Bible passages for a wedding?
May 22, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Ideas for a wedding Bible reading that isn't 1st Corinthians 13?

Two friends of mine are getting married this summer in an Episcopalian service. Friend and partner both think 1st Corinthians 13 ("If I have not love, I am nothing") is overused at weddings and would like a different Bible reading. I suggested the Song of Solomon, but they seem to think it's a little explicit for a family crowd.

Neither party is super-religious; it's more a case of having been raised Episcopalian and feeling at home in that ritual setting. It's a second marriage for both, if there are any passages especially relevant to that.

Many thanks, hivemind!
posted by Pallas Athena to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ecc. 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
posted by michaelh at 6:23 PM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Near the end of Song of Solomon, 8:6-8:7, it's all about love and not explicit. It's a bit short.
6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, As a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death; Jealousy is [a]cruel as the grave: The coals thereof are coals of fire, Which hath a most vehement flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, Neither can the floods drown it: If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, It would utterly be contemned.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:28 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

We used:

Sirach, Chapter 6, vs 5-6, 14-17

A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds. For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.

1 Corinthians, vs 4-11
Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To tone is given thorough the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces of these distributing them individually to person He wishes.

[we had a catholic spouse and a protestant spouse and lots of people of no faith at our wedding and agreed that this was a way to share our sentiment that everyone is different and we need lots of different things.]
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:28 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's traditional in our Lutheran service to do a reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, and a Gospel, and we did Ruth 1:16-17, Revelation 21:1-7 and John 13:34-35.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:30 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

We did Solomon 2:11. Probably this version, I can't recall:

"For, behold, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away."
posted by geek anachronism at 6:57 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ecclesiastes 9.1-10 is, I think, the most beautiful text in the whole Hebrew Bible. We made it the centerpiece of our wedding and it fit the mood perfectly. It might be a little heavy for some (I think we amended the dead dog part) and it surely pissed off our mothers, but that's just how we roll:
But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate man does not know. Everything before them is vanity, since one fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good man, so is the sinner; and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all; also the hearts of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white; let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life which he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:44 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

And we engraved the Hebrew of Songs 8:6 inside our rings, which was fucking awesome.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:46 PM on May 22, 2012

Long list of wedding related readings in the Catholic Lectionary here.
posted by jquinby at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

In our Catholic nuptial Mass, we used Genesis 2:18-24, John 15:9-12, and Phillippians 4:4-9.
posted by ThatSomething at 8:03 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Primarily on my wife's suggestion, we requested that Psalm 30 be read at our very simple wedding (1 pastor, 1 witness, and us 2). The operative line for her/us comes near the end: "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy" (we each found the other after first failed marriages.)

For whatever reason, the pastor officiating neglected to include the reading in the service, and neither of us had the nerve to say "Hey, wait a minute, what about...?" But to this day, 23 years later, it makes for a great story.
posted by hwestiii at 8:28 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

We joked about putting Deuteronomy 21:10 on the invitations.
posted by daisystomper at 8:49 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

An ex-gf asked me to read at her wedding one time and told me
I could pick out my reading if I wanted to.

It was all I could do to keep from recommending 1 Corinthians 7.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:14 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I second Ruth 1:16-17, some of the most beautiful phrasing in the Bible:
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God: Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part you and me.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:09 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

We saw our marriage as a tremendous victory, so I went with Zephaniah 3:14-20.

It was an odd choice. Thankfully, I have a patient wife who indulges my eccentricities.
posted by John Farrier at 6:36 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the Ecclesiastes "Two are better than one" mentioned above but I'll also suggest Ecclesiastes 3:1 upon which the song "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by the Byrds is based.
posted by kat518 at 6:49 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Many, many thanks to all who posted! I've forwarded this link to the couple. Favourites for everyone, and I'll best-answer the one/s whose readings get used.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:46 AM on May 23, 2012

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