14 Gorgeous, Alternative Readings For A Cool And Unique Civil Wedding Ceremony

It's a cheese-free zone we promise...

Love

One of the trickiest things about choosing a civil ceremony is the fact that you pretty much have to design the whole thing yourselves. The only parts you really have to do are the vows and the signing of the register – the legal bits basically – so if you don’t create a longer ceremony it’ll all be over in the blink of an eye.

But it’s not all bad – because you get to make the ceremony as much about you two as you want. There’s wonderful scope to add in gorgeous readings from classic literature, poetry, or even song lyrics.

As a guide you’ll be looking to fit three or four readings in between your music, the lighting of the candles and the vows. 

So here are our absolute faves for a meaningful, non-cheesy (trust us, we've had to sift through some shite!) ceremony that your guests will feel privileged to be part of. 

Love 2

1. Let me put it this way by Simon Armitage

Let me put it this way:

if you came to lay

your sleeping head

against my arm or sleeve,

and if my arm went dead,

or if I had to take my leave

at midnight, I should rather

cleave it from the joint or seam

than make a scene

or bring you round.

There,

how does that sound?

2. 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.

Hearts

3. Love by Roy Croft

I love you 

Not only for what you are, 

But for what I am 

When I am with you.


I love you, 

Not only for what 

You have made of yourself, 

But for what 

You are making of me.


I love you 

For the part of me 

That you bring out;


I love you 

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart 

And passing over 

All the foolish, weak things 

That you can't help 

Dimly seeing there,


And for drawing out Into the light

All the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked 

Quite far enough to find


I love you because you

Are helping me to make 

Of the lumber of my life 

Not a tavern 

But a temple.


Out of the works 

Of my every day 

Not a reproach 

But a song.


I love you 

Because you have done

More than any creed 

Could have done 

To make me good. 

And more than any fate 

Could have done 

To make me happy.


You have done it 

Without a touch, 

Without a word, 

Without a sign.


You have done it 

By being yourself. 

Perhaps that is what 

Being a friend means, 

After all.

4. From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness, 

it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  

And when it subsides you have to make a decision. 

You have to work out whether your roots have 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 fool can do.  Love itself is what
is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art
and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots
that grow towards each other underground, and, when all the pretty
blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one
tree and not two.

Scrabble

5. He’s 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.

6. Love Should by Moby

Morning sun is sweet and soft on your eyes

Oh my love, you always leave me surprised

I feel my heart starts to burst 

With all my love for you


I know how it rains

I know how it pours 

I never could feel this way 

For anyone but you

Flower

7. Close close all night by Elizabeth Bishop 

Close close all night

the lovers keep.

They turn together

in their sleep,

close as two papers

in a book

that read each other

in the dark.

Each knows all

the other knows

learnt by heart

from head to toes.

8. Wild Awake by 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."

Ring

9. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite, the inexhaustible is requisite.

Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven.

10. I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I... I will be here
If in the dark we lose sight of love
Hold my hand and have no fear
'Cause I... I will be here

I will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to crying
Through the winning, losing and trying
We'll be together
'Cause I will be here

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I... I will be here
As sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I... I will be here

I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here, hmmm

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

And just as sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I... I will be here
We'll be together
I will be here

Book 2

11. On Love by Thomas Kempis 

Love is a mighty power,

a great and complete good.

Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth.
It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders
all bitterness sweet and acceptable.

Nothing is sweeter than love,
Nothing stronger,
Nothing higher,
Nothing wider,
Nothing more pleasant,
Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God.

Love flies, runs and leaps for joy.
It is free and unrestrained.
Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil,
attempts things beyond its strength.

Love sees nothing as impossible,
for it feels able to achieve all things.
It is strange and effective,
while those who lack love faint and fail.

Love is not fickle and sentimental,
nor is it intent on vanities.
Like a living flame and a burning torch,
it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.

12. The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach

A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. 

Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.”

Hands

13. I Like You by Sandol Stoddard

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, ‘Remember when you told me something special?’
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
Hah-hah!

…And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad…
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t…

I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do.

14. I Wanna Be Yours by 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

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Written By

Cynthia Bifolchi

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