but make the best of everything that comes their way. Maybe the best kind of love is the kind where you sit on the sofa together, not saying a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you ever had.
Maybe once in a lifetime, you find someone who not only touches your heart but also your soul, someone who loves you for who you are and not what you could be.
Maybe the art of true love is not about finding the perfect person, but about seeing an imperfect person perfectly.
16. At Last - Etta James
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I've never known
And then the spell was cast
And here we are in Heaven
For you are mine at last
17. Albert Einstein on Relativity
Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special person for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.
18. A History of Love by Diane Ackerman
What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, driven strong women mad and made mincemeat of kings.
How can love's spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable?
Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilisation, with roots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days.
The heart is a living museum.
In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, preserved forever like wondrous diatoms, are our moments of loving and being loved.
19. A reading inspired by quotes from Astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife, documentary producer Ann Druyan
Our little planet floats like a mote of dust in the morning sky. All that you see, all that we can see, exploded out of stars billions of years ago, and the particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us.
We are made of star stuff. We are the mechanism by which the universe can comprehend itself. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth. We should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another. Every single moment that you are alive and you are together is miraculous.
We are beneficiaries of chance. Pure chance was so generous and kind for you to find one another. For you to be together. The way you treat one another, the way you take care of each other and your families.
You saw each other. You found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is a joy to share a planet and a life together as partners.
20. Marry Your Best Friend
Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times. Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you. A love that will never dilute even when the waters get deep, and dark.