According to Annemarie Juhlian, a Seattle-based nondenominational wedding officiant and founder of ElopeSeattleStyle.com, the best readings are meaningful to you personally, contemporary (not over-used), comprise a half-page of double-spaced text, and, of course, well-read. She advises asking loved ones who are comfortable in emotional moments – two or three people can even tackle a single reading for extra pizzazz.
In 2012, Juhlian found couples gravitating toward non-denominational selections “Falling In Love Is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss, and “The Art of Marriage” by Wilferd A. Peterson, in addition to “Wedding Prayer” by Robert Louis Stevenson and verses from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran.
Kimberly Worley, a New York City-based interfaith wedding officiant, has seen a lot of interest in “An Apache Blessing” (“…And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”) and the tried-and-true 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (“Love is patient, love is kind…”).
Having attended many more weddings than your average coordinator, Juhlian has definitely acquired a few beloved readings: lyrics from Cheryl Wheeler’s “Gandhi Buddha,” “The Invitation” (“…It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back…”) by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and for ceremonies with children, verses from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams.
Worley’s personal favorite is E.E. Cummings’ “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in,” but she also likes a quotation from Bob Marley (“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around…”) and former Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall’s opinion which legalized same-sex marriage in the state: “… Because it fulfills 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.”