Young says it’s important to determine from the beginning just whom you want to include in your Big Day. Undoubtedly, with the proper planning, readings are a handy way to squeeze in a few more nearest and dearest who aren’t in the “official” wedding party. For example, seven different friends or family members can each read one of the traditional Seven Blessings for a Jewish wedding. (Young and Barness have seen friends and family get even more involved, adapting each of the blessings by putting them in their own words.)
For her wedding to husband Thad Henninger, Westmont writer Vicki Glembocki rounded out planned readings by giving all attending a chance to speak. With an invite from the minister, guests (who weren’t warned ahead of time) stood to deliver their own personal messages, which ran from practical to humorous to emotional. “It was a great way to bring people into the ceremony, and about 10 people spoke,” says Glembocki. “It made it feel like ‘we are all really here for this.’”
Another way to maximize readers is to choose works that are easily delivered by a couple, alternating lines. The Art of Marriage (Souvenir Press, 2006) by Wilferd Arlan Peterson is one popular choice for this. To include children, particularly a son or daughter from a first marriage, Young recommends something from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
If you’re after originality, you might ask a writer friend to compose a poem for the occasion. Just remember to ask for a preview. “It’s one thing if you have someone who is going to go on really long during a reception toast,” says Young. “But in the middle of the wedding itself you don’t want that to happen. There’s an appropriateness in terms of what they are saying and the length of time.”
For a Catholic ceremony, if you’d like to invite two people to read, you’ll need an Old Testament reading and something from the Epistles. If you’re having a wedding mass, the readers should be Catholic and, says Father John Eckert of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Morrisville, “not scared of getting in front of people and speaking.” Eckert always gives couples a copy of Joseph M. Champlin’s Together for Life (Ave Maria Press, 2002), a guidebook to planning a wedding in a Catholic church that includes biblical passages along with an explanation of the message of each.
Eckert acknowledges that one of the most-selected readings is the well-known First Corinthians passage, but says he doesn’t tell couples what to choose because it’s more important that they choose something personal. “Sometimes they pick a reading I wouldn’t even think of necessarily,” he says. “It’s their day, not mine.”
Whatever type of ceremony you have, carefully selecting who reads and what is read is worth the search. “We got so many compliments on our readings,” says Kelton. In other words, chances are good that if you choose pieces that resonate with you, all of your guests will feel the love.