Readings for a civil ceremony

Looking for suggestions for civil ceremony readings? Discover to the best non-religious poems and quotes with our helpful guide, including popular favourites such as The Velveteen Rabbit and Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Wedding Rings

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres


Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.


Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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:
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to ever wand'ring 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 prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.


Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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.

 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1881-1944)

‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’ ‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, buy REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt? Asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’  It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’ ‘I suppose you are real?’ said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse only smiled. ‘Someone made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’

A Good Wedding Cake - Author Unknown

4lb of love
½ of good looks
1 lb of sweet temper
1 lb of butter youth
1 lb of blindness of faults
1 lb of pounded wit
1 lb of good humour
2 tablespoons of sweet argument
1 pint of rippling laughter
1 wine glass of common sense
Dash of modesty
Put the love, good looks and sweet temper
Into a well-furnished house. Beat the butter
of youth to a cream, and mix well together
with the blindness of faults. Stir the
pounded wit and good humour into the
sweet argument, then add the rippling
laughter and common sense. Add a dash
of modesty and work the whole together
until everything is well mixed. Bake gently
for ever.

The Day - Author Unknown

May this be the start of a happy new life
That’s full of special moments to share
May this be the first of your dreams come true
And of hope that will always be there…
May this be the start of a lifetime of trust
And of caring that’s just now begun…
May today be a day that you’ll always remember
The day when your hearts become one…


Eskimo Love Song – Author Unknown

You are my husband, you are my wife
My feet shall run because of you
My feet dance because of you
My heart shall beat because of you
My eyes see because of you
My mind thinks because of you
And I shall love, because of you.


My Lady Love by Robert C. O. Benjamin (1855-1900)

There are none so happy as my love and I,
None so joyous, blithe and free;
The reason is, that I love her,
And the reason is, she love me.

There are none so sweet as my own fond love,
None so beauteous or true;
Her equal I could never find,
Though I search the whole world thro’.

There’s no love so true as my lady sweet;
None so constant to its troth;
There’s naught on earth like her so dear,
No queen her equal in her worth.

So there’s none so happy as my love and I;
None so blissful, blithe and free,
And the reason is that I am hers,
And she, in truth, belongs to me.

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