Civil Partnership Readings

File:Ezra Cornell's first book.jpgWe're sorry.

We've been so excited about equal marriage that we've sort of neglected civil partnerships. It's ridiculous - we know - because civil partnerships are still the best choice for many same-sex couples. In an attempt to redress our foolish error, we've decided to dedicate this post to civil partnerships and we promise, in future, to not get so carried away with marriage. Forgive us?

Legally, civil partnerships do not require an exchange of words; a wedding does. Most couples however, like to say a few words to one another or have a reading prepared. Religious wording isn't allowed in a civil partnership, so it can be difficult to find an appropriate poem or snippet of wisdom.

We've selected a few that would make a classic, thoughtful addition to a civil ceremony. These are all now in the public domain, but you should still credit the authors on the day.

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same… my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I should not seem a part of it.”

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love - Christopher Marlowe

File:Christopher Marlowe.jpgCome, live with me and be my love,
And we will sit upon the rocks,
And I will make thee beds of roses
A gown made of the finest wool
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
The shephards' swains shall dance and sing


And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And a thousand fragrant posies.
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Sonnet XLIII - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

File:Elizabeth Barrett Browning 2.jpg
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

George Eliot


What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life. To strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.

Native American Love Blessing


Now you will feel no rain
Now you are two persons
May beauty surround you both in your journey ahead and through the years.
May the sun bring you new energy by day.
Treat yourselves and each other with respect.
When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship,
When evening falls there you will both be.
Old hopes - new laughter - shared tears.
The adventure has just begun.

for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness
for each of you will be companion to the other.
but there is only one life before you.
May happiness be your companion to the place where the river meets the sun.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into your beings
And all the days of your lives may you walk gently
through the world and know its beauty.
And remind yourselves often of what brought you together.
Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness
that your connection deserves.
as they threaten all relationships at one time or another,
remember to focus on what is right between you,
not only on the part that seems wrong.
In this way you can ride out the storms
when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives,
remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment the sun is still there.
And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together,
it will be marked with abundance and delight.
You'll take each other's hands and turn together
to look at the road you have traveled to reach this, 
the hour of your happiness.
It stretches behind you even as the future lies ahead.
A long and winding road whose every turn means discovery.

The Key to Love Wedding Saying


The key to love is understanding...
The ability to comprehend not only the spoken word
But those unspoken gestures
The little things that say so much by themselves

The key to love is forgiveness...
To accept each other's faults and pardon mistakes
Without forgetting, but with remembering
What you learn from them

The key to love is sharing...
Facing your good fortune as well as the bad, together
Both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
To intensify your happiness

The key to love is giving...
Without thought of return
But with the hope of just a simple smile 
And by giving in but never giving up

The key to love is respect...
Realising that you are two separate people, with different ideas
That you don't belong to each other
You belong with each other, and share a mutual bond

The key to love is inside us all...
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients
It is the continual learning process that demands a lot of work
But the rewards are more than worth the effort
And that is the key to love

Evelina - Frances Burney


“I revere you. I esteem and admire you above all human beings. You are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half. You are the most amiable, the most perfect of women. And you are dearer to me than language has the power of telling… You are now all my own… How will my soul find room for its happiness? It seems already bursting!” 

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


“The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite, the inexhaustible is requisite.
Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven…
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake. If there did not exist some one who loved, the sun would become extinct.”


Are you having a civil ceremony soon? If so, then are having any readings? How did you choose yours? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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