Wedding readings

I had a question from a reader a few weeks ago about using not necessarily religious wedding readings….while my readings are all planned out due to the Catholic ceremony, I had researched these a while back and thought they were really beautiful, so I thought I would share them with all of you.

Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings
Confucius (551-479 BC)

Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,mysweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the rot and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

from A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

That night at the hotel, in our room with the long empty hall outside and our shoes outside the door, a thick carpet on the floor of the room, outside the windows the rain falling and in the room light and pleasant and cheerful, then the light out and it exciting with smooth sheets ad the bed comfortable, feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, walking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. It has only happened to me like that once.

From The Love Poems of Marichiko
Marichiko (Kenneth Rexroth) (1905-1982)

You ask me what I though about
Before we were lovers.
The answer is easy.
Before I met you
I didn’t have anything to think about.

Who is there? Me.
Me who? I am me. You are you.
You take my pronoun,
And we are us.

Love me. At this moment we
Are the happiest
People in the world.

From Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is – solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate — ?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.

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  1. Ashley

    May I ask which readings you have selected for your Catholic wedding? I was looking for something other than Corinthians and I’m having trouble finding the right passage. Thank you, by the way. These would be lovely printed on a program.

  2. Nicole

    I was going to ask the same question. We are having a Catholic ceremony but I have yet to choose my readings. Thanks!

  3. Wendy

    Those are beautiful words- very touching and meaningful. I am doing a Quaker wedding this weekend and the couple is actually using that last reading. There are so many perfect places to find the words for a wedding! Thanks for sharing some of them.

  4. Jenna

    I love the poem by Marichiko. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. David & Becky

    Please share your Catholic readings, I know it’s kind of nosey but I was so depressed when I got my Catholic wedding readings handbook that I shoved it behind the couch and have looked at it in 6 months. I’m getting married in 2 months and I have to face that horrible book soon.

  6. elizabeth @ elizabeth anne designs

    love love loving the hemingway!

  7. carrie

    another request for your catholic readings! there are several old testament readings that i love, but i’m struggling with the others.

    i adore the hemingway reading — i love that book so much. maybe i can work it in somewhere …

  8. longvowels

    I love the readings you have here, esp. the Rilke. I am definitely going to use it!
    As for Catholic Weddings these are some of the one I was told to choose from:

    Old Testament:
    Genesis 2:20b-25

    I Corinthians 13:4-8a
    Colossians 3:12-14

    John 2:1-11

    I Choose Colossians and the Gospel.
    I hope these help!

  9. Vane

    Here are the readings I had to chose from:

    Genesis 1:26-28
    Genesis 2:18-24
    Genesis 24:48-51, 58-67
    Romans 8:31-39
    Romans 12:9-13
    1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
    Ephesians 5:25-32
    Colossians 3:12-17
    1 John 4:7-12

  10. Amber

    Thank you for the Rilke – it is so perfect and exactly what I was looking for without even know exactly what I was looking for. :)Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

  11. Kristin

    I sooooooo wish we could use secular readings for my catholic wedding. I love the old testament reading we chose (from Song of Songs) but all the new testament ones talk about wives being subservient to their husbands and God. Blah.


  12. sarah

    I just checked in on your blog and had to comment. We used the e.e. cummings poem for our wedding and it was so perfect for us. My husband used to write out some of cummings’ (more naughty) poetry in notes and leave them for me to find. I was so excited when I was reading through a book of his poetry and found this gem!

  13. straight couple in brooklyn

    We are having a Catholic ceremony. I’m not particularly religious. My priest allows 1 non-biblical reading and two biblical ones. He also allows edits of the readings, which is useful.

    We almost used the Rilke but then decided on the McCarthy quote below. In deciding, it might be useful to consider the reading abilities of your readers – one of ours is great with anything, the other is probably best with something less complex (thus the McCarthy).

    Here are our readings:

    The Road
    Cormac McCarthy

    “He remembered waking once, on such a night, to the clatter of crabs in the pan where he’d left steakbones from the night before.

    Faint deep coals of the driftwood fire pulsing in the onshore wind.

    Lying under such a myriad of stars.

    The sea’s black horizon.

    He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again.

    When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept…

    And he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.”

    New Testament (Paul to Romans)
    Romans 12: 2, 9-13, 15-16a, 18
    “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
    by the renewing of your minds,
    so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Let love be genuine;
    hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
    Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

    Do not lag in zeal,
    be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
    Rejoice in hope,
    be patient in suffering,
    persevere in prayer.
    Contribute to the needs of the saints, extend hospitality to strangers.

    Rejoice with those who rejoice,
    weep with those who weep.
    Live in harmony wiht one another.

    And if it is possible,
    live peaceably with all.”

    Luke 6: 36-38
    “Jesus looked at his disciples and said: “Be compassionate,
    just as your father is compassionate.
    Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
    do not condemn and you will not be condemned;
    forgive, and you will be forgiven,
    Give, and there will be gifts for you:
    a full measure, pressed down,
    shaken together, and overflowing
    will be poured into your lap;
    because the standard you use
    will be the standard used for you.”

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