Unique Wedding Readings

Our friend Evany married us, and this photo was taken just as she muttered something about spinning wheels and our first born child.

We got married in July, and man is it a bear to find non-trite wedding readings. This is especially true when it’s not your first marriage and there are already kids in the mix. In case you’re curious, or looking yourself, here’s what we picked.

Here by Grace Paley

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips

An excerpt from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird:

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard”

And finally, Brad is a big fan of Bob Ross and his happy little trees. We chose a bunch of his quotes together, and I arranged them into a sort of found poem. It was so simple, and true, and I ended up loving it:

Arranged quotations from Bob Ross

It’s so important to do something every day that will make you happy.

Just let go, and fall like a little waterfall.

That’s when you experience true joy. When you have no fear.

We’re gonna make some big decisions in our little world.

Don’t be afraid to make these big decisions. Once you start, they just sort of make themselves.

That’s what makes life fun. That you can make these decisions. That you can create the world you want.

Life is too short to be alone, too precious. Share it with a friend.

It’s life. It’s interesting. It’s fun.

Let it make you happy.

If you have good suggestions for wedding readings, please fire away in comments.

12 thoughts on “Unique Wedding Readings

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I think about that Anne Lamott all the time.

    I’m childless and am marrying a guy with 2 kids, and we’ve lived together for a while, and we’re old. Our situation is utterly ordinary and non-traditional at the same time. Something speaking to the pleasantries of everyday domesticity would be nice, and I haven’t found it yet.

    Two that I have saved but I’m looking for something more plain spoken.

    excerpt from The Country Of Marriage
    by Wendell Berry

    Sometimes our life reminds me
    of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
    and in that opening a house,
    an orchard and garden,
    comfortable shades, and flowers
    red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
    made in the light for the light to return to.
    The forest is mostly dark, its ways
    to be made anew day after day, the dark
    richer than the light and more blessed,
    provided we stay brave
    enough to keep going in.

    Excerpt from A Blessing for Wedding
    by Jane Hirshfield

    With these friends let it bless you
    With snow-scent and lavender bless you
    Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
    Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
    Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
    Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
    Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days


  2. We used this reading from Obergefell v. Hodges:

    No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.


  3. @Celes Wow, so lovely.

    @Meg We were in a similar situation. I know of a poem that _might_ be fit, but I’m not with my books. I’ll have a look when I get home and post it here, or email you.


  4. Twenty Blessings by Thomas A. Clark
    May the best hour of the day be yours.
    May luck go with you from hill to sea.
    May you stand against the prevailing wind.
    May no forest intimidate you.
    May you look out from your own eyes.
    May near and far attend you.
    May you bathe your face in the sun’s rays.
    May you have milk, cream, substance.
    May your actions be effective.
    May your thoughts be affective.
    May you will both the wild and the mild.
    May you sing the lark from the sky.
    May you place yourself in circumstance.
    May you be surrounded by goldfinches.
    May you pause among alders.
    May your desire be infinite.
    May what you touch be touched.
    May the company be less for your leaving.
    May you walk alone beneath the stars.
    May your embers still glow in the morning.


  5. At our wedding we had two readings. One was some curated extracts of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, when characters spoke about love, or relationships. Warm and funny and a bit irreverent.

    Our second reading was Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney:

    Masons, when they start upon a building,
    Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
    Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
    Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
    And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
    Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

    So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
    Old bridges breaking between you and me
    Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
    Confident that we have built our wall.


  6. Reading all of these made my heart feel lighter. Thank you.
    Maggie, this is my official request to see a full length photo of what looks to be an incredibly dreamy dress. (Is it that one?? That one you were coveting?!)


  7. We had two readings – one was ee cummings (my husband’s), and one was W.H. Auden (mine)

    O Tell Me The Truth About Love
    Some say love’s a little boy,
    And some say it’s a bird,
    Some say it makes the world go round,
    Some say that’s absurd,
    And when I asked the man next door,
    Who looked as if he knew,
    His wife got very cross indeed,
    And said it wouldn’t do.

    Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
    Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
    Does its odour remind one of llamas,
    Or has it a comforting smell?
    Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
    Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
    Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    Our history books refer to it
    In cryptic little notes,
    It’s quite a common topic on
    The Transatlantic boats;
    I’ve found the subject mentioned in
    Accounts of suicides,
    And even seen it scribbled on
    The backs of railway guides.

    Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
    Or boom like a military band?
    Could one give a first-rate imitation
    On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
    Is its singing at parties a riot?
    Does it only like Classical stuff?
    Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    I looked inside the summer-house;
    It wasn’t even there;
    I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
    And Brighton’s bracing air.
    I don’t know what the blackbird sang,
    Or what the tulip said;
    But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,
    Or underneath the bed.

    Can it pull extraordinary faces?
    Is it usually sick on a swing?
    Does it spend all its time at the races,
    or fiddling with pieces of string?
    Has it views of its own about money?
    Does it think Patriotism enough?
    Are its stories vulgar but funny?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    When it comes, will it come without warning
    Just as I’m picking my nose?
    Will it knock on my door in the morning,
    Or tread in the bus on my toes?
    Will it come like a change in the weather?
    Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
    Will it alter my life altogether?
    O tell me the truth about love.


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