Even though my husband and I would have been fine with a secular ceremony, it was very important to our families that we get married in a church. But when we sat down to look at the suggested readings for the ceremony....well, let's just say I didn't like their "old fashioned" ideas. Thankfully, we were able to pick other readings that were not on the recommended list, but finding them was a bit cumbersome. So here is my list of alternative Bible readings for a more modern couple.
1 - Song of Songs 8:6-7
"Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one's house for love,
it would be utterly scorned."
We picked this as our first reading. I liked that it focused on love as a whole (not one partner or the other), and it has a great nature theme.
2 - 1 John 4:7-12
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
We picked this one as the second reading. To me, it's a no-judgement kind of reading. Basically, God loves everyone (yes, and I mean everyone), so let's celebrate!
3 - John 2:1-11
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."
First, for any Catholic weddings out there, this is where the name "Pre-Cana" (pre-wedding) comes from. This is a fairly standard reading, but I think it warrants to be on the list. It's literally about drinking and having a good time. Mary and Jesus are at a wedding and the hosts run out of wine (big-time no-no!). So Mary just makes Jesus turn water into wine so everyone can keep partying. Best party trick ever.
4 - Job 12:7-10
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."
This one is for the animal lovers. Basically enjoy nature and love animals and all will be good in the world.
5 - Corinthians 13:1-3
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
This is another popular one, but I think it's important for today's world. Forget about trying to out-do one another, to one-up people, to be "holier-than-though". You just need to love - family, friends, neighbors, people who are the same, people who are different. Just love, and the world will be a better place.