Alternative Wedding Readings: 15 quirky, non-traditional & lovely readings

In my years as a wedding photographer, I’ve heard a LOT of readings. I always try to take note of the ones I love, but I’m always slightly busy photographing the moment, and I always end up having to email my couple afterwards and ask them what their awesome reading was!

The wonderful thing about wedding readings is that you can pretty much pick ANYTHING that suits you as a couple. Emotional, cute, romantic, funny, philosophical, and just plain lovely – the world of  readings is basically your oyster! So I thought I’d share some of my favourite alternative wedding readings with you here – I’ve heard a lot, and laughed and cried a lot as a result.

 readings for weddings

A wedding reading about realistic love

Valentine

by Carol Ann Duffy

 Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

 Different wedding readings

A Wedding Reading from a Novel

The Princess Bride

by William Goldman
“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches… I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids…

I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I ell-oh-vee-ee why-oh-you. Want it backward? You love I…

I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said, ‘Farm Boy, do this’, you thought I was answering, ‘As you wish’, but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.”

non-traditional wedding readings

A quirky wedding reading

Love Monkey

by Edward Monkton

It was once custom that every monkey would carve for himself a wooden heart. And the heart that love monkey carved was the most beautiful of all. Its contours were soft and rounded, like an ancient pebble sculpted by the oceans. Its surface was smooth and shiny like liquid silk, and it shone as bright as a ruby in the desert sun. “Take your hearts with you wherever you go,” said their teacher. “Nurture them as a mother nurtures her new-born baby. For when you want to give of yourself fully, your heart is the only true gift you will have.”

That night, Love Monkey had a dream. He dreamt of a monkey whose smile lit up his sole like sunshine. He held out his heart to her, so radiant, so splendid and so new. She took him in her arms and he felt truly, perfectly, at peace. When Love Monkey awoke he resolved that, from that day forward,he would search for his Dream Monkey until he could stand before her and give to her his perfect heart.

He travelled through deserts…and climbed over mountains. He trekked across forests…and sailed many oceans. Love Monkey looked after his heart as best he could, but the storms that he endured on his travels chipped away at its surface and each new adventure reshaped it. By the time he arrived on the last distant shore, his heart was so changed by the patina of time that it barely resembled his old heart at all.

And then, he saw her. Standing before him, as radiant and as beautiful as the sunshine, was his Dream Monkey. At first the cold not speak.  But then, from somewhere deep inside himself, he found a voice. “I have travelled the world over to find you, and to give you my heart,” he said.“But now that I am finally with you, I see how foolish I have been. You are so beautiful, so perfect.  And my heart that was once smooth, so bright and so new is now not something that I could even bring myself to show you,” and he turned to go. “Let me see it,” said Dream Monkey.  She took his heart and held it up to the light. “Nothing to me is more beautiful.  Every fissure tells a story. Every blemish makes you more real.  All my life I have been waiting for a heart like this; a heart that speaks the truth.” “Come here,” she said. “I have something for you too.” In her hand was a tiny golden heart.  It was as worn and as scratched as Love Monkey’s own…and it was the most precious thing that he had ever seen.

Love Monkey put his arms around her and they held each other for a long, long time. “I shall treasure this heart for as long as I live,” said Dream Monkey, running her fingers over its ridged and dimpled surface. Then they looked into each other’s eyes and, feeling the joy of truth in their souls for the first time, they began to laugh.  And often they sit together still, holding each other’s hearts in their warm hands, lifting them to the light…and laughing. Always laughing.

 Wedding reading Amber Spyglass

A Wedding Reading from a Fantasy Novel

The Amber Spyglass

by 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.”

 Bride with dog

A Wedding reading about dogs

Falling in love is like owning a dog

by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York  [change as appropriate]
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!

Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

unconventional wedding readings

A Wedding Reading about Growing Old Together

The Beauty of Love

by Anon.

The question is asked: “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?” And the answer is given: “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing.

“It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired but still strong with love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.”

Fun readings for weddings

A FUNNY WEDDING READING

Bridled Vows

By Ian Duhig

I will be faithful to you, I do vow

but not until the seas have all run dry

etcetera: although I mean it now,

I’m not a prophet and I will not lie.

To be your perfect wife, I could not swear;

I’ll love, yes; honour (maybe); won’t obey,

but will co-operate if you will care

as much as you are seeming to today.

I’ll do my best to be your better half,

but I don’t have the patience of a saint;

not with you, at you I may sometimes laugh,

and snap too, though I’ll try to learn restraint.

We might work out: no blame if we do not.

With all my heart, I think it’s worth a shot.

Beautiful wedding ceremony readings

A Wedding Reading from a Children’s Book

The Velveteen Rabbit

by Margery Williams

What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

 alternative readings for weddings

A Short Wedding Reading About Love

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.”

 Wedding ceremony readings

A Funny Poem for a Wedding Reading

Tin Wedding Whistle

by Ogden Nash

Though you know it anyhow
Listen to me, darling, now,
Proving what I need not prove
How I know I love you, love.
Near and far, near and far,
I am happy where you are;
Likewise I have never larnt
How to be it where you aren’t.
Far and wide, far and wide,
I can walk with you beside;
Furthermore, I tell you what,
I sit and sulk where you are not.
Visitors remark my frown
Where you’re upstairs and I am down,
Yes, and I’m afraid I pout
When I’m indoors and you are out;
But how contentedly I view
Any room containing you.
In fact I care not where you be,
Just as long as it’s with me.
In all your absences I glimpse
Fire and flood and trolls and imps.
Is your train a minute slothful?
I goad the stationmaster wrothful.
When with friends to bridge you drive
I never know if you’re alive,
And when you linger late in shops
I long to telephone the cops.
Yet how worth the waiting for,
To see you coming through the door.
Somehow, I can be complacent
Never but with you adjacent.
Near and far, near and far,
I am happy where you are;
Likewise I have never larnt
How to be it where you aren’t.
Then grudge me not my fond endeavor,
To hold you in my sight forever;
Let none, not even you, disparage
Such a valid reason for a marriage.

 Quirky wedding readings

A Non-traditional Wedding Reading from a graphic novel

The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones 

by Neil Gaiman

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. ”

 Joyful wedding readings

A Romantic Wedding Reading

Love Sonnet 17

By Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Funny wedding readings

A Funny poem for a wedding reading

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

 wedding readings from songs

A Song For A Wedding Reading

The Story

by Brandi Carlile

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do and I was made for you

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess
No, they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what I’ve been through like you do
And I was made for you

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you

Oh yeah, well it’s true

that I was made for you.

 Snowy wedding

A Short but beautiful wedding quote

This is the best book I’ve ever written, and it still sucks

by Jarod Kintz

“With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.”

I’d love to hear from you if you’re thinking of using one of these readings in your wedding. Send me a message about photographing your day!

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