10 Non-Cheesy, Non-Religious Wedding Readings to Make Everyone at Your Ceremony Cry

There’s a time and place for appreciating literature, and we gotta say A wedding is not that place. But since you can’t assume your fiancé’s brother won’t read Moby Dick from cover to cover during your ceremony, you might want to pre-select some readings that are short, sweet and not in the least bit eye-roll inducing. Get the tissues ready because these are beautiful.

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Excerpt from Desire by Alice Walker
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I’ve survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it.

Excerpt from So Much Happiness” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it
and in that way, be known.

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“A Marriage” by Mark Twain
Makes of two fractional lives a whole;
It gives to two purposeless lives a work
And doubles the strength of each to perform it
It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living,
And something to live for;
It will give a new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers,
A new beauty to the earth,
And a new mystery to life.

“Pathways” by Rainer Maria Rilke
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale
stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.

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“That Still and Settled Place” by Edward Monkton
In that still and settled place
There’s nobody but you
You’re where I breathe my oxygen
You’re where I see my view
And when the world feels full of noise
My heart knows what to do
It finds that still and settled place
And dances there with you

Excerpt from "A History of Love" by Diane Ackerman
How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable?
Love is an ancient delirium,
a desire older than civilization,
with taproots spreading into deep and mysterious days.
The heart is a living museum.
In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit,
preserved forever like wondrous diatoms,
are our moments of loving,
and being loved.

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Excerpt from “Love Sonnet 17” by Pablo Neruda
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.

Excerpt from "Wild Awake" by Hilary T. Smith
People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn't know were there, even the ones they wouldn't have thought to call beautiful themselves.

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Excerpt from "All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum
...Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Excerpt from Habitation” by Margaret Atwood
Marriage is not
a house, or even a tent
it is before that, and colder...
the unpainted stairs
at the back, where we squat
outdoors, eating popcorn
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived
this far
we are learning to make fire


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From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.