Wedding Ceremony Readings
A selection of optional reading suggestions for weddings and life cycle ceremonies
Let us ask God for his continued blessing on wedding couple: Lord, may your fullest blessing come upon them so that they may together rejoice in your gift of married love. May they be noted for their good lives and be parents filled with virtue. May they be glad that you help them in their work and know that you are with them in their need. May they reach old age in the company of friends and family.
Traditional Jewish Wedding Blessing (English)
Blessed art you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has created joy and gladness for the couple in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the each partner, the jubilant voice of all brides and bridegrooms from the wedding canopy, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who gives the wedding couple joy in each other.
Gratitude for New Beginnings (to be read by parents)
Our God and God of all generations, we are grateful for new beginnings, for the bond of new life that links one generation to another. Thankful for the blessings of family, for the love and care that brings meaning and happiness to our lives, we rejoice with our children on the day of the wedding.
Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. It is the duty of every person to know and consider that she is unique in the world in her particular character, and that there has never been someone like her before. For if there had been someone like her before, there would be no need for her to be in the world. Every single person is a new thing in the world and is called upon to fulfill her particularity in the world. – adapted from Martin Buber
A Marriage Poem by Rumi
May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
A reading by Osho
“Remain continuously on a honeymoon. Go on searching and seeking each other, finding new ways of loving each other, finding new ways of being with each other. And each person is such an infinite mystery, inexhaustible, unfathomable, that it is not possible that you can ever say, ‘I have known her,’ or, ‘I have known him.’ At the most you can say, ‘I have tried my best, but the mystery remains a mystery.’ In fact the more you know, the more mysterious the other becomes. Then love is a constant adventure.”
Apache Wedding Blessing
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold.
for each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now there is no more loneliness
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May your days together be good and long
upon the earth.
Treat yourselves and each other with respect,
and remind yourselves often of what brought you together.
Give the highest priority to the tenderness,
gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.
When frustration, difficulty and fear
assail your relationship – as they threaten all relationships
at one time or another – remember to focus on what is right between you,
not only the part which seems wrong.
In this way, you can ride out the storms
when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives-
remembering that even if you lose sight of it
for a moment, the sun is still there.
And if each of you takes responsibility
for the quality of your life together,
it will be marked by abundance and delight
Jane Hirshfield, “A Blessing for Wedding”
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
Excerpts from James Freeman’s Blessing For a Marriage:
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another– not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you know your fullness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often express love, and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may you both have the good sense to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence– warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.
The Baal Shem Tov said, from every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being. – Baal Shem Tov
And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make strong your bones; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, who waters fail not. Isaiah 58:11
The True Nature of Soul Mates, The Zohar, book of Jewish Mysticism
Each soul and spirit, prior to it’s entering into this word, consist of male and female united into one being. When it descends on this earth the two parts separate and animate two different bodies. At the time of Marriage, The Holy One, blessed he be, who knows all souls and spirits, unites them again as there were before, and they again constitute one body and one soul, forming as it were the right and left of one individual.
Song Of Songs 2:8-10, 14, 16a; 8:6-7a
I hear my Beloved.
See how he comes
leaping on the mountains,
bounding over the hills,
My beloved is like a gazelle,
like a young stag.
See where he stands
behind our wall. He looks in at the window,
He peers through the lattice.
My beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me,
“Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
My dove hiding in the clefts of the rock,
In coverts of the cliff,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your face is beautiful.”
My beloved is mine and I am his.
He said to me:
“Set me like a seal on your heart
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is strong as death,
Jealousy relentless as Sheol.
The flash of it is a flash of fire,
A flame of the Lord himself.”
Love no flood can quench
no torrent drown.
Letters to a Young Poet # 7 by Rainer Maria Rilke
For one human being to love another human being; that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person. It is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distance …
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest of people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
From The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint Exupery
The little prince saw a rose garden. “You are not at all like my rose,” he said to the flowers. “No one has tended you and you have tended no one.”
“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he explained. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you. But in herself alone my rose is more important than all the hundreds of other roses: because it is she that I have watered… because it is she that I have sheltered… because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.”
The little Prince understood that it is his commitment to his rose that makes it so important. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tended.
Sonnet XLII, Sonnets from the Portuguese by 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 everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the 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.
Always Love Each Other By Larry S. Chengges
If you can always be as close and happy as today,
Yet be secure enough to grow and change along the way.
If you keep for you alone your love as husband and wife,
Yet find the time to share your joy with others in your life.
If you can be as one and walk through marriage hand in hand,
Yet still support the goals and dreams that each of you have planned.
If you dare to always go your separate ways together,
Then all the wonder of today will stay with you forever.
There are three things too wonderful for me;
Yea, four I cannot fathom I cannot see;
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent upon a rock,
The way of a ship in the midst of the sea,
And the way of a man with a woman
and a woman with a man.
The way of men and women.
Struggling with self and other, the I and the not-I,
seeking that elusive shadow within
sometimes by aimlessly wandering without.
But the work of a spouse
is not to be the shadow of the other,
but to help the other be who that person truly is.
We tend to seek out reflections of ourselves to love
and are sorely troubled when the other person fails to mirror our needs,
our desires and our truths.
But true union begins when we look
beyond the mirror of self-absorption
to see who we have met on his or her own terms.
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky