Just as we believe that couples should write their own wedding vows, we love when couples include wedding ceremony readings to further personalize their big day. If religious readings aren’t for you, consider passages or quotes from unexpected sources, such as your favorite children’s book, a quirky rom-com, or a classic novel. There are inspirational gems about marriage, love, and relationships everywhere. Searching for them can feel like a fun scavenger hunt—or it can feel daunting.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite unique ceremony readings that would be perfect to read during your ceremony. They talk about a love story, the little things in love, and are non religious. Whether you want something short and sweet, lighthearted, or deep, we’re confident you haven’t heard these readings too often.
Our Favorite Unexpected Ceremony Readings
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- Sex and the City
- One Tree Hill (based on a quote from Dante Alighieri)
- Shall We Dance
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulgham
- The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket
- “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
- Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
- “The Poetry of James Kavanaugh” by James Kavanaugh
Short & Sweet Ceremony Readings
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
“Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same. Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realized that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends. . . friends . . . friends . . .”
Sex and the City
“His hello was the end of her endings. Her laugh was their first step down the aisle. His hand would be hers to hold forever. His forever was as simple as her smile. He said she was what was missing. She said instantly she knew. She was a question to be answered. And his answer was ‘I do.’”
One Tree Hill (based on a quote from Dante Alighieri)
“Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always. A promise. Like a reward for persisting through life so long alone. A belief in each other and the possibility of love. A decision to ignore, simply rise above the pain of the past. A covenant, which at once binds two souls and yet severs prior ties. A celebration of the chance taken and the challenge that lies ahead. For two will always be stronger than one, like a team braced against the tempest civil world. And love will always be the guiding force in our lives. For tonight is a mere formality. Only an announcement to the world of feelings long held. Promises made long ago. In the sacred spaces of our hearts.”
Shall We Dance
“We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet…I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”
The Nightmare Before Christmas
“My dearest friend, If you don’t mind, I’d like to join you by your side. Where we could gaze into the stars, and sit together, now and forever. For it is plain as anyone could see, we’re simply meant to be.”
Lighthearted and Joyful Unique Ceremony Readings
All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham
All of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned…
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket
“I will love you as a drawer loves a secret compartment, and as a secret compartment loves a secret, and as a secret loves to make a person gasp, and as a gasping person loves a glass of brandy to calm their nerves, and as a glass of brandy loves to shatter on the floor, and as the noise of glass shattering loves to make someone else gasp, and as someone else gasping loves a nearby desk to lean against, even if leaning against it presses a lever that loves to open a drawer and reveal a secret compartment. I will love you until all such compartments are discovered and opened, and until all the secrets have gone gasping into the world.”
A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, HIS cage.
Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit, which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also overly fond of Things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of Things?
But her mind skips from here to there so quickly, thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on Shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for Things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thought and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them.
Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place…
“I don’t believe in marriage. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of traditional and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion — these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But, but, when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous, and very romantic.”
Deeply Romantic Ceremony Readings
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
“The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite, the inexhaustible is requisite.
Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven…
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.
If there did not exist someone who loved, the sun would become extinct.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
“When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on Earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision: You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement. It is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love,’ which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being ‘in love’ has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those who truly love have roots that grow toward each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”
“The Poetry of James Kavanaugh” by James Kavanaugh
To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.
Looking for even more ways to personalize your wedding? Take a peek at these planning ideas:
11 Sweet and Sentimental Unity Ceremony Ideas
6 Unique Tips for Writing Your Wedding Vows
5 Wedding Traditions You Might Want to Rethink + What to Do Instead
9 Creative Reception Activities Your Guests Will Love