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Beautiful Ideas For Civil Ceremony Readings

From poignant texts that will have your guests reaching for their hankies, to funny poems to leave them in stitches, there’s a reading to suit every couple and every style of wedding. Here are some ideas to get you started…

06 Sep 2018

What’s not to love about choosing readings for your civil ceremony? Not only is it a brilliant way to give family and friends a role in your wedding, but it’s also a chance to personalise the formal part of the day and shape the vibe of the whole celebration. Because just as you use flowers and decor to create a visual style, the readings you choose will set the tone of your day with words (for example, if you want it to be relaxed and full of laughter, a humorous reading signals that from the get-go). And the good news is that there is literally endless inspo out there! Below, we list some of our favourite themes for a civil ceremony reading.


It’s hard to imagine anything more romantic than a love poem, and there are centuries worth of traditional pieces to dive into (Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and I Carry Your Heart With Me by E.E. Cummings are popular civil ceremony poem choices. Alternatively, go for something more modern – take a look at Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton or Margaret Atwood’s Variation On The Word Sleep for starters.


Using a passage from a favourite novel is a great way to inject your personality into the day. From classic literature (check out Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens) to something more out-of-the-box (if you want to use a passage from your favourite crime novel, why not?), this is the perfect option for bookworm brides and weddings with a literary theme. You could gift copies of the book as favours, too.

Song lyrics

Whether it’s ‘your song’ or just some lyrics that you love, you might find that Spotify holds as much inspo as Shakespeare! A few ideas we like: Something by The Beatles, Lovesong by The Cure and Flaws And All by Beyoncé.

Children’s stories

How’s this for a cute idea? Revisit favourite stories from your childhood and you might be surprised how many wedding-appropriate options there are. Think: The Owl And The Pussycat by Edward Lear, Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne or this quote from Dr Seuss: ‘We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.’ Adorable!


Wedding readings don’t have to be serious or soppy, and for couples who want a fun, light-hearted day, a funny reading is ideal. You could go for a humorous poem (pet lovers will like How Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog by Taylor Mali), an excerpt from a comedic novel (this Brides writer used a passage from a P.G. Wodehouse story) or even some lines from your favourite rom-com (over to Netflix!).


There are plenty of renowned people who’ve had interesting thoughts on love, so why not pick their brains? Whether it’s someone relevant to you as a couple, or you just happen to like the words, this is a nice way to show your guests what matters to you. Look at: Albert Einstein’s quote about gravitation and love, Bob Marley’s He’s Not Perfect or even a quote from a TV show – Friends, Game of Thrones and Sex and The City all feature quotable speeches about love.

Love letters

If you and your partner have a stash of treasured letters or notes that you’ve sent to each other throughout your relationship, what could be lovelier than weaving them into your day? It doesn’t matter whether they’re romantic or jokey – they’ll give your guests a wonderful insight into your love story (obviously you can edit out anything too personal!).