It’s amazing the strong connection we can have with words.  I’m a deep lover of words – I collect poems and quotes, and firmly believe in their power to uplift and inspire.  Incorporating someone else’s words, a favorite piece of poetry, or selection from a novel is a great way to personalize your ceremony, as well as imbue it with that wonderful feeling and strong emotion that only the well written word can instill.

When I’m writing a wedding ceremony, and want to include someone else’s words, that first things I think about are, “What is the theme of this wedding?”

Finding Words to Fit Inspiration
I’m not just considering the actual theme of the wedding, as the bride and groom have set forth (like Autumn, Rock & Roll, Vintage Glam, Renaissance, Literature), but the direction that I see the ceremony going on – I consider the relationship of the couple, the love story, their sense of humor.

I did a wedding that took place in the couple’s backyard – they were all about family, about turning their house into a home for their family.  I immediately jumped online and began searching to find some quotes that I could use in their ceremony.  And I found the perfect quote!

Jeannie & Toms beautiful backyard wedding

Jeannie & Tom's beautiful backyard wedding

As someone once said, “It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.” Tom and Jeannie have opened their hearts not only to each other, but to everyone in their lives.  This love is what makes their house into a home.

I always ask my couples who their favorite artists, performers, and authors are – and who their heroes are as well.  This gives me another jumping off point to find beautiful words that really fit well with the rest of the ceremony.

Let me give you an example – in a recent wedding I did, the bride told me she loves Abraham Lincoln.  I don’t think most people would think to include a quote by President Lincoln in the wedding ceremony, but I found this lovely quote that felt very much like the couple – and included it in the end of their love story.

And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

As the bride’s love for President Lincoln was a bit of an inside joke, I got a few laughs with the quote, too.

Finding Inspiration from Words
Often times, couples will tell me of a poem or reading they would like to incorporate as well – and I often use these as ways to extrapolate the theme of the ceremony, the overall feeling that the couple would like their wedding to evoke.  It’s kind of the backwards version of when I search for a quote – instead of trying to figure out the theme from the ceremony outline and THEN find a quote, I take the quote, find the theme, and keep that in mind when writing the ceremony.  It’s kind of like the wordy version of those wedding inspiration boards – a poem or reading suggestion can help me better understand what a couple is looking for.

I had a bride this past summer who came to her meeting with two passages she just loved and wanted to include in her ceremony.  They also wanted a very short ceremony, with little to no Love Story.  I adapted the passages into their Love Story, relating it to their relationship and their lives.  It worked out really well.

A good marriage must be created.
In a marriage, the little things are the big things.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle that gathers in the whole family.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is not only marrying the right person – it is being the right partner.

Lynn and Joe have clearly found the right partner in each other.  Joe says that Lynn is his inspiration.  Her selflessness, big heart, and drive to help others never ceases to amaze him.

The love and support that Lynn receives from Joe have been above and beyond her wildest dreams.  She admires the way he cares for her, provides for her, and protects her.  She says that he is always willing to help others, through good and bad, no matter how tough it is – whatever it takes.

Joe and Lynn, today you are marrying the right person – you have found your perfect partner.  It brings us immense happiness to see that you have found each other, and to witness your marriage today.

Joe & Lynns Love Story

Joe & Lynn's Love Story

I love that passage – it’s in my Celebrant arsenal – I like to use it in my closing remarks.  Thanks, Lynn!

Ways to Include Words in Your Ceremony
You’ve probably heard of the old standard to include poetry or a text selection in your wedding – add a reader to your program.  This is an especially nice way to include family members, close friends, or bridal party members into your ceremony.  Make sure that you’ve told them before hand that they’re going to be reading, and, if at all possible, send them a copy via email so they can become familiar with it!

I always bring a copy for the readers, so they don’t have to worry about folding a piece of paper and sticking it in their pockets or purse.  Talk to your officiant about it, or see if you can leave a copy at the front, on your props table – it makes everything run much more smoothly if they don’t have to worry about that extra piece of paper.

The Matron of Honor reads e.e. cummings

The Matron of Honor reads e.e. cummings

As I’ve mentioned, if the couple doesn’t want to have a reader, I will often use the selection in the ceremony itself – perhaps in the Love Story or the closing remarks.  I like to weave it seamlessly into the ceremony, so it doesn’t feel weird to have me all of a sudden speaking in verse or reciting Shakespearean sonnets.

You can also include a quote or short poem in your programs, or even on your invitations! This is a really nice way to have your theme of your ceremony expand throughout your wedding.

Something I love is to include them in your vows.  I recently found a poem that just took my breathe away – and made me cry each time I read it.  It spoke really clearly to me, and I’ve tucked it away to use in my own wedding vows (and I can’t share it here because I know he reads my blog!).

And please, as always, feel free to think outside of the box!  I’ve had couples incorporate song quotes from musicals in their vows – or read song lyrics like a poem – or put a poem to music! – recite a passage in two languages (a great way to have a bilingual touch to your ceremony!).  The possibilities of including other people’s words in your ceremony are near endless, and incredibly inspiring.  Start your own quote collection today!