Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Wedding Reading?

I’m back from my sabbatical!  First and foremost, I must extend a massive thank you to my guest bloggers, Lindsay, Cleo, Leigh, and Sergio, for contributing to the Favorites Series while I was gone.  If you missed any of their guest posts, I have created a new page for the Favorites Series, and you can read them here.  As always, if you’re interested in participating in the Favorites Series, feel free to contact me.

As some of you know, I took a break from the blog while my husband and I were doing some traveling in España!  Spain was not a random vacation choice.  We had a great excuse to go: one of my best friends got hitched in Seville.


A little background: the bride, Kellie, and I have been friends for over a decade.  We were roommates at an uber-dorky summer program at Georgetown during the summer of 2000, and we were inseparable.  Despite living hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles apart, we have remained great friends ever since.

Kellie is smart, she is hilarious, she is spontaneous, she is kind.  And, above all else, she is one of the most fun and fun-loving people I know.

As it turns out, she is also very trusting.  She proved this when she did something very foolish: she asked me to do a reading at her wedding . . . but she gave me absolutely no parameters.  She knew this had the potential to be disastrous; she admitted that she was kind of terrified that I would read the grossly inappropriate lyrics to DMX’s “Party Up,” which was our clubbing hype-song/anthem during the summer we met.

But I legitimately love Kellie, so I decided I wouldn’t ruin her wedding in such a way. Instead, as I began my search for the perfect reading, I adhered to the following self-imposed guidelines:

  • Not too cheesy (or Kellie and her groom, Marcos, would never let me hear the end of it);
  • Not too sentimental (I needed to make it through the reading without crying like a baby);
  • Creative (something unique for their special day);
  • Funny but not too irreverent (Kellie and Marcos appreciate funny more than most people); and
  • Wedding appropriate (this may seem obvious, but it eliminates at least 90% of the otherwise good options).

I don’t know if you’ve looked at or thought about wedding readings recently.  But, if you haven’t, trust me when I tell you it is not an easy task to find a good one.

I searched.  And searched.  And searched.  For MONTHS.  (You may remember that, back in July, I read and reviewed this book in the hopes of finding a wedding reading therein.)

Allow me to walk you through the process . . .

I started by looking for book excerpts (that’s what people expect from the chick who reads all the time and writes a book blog, after all).  I looked and looked, but the cute and lovey stuff was all a little too short or didn’t quite work for a wedding.  A couple examples:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

(Willy Wonka) “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”

(Charlie Bucket) “What happened?”

(Willy Wonka) “He lived happily ever after.”

When my book search came up short, I did some Googling.  My searches included “unique wedding readings,” “fun wedding readings,” and “interesting wedding readings.”  Ironically (but not surprisingly), these searches elicited every reading you have heard at every wedding you have attended in the last fifteen years.

I began the painstaking elimination process.

I eliminated the go-to Bible verses:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

These wouldn’t work for two reasons: 1) I already knew that Kellie’s sister was reading First Corinthians, and 2) no one would take me seriously reading anything so sweet or so religious.

I eliminated the go-to Winnie the Pooh excerpt (from Us Two):

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh. . . .  

Let’s face it: I couldn’t possibly say “Pooh” that many times during a wedding and keep a straight face.

I eliminated the go-to Shakespearean sonnet (Sonnet 116):

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. . . .

Shakespeare may be an OG, but his sonnets are too formal and too serious for me (and, more importantly, for them).

I eliminated the go-to case-law excerpt (from the landmark same-sex marriage case Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health):

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 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.

Kellie and I are both lawyers, so a case reading would have been too much like work.  (Also, after rereading it, I eliminated Loving v. Virginia, the case that found laws prohibiting biracial marriage unconstitutional.  I thought it might have been a clever choice for a mixed kid’s reading at a biracial wedding, but that case is about as dry and sterile as Supreme Court cases come.  There’s no sweet, lovey/marriagey talk in there at all.)  

I eliminated the go-to Pablo Neruda poem (Sonnet XVII):

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Reading a poem translated from Spanish into English in Spain just seemed wrong to me.  And I wasn’t about to attempt to recite the poem in Spanish in front of a bunch of native Spanish speakers.  No one wanted that.  Especially not me.

I also eliminated the following:

. . . and about a billion other recommended readings.

None of the go-tos fit the bill.  I was at a loss.

I thought I might have to read those DMX lyrics after all.  But I didn’t want Kellie to hate me, so with our club anthem in mind, I did a search of the top 100 songs of 2000 in the hopes that I could find another lyrical gem that we listened to back in the day.  Guess what the #1 hip-hop song in July 2000 was?

Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married”:

I was tempted.  Really tempted.  But I couldn’t bring myself to say “playas” in a wedding reading.

It was down to the wire.  The wedding was about a week away.  I was truly stressing myself out.

And then, magically, I felt a spark of inspiration!  Huzzah!!

I remembered one of the reading suggestions that popped up in my “unique wedding reading” searches many times.  It’s a quirky children’s book about a pair of amorous dinosaurs.


But it wasn’t perfect–I wanted something a little more personal to Kellie and Marcos. So, I decided to play a little game of Mad Libs with them, and, unbeknownst to them (the reading was a surprise to them on the day of the wedding), they helped me revise the book.

At long last, here is my reading (the book’s original words that I changed are crossed out, the words I subbed in are in orange/brackets):

A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton [and Kellie and Marcos]

The fierce [cocky] 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 [funny] words and loving thoughts [easy-going ways].

 I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

Although he is fierce [cocky] he is also tender [intelligent] and he is funny [handsome]

He is also quite clever [entertaining] though I will not tell him this for now.

I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.

She is beautiful [funny] and she is different [intelligent] and she smells so nice [is so pretty].

She is also a free spirit [a loud mouth] which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

But he can be so distant [such a know-it-all] and so peculiar [intense] at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

He is also overly fond of things [blunt].

Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things [blunt]?

But her mind skips from here to there so quickly [compared to me, she’s kind of lazy] thought the Dinosaur.

She is also uncommonly keen on shopping [a little too rowdy].

Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping [rowdy]?

I will forgive his peculiarity [intensity] and his concern for things [bluntness] thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

I will forgive her skipping mind [laziness] and her fondness for shopping [rowdiness] thought the Dinosaur.

For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises.

I am not unkeen on shopping [rowdiness].

 Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.

Look at them.

Together they stand on the hill [in Spain] 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.

IMG_1849I thought it fit my self-imposed guidelines perfectly.  But I was wrong.  It was still too sweet and sentimental.  I was fighting not to cry pretty much the entire time.  I am a bigger softie than I care to admit.

And there you have it.  Who knew that finding a wedding reading could be so stressful and laborious?

The point: If you are asked to do a reading in the future, I highly recommend picking a tried-and-true reading (like this one) and making it a little more personal.   Mad Libs work wonders.  And, of all the sites I looked at during my painstaking search, this is the best/most comprehensive list of readings–it’s a good place to start a search.

The real point: In case you haven’t figured it out already, this post was just an excuse to say congratulations once again to Kellie and Marcos.  I love you both.

16 thoughts on “Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Wedding Reading?

  1. Your version was lovely…I’ve never heard of that story before. So glad to be introduced to it now. Congrats to your friends and to you for being so clever. 🙂

    • What a kind comment! Thank you!! It is an adorable book and works great as a wedding reading–not too trite, not too mushy, a little funny, very sweet. Glad I could introduce you to it!

  2. I loved your reading, what a wonderful idea. i can’t believe that anyone would read from The Princess Bride speech -too funny.

  3. you pretty much outlined my exact experience in searching for readings for my own wedding last month. it’s hard! (i settled on an excerpt from rilke’s letters to a young poet and a self-tweaked adaptation of oh the places you’ll go, which worked well despite its graduation-y-ness.) now i have to read for my step-sister’s wedding and she wants something secular and light/fun, so i had to dive right back into the whole horrible search, and it seems like monkton is the best thing out there for what i need. 2 questions about your madlibs solution: (1) did you just ask for, say, 10 positive and maybe 5 less-positive adjectives from each to describe the other, or did you have more specific prompts? and (2) did you keep the reading a secret from them entirely until the wedding day? Because otherwise that would kind of undercut the madlib aspect, no?

    • From each of them I asked for the following:

      1) 5 adjectives/descriptors/things that you like about your soon-to-be spouse (good things) (for example, s/he’s smart, funny, etc. . . . but please try to be creative);
      2) 3 adjectives/descriptors/things that are annoying about your soon-to-be spouse (in a loving/endearing way, of course) (for example, s/he’s cocky, s/he smells like old shoes, etc.); and
      3) 1 bad/weird/annoying habit/interest that your soon-to-be spouse has that you actually/secretly really like.

      This provided me with more information than I needed, so I could make sure that I got responses that fit with the reading.

      I would recommend asking them separately, too, so they don’t know each other’s responses.

  4. (i retract question #2, which i realized you answered in your post)

    • Another surprise: I read from a copy of the book, which I had revised and inscribed before the wedding, and which I gave to them as part of their wedding present.

      If you end up doing this, please let me know how it goes! Good luck and have fun!!

  5. Julie, I revised/inscribed the book by hand (I doubt you could have it done professionally in light of copyright restrictions).

  6. This is so awesome! The title of this blog were my thoughts exactly. Thanks so much for sharing. Your analysis of each classic wedding reading is on point.

  7. Too tired to say more than this: Loved this. Loved it. Love it. x

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