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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Songs as readings? AWESOME idea!

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Fed up with looking for the perfect reading? Why not try a song as a reading at a ceremony? (I’m always up for this!) Especially if couples don’t want something traditional or that’s been read before – song lyrics read aloud can be a really fun and meaningful alternative.

The first couple to take me up on my suggestion this year – well, they didn’t really take me up on it because it was a SURPRISE! (I love surprises in my ceremonies!) They really, really didn’t want a reading – because they both said that every wedding they’d attended, the readings were either painful, boring or a strong combo of both. (Clearly they’d not been to one of my weddings...) But they trusted me to find something a bit different...

Colluding with one of their close friends, we narrowed down some options for a song to read. Their friend shared with me that the bride-to-be was a big Tom Jones fan. So we started with the obvious, Sex Bomb (slightly awkward reading, it turned out…) and then we worked our way through Delilah and It’s Not Unusual (still not quite right…) and then many, many more, until their friend said “Please, please stop - I really can't listen to another one of his songs!” (Which actually made me laugh quite a lot.)

Anyway, my couples’ friend eventually decided on Help Yourself. And on the day, when the time came to read, nobody caught on that when I announced the author was Thomas John Woodward that it would be Tom Jones (who knew that TJ was not his real name?!) and our reader delivered the opening lines in a very deadpan style.

Meanwhile I was watching our bride-to-be’s face and while she clearly recognised the words, she couldn’t place them, and looked like she was thinking “Where do I know this from….?” And this was the same with the guests, their faces looking puzzled as if this reading was something familiar…until we got to the chorus, and unprompted, the guests joined in by singing the words, there might have been some toe tapping and jigging around – and it turned into a brilliant impromptu fun moment – far better than any ‘normal’ reading!

The second time this happened this summer, the groom was in on it. He’d selected a song that he knew his bride-to-be loved, especially as it had been parodied in an episode of Gavin and Stacey – and that was Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Our two readers stood to deliver their lines, very poker face, alternating between them to deliver each verse. I had printed out the chorus for all the guests to sing at the right moment and the groom had covertly distributed them. Again, the bride thought “Hang on a minute….” and as it continued with a rousing chorus she dissolved into fits of laughter. It was another blinder of an alternative to a straight reading :-)

So what works? Well I do like something with a bit of humour – but it doesn’t always have to be that way. And anyway, the humour can be in the delivery, not necessarily the words. Try to avoid the blimmin’ obvious (always, is my mantra) I have seen Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up done time and time and time again – and it’s just as dull as it used to be!

But I Believe in A Thing called Love by The Darkness and Huey Lewis’ Back To The Future classic The Power of Love – they’re both pretty funny if delivered well. If you’re looking for something rather beautiful The Proclaimers' “I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles” is, in my humble opinion, sublime. God Only Knows by the Beach Boys is an ace choice (and a nod to the rather fabulous Love Actually, too). For 80s fans (I know you’re out there!), Al Green’s rather smooth Let’s Stay Together is a gorgeous song.

Two other beautiful classics that have me swooning - there’s the perfectly written At Last by Etta James – and not forgetting She by Elvis Costello - that's a stunner (obvs).

For reliability, you can’t go wrong with Better Together by Jack Johnson (the perfect sentiment). More contemporary? Try anything by Ed Sheeran (what a lyricist!) but Thinking Out Loud is pretty cool. Film tracks? In tribute to the rather gorgeous Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan (City of Angels) another one of my faves is Iris by Goo Goo Dolls. Or a track from one of the most popular films EV-ER??? It’s gotta be Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia (Dirty Dancing – everyone knows that, right?) – 100% guarantee you’ll have your guests singing along AND it’s got GREAT LYRICS!!

And then I’ll leave you with my personal favourite - the awesome Ain’t Nobody by the even more awesome Miss Chaka Khan…

Whaddya think? Am I right or am I right?

Leaving the comments open on this one – so LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!

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