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If you’re looking to add an extra dash of sentimentality to your ceremony, wedding readings are the way to do it. They’re short, meaningful passages that can be borrowed from almost anywhere (your favourite books, your bible, you name it). Now, they’re a bit more sentimental than yearbook quotes, so you’ll want to put some extra thought into them. If you don’t know a thing about wedding readings, we’ve got you covered.

This is your essential guide to wedding readings.

What are wedding readings, anyway?
You can think of wedding readings as the siblings of wedding vows. Like the promises you’ll pen for your spouse, they’re deeply personal and take some time to get right, but unlike vows they (usually) aren’t written by the happy couple. They’re quotations or passages taken from books, poems or religious texts that have significance to the pair.

When are wedding readings recited?
Wedding readings usually take place after the processional and words of welcome. However, if you want to put yours closer to the exchange of rings or your vows, you can go right ahead. Keep in mind, some religious institutions follow strict itineraries, so if you’re not going the civil ceremony route, your officiant may choose for you.

Who recites readings at a wedding ceremony?
From your nephew to your MOH, you can select just about anyone to deliver a reading at your wedding. You’ll probably want to cross your friends and relatives who loathe public speaking off the list, but there are no real rules when it comes to choosing. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your speakers, you may want to let your choice of reading(s) guide you. For example, if your best man is a total comedian and you’ve chosen a funny wedding reading, you may want to ask him to recite it.

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How do I find the perfect wedding readings for my ceremony?
This is probably the trickiest part, but it’s also the most fun. Gather your beloved childhood books, quotes you pinned on Pinterest, love poems that make you swoon, romantic letters you’ve sent to your S.O. (or they’ve sent to you) and your favourite pieces of lit and scour them for wedding worthy quotations. Don’t forget to have a pen and paper handy so you can copy everything out. Once you’ve written everything down, go through the options with your soon-to-be spouse and pick your top contenders.

Do my readings have to be religious?
If you’re having a religious ceremony, there’s a good chance that your officiant will ask you to stick to religious readings. They’ll have to approve your readings before the big day and may even give you specific passages to choose from. If you’re having a civil ceremony, you’re free to take your passages from Seinfeld or Dr. Seuss, but you’ll have to avoid using religious texts.

How long should my wedding readings be?
You’ll want to keep your wedding readings short and sweet or your guests may lose interest. Instead of tearing pages and pages from your favourite book, we suggest sticking to a meaningful paragraph or two. Once you’ve narrowed it down, time yourself reading it out - if it clocks in under three minutes, you’re good to go.