Sample Ceremony Readings

sampleceremonyreads

Picking the words that connect with you and your beloved can be well…overwhelming. Sometimes the feelings are so deep and momentous that finding accurate words to express how much you care for someone can be difficult.  Ceremony readings provide several elements to a wedding. They can help you find the words that say how you feel about the journey you are bout to embark on called marriage. They set the tone for your ceremony, outside of your vows, can encourage and guide you in the ways of successful marriages and love, or they can be Prayers and well wishes for your future,  they can also bring a light, fun mood or convey a desired theme. Here a few popular readings…

 


Traditional Shoshone Indian Love Poem
Fair is the white star of twilight, and the sky clearer
at the day’s end, but she is fairer, and she is dearer
She, my heart’s friend.
Fair is the white star of twilight, and the moon roving
to the sky’s end; but she is fairer, better worth loving
She, my heart’s friend.”

Aztec Indian Wedding Poem
I know not whether thou has been absent:
I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee,
In my dreams thou art with me.
If my eardrops tremble in my ears,
I know it is thou moving within my heart.
Traditional Wedding Prayer of the Great Plains Indian
0 Morning Star!
When you look down upon us, give us peace and refreshing sleep.
Great Spirit!
Bless our children, friends, and visitors through a happy life.
May our trails lie straight and level before us.
Let us live to be old.
We are all your children and ask these things with good hearts.

Cherokee Blessing
God in heaven above,
Please protect the ones we love.
We honor all that you created
As we pledge our hearts and lives together.
We honor Mother Earth —
And ask for our marriage to be abundant,
And to grow stronger through the seasons
We honor fire —
And ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts.
We honor wind —
And ask that we sail through life safely and calm as in our father’s arms.
We honor water —
To clean and soothe our relationship that it may never thirst for love.
With all the forces of the universe you created,
We pray for harmony and true happiness
As we forever grow young together.

Excerpt from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.

From The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.

I Ching
When two people are at one
in their inmost hearts,
they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.
And when two people understand each other
in their inmost hearts,
their words are sweet and strong,
like the fragrance of orchids.

Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

A Love Like This, Dan Fogleberg
And now the lonely days are done
And with each rising of the sun, love begins anew
And if you ever ask me why
I know that my love will never die I’ll say these words to you

Of all the souls I’ve ever known
Mine sings to yours and yours alone and yours sings just to me
In all this world I’ll never find
A heart that could beat as close to mine and this time I can see

A love like this is so hard to find
And so many never do
And loves like this, when they even exist
Are precious and few, you know they’re precious and few

Down the miles, through the years
Yours is the star by which I steer, the brightest star I’ve known
And when I feel all hope is gone, yours is the love that leads me on
The light that guides me home
The light that guides me home
Your light will guide me home

The Key to Love, Author Unknown
The key to love is understanding …
as it is the little things that say so much by themselves.
The key to love is forgiveness ….
to accept each others faults and pardon mistakes,
The key to love is sharing …
Sharing and acing your good fortunes as well as the bad, together;
both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
to intensify your happiness.
The key to love is giving …
Giving without thought of return,
but with the hope of just a simple smile,
and by giving in but never giving up.
The key to love is respect …
Respect realizing that you are two separate people, with different ideas;
that you don’t belong to each other,
that you belong with each other, and share a mutual bond.
The key to love is inside us all …
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients
that will take you to its threshold;
it is the continual learning process that demands a lot of work …
but the rewards are more than worth the effort …
and that is the key to love.

Carl Sandburg
I love you. I love you for what you are,
but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.
I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals.
I pray for your desires, that they may be great,
rather than for your satisfactions,
which may be so hazardously little.
A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall.
But the most beautiful rose is one,
hardly more than a bud,
wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for larger and finer growth.
Not always shall you be what you are now.
You are going forward toward something great.
I am on the way with you and . . I love you.

Ogden Nash 
Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I’ve married one of Shakespeare’s dreams.

The Colour of My Love, David Foster, Arthur Janov
I’ll paint a sun to warm your heart
Knowing that we’ll never part.
I’ll draw the years all passing by
So much to learn, so much to try.

I’ll paint my mood in a shadow blue,
Paint my soul to be with you.
I’ll sketch your lips in shaded tones,
Draw your mouth to my own.

I’ll trace a hand to wipe your tears
And trace a look to calm your fears.
A silhouette of dark and light
To hold each other oh so tight.

I’ll paint the stars in the evening sky,
Draw the light into your eyes,
A touch of love, a touch of grace,
To softly fall on your moonlit face.

And with this ring our lives will start,
Let nothing keep our love apart.
I’ll take your hand to hold in mine,
And be together through all time.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fix’d mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Fidelity by D.H. Lawrence
Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

Judy Bielicki, Melbourne, Australia
It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round. However, without doubt, it is friendship which keeps our spinning existence on an even keel. True friendship provides so many of the essentials for a happy life — it is the foundation on which to build an enduring relationship, it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony, and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic. True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness. True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential. {Bride’s Name} and {Groom’s Name} came together as friends. Today, they pledge to each other not only their love, but also the strength, warmth and, most importantly, the fun of true friendship.

Touch the Air Softly by William Jay Smith
Now touch the air softly, step gently, one, two …
I’ll love you ’til roses are robin’s egg blue;
I’ll love you ’til gravel is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange, and lavender’s red.

Now touch the air softly, swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you ’til windows are all of a room;
And the table is laid, And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes on bottomless air.

I’ll love you ’til heaven rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down like a river below,
And earth is ablaze, and oceans aglow.

So touch the air softly, and swing the broom high.
We will dust the grey mountains, and sweep the blue sky:
And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plough,
As however is ever, and ever is now.

Love’s Coming by John Shaw Neilson
Love’s Coming

Quietly as rosebuds
Talk to the thin air,
Love came so lightly,
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as lovers
Creep at the middle moon,
Softly as players tremble
in the tears of a tune;

Quietly as lilies
Their faint vows declare
Came the shy pilgrim:
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as tears fall
On a warm sin,
Softly as griefs call
In a violin;

Without hail or tempest,
Blue sword of flame.
Love came so lightly
I knew not that he came.

Oath of Friendship — Anon., China, 1st Century B.C.
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.

What is Love? by Walter Rinder
Love is just not looking at each other and saying “You’re wonderful”.
There are times when we are anything but wonderful.
Love is looking out in the same direction.
It is linking our strength to pull a common load.
It is pushing together towards the far horizons, hand in hand.
Love is knowing that when our strength falters, we can borrow the strength of someone who cares.
Love is a strange awareness that our sorrows will be shared and made lighter by sharing;
that joys will be enriched and multiplied by the joy of another.
Love is knowing someone else cares that we are not alone in life.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

How do I love thee? 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 an Ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’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 grief’s, 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.

Love’s Philosophy by Percy Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle:-
Why not I with thine?
See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
Now sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:-
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

The Art of a Good Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner; it is being the right partner.

To Love is Not to Possess 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.

Somewhere I have never traveled By E.E. Cummings
somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which I cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though I have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, I and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(I do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Blessing of the Apaches
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Pathways by Rainer Maria Rilke
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale
stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.

Thoughts on Marriage By Mark Twain
A marriage…makes of two fractional
lives a whole;
it gives to two purposeless lives
a work, and doubles the strength
of each to perform it;
it gives to two
questioning natures
a reason for living,
and something to live for;
it will give a new gladness
to the sunshine,
a new fragrance to the flowers,
a new beauty to the earth,
and a new mystery to life.

The Creation of Man and Woman 
(Genesis 1:26-28, 31a) 
God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.” God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.” God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good.

The Creation of Woman
(Genesis 2:18-24) 
The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.” So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of the heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beats. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him.

So the Lord God made the man fall into deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of is ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed: “This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman, for this was taken from man.” This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

Prayer of the New Spouses
(Tobit 8:4-9) 
Tobias rose up from the bed and said to Sarah, “Get up, my sister; you and I must pray and petition our Lord to win his grace and his protection.” She stood up and they began praying for protection and this was how he began:
“You are blessed, O God of our fathers; blessed, too, is your name for ever and ever. Let the heavens bless you and all things you have made for evermore. It was you who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support; and from these two the human race was born. It was you who said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make him a helpmate like himself.’ And so I do not take my sister for any lustful motive; I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to have pity on her and on me and bring us to old age together.”

Love is as Strong as Death
(Song of Songs 2:8-10, 14, 16a; 8:6-7a) 
A reading from the Song of Songs:
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 the coverts of the cliff,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your fact is beautiful.”
My beloved is mind 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,
jealously relentless as Sheol.
The flash of it is a flash of fire,
a flame of the Lord himself.
Love no flood can quench,
no torrents drown.

A Really Good Wife and a Joyful Husband
(Sirach 26:1-4; 16-21) 
A reading from the book of Sirach:
Happy the husband of a really good wife;
the number of his days will be doubled.
A perfect wife is the joy of the husband,
he will live out the years of his life in peace.
A good wife is the best of portions,
reserved for those who fear the Lord;
rich or poor, they will be glad of heart,
cheerful of face, whatever the season.
The grace of a wife will charm her husband,
her accomplishments will make him stronger.
A silent wife is a gift from the Lord,
no price can be put on a well-trained character.
A modest wife is a boon twice over,
a chaste character cannot be weighted on scales.
Like the sun rising over the mountains of the Lord
is the beauty of a good wife in a well-kept house.

The Love of Christ
(Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39) 
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No!! He not only died for us — he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us. Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us. For I am certain of this; neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Greatest of These is Love
(1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a) 
Be ambitious for the higher gifts, and now I will show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I speak with human eloquence and that of angels as well, but speak without love, I am nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, knowing and understanding all of life’s mysteries — and if I have faith great enough to move mountains; but am without love, I am nothing.

If I give away to the needy all that I possess, and if I even suffer martyrdom, but am without love, I gain nothing.

This love of which I speak is always patient and kind.  It is never jealous.  It is never boastful or conceited.  It is never possessive or selfish.  It does not take offense and is not resentful.  It takes no pleasure in the failings of others, but rather delights only in the truth.

This love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading to its hope.  It will outlast anything.  It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen away.  This love will not come to an end.

Live in Love and Thanksgiving
(Colossians 3:12-17) 
A reading from the letter of Paul to the Colossians:
You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord as forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.
Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

God is Love
(I John 4::7-12) 
A reading from the first letter of John:
My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have ave life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

What God Has United, Man Must Not Divide 
(Matthew 19:3-6) 
A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew:
Some Pharisees approached him, and to test him they said, “Is it against the Law for a Man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?” He answered, “Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said, ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body?’ They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, no human being may divide.”

Love, the Greatest Commandment
(Matthew 22:35-40) 
A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew:
To disconcert him, one of them put a question, Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?
Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. One these two commandments hand the whole Law and the Prophets also.”

Remain in My Love
(John 15:9-12) 
A reading from the holy gospel according to John.
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father as loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”

Love One Another as I have Loved You
(John 15: 12-16) 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. A man or woman can have no great love than to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.”

I Love You by Larry S. Chengges
I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over

All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself,
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After All.

A Jewish Blessing
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord
We bless you out of the house of the Lord
Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with singing.
O God supremely blessed, supreme in might and glory, guide and bless this bridegroom and bride.
Unto Thee, O God and Father, we lift our souls ion praise. All creation declares Thy glory; through human beings, fashioned in Thine image, Thou hast revealed Thy majesty. Within his heart Thou hast implanted the ennobling influences of love and devotion. Thou Who art the Source of life and of joy, bless the covenant which this bridegroom and bride now seal in Thy name. Be with them in this sacred hour and in all the days to come. Amen.
Wine sharing:

(BA-RUCH AH-TAH AH-DO-NAI
EH-LO-HAY-NU MEH-LECH HAIO-LAM
BO-RAY PRI HA-GA-FEN.)
Blessed art Thou,
O Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
Creator of the Fruit of the vine.

From the Book of the Essences: 
Blessed is the child of light
who is pure in heart,
for that person shall see God.
For as the heavenly Father has given you
his Holy Spirit,
and your earthly mother has given you
her holy body,
so shall you give love
to all your brothers and sisters.
And your true brothers and sisters are those
who do the will of your heavenly Father
and your earthly mother.
Let your love be as the Sun
which shines on all the creatures of the earth,
and does not favor one blade of grass
for another.
And this love shall flow as a fountain
from person to person,
and as it is spent
so shall it be replenished.
For love is eternal.
Love is stronger
than the currents of deep waters.
Love is stronger than death.
And if human beings have not love,
they build walls between themselves
And the creatures of the earth.

From Buddha’s teachingUnlimited Friendliness 
This is what should be done by the man and woman who are wise, who seek the good, and who know the meaning of the place of peace.
Let them be fervent, upright, and sincere, without conceit of self, easily contented and joyous, free of cares; let them not be submerged by the things of the world; let them not take upon themselves the burden of worldly goods, let them be wise but not puffed up, and let them not desire great possessions even for their families.
May all beings be happy and at their ease. All beings, whether weak or strong – omitting none – in high, middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far way, born or to be born.
Even as a mother watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit. So let them cultivate a boundless good will toward the entire world, unlimited, free from ill-will or enmity.
Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all their waking hours, let them establish this mindfulness of good will, which is the highest state. Those who are perfect will never again know rebirth.

From The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran: On Friendship

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind,
nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts,
all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his
absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love
but a net cast forth: and the only unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there by laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

From The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Love is a great thing, a great good in every way; it alone lightens what is heavy, and leads smoothly over all roughness. For it carries a burden without being burdened, and makes every bitter thing sweet and tasty. Love wants to be lifted up, not held back by anything low. Love wants to be free, and far from all worldly desires, so that its inner vision may not be dimmed and good fortune bind it or misfortune cast it down. Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider; nothing happier, nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven and earth; for love is born of God…

Love keeps watch is never unaware, even when it sleeps; tired, it is never exhausted; hindered, it is never defeated; alarmed, it is never afraid; but like a living flame and burning torch it bursts upward and blazes forth…

Love is quick, sincere, dutiful, joyous, and pleasant; brave, patient, faithful, prudent, serene, and vigorous; and it never seeks itself. For whenever we seek ourselves, we fall away from love. Love is watchful, humble, and upgrade; not weak, or frivolous, or directed toward vain things; temperate, pure, steady, calm, and alert in all the senses. Love is devoted and thankful to God, always trusting and hoping in him, even when it doesn’t taste his sweetness, for without pain no one can live in love.

Desiderata 
Go placidly amid the clamor of life, and remember the peace to be found in silence.
Speak your truth quietly, listen to others, but avoid loud and aggressive people who vex the spirit.
Do not compare yourselves with others – there will always be greater and lesser persons and you may become vain and bitter.
Enjoy your achievements as well your plans.
Keep interest in your own careers. They are a real possession.
Be cautious in your affairs, for the world is full of trickery, but do not let this bind you to virtue in others – many strive for high ideals and life is full of heroism.
Be yourselves especially – do not feign affection and do not be cynical about love, for in the face of all greed and disenchantment, love is as perennial as grass.
Grow older, gracefully surrendering the things of yours when the time comes.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
Do not allow yourselves to become distressed by imaginings, many fears come out of fatigue and loneliness.
Have self-discipline but be gentle with yourselves.
You are the children of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars.
You have a right to be here, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be and whatever your labors and aspirations.
In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your souls and be true to them.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is till a beautiful world.
Go honestly. Strive to be happy.

What is Marriage?  (Anonymous)
What is marriage?
Marriage is more than the exchange of rings
and the sharing of a household;
It is much more than just living together.
It is the desire to truly want to know and
understand another human being;
to feel and share in that person’s
happiness, as well as their pain.
Marriage is to never feel alone;
but rather, to know that you always
have a friend; a partner in life that
you can laugh and cry with.
To know that you always have that
special someone to share your
innermost thoughts and fears,
and know that you will be heard.
Marriage is helping your partner to be
the absolute best that they can be,
while still being able to experience
your own need and goals.
Marriage is love;
true love that goes far beyond passion;
It is a love that you can reach for
in times of crisis as well as joy,
and know it will be there
to comfort and to share.


Love Is by Susan Polis Schutz 
Love is
being happy for the other person
when they are happy
being sad for the other person when they are sad
being together in good times
and being together in bad times
Love is the source of strength

Love is
being honest with yourself at all times
being honest with the other person at all times
telling, listening, respecting the truth
and never pretending
Love is the source of reality

Love is
an understanding that is so complete that
you feel as if you are a part of the other person
accepting the other person just the way they are
and not trying to change them to be something else
Love is the source of unity

Love is
the freedom to pursue your own desires
while sharing your experience with the other person
the growth of one individual along side of
and together with the growth of another individual
Love is the source of success

Love is
the excitement of planning things together
the excitement of doing things together
Love is the source of the future
Love is
the fury of the storm
the calm of the rainbow
Love is the source of passion

Love is
giving and taking in a daily situation
being patient with each other’s needs and desires
Love is the source of sharing

Love is
knowing that the other person
will always be with you regardless of what happens
missing the other person when they are away
but remaining near in heart at al times
Love is the source of security

Love is
the source of life

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where this is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Marriage Joins Two People by Edmund O’Neill 
Marriage is a commitment to life
to the best that two people can find
and bring out in each other.
It offers opportunities for sharing and growth
that no other human relationship can equal,
a joining that is promised for a lifetime.
Within the circle of it’s love,
marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships.
A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend,
confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic.
There may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing,
and the love of the other
may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.
Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life.
Happiness is fuller; memories are fresher; commitment is stronger.
Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid.
It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences,
and new ways of expressing love through all seasons of life.
When two people pledge to love and care for each other in marriage
they create a spirit unique to themselves,
which binds them closer that any spoken or written words.
Marriage is a promise, a potential
made in the hearts of two people who love,
which takes a lifetime to fulfill.

Unique wedding readings

“Carrie’s Poem” from 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”

 

Two Fragments by Sappho

Love holds me captive again and I tremble with bittersweet longing

As a gale on the mountainside bends the oak tree I am rocked by my love

 

From “Goodridge Vs. Department of Health” by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall (a political statement, or just a lovely definition of civil marriage?)

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

 

“To Diego and Frida” (Tina Modotti’s toast) from the movie Frida

I don’t believe in marriage. No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that. 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 tradition 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.

ADDRESSES

Address 1

Marriage is not only a commitment between lovers; it is also an agreement between two friends. Allow each other time to be an individual, respect each other’s wishes as well as their dreams. Selfishness has no place in a lasting relationship. Happiness is what each of you should seek for the other. Ask less for yourself than you are willing to give. Love can be shown by a word or touch or two thoughts entwined as one. In every relationship, trust is very important; never break that trust. True marriage is more than joining the bonds of marriage of two persons. In its right relation, it’s the uniting of two souls already attuned to each other. When such a true bond already exists between man and woman, it is fitting that an outer acknowledgment be made. This acknowledgment is the prime object of this gathering and this ceremony. We are here to bear witness to the entry into the closer relationship of husband and wife of these beloved friends who are already one in spirit.

Address with ring explanation 2

You are now taking into your care and keeping the happiness of the one person in all the world whom you love best. You are adding to your life not only the affection of each other, but also the companionship and blessing of a deep trust as well. You are agreeing to share strength, responsibilities, and to share love.

At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife, but you still must decide each and every day that stretches before you, that you want to be married. Make such a decision and keep on making it, for the most important thing in life is to love and be loved.

May you always need one another, not so much to fill the emptiness as to help each other know your fullness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with each other, and not fail in the little graces. Look for things to praise, often say ‘I love you’ and take no notice of small faults. May you have happiness, and may you find it in making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.

This ring by its shape is a symbol of the undying love that exists between you. The substance of which it is composed is a symbol of purity, which shall ever characterize your mind and hearts in all your relationships together.

Address 3

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort given one another during prosperity and adversity, and when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore, marriage is not to be entered unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purpose for which it was instituted by God.

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