Popular readings for a civil ceremony

Ceremony room 1

Ceremony roomA civil ceremony can be made more personal by adding some readings of your choice. You can choose what you like but they must not be of a religous nature and the registrar will have to approve them. We have put together a list of some of the more popular ones.

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are, You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!
Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose, His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon, The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear

Love me when I’m old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let’s be randy bad old dears.
Push around my chromed Bath Chair
Let me tease your white chest hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures
Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it’s meant to be
Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles
As the need for love enthralls
Wrestle with my damp proof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint
Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it’s true
I’ve waited all my life for you.
Bee Rawlinson


Masons, when they start upon a building, Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.
Seamus Heaney

The Beauty of Love

The question is asked: “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?” And the answer is given: “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing.”It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired but still strong with love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.”

True Love

True love is a sacred flame
That burns eternally
And none can dim its special glow
Or change its destiny
True love speaks in tender tones
And hears with gentle ear
True love gives with open heart
And true love conquers fear
True love makes no harsh demands
It neither rules nor binds
And true love holds with gentle hands
The heart that it entwines
Author unknown

On Your Wedding Day

Today is a day you will always remember
The greatest in anyone’s life
You’ll start off the day just two people in love
And end it as husband and wife.
It’s a brand new beginning, the start of a journey
With moments to cherish and treasure
And although they’ll be times when you both disagree
These will surely be outweighed by pleasure
You’ll have heard many words of advice in the past
When the secrets of marriage were spoken
But you know that the answers lie hidden inside
Where the bond of true love lies unbroken
So live happy forever as lovers and friends
It’s the dawn of a new life for you
As you stand there together with love in your eyes
From the moment you whisper ‘I do’
And with luck all your hopes and your dreams can be real
May success find its way to your hearts
Tomorrow can bring you the greatest of joys
But today is the day it all starts

A Good Wedding Cake

4lb of love
1/2lb of sweet temper
1lb of butter of youth
1lb of blindness of faults
1lb of pounded wit
1lb of good humour
2lbs of sweet argument
1 pint of rippling laughter
1 wine glass of common sense
A dash of modesty
Put the love, good looks and a sweet temper into a well-furnished house. Beat the butter of youth into 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. Work the whole together until everything is well mixed and bake gently for ever.
Author unknown


A marriage is a promise
That two hearts gladly make
A promise to be tender
To help, to give and take
A marriage is a promise
To be kind and understanding
To be thoughtful and considerate
Fair and undemanding
A marriage is a promise
To share one life together
A love-filled promise meant to be
Kept lovingly forever

The Art of Marriage

A good marriage must be created,
In marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right person –
It is being the right partner.

An Excerpt from An American Indian Wedding Ceremony

May the sun bring you new strength by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your fears,
And the breeze invigorate your being,
May you, all the days of your life together,
Walk gently through the world and know it’s beauty.
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter for the other,
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other,
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be company for the other,
Now you are two persons,
But there is only one life before you.
Go to your dwelling,
Enter into the days of your life together
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
Author unknown

Celtic Blessing

May peace guard
The door of your house
The door of your heart
May the road rise to meet you,
And the sun stand at your shoulder
May the wind be always at your back
And the rains fall softly upon your fields
May life itself befriend you
Each day, each night
Each step of your journey.
May peace be with you
And with your children,
From the day that we have here today
To the day of the end of our lives,
Until the day of the end of your lives.
Author unknown

Yes, I’ll Marry You

Yes, I’ll marry, my dear, and here’s the reason why;
So I can push you out of bed when the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking and it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch to see, and you investigate.
Yes I’ll marry you, my dear, you may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble drier goes it’s you that has to mend it.
You have to face the neighbour should our Labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me it’s you that has to whack him.
Yes I’ll marry you, you’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty you can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas, you can cook it every night!
It’s you who work the drill and put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages, but none of them for you,
and so before you see the light, I do, I do, I do !
Pam Ayres

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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.
Louis de Bernieres

The Velveteen Rabbit

‘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 loos e 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 ma
ny years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’
Margery Williams

I will be here

If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.
I will be here,
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind I will listen.
Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together,
And I will be here.
If in the morning when you wake,
If the future is unclear,
I will be here.
As sure as seasons were made for change,
Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.
I will be here,
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.
We’ll be together and I will be here.
I will be true to the promises I’ve made,
To you and to the one who gave you to me.
I will be here.
Steven Curtis Chapman

I wanna be yours

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust,
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust,
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot,
You call the shots,
I wanna be yours.
I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days,
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away,
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere,
I don’t care,
I wanna be yours.
I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out,
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without,
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion,
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion.
John Cooper Clarke

Indian Wedding Blessing

Now we feel no rain for each of us will be a shelter to the other,
Now we feel no cold for each of us will be warmth to the other,
Now there is no loneliness for each of us will be
A companion to the other
We are two bodies but there is one life before us and one home.
When evening falls I’ll look up and there you will be,
I’ll take your hand, you’ll take mine and we’ll turn together
To look at the road we travelled to reach this the hour of our happiness
It stretches behind us, even as the future lies ahead.
A long and winding road whose every turning
Means discovery.
Old hopes, new laughter, shared fears –
The adventure has just begun.
Author unknown

Us two

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.
“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.
“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.
“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”
“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.
“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,
But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.
“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.
“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.
“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
“I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!”- and off they flew.
“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“I’m never afraid with you.”
So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh.
AA Milne

Getting married means you’ll have Someone’s hand to hold,
Even when you’re feeling sick, Even when you’re old.
It means when you sit down to eat, Someone will be there,
So you won’t have to tell your day To an empty chair.
It means that when you need some help, Someone will help out,
Someone always near to you So you won’t have to shout.
But best of all is when it’s time To turn out all the lights:
You won’t have to be alone Those long and scary nights.
So even though you don’t have toys, You don’t have to care:
Once you’re married you can be Each other’s teddy bear!
Author unknown
I like you and I know why
I like you because you are a good person to like and because you like me
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long timeWhen I think something is important you think it’s important too
We have good ideas together
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think you are funny and you think I am funny too.
I like you because if I am mad at you
I can not be mad at you
You make me laugh which makes me even more mad at you
And makes me laugh even more
Author unknown
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you and you didn’t like me
Even if it was the 51st of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me everytime.
Author unknown

Rules for a Happy Marriage

If you sleep in it – make it.
If you drop it – pick it up.
If you open it – close it.
If you empty it – fill it up.
If you eat out of it – put it in the sink.
If it rings – answer it.
If it cries – love it.
Author unknown

Marriage is a Promise

A marriage is a promise that two hearts gladly make.
A promise to be tender, to help, to give and take.
A marriage is a promise to be kind and understanding.
To be thoughtful and considerate, fair and undemanding.
A marriage is a promise to share one life together.
A love filled promise to be kept lovingly for ever.
Marriage is
Learning to give not always to take,
learning to forgive each little mistake,
learning to love whatever the cost,
always remember alone you’d be lost.
Trying so hard your partner to please,
trying to save whilst paying the fees,
trying to smile when things turn out wrong,
Always remember to curb your tongue.
Never think of only your self,
never to say you wish you had wealth,
never let your temper get hot,
always be thankful for what you have got.
If you remember all of these things,
you will discover the joys that it brings,
then you’ll have what so many folks miss,
always you’ll have a marriage of bliss.
Author unknown

Happiness Cake

Especially good for newlyweds
1 heaped portion of True Love
1heaped cup of perfect trust and confidence
1 heaped cup of tenderness
(the most tender available)
1 heaped cup of good humour
1 tablespoon of good spirits
Blend well with:
1 heaped cup of unselfishness
A dash of interest in all one does and a good helping of work.
Mix all ingredients with a pint of sympathy and understanding combined.
Flavour with loving companionship.
Bake well all your life.
Ice with kisses, fond hope and tender words
This cake keeps well and should be served often.
Author unknown

A Lovely Love Story

The fierce dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, HIS cage. Then, along came the lovely other dinosaur. The lovely other dinosaur meted the dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts. I like this dinosaur, thought the lovely other dinosaur.  Although he is fierce he is also tender and his is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now. I like this lovely other dinosaur, thought the dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur. But be can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the lovely other dinosaur. He is also overly fond of things. Are all dinosaurs so overly fond of things? But her mind skips from here to there so quickly, thought the dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all lovely other dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping? I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the lovely other dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly character individual. I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the dinosaur. For she sills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either. Now the dinosaur and the lovely other dinosaur are old. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs. And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be dinosaurs and lovely other dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm, and the world is a beautiful place.
Edward Monkton