Ceremony Readings

Mar 11, 2024
civil celebrant

Whatever the occasion you are marking, the event can be appreciably improved depending on the texts you use.

People often assume that they need to follow a standard liturgy for ceremony readings. Obviously, this is the case, if you’re having a church ceremony. Otherwise, this does not have to be the case.


If you work with a civil celebrant, you have the freedom to choose what goes into your service. Usually your celebrant will have input or, at least, advice to offer.

Things to guide your choice(s) apply to funerals just as much as to celebratory events. You need to establish the tone you want  before you choose your readings. Are you aiming for a formal, semi-formal or informal atmosphere? Do you want something spiritual? What about humour? (Humour can be appropriate even in a funeral, depending on the circumstances.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking your civil celebrant to guide you or even suggest texts. Sometimes it is nicer and more personal, if you select a reading or two for yourself, though,

Tips to help you Choose.

You may have a favourite author or poet, and/or a preferred text from their work. If there’s some reason why you are chosing the particular text (other than the fact that you like it), then share that. Maybe the piece has sentimental value? In what way?

You need to consider the guests. If the reading is very long (upwards of a couple of minutes, I suggest), is perhaps too long. Concentration spans can be limited!

You will also need to consider if your text is readily comprehensible or puts pressure on the audience.

Very important is who reads it. Your celebrant ought to be able to read it beautifully, but you may have someone else in mind. Are they good presenters? There’s nothing worse that a nervous reader falling over the words or someone reading too quietly. Or someone who clearly doesn’t understand what they are reading.

Incidentally, you shouldn’t include inappropriate readings, or ones likely to cause controversy. You should generally steer clear of politics, religion, bad language and personal comments, unless you’re very sure of your ground.

If you want to discuss ceremony readings, please just contact me.