We went with the standard vows, and had two readings – ‘How to Love a Woman’ attributed to Bob Marley (with the pronouns tweaked a bit so the reader was addressing both of us) and ‘Blessing for a Marriage’ by James Dillet Freeman.
How to Love a Woman (att. Bob Marley)
She’s not perfect.
You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect.
But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto each other and give the most you can.
She isn’t going to quote poetry, she’s not thinking about you every moment, but she will give you a part of herself that she knows you could break.
Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect more than he can give.
Smile when he makes you happy, yell when she makes you mad, and miss each other when you’re not together.
Love hard when there is love to be had.
Because perfect people don’t exist, but there’s always one person who is perfect for you.
Blessing for a Marriage (James Dillet Freeman)
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness.
A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it.
So let it be with you and you.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.
If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.
(Worth noting we had a UK civil ceremony, which does not allow anything even vaguely religious…. we checked the ‘Blessing’ reading with the registrars in advance; they said it was absolutely fine, but noted very few people use it, probably because the title makes them think they can’t!)