Effective Use of Readings

Many people choose to have readings incorporated into their wedding ceremony. It is a time-tested custom and popular both in church and other venues. When someone is asked to read it is, indeed, an honor. But besides prescribed biblical passages, how to you pick other types of readings, and how to you pick who should read? Furthermore, should you even do this?

The simplest answer to who should read is – the person who’s best at it. Trust your instinct. The anxiety of performing, which is what it is, can be real and worrisome for the reader. It can be a burden on some people, so choose your reader carefully.

Photo by Lisa Rhinehart Photography

More often than not, I hear readers who mangle the text, mumble and don’t project, or worse yet, just don’t seem to understand what they’re reading. This certainly doesn’t enhance your wedding ceremony. Conversely when there is someone or several people who are great in front of a crowd – viola, your readers! A good performer, someone with an out-going personality or passion to do this, is your best choice.  Try to discourage improvising. A ceremony reading isn’t a toast. If you can’t think of someone to read at your wedding you should probably skip it.

What should be read?  Almost anything that expresses your values, style, interests, and feelings. Poetry, prose, song lyrics, bible verses, cultural or ethnic background – all might be a source of inspiration. There are countless readings and the Internet will point you to lots of them. Spiritual, religious or secular, your choices help shape the tone and meaning of your ceremony. For interfaith or multicultural weddings it is great to have a reading from each tradition to offer balance and respect. Remember, the purpose of having a reading is to impart wisdom or insight into the importance of the day.

Can you have too many readings and readers? Yes. If that’s your situation, try combining readers with two or more people sharing the piece. You can break up stanzas, or sections of the selection. This can be extremely effective.

Should you let your reader choose his or her own reading? Not exactly. It would be better to discuss it and have some ideas of your own first. You know what tone you want to set for your wedding. Giving the readers a choice from a few selections or point them in the right direction. It is not only better for you, but for the reader as well. Don’t leave them out there on the their own.

If you’ve been asked to read here’s the most important thing to do: practice, practice, practice! I don’t mean read it to yourself – I mean read it out loud. Several times. Print a copy with a large enough font and then underline or mark up your copy in whatever way helps you do the best presentation you can.

Readers can add so much to your ceremony, but only when done right!

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the wonderful photograph

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