Additional / Optional Readings

We welcome any additions you have to personlize your ceremony. Here are a few suggestions and some of our favorite readings.

Bible Readings

1st Corinthians 13 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love

1 John 4:16-19 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so, also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us

Genesis 2:18-24 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ”This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, ”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,’Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Readings From Other Sources

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – How Do I Love Thee

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 and 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 griefs, 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.

From “The Irrational Season” by Madeleine L’Engle

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.

From “Gift From The Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

“Love Lives” John Clare (1793-1864)

  • Love lives beyond
  • The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew.
  • I love the fond,
  • The faithful, and the true
  • Love lives in sleep,
  • The happiness of healthy dreams
  • Eve’s dews may weep,
  • But love delightful seems.
  • ‘Tis heard in spring
  • When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
  • On angels’ wing
  • Bring love and music to the mind.
  • And where is voice,
  • So young, so beautiful and sweet
  • As nature’s choice,
  • Where Spring and lovers meet?
  • Love lives beyond
  • The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
  • I love the fond,
  • The faithful, young and true.

SONNET NO. 18 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,
  • Not lose possession of that fair thou owest;
  • Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
  • When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
  • So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
  • So long as lives this, and this gives life to thee.

SONNET NO. 116 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;
  • O, no, it is an ever-fixed 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 proved,
  • I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

An excerpt from “Plato’s Symposium”

Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars. Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.

Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. Those whose original nature lies with the children of the Sun are men who are drawn to other men, those from the children of the Earth are women who love other women, and those from the children of the Moon are men and women drawn to one another. When one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.

George Eliot (1819-1880) To be one with each other

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) Perfect Woman

  • She was a phantom of delight
  • When first she gleam’d upon my sight;
  • A lovely apparition, sent
  • To be a moment’s ornament;
  • Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
  • Like twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
  • But all things else about her drawn;
  • A dancing shape, an image gat,
  • To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
  • I saw her upon nearer view,
  • A spirit, yet a Woman too!
  • Her household motions light and free,
  • And steps of virgin liberty;
  • A coumtenance in which did meet
  • Sweets records, promises as sweet;
  • A creature not too bright or good
  • For human natures daily food;
  • For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
  • Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.
  • And now I see with eye serene
  • The very pulse of the machine;
  • A being breathing thoughtful breath,
  • A traveller between life and death;
  • The reason firm, the temperate will,
  • Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
  • A perfect woman, nobly plann’d,
  • To warn, to comfort, and command;
  • And yet a Spirit still, and bright
  • With something of angelic light.
  • But never doubt I love.