The Problem with Wedding Readings

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  © (17/07/2016) | Categories: Wedding Ceremony |
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Child readingMost people seem to believe that you have to have readings in a wedding ceremony. Not true! But there are good historical reasons for such a belief:
  • The wedding ceremony as we know it is based on the Church of England ceremony that's been around since Henry VII. So basically the form and format of the ceremony is very similar to the form and form of a service of worship (which is what a religious wedding is first and foremost).
In all Christian services there are 3 readings, taken from 3 distinct parts of the Bible.  While a member of the clergy leads the service, lay people can and do participate by delivering the readings. Hence the belief that a reading is the only way (other than being a member of the bridal party) that friends and family can participate in the wedding. So it is not unusual for there to be 3 readings in a wedding, either all lumped together or scattered through the ceremony. And that's lovely. But it doesn't always work. In fact it often doesn't work. And here's why: the four major issues that you need to consider when deciding whether to include a reading, or more than one reading in your ceremony
1. Here endeth the lesson
Readings in a church serve as a teaching opportunity. But when that crosses over to a secular wedding, what you get is a lecture. Yes, most popular wedding reading tell the couple how to run their marriage, or define marriage or love, or some aspect of it in a pretty preachy way.
2. The guests have heard it all before
It is amazing (a word you'll rarely hear me say because while in popular use it has come to mean "impressive" it actually means shocking, astounding, or something that takes your breath away) just how few default readings there are. So, while you might not have come across The Art of Marriage, before, trust me, your guests have heard it at wedding after wedding.
3. Readings are often chosen completely separately from the ceremony development process
So they may seem like a detour to the guests.
4. Reading out loud is not easy

PS: I have a huge library of books that are a rich source of passages and poems that don't lecture, don't require a lot of contemplation to understand, and are not the same-old, same-old. So if you decide that having someone read in your ceremony is something you'd like to do, we can come up with the perfect reading and I will make sure it is seamlessly integrated into the ceremony

Here is an example of a passage that your guests will not have heard multiple times. It is reproduced here under licence from The Copyright Agency, Ltd :

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, writing in a letter to his ten-year-old daughter, discusses the importance of evidence in science and in life:
People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise you’d never be confident of things like ‘My wife loves me’. But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn’t purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.
You might also like to read 7 Things to Read at your Wedding instead of a Poem

Thanks for reading!
Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
                  "Let's talk soon about how you can have the best
                  ceremony ever"
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