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10 Non-Cringe Wedding Readings

If you've been to a lot of weddings, you'll probably feel like you've heard every reading in existence. After all, there are only so many different ones, and people often play it safe. I thought I'd gone classy and original for my wedding readings...but since then I have photographed loads of weddings which also used Sonnet 116. I was like...

Regardless, I still love that reading. (And I would always recommend it!)

But I digress. The main issue I have with most wedding readings isn't necessarily that they're common, but that they're...well...a bit cringe. Perhaps I'm a bit old-fashioned, but any modern poems about leaving loo seats up, sex, or what goes into a 'recipe for love' particularly set my teeth on edge.

However, there are also plenty of readings which are non-cringe, make no mention of toilet habits, and which are just...well, really romantic! Here are ten of my favourites.

Two brides getting married in the John Russell Suite at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park

1. The Bridge Across Forever - 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.

Bride and groom kissing on a bridge during outdoor wedding at Moon Down in Kent

2. Love - 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.

Bride feeding groom wedding cake during boho Sparkford Hall wedding in Somerset

3. One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII - Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,    or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:    I love you as one loves certain obscure things,    secretly, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries    the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,    and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose    from the earth lives dimly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,    I love you directly without problems or pride: I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love, except in this form in which I am not nor are you,    so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,    so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Flower girl wearing huge neon sunglasses at Elmhay Park wedding on the Orchardleigh Estate in Somerset

4. On Love - 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.

Wedding toast at Manicomio in Chelsea

5. Extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières

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.

Bride and groom walking through confetti tunnel at Oaks Farm wedding in Croydon

6. Touched by an Angel - Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life. Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.

Bride laughing during wedding vows at Wembley Civic Centre in London

7. Extract from Les Misérables - 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.

Bridesmaids and bride laughing outside Wandsworth Town Hall in London

8. A Blessing for Wedding - Jane Hirshfield

Today when persimmons ripen

Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow

Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song

Today when the maple sets down its red leaves

Today when windows keep their promise to open

Today when fire keeps its promise to warm

Today when someone you love has died

or someone you never met has died

Today when someone you love has been born

or someone you will not meet has been born

Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness

Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired

Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow

Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace

Today, let this light bless you

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

Bride walking down the aisle with her father at wedding at Syrencot in Wiltshire

9. How Do I Love Thee - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Woman dancing at wedding reception at Greenwood's Hotel in Essex

10. Extract from The 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.

Bride smiling in the mirror while getting ready for her wedding at Millbridge Court in Surrey

Do you have a favourite wedding reading? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Drop a comment below if you have any suggestions to add to this list!

If you're after a wedding photographer and fancy having a chat if you think my taste in readings (and photos) isnt too bad, then hit the button below to contact me!

Alternative bride and groom kissing in the woods at Lake District wedding near Windermere


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