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  • Meg Senior

Reading inspiration for humanist wedding ceremonies

Have you been asked to read at a humanist wedding ceremony and don’t know what to pick? Maybe you are getting married yourself and need inspiration for readings that will work in a humanist ceremony.

The good news is that with a humanist wedding ceremony there are no rules about what you can or can’t include. For instance you can make a dramatic entrance to your wedding if you like, you can personalise every detail (and not just the vows) and you can even involve your dog in your wedding festivities too.

Your ceremony will be completely bespoke to you, and your celebrant will help you find readings that suit you and your outlook on life. Basically if you’ve seen some words you like, they will almost certainly work because your ceremony is about YOU and YOU get to choose!

Humanist celebrant suggestions for wedding ceremony readings

One of my favourite things about being a humanist wedding celebrant is the lightbulb moment I get when I find a new reading and know instantly that one of my couples will adore it.

So, you lovely human, this page is peppered with inspiration for your wedding readings. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the huge number of options. I say that, not to overwhelm you (sorry!), but to highlight that if you haven’t seen a reading that you like yet, there are more ideas out there for you.

Can I let you in on a secret? Whilst I love each and every couple I marry, I do sometimes very very occasionally feel a bit disappointed because people choose a reading that is so popular I (and often lots of their guests) have heard it lots of times before. That’s why I’ve curated a list of out-of-the-ordinary, some might say offbeat, readings for humanist wedding ceremonies.

The main thing these readings have in common is that they’re NOT the run of the mill choices. You won’t see any lovely dinosaurs or excerpts from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in this list.

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

Seven readings for a humanist wedding ceremony

From The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.

You build up all these defences, you build up a whole suit of armour, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…

You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.


Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don't go, after all,

from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel

faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,

sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;

elect an honest man; decide they care

enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.

Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go

amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow

that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.


Love is Friendship Caught Fire by Laura Hendricks

Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.

It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past.

It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals.

If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack.

If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.


Nothing Else Matters by Metallica

So close, no matter how far

Couldn't be much more from the heart

Forever trusting who we are

And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way

Life is ours, we live it our way

All these words I don't just say

And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you

Every day for us something new

Open mind for a different view

And nothing else matters


For me by Tracey Emin


But do not hurry me,


But do not push me,


But do not crush me’


But do not change me

Let us stay the way we are


But do not consume me,


But do not frighten me,


But do not scare me.


But do not change me

Let us learn from the way we are


But do not smother me,


But do not break me,


But do not suffocate me,


Let me love you

Just the way you are.


From Wicked by Winnie Holzman

I've heard it said

That people come into our lives

For a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

I have been changed for good

It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a skybird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

I have been changed for good


A Marriage by Michael Blumenthal

You are holding up a ceiling

with both arms. It is very heavy,

but you must hold it up, or else

it will fall down on you. Your arms

are tired, terribly tired,

and, as the day goes on, it feels

as if either your arms or the ceiling

will soon collapse.

But then,


something wonderful happens:


a man or a woman,

walks into the room

and holds their arms up

to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get

to take down your arms.

You feel the relief of respite,

the blood flowing back

to your fingers and arms.

And when your partner’s arms tire,

you hold up your own

to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this

for many years

without the house falling.

Alternative readings for a humanist wedding ceremony

What do you think? Do any of these alternative wedding readings resonate with you? It’s not an exhaustive list, just a few of my favourites.

There are hundreds, in fact thousands, more ideas: “You deserve a lover” by Frida Kahlo is a fabulous short reading which is grounded and expansive at the same time. And “I'd Rather Rise in Love With You” by Jana Lynne Umipig is a longer literary piece which is radically truthful and super romantic too.

Your humanist celebrant will be able to tailor their suggestions to you, so do ask for their ideas too.


Before you go…


As a humanist wedding celebrant I have the great pleasure of marrying incredible humans to their favourite people. My whole vibe is about creating life affirming experiences for nearlyweds - Celebrating individuality and authenticity above all else.

My mission is to help people express themselves fully, and deeply connect with their loved ones during life’s milestone moments. If you want a little piece of this, let’s chat! You can set up an initial call using this contact page.

For inspiration on how to bring some fun into your ceremony, and to learn more about my out-of-this-world humanist ceremonies follow me on social @megseniorceremonies. Keep your eye on this blog because I’m always adding new posts to help lovers to have wonderful humanist wedding ceremonies.


Photography credit: Claire McClean Photography


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