New Testament Wedding Readings

Illustration of bible with rings inside

Illustration: The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

For Christians, New Testament wedding readings are an essential part of the marriage ceremony. These are some of the most popular and beautiful passages that talk about love, commitment, and our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Your priest, minister, or another officiant can often help guide you to appropriate verses. Yet you should still read all of the suggestions and discuss the analysis on why they make good New Testament wedding readings. Hopefully, you will find one that particularly speaks to you. You may also wish to read Old Testament wedding readings, traditional wedding readings, or the most popular Bible wedding readings. Looking for something a little more unique for your wedding? Try something with a Shakespearean twist, romantic poems or wedding readings.

Keep reading for the full text and analysis of these verses from the NRSV:

  • Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
  • Romans 12:1-2, 9-13 Present your bodies as a living sacrifice
  • Romans 15:1b-3a, 5-7, 13 Welcome one another, just as Christ has welcomed you
  • 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a Love is patient; love is kind
  • Ephesians 2:4-10 By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing
  • Ephesians 4:25- 5:2 Do not let the sun go down on your anger
  • Ephesians 5:25-32 Husbands, love your wives
  • Philippians 2:1-2 Make my joy complete
  • Philippians 4:4-9 The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything
  • Colossians 3: 12-17 Above all, clothe yourselves with love
  • Hebrews 13:1-16 Let marriage be held in honor by all
  • 1 Peter 3:8-12a Repay with a blessing
  • 1 John 3:18-24 Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action
  • 1 John 4:7-12, 16b-19 Beloved, let us love one another
  • Revelation 19:1, 5-9 The marriage of the Lamb has come

Romans 8:31-35, 37-39

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: The Bible often reminds us of Christ's love and our devotion to Him. When we marry in the church, we seek to emulate that steadfast, unbreakable love. We know that whatever hard times are ahead will not separate us from God, but will instead bond us closer to him. The same is true of the marriage bond you are creating. 

Romans 12:1-2, 9-13

I appeal to you; therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal; be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: St. Paul talks about making our bodies a living sacrifice. But of course, when we sacrifice—when we give things up—we paradoxically end up gaining. It's followed by a list of ways we can sacrifice for the sake of others and honor the will of God. Marriage too involves sacrifices that result in larger gains. If you've ever successfully resolved a big argument with your future spouse, you know that the instruction to "outdo each other in showing honor" is an important one. When you give up being right and instead show honor by really listening to one another, the argument is over faster, and what's important is preserved. 

Romans 15:1b-3a, 5-7, 13

 We ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: In some ways, this verse holds a reflection for your future life as a married couple: don't fight with each other. But its true power might lie in talking about your wedding guests. It's not unusual to have stress during wedding planning, especially when traditions and cultures clash. This is a peace-making reading, emphasizing tolerance and harmony through welcoming one another with all your strengths and faults.

Corinthians 12:31-13:8a 

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: This is an incredibly popular New Testament wedding reading, used amongst many denominations. Non-Christians even use it as a poetic, beautiful, and apt description of love. Yet what you may not realize is that Saint Paul is not talking about romantic love. Instead, he's asking his community to be more loving, and more Christ-like. For Christians, it's an excellent reminder that your love for one another should be like God's love. ​

Ephesians 2:4-10

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: This passage contains one of the most essential parts of the New Testament: the doctrine that salvation comes only from faith in Christ and God's Grace. Sometimes a wedding day is all about Me Me Me—that's where the idea of the bridezilla comes from. This verse re-centers the ceremony and ritual on God's love and salvation.

Ephesians 4:25- 5:2 

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: Some of the Bible's most beautiful wedding readings aren't about weddings at all—they're about the community at large. In this case, it's specifically about the Ephesians, a recently converted group of Pagans. Yet this Bible passage echoes the most popular secular marriage advice, "Never go to bed angry." It sounds so simple, but it means being willing to compromise and resolve your differences, something so profound in the long-term success of a marriage. But this Bible verse doesn't stop there. It continues to give advice on morality, and most importantly, about forgiveness.

Ephesians 5:25-32

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church because we are members of his body."For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: Ephesians has many popular verses for wedding readings. Yet just before this passage, it also says that wives should be subject to their husbands in everything since he is the head of the wife. This excerpt allows you to include the clear, beautiful words about how a husband should treat his wife, without casting women into an antiquated and unfair role.

Philippians 2:1-2

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: This short wedding reading gets right to the point—if you want to become like Christ, you first have to receive the blessings of love, fellowship, and humility. Marriage is the chief place you'll have to receive these blessings and to be of one mind.

Philippians 4:4-9 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: A wedding is always a time for rejoicing, and a Christian wedding is especially a time for rejoicing in the Lord. But this passage goes further than that and exhorts you not to worry. Particularly in this day and age, a wedding is an expression of optimism. Having a wedding requires a strong belief that you'll be married forever, no matter the statistics on the divorce rate, or the pressures that couples face. (However, those statistics are better than you think.) The Apostle Paul says, "Do not worry," and instead rely on the power of prayer. He tells you to keep following what is true, honorable, just, pure, and pleasing—aren't those the foundations of every successful marriage?  

Colossians 3: 12-17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: Forgiveness is not a word often associated with weddings. It implies that someone has done something wrong, and on our wedding days, we like to believe in an idyllic future. Yet one of you will eventually do something that needs forgiveness—you are only human after all. That's why you vow to love each other in good times and bad. But my favorite part of this verse is the sentence, "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

Hebrews 13:1-16

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you." So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: If working for others is important to you—volunteering, community activism, and other forms of faith-in-action service—this is a beautiful passage that honors both that work and marriage. Many people believe that a wedding is an opportunity to express your values; that's where we get green weddings from. Yet weddings can also easily become an exercise in "Keeping up with the Joneses." If you're rejecting that pitfall and instead of having a small or inexpensive wedding, this could be the right verse to include in your ceremony.

Peter 3:8-12a 

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called--that you might inherit a blessing. For "Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer." 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: This almost reads like secular wedding advice—be united, sympathetic, loving, and kind to one another. If one of you flies off the handle, don't respond in anger, but instead with love. But it brings it back to God by reminding you that He is watching and protecting the righteous.

John 3:18-24 

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: There are lots of words about love in a marriage ceremony. Too many people say their wedding vows without truly understanding their meaning. But the truth lies in your actions afterward: will you love each other when times are hard? Will you not just put up with each other, but completely cherish each other? The beginning of this New Testament wedding reading reminds us of this necessity. But then it also reminds us that though that task might be difficult, we won't be alone. God will abide with us.

John 4:7-12, 16b-19

Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. 

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: The author of 1st John says the word "love" no less than 38 times in his epistle—that's more than any other book of the Bible. So, there are many beautiful passages in this book that might be appropriate for a marriage ceremony. Many people choose just 1 John 4:7-12 as their reading, leaving out the last few verses. But ending there omits a powerful sentence: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." Think about that sentence and about times in your life when fear has gotten in the way of love. It might have been when you were afraid of being wrong, and couldn't admit to your mistakes. It might have been when you were afraid of commitment, or even when you were afraid of being vulnerable. Marriage alone doesn't conquer this problem; you've all heard of married folks fighting over money, jealousy, or insecurity. At the root of both those fights is fear. When we can realize that there is no fear in love, we can walk together through any problems. ​​​

Revelation 19:1, 5-9

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great." Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, “These are true words of God."

Why this New Testament Scripture makes a good wedding reading: In Christianity, the church is the bride of Christ. In marriage, we aim to reproduce the purity and excellence of that relationship. This reading reminds us of those motivations, and the great celebrations such weddings deserve. Hallelujah!