Right, let’s talk about readers at weddings.
I have arrived at weddings before and introduced myself to the wedding readers to make sure they know what they’re doing, only to be faced with the following scenarios:
- the reader knows he/she is doing a reading but doesn’t have the reading
the reader knows he/she is doing a reading but has never seen the reading
the reader knows he/she is doing a reading but doesn’t know what they are reading
the reader has his reading on his/her mobile phone
the reader knows he/she is doing a reading and looks like they’d rather gauge their eyes out with a spoon than stand and read in front of a crowd of people.
the reader didn’t know he/she was a reader at all (seriously)
It is a lovely thing to include a meaningful (something that means something to you) reading, poem or text in your ceremony. And it’s always so special to have someone close to you or who you know well, to do the reading for you. But folks, you’ve really got to give your readers a helping hand. I did not make those above scenarios up. They have really happened. So to make sure they don’t happen as often as they should, or at all, let’s look at some ways that we can avoid reader uselessness and get your peeps ship-shape and ready for your ceremony.
Now I should add, I am a celebrant who does not do rehearsals, so it may well be that if you are able to rehearse your wedding, a lot of these issues can get picked up on. But if your wedding isn’t going to be rehearsed, for whatever reasons, this is why you need to be on top of your readers and their readings. However, that said, there is still a lot of good advice here about how you can help your readers be prepared for the wedding, whether you have a rehearsal or not.
Pick the right person
Yes, I know this might sound obvious but sometimes even the most obvious thing is erm, not the most obvious thing. It’s very easy to base your wedding decisions on the heart, which actually most of the time you absolutely should ie choosing people who you love, and have a special connection with, someone who you’d love to have a role in the ceremony. But that person may not necessarily be the best person. Choose someone more for the personality skills that they have which will do any reading justice and someone who will be happy and confident doing it. Friends or family who are used to speaking in public and who think nothing of it, are more likely to deliver readings better and more confidently than those who don’t.
Sidenote: When you have your special person in mind and you ask them, make sure to let them know it is OKAY if they really don’t want to do it. Sometimes, I imagine out of obligation and not wanting to let you down, people say ‘yes,’ when they really mean ‘oh hell, I really don’t want to do this.’ So give them the opportunity to say no.
Pick the right reading
It’s not easy picking a wedding reading. There are SO many to choose from, but I always say to go with your gut. Don’t have anything that doesn’t make sense or resonate with you. However, also check that the reading you choose can be read and made sense of by your reader. Some people can find certain texts difficult to read, difficult to grasp and get the rhythm right, so do check with them that they feel confident reading it. Also, many people now let their readers choose their own readings, which is a great way of ensuring that the reader picks something they are comfortable with and happy to read. So, this is something that you might want to think about. I wrote about surprise readings here and of course, I think it’s a cool thing to do.
Give them time
As soon you know who the reader is going to be make sure to give them plenty of time to prepare themselves and to have a read through of what they’re going to read. Again, no-one wants to see the scenario where the reader is cram-practising the reading just before the ceremony because its the first he or she has seen of it. Give them a couple of months, if you can and let them be as prepared as possible.
Make sure you’re on the same page
Once you’ve got your readings ready, send your reader the version of whatever it is you want them to read. And I mean the full text. Not just the title and author. Why do I say this? The other day during some ceremony planning, one of my brides asked if I could read ‘I Like You,’ by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Great, no problems. I got my version ready and luckily before the ceremony because the bride checked the ceremony outline I’d sent through with my version of the reading on it, she noticed that we both had totally different versions of this reading. As it happens this reading is one that you can change quite easily and make it more about your relationship and so we both had picked up on two completely different versions that the internet had given us. Thankfully in the end, we chose the one which they actually wanted. So my point is (and yes I took a long time getting to it) that you should send the copy of the reading that you want to be read, just to make sure you are both on the same page and your reader doesn’t end up reading every single verse of a ten verse poem, when you only wanted the first three! Do you see what I mean?
Arrange the logistics
When you are sure of your reader and sure of your reading, make sure to work out the logistics with them. Who is going to bring the reading to the ceremony? Will you be printing off the reading and making it available to them on the wedding day? Or will you leave it to the reader and make it their responsibility to print off and bring the reading? Will your wedding planner have the reading? Is your celebrant going to be responsible for printing out and bringing the readings? Whatever it is that you work out, make sure that everyone is clear on it, because I have seen too many of the reader not having their reading scenarios.
So, I think that’s a good lot of advice there, even if I say so myself. It’s not really a lot to take on board, but at least it does ensure that you get the best out of your readers and even better, they get to enjoy the experience!
Photo by Barney Walters Photography