A Word About Ceremony Readings: First Things First

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2007

Before you start your search, consult with your officiant. If you're planning a religious ceremony, you may find that there are readings customarily used in your faith, such as, for a Christian wedding, "Love is patient and kind . . ." (from First Corinthians). In fact, in some Christian denominations, all readings must come from the Bible, and often the clergy-person performs at least one. Similarly, in many Jewish weddings, the rabbi or cantor sings or reads a standard set of prayers and blessings for the couple.

Your officiant will outline the ceremony for you and suggest when the readings should take place and how many you might have. Both religious and secular ceremonies, with some exceptions, include two or three readings. Which isn't to say you can't bend the rules. For their April 2006 wedding in Costa Rica, Tracy Silver, an attorney, and Noah Maze, a yoga instructor, put together an hour-long ceremony comprising about fifteen readings from sources as diverse as Emily Dickinson and the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi. The Los Angeles couple then asked each of their three dozen guests to read, either individually or as a group. "Our family and friends had come a long way, and we wanted everyone to participate," says Silver.

In some liturgies, readings are clustered; if you'd like them more spaced out, speak with your officiant. Most likely they will all come before the vows, which are the high point of the ceremony. (If your vows are elaborate, or if you think the words your officiant will speak serve the same purpose, you may decide not to incorporate any readings into your wedding at all.)

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