Wedding readings for a civil ceremony

Funny, non-religious wedding readings – perfect for a civil ceremony or quirky big day

Wedding readings for a civil ceremony
Find the perfect reading for your civil ceremony. Image: Kobus Tollig

Looking for a gorgeous reading for a civil ceremony? These lovely non-religious poems and extracts perfectly sum up marriage and will ensure your wedding ceremony is anything but boring!

Think about who you want to recite these readings too. Your parents might love the extra responsibility or perhaps this is the perfect job for a sibling who’s not in the wedding party. If you already have children and they feel confident enough to perform, a short reading by them is always charged with extra emotion.

Take a look at these funny wedding readings and readings from children’s books for even more unique ideas.

This lovely sonnet is full of passion and honesty.

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by 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.


Calling all bakers! We’ve found your perfect wedding reading! Adapt the ingredients to the couple and you’ll have something completely unique.

A Good Wedding Cake Author unknown 

4lb of love
1/2lb of sweet temper
1lb of butter of youth
1lb of blindness of faults
1lb of pounded wit
1lb of good humour
2lbs of sweet argument
1 pint of rippling laughter
1 wine glass of common sense
A dash of modesty
Put the love, good looks and a sweet temper into a well-furnished house. Beat the butter of youth into a cream and mix well together with the blindness of faults. Stir the pounded wit and good humour into the sweet argument, then add the rippling laughter and common sense. Work the whole together until everything is well mixed and bake gently for ever.

Image: Anneli Marinovich Photography

This poem sums up marriage simply and beautifully. It reflects on the strength you give to one another and reinforces your vows.

Marriage Is by Emily Matthews

Someone to believe in
And to put their trust in you
Someone who appreciates
The special things you do,
Someone to be close to,
In your heart and mind,
Someone who’s the love
You might have thought you’d never find,
Someone who stands by you
And whose faith can make you strong,
Someone you will cherish
Every day, your whole life long.

This incredible poem is full of gorgeous imagery and is the ideal reading for when you want to promise your other half the world.

The Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


An amazing poem about enduring love and devotion to one another.

A Dedication to My Wife by T.S. Eliot

To whom I owe the leaping delight 
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime 
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime, 
The breathing in unison 
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other 
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech 
And babble the same speech without need of meaning. 
No peevish winter wind shall chill 
No sullen tropic sun shall wither 
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only 
But this dedication is for others to read: 
These are private words addressed to you in public.  

Image: Steve Gerrard

Not that comfortable with lots of gushing in public? This poem focuses on the friendship at the heart of every marriage and its enduring strength.

A Chinese Wedding Poem

I want to be your friend
For ever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry,
When it lightens and thunders in winter,
When it rains and snows in summer,
When Heaven and Earth mingle
Not ’til then will I part from you.


This works as either a reading or vows and focuses on the most important aspects of marriage.

These I can promise by Anon

I cannot promise you a lifetime of sunshine
I cannot promise riches, wealth or gold
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old
But I can promise all my heart's devotion
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow
A love that's ever true and ever growing
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.

Start your marriage journey with this poem (also perfect for boat lovers!)

Chapter One of One Thousand by O.J. Preston

For two people this dawn brought on a magical day
Now husband and wife they head on their way
As a boat setting sail may their journey begin
With calmest of waters, most helpful of wind
And if they should stumble upon turbulent sea
May it pass them unharming – leave them be.
For here are two people whom love has well bitten
Here opens their book which has yet to be written
As the first page unfolds and their life inks its path
May it write a true story where forever love lasts
Let their journey be happy till death do they part
Of one thousand chapters may this be the start

Image: Nick Ray

This quote by Bob Marley is a brilliant reminder that although your husband might not be perfect, he’s perfect for you.

He’s not perfect quote 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 analyze. 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.


Short, but seriously moving. This gorgeous poem, pretty much says it all.

To Be One With Each Other by George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?

A small paragraph of brilliant wedding advice. Perfect for parents to read to you on your wedding day.

Marriage Advice by Jane Wells

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.
The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindness you bestow on your friends.
Please hand this down to your children and your children’s children.

British poet Simon Armitage beautifully sums up the meaning of true love with this quirky poem.

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.
how does that sound?

Want more reading ideas? Here are wedding readings from love song lyrics and romantic readings from books

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