Best Wedding Readings

Words To Read When You Wed: Water, Wine

I tried to stay away from religious texts (not because I don’t think they’re appropriate and full of lovely, but because folks have such strong feelings about them, and because many of them are so well-known) and Shakespeare (obviously, even Sonnet 116, which was very hard to ignore), and found myself drawn toward passages that I love anyway–not just for weddings. There isn’t a lot about love, I’m afraid, because I figure by the time folks are getting married, well, there’s just more to it than that squishy kind of love. And I tried to come up with passages with which people might not be so familiar (or might simply have forgotten about), some of which are classic, and some of which are more modern. That’s all.

Today, a collection of those that cry to me of lovely and transformation, of what is real, what is full, what is peaceful, waves, swells. As for the whys and wherefores of choosing, I’m not sure I have much to say—it is my hope that these pieces will sing for themselves.

–Wallace Stevens

Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations–one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.

Say even that this complete simplicity
Stripped one of all one’s torments, concealed
The evilly compounded, vital I
And made it fresh in a world of white,
A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
Still one would want more, one would need more,
More than a world of white and snowy scents.

There would still remain the never-resting mind,
So that one would want to escape, come back
To what had been so long composed.
The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

— Rumi, Trans: Coleman Barks with John Moyne

I used to be shy.
You made me sing.

I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.

In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.

Now children run through
and make faces at me.

–J.D. Salinger

When I’d checked into the bathroom with Seymour’s diary under my arm, and had carefully secured the door behind me, I spotted a message almost immediately. It was not, however, in Seymour’s handwriting but, unmistakably, in my sister Boo Boo’s. With or without soap, her handwriting was always almost indecipherably minute, and she had easily managed to post the following message up on the mirror; “Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. Love, Irving Sappho, formerly under contract to Elysium Studios Ltd. Please be happy happy happy with your beautiful Muriel. This is an order. I outrank everybody on this block.” … I read and reread the quotation, and then I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and opened Seymour’s diary.

— Antoine De Saint Exupery

“Are you looking for chickens?”
“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”
“‘To establish ties’?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike… But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat.”

–Tom Robbins

The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and the vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that. Loving makes love. Loving makes itself. We waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love. Wouldn’t that be the way to make love stay?

Photos all by Cara, she of Peonies and Polaroids, but also she of Lillian and Leonard (and technically, that children running through image is Lillian and Leonard, not Cara herself at ‘tall) they are wedding photographers for all of Team Practical UK and Europe, and oh my god can you imagine? Yessss…. exactly.

* We also had readings and music from Psalms. I want to say ‘obviously’ here, because, well, I consider Psalms to be among the best collections of poetry ever written. It’s poetry that holds my heart when times are bad and makes my heart sing when times are good. So don’t ever let any one tell you that your wedding readings need to be unique. Time-honored is just as worthy.

**I am supposed to note to you, though it hardly seems worth noting, that the Rumi passage was my suggestion to Amanda. It’s a old love of mine.

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  • ellen

    One of my favorite real-life love poems is by Alan Dugan:

    Love Song: I and Thou

    Nothing is plumb, level or square:
    the studs are bowed, the joists
    are shaky by nature, no piece fits
    any other piece without a gap
    or pinch, and bent nails
    dance all over the surfacing
    like maggots. By Christ
    I am no carpenter. I built
    the roof for myself, the walls
    for myself, the floors
    for myself, and got
    hung up in it myself. I
    danced with a purple thumb
    at this house-warming, drunk
    with my prime whiskey: rage.
    Oh I spat rage’s nails
    into the frame-up of my work:
    It held. It settled plumb.
    level, solid, square and true
    for that one great moment. Then
    it screamed and went on through,
    skewing as wrong the other way.
    God damned it. This is hell,
    but I planned it I sawed it
    I nailed it and I
    will live in it until it kills me.
    I can nail my left palm
    to the left-hand cross-piece but
    I can’t do everything myself.
    I need a hand to nail the right,
    a help, a love, a you, a wife.

    (this is off the internet and I have not checked it against the published text to make sure it is word-for word)

    • ellen

      Maybe inspirational isn’t the word for it, but it’s true, and I dare you to read it at a wedding.

  • Esther

    I got this idea from someone else, and I honestly can’t remember who, but I love it. The ruling on the case that legalized same-sex marriage in MA (Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health) has some lovely things to say about marriage, and it’s also a nice subtle way to integrate support for all couples marrying, without sounding too political. Some excerpts:

    Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.
    . . .
    Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.” Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

    • Karin

      Esther – what an outstanding idea! Am totally stealing it. Thanks. :)

    • Ky

      We used this in our ceremony as, I think, the Charge For The Couple. It was really important to us to include it, and I’m so glad we did!

    • Melissa

      I was working on my ceremony today and now I want to include this!

  • Casey

    I luff the Alan Dugan poem! A clobbered-together version of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road made me burst into tears the first time I read it (and, inevitably, caused me to ugly-cry during our ceremony when my friend read it).

    Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose…
    Camerado, I give you my hand!
    I give you my love, more precious than money,
    I give you myself, before preaching or law;
    Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
    Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

    • ddayporter

      ahhh this was a top contender on our list of readings. in the end we didn’t use it but it always makes me misty-eyed.

    • Sarah Beth

      I really want to use “Oh Tell Me The Truth About Love” by W. H. Auden, but it’s sooo long, and I know how I’ve felt during awkwardly long parts of a wedding ceremony. I don’t want our guests to fidget.

      Casey, I love that poem too! But I have this professional tick, being a creative writing major, that doesn’t let me “cobble together” lines. I would be too worried that any of the English teachers in the audience would know the poem and realize I was misquoting it. *sigh*

      • Casey

        Ah, I agree! By “cobbled together” I really mean “read one stanza from the beginning and one from the end” – still sacrilegious, but none of the wording was changed. Knowing that life-changing professors would be present definitely did influence the writing of the ceremony… gotta make our teachers proud :)

    • This was a top contender for our wedding as well. Along with the passage above from the Little Prince, these were the two that I really wished had fit into the wedding.

    • FK

      Chills. Beautiful. I’d never read it before.

    • That was a contender for us as well, but in the end we chose a Frost poem because I find Whitman to be too…”lightning and thunder bombastic” and we wanted something with a similar theme but more stripped away and clear.

      The Master Speed
      By Robert Frost

      No speed of wind or water rushing by
      But you have a speed far greater. You can climb
      Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
      And back through history up the stream of time.
      And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
      Nor chiefly that you may go where you will.
      But in the rush of everything to waste,
      That you may have the power of standing still—
      Off any still or moving thing you say.
      Two such as you with a master speed
      Cannot be parted nor be swept away
      From one another once you are agreed
      That life is only life forevermore
      Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

      • Casey

        That’s so funny, this was right up there with our other favorite readings! Together wing to wing and oar to oar …. echhhhh *happysob*

    • Saskia

      Oh I love this so much, thank you, thank you for sharing. I have been feeling completely overwhelmed when I start thinking about composing our ceremony. This has made me feel much lighter about it.

  • ddayporter

    this was another one we loved but ended up not using:

    ~ By Pablo Neruda

    Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
    without you moving, slicing the noon
    like a blue flower, without you walking
    later through the fog and the cobbles,

    without the light you carry in your hand,
    golden, which maybe others will not see,
    which maybe no one knew was growing
    like the red beginnings of a rose.

    In short, without your presence: without your coming
    suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
    gust of a rosebush, wheat of wind:

    since then I am because you are,
    since then you are, I am, we are,
    and through love I will be, you will be, we’ll be.

    • This is lovely!

    • Erika

      I’m absolutely in love with this poem. Where would you find this, in print? I’d like to read it to Andrew and give him a book of Neruda’s poems as a wedding present (plus, I clearly need to read more of this poet!). So…would this appear in his collected works, in a certain book…? A title would be helpful.

      Thank you very much for sharing this.

      • ddayporter

        I have this book, it’s a lovely little pocket sized edition, with all of the poems in both the original Spanish and the translation into English. (links to a google search result showing the book “Love Poems by Pablo Neruda” and a few online retailers)

        • ddayporter

          hmm ok after looking at the contents of that book, I must have found this in my other Neruda collection, which I cannot remember the name of right now. you could probably do a google search of the sonnet and find a book that includes it.

    • Casey

      Beautiful!!! Love! We didn’t fit Neruda into our ceremony, but one of my lady friends made us a piece of calligraphy-ed art with this bit of loveliness (from Sonnet II):

      Pero tú y yo, amor mío, estamos juntos
      juntos desde la ropa a las raíces
      juntos de otoño, de agua, de caderas
      hasta ser sólo tú, sólo yo, juntos.

      But you and I, my love, we are together
      Together from our clothes down to our roots
      Together in autumn, in water, in hips
      Until it is only you, only I, together.

  • I put this one in my program (because of it’s length, and because it would be difficult to be read really well) but the last stanza just slays me.

    Encircled by this breathing world

    within this close sphere of warm summer night
ringed by this congress of friends here assembled

    we make declaration of our love and our union

    in public declaring what’s privately ours.

    From this crowd of hearts, shared heat and blood.

    I am yours, who I love, not a dream by life,
    not fantasy, immortality, eternity, but the
    present moment and all-too- mortal flesh;
    to what is hardest; love is hardest;
    hard and simple and what is best in life.

    Love care honor growth—fine simple things
    and I make a vow of them to you.

    I too vow these to you who I also love and also
    to the careful protecting and preserving of dreams.
    Circle within circle, concentrically guarded, in the pliable element of the innermost heart,
    a garden blossoms in a golden ring; 
the dream of dawn in paradise shines there.
    Love is imagination’s spur and food.

    I promise you a future, impossible things,
    Justice and freedom and life without loss, 
a practical pillow, a home, in fact, a sheltering and withstanding spirit and always a room for your dreaming.

    And then…

    Together, old and content,
    the day is warm and nearly over, the first breeze
    of evening plays in your hair.
    The sun sinks behind us, 
silhouetting the city.
An old hand is ringing down the curtain.

    We cross the bridge that goes east
into night.

    (Tony Kushner, from “An Epithalamion”)

    • Sarah Beth

      I absolutely love this.

    • birdandbeef

      We are using some excerpts from An Epithalamion in our ceremony. The length doesn’t scare us as much, simply because one of our readers is a professional actress and is up to the task.

      The first section is what always gets me about this poem. I love how beautifully it expresses the idea of individuality within union.

      Conjunction, assemblage, congress, union:
      Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.
      A life apart is a desperate fiction.
      Life is an intermediate business:
      a field of light bordered by love
      a sea of desire stretched between shores.

      Marriage is the strength of union.
      Marriage is the harmonic blend.
      Marriage is the elegant dialectic of counterpoint.
      Marriage is the faultless, fragile logic of ecology:
      A reasonable process of give and take
      unfolding through cyclical and linear time.

      A wedding is the conjoining of systems in which
      Neither loses its single splendor and both are completely
      transformed. As, for example,
      The dawn is the wedding of the Night and the Day,
      and is neither, and both,
      and is, in itself, the most beautiful time,
      abundant artless beauty,
      free and careless magnificence.

      • Do you know who wrote this? I tried googling and couldn’t find it, but it’s beautiful!

  • Camille

    This is beautiful :)

    I’m a big sap myself, and I love to share these things. For my girlfriend’s wedding I hand wrote a copy of every writing/poem I thought would speak to her of marriage, of patience and strength, and of happiness. Two of my favorites:

    by Margaret Atwood

    Marriage is not
    a house or even a tent

    it is before that, and colder:

    The edge of the forest, the edge
    of the desert
    the unpainted stairs
    at the back where we squat
    outside, eating popcorn

    where painfully and with wonder
    at having survived even
    this far

    we are learning to make fire
    from Gift from the Sea
    by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

    The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

    • I have goosebumps from this entire comment thread, but that second one…. wow.

    • ML

      gift from the sea. an exactly button just won’t do it justice. i’d like to nominate a “thank you, i really needed that” button.

    • Darcy

      We just used Habitation at our wedding on June 1. Totally took my breath away when I first read it.

  • You used my pictures! I love.

    • meg

      Oh thank god. I didn’t have time to warn you, after my hours of picking *just the right ones* last night :)

  • Sarah Beth

    I love this, because I find it both light-hearted and moving at the same time. And it’s about love. (I know, how typical!)

    “Oh Tell Me The Truth About Love” W. H. Auden

    Some say that love’s a little boy,
    And some say it’s a bird,
    Some say it makes the world go round,
    And some say that’s absurd,
    And when I asked the man next-door,
    Who looked as if he knew,
    His wife got very cross indeed,
    And said it wouldn’t do.

    Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
    Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
    Does its odour remind one of llamas,
    Or has it a comforting smell?
    Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
    Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
    Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    Our history books refer to it
    In cryptic little notes,
    It’s quite a common topic on
    The Transatlantic boats;
    I’ve found the subject mentioned in
    Accounts of suicides,
    And even seen it scribbled on
    The backs of railway-guides.

    Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
    Or boom like a military band?
    Could one give a first-rate imitation
    On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
    Is its singing at parties a riot?
    Does it only like Classical stuff?
    Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    I looked inside the summer-house;
    it wasn’t ever there:
    I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
    And Brighton’s bracing air.
    I don’t know what the blackbird sang,
    Or what the tulip said;
    But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,
    Or underneath the bed.

    Can it pull extraordinary faces?
    Is it usually sick on a swing?
    Does it spend all its time at the races,
    Or fiddling with pieces of string?
    Has it views of its own about money?
    Does it think Patriotism enough?
    Are its stories vulgar but funny?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    When it comes, will it come without warning
    Just as I’m picking my nose?
    Will it knock on my door in the morning,
    Or tread in the bus on my shoes?
    Will it come like a change in the weather?
    Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
    Will it alter my life altogether?
    O tell me the truth about love.

  • Meg

    We’re using the Little Prince reading. At the beginning of our courtship, I used to read The Little Prince to my gentleman as a bedtime story (it alternately made him beg for more chapters and lulled him to sleep). This passage is so perfect.

    • I read it to my husband early in our relationship too. The story is very important to me, and I wanted him to hear it too. He loves being read to, and like with your gentleman, it lulls him to sleep. I still read to him a few nights a week. I get to introduce him to some of my favorite books and authors, and it gives us a chance to spend some quite time at the end of the day.

  • KristieB

    This is the reading I chose for my brother to read at our ceremony. The line about feeding the children hits me in the heart every single time.

    The Invitation by Oriah

    It doesn’t interest me
    what you do for a living.
    I want to know
    what you ache for
    and if you dare to dream
    of meeting your heart’s longing.

    It doesn’t interest me
    how old you are.
    I want to know
    if you will risk
    looking like a fool
    for love
    for your dream
    for the adventure of being alive.

    It doesn’t interest me
    what planets are
    squaring your moon…
    I want to know
    if you have touched
    the center of your own sorrow
    if you have been opened
    by life’s betrayals
    or have become shriveled and closed
    from fear of further pain.

    I want to know
    if you can sit with pain
    mine or your own
    without moving to hide it
    or fade it
    or fix it.

    I want to know
    if you can be with joy
    mine or your own
    if you can dance with wildness
    and let the ecstasy fill you
    to the tips of your fingers and toes
    without cautioning us
    to be careful
    to be realistic
    to remember the limitations
    of being human.

    It doesn’t interest me
    if the story you are telling me
    is true.
    I want to know if you can
    disappoint another
    to be true to yourself.
    If you can bear
    the accusation of betrayal
    and not betray your own soul.
    If you can be faithless
    and therefore trustworthy.

    I want to know if you can see Beauty
    even when it is not pretty
    every day.
    And if you can source your own life
    from its presence.

    I want to know
    if you can live with failure
    yours and mine
    and still stand at the edge of the lake
    and shout to the silver of the full moon,

    It doesn’t interest me
    to know where you live
    or how much money you have.
    I want to know if you can get up
    after the night of grief and despair
    weary and bruised to the bone
    and do what needs to be done
    to feed the children.

    It doesn’t interest me
    who you know
    or how you came to be here.
    I want to know if you will stand
    in the center of the fire
    with me
    and not shrink back.

    It doesn’t interest me
    where or what or with whom
    you have studied.
    I want to know
    what sustains you
    from the inside
    when all else falls away.

    I want to know
    if you can be alone
    with yourself
    and if you truly like
    the company you keep
    in the empty moments.

    • We used a different version of this same one- it was totally awkwardly too long, but I couldn’t NOT have it. My brother and Jeff’s sister alternated paragraphs, and I did (and still do) cry every time I hear the part about the ones we once loved out loud.

      The Dance, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

      I have sent you my invitation,
      The note inscribed on the palm of my hand
      By the fire of living.
      Don’t jump up and shout,
      “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
      Just stand up quietly and dance with me.

      Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
      Spiralling down into the ache within the ache.
      And I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
      To feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, everyday.

      Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
      Show me how you turn away from making another wrong
      Without abandoning yourself when you are hurt
      And afraid of being unloved.

      Tell me a story of who you are,
      And see who I am in the stories I am living.
      And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.

      Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
      Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
      Truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
      And again in the next,
      And the next,
      And the next. . .

      I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
      Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
      The place you cannot go beyond
      By the strength of your own will.
      What carries you to the other side of that wall,
      To the fragile beauty of your own humanness?

      And after we have shown each other
      How we have set and kept
      The clear, healthy boundaries that help us
      Live side by side with each other,
      Let us risk remembering that we never stop silently loving
      Those we once loved out loud.

      Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
      The places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
      And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
      And the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.

      Show me how you take care of business
      Without letting business determine who you are.
      When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us
      Shout that soul’s desires have too high a price,
      Let us remind each other that it is never about the money.

      Show me how you offer to your people and the world
      The stories and the songs you want
      The children’s children to remember,
      And I will show you how I struggle
      Not to change the world, but to love it.

      Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
      Knowing both our absolute aloneness
      And our undeniable belonging.
      Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
      Holding neither against me at the end of the day.

      And when the sound of all the declarations
      Of our sincerest intentions has died away on the wind,
      Dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
      Of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
      Not filling the emptiness from the outside but from within.

      Don’t say, “Yes!”
      Just take my hand and dance with me.

      • Mel

        Wow. Amazing!

      • This is stunningly beautiful. And so perfect. I was especially moved by this part –

        “Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
        The places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
        And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
        And the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.”

        He was proposed at a place that is one of those places, for both of us. I want to put this to art, frame it, and give it a prominent spot in our home.

    • Cupcake

      Wow. I think I just found a reading for my wedding. That poem is beautiful and true. And considering how much I dislike poetry, the fact that it made me cry at every stanza is a testament to its sentiment.

    • This one was also on my short list. I absolutely love it.

    • Cynthia

      Amazing! THANK YOU for this! Agree totally…I was only crying a little…but then I got to the “feed the children” line and then it was ugly-cry!

  • Jovi

    Love these, and the contributions in the comments. Here’s mine:

    I am in love, hence free to live
    by Vera Pavlova

    I am in love, hence free to live
    by heart, to ad lib as I caress.
    A soul is light when full,
    heavy when vacuous.
    My soul is light. She is not afraid
    to dance the agony alone,
    for I was born wearing your shirt,
    will come from the dead with that shirt on.

    Translated by Steven Seymour

  • Kashia

    This is one of my favourites from Hafiz (who is another Sufi mystic like Rumi)

    I caught the Happiness Virus last night
    When I was out singing beneath the stars
    It is remarkably contagious
    So kiss me

  • Laura

    We had three readings in our ceremony, but my absolute favorite was the last one.

    by Robert Fulghum

    You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

    The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

    Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

    For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife.

    • And now I, too, have found a reading for my wedding in these comments. Also, I am crying at my desk right now.

      We also are planning to use “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg (I don’t think this is the whole text, but I don’t have my copy with me)

      I like you and I know why

      I like you because you are a good person to like

      I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special

      And you remember it a long, long time

      You say, Remember when you told me something special

      And both of us remember

      When I think something is important
 you think it’s important too

      We have good ideas

      When I say something funny, you laugh

      I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too


      I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
      And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes

      But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too

      You know how to be silly – that’s why I like you
      If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
      then you are getting ready to jump


      I like you because when I am feeling sad

      You don’t always cheer me up right away

      Sometimes it is better to be sad

      You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute

      You want to think about things

      It takes time

      I like you because if I am mad at you

      Then you are mad at me too

      It’s awful when the other person isn’t

      They are so nice and oooh you could just about punch them on the nose

      I can’t remember when I didn’t like you

      It must have been lonesome then
      Even if it was the 999th of July

      Even if it was August

      Even if it was way down at the bottom of November

      I would go on choosing you

      And you would go on choosing me

      Over and over again

      And that’s how it would happen every time.

      • liz

        i just bought this book for my husband yesterday. <3

      • KENDALL

        We’re using “I like you” too! I actually had the privilege of reading it at a friend’s wedding that I went to by myself, and all I could think of while I was reading it was my fiance. I knew it had to be part of our ceremony someday. We’ve decided to split it up and read it together before our vows. Not sure if I’ll be laughing or crying!

      • SaraB

        Oh my….This poem is absolutely perfect for The Man and I. It is making me all weepy at my desk…It is going on the list.

        • Kim

          Add me to the list of folks crying at their desk reading this post/these comments! This one, in particular, is perfect for us. We asked his grandfather to select a verse a while ago, and now I’m wondering if we can add this in instead, or in addition to whatever Grandpa selects…so many choices!

      • meg

        You guys are getting way ahead of yourselves… More posts to go.

      • Laura

        This is our reading too! I cried like a baby the first time I read it.

      • McPants

        Oh, I love this. I just read it aloud to my fiancee, and I started tearing up while I read it, and she said, “Okay, looks like that’s going in the wedding.” This so made my day.

    • Hah! I used this in my ceremony and had no idea who it was by! Thank you for solving that mystery for me :)

    • Suzanna

      Laura, that one got me!

  • I found this after ceremony was already planned, and fell in love with it immediately. From the very first line, I was reminded of my now husband, and myself. I ended up making bookmarks as favors, just so I could use it.

    “No I’ll not take the half…”
    by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
    No, I’ll not take the half of anything!
    Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!
    Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches –
    All these are mine! I’ll accept no less!

    No, life, you cannot woo me with a part.
    Let it be all or nothing! I can shoulder that!
    I don’t want happiness by halves.
    Nor is half of sorrow what I want.

    Yet there’s a pillow I would share,
    Where gently pressed against a cheek,
    Like a helpless star, a falling star,
    A ring glimmers on a finger of your hand.

  • FK

    This is my favorite post and comment thread ever!

  • liz

    eff weddings.

    i’m bookmarking these to read during especially nasty arguments.

    • Tina

      Exactly! Or even just gentle reminders.

  • Ashley

    Here is one we read to each other before saying our vows. Our pastor made us read the whole thing out loud at our rehearsal, and at first we resisted because we thought it would take the magic out of reading it at the ceremony, but she was absolutely right. We had never read it out loud before, and we both cried as we practiced it in front of just our parents and siblings. It was a really intense moment that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and it helped prepare us for the emotion of the ceremony the following day. I highly recommend practicing readings ahead of time, especially if you’re nervous about public speaking.

    “Love” by Roy Croft

    I love you
    Not only for what you are,
    But for what I am
    When I am with you.

    I love you,
    Not only for what
    You have made of yourself,
    But for what
    You are making of me.

    I love you
    For the part of me
    That you bring out;
    I love you
    For putting your hand
    Into my heaped-up heart
    And passing over
    All the foolish, weak things
    That you can’t help
    Dimly seeing there,

    And for drawing out
    Into the light
    All the beautiful belongings
    That no one else had looked
    Quite far enough to find

    I love you because you
    Are helping me to make
    Of the lumber of my life
    Not a tavern
    But a temple.

    Out of the works
    Of my every day
    Not a reproach
    But a song.

    I love you
    Because you have done
    More than any creed
    Could have done
    To make me good.

    And more than any fate
    Could have done
    To make me happy.

    You have done it
    Without a touch,
    Without a word,
    Without a sign.
    You have done it
    By being yourself.

    • Allison

      I love LOVE this. Can I ask how you read it? Did you read it at the same time, or alternate?

    • caitlin

      yep, this is the one that got me. the tears are now rolling down my face. what an amazing poem, and an amazing community of practical lovers! :)

    • Aaaaand now I’m trying not to cry at my desk. Yikes. Just amazing. Adding that to the list of possibilities….

      • Ashley

        Awww, you guys…I didn’t mean to make you cry! Leaving that comment might have been more for myself than anything- I pretty much jumped at the chance to write those words again and welcome the flood of memories. The way we read this was by alternating stanzas, then alternating the lines of the last stanza. The poem as written is one long verse, so we “created” stanzas where we thought there would be natural breaks in the flow. And we kind of arranged it so that we would each be reading lines that felt most powerful to us.

  • I’ve been collecting modern readings, too. These are some of my favorites:

    He Never Leaves the Seat Up
    by Pam Ayres

    He never leaves the seat up
    Or wet towels upon the floor
    The toothpaste has the lid on
    And he always shuts the door!

    She’s very clean and tidy
    Though she may sometimes delude
    Leave your things out at your peril
    In a second they’ll have moved!

    He’s a very active person
    As are all his next of kin
    Where as she likes lazy days
    He’ll still drag her to the gym!

    He romances her and dines her
    Home cooked dinners and the like
    He even knows her favourite food
    And spoils her day and night!

    She’s thoughtful when he looks at her
    A smile upon his face
    Will he look that good in 50 years
    When his dentures aren’t in place?!

    He says he loves her figure
    And her mental prowess too
    But when gravity takes her over
    Will she charm with her IQ?

    She says she loves his kindness
    And his patience is a must
    And of course she thinks he’s handsome
    Which in her eyes is a plus!

    They’re both not wholly perfect
    But who are we to judge
    He can be pig headed
    Where as she won’t even budge!

    All that said and done
    They love the time they spent together
    And I hope as I’m sure you do
    That this fine day will last forever.

    He’ll be more than just her husband
    He’ll also be her friend
    And she’ll be more than just his wife
    She’s be his soul mate ‘till the end.

    And my favorite:

    I carry your heart with me
    ee cummings

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    • liz

      ee cummings really has so many that i love. but this one is just fantastic.

    • ddayporter

      that e e cummings piece makes me cry every time I read it! it was on our short list but didn’t make it into the wedding. then to my absolute amazement and joy, our officiant read it during the ceremony herself, without knowing how important it was to us (more so me than Zach but he loves it too).

      • liz

        that’s amazing!

        this is when i buy into the hype that weddings are magical.

      • We have our rings engraved with the first line of the ee cummings poem.

    • Jen M

      there go the waterworks…

  • Lindsay

    We used a passage from Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms:”

    We felt like we had come home, felt no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too, so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

    • Kim

      I think this one is just lovely.

    • We are using this one too…I love that book.

  • Richel

    We are getting married in just a few short weeks and this is the reading that we are having during our ceremony. Every time I read this poem it makes me choke up. I especially love the last stanza … gets me every time!

    “Together” by William C. Gannett.

    I dreamed of Paradise, – and still,
    Though sun lay soft on vale and hill,
    And trees were green and rivers bright,
    The one dear thing that made delight

    By sun or stars or Eden weather,
    Was just that we two were together.

    I dreamed of Heaven, – and God so near!
    The angels trod the shining sphere,
    And all were beautiful; the days were choral work, were choral praise;
And yet, in Heaven’s far-shining weather,
    The best was still, – we were together!

    I woke-and found my dream was true,

    That happy dream of me and you!
    For Eden, Heaven, no need to roam;
    The foretaste of it all is Home,
    Where you and I through this world’s weather

    Still work and praise and thank together.

    Together weave from love a nest

    For all that’s good and sweet and blest

    To brood in, till it come a face,
    A voice, a soul, a child’s embrace!
    And then what peace of Bethlehem weather,
    What songs, as we go on together!

    Together greet life’s solemn real,
    Together own one glad ideal,
    Together laugh, together ache,
    And think one thought, “each other’s sake,”

    And hope one hope – in New-world weather

    To still go on, and go together.

  • Lubbing this. Lubbing it so.

  • MPC

    I love this excerpt from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” by William Carlos Williams. It is a mature love poem, written by the poet to his wife of many years, whom he has not always put first in his life. It’s about a love that is beautiful and imperfect and real.

    I have learned much in my life
    from books
    and out of them
    about love.
    is not the end of it.
    There is a hierarchy
    which can be attained,
    I think,
    in its service.
    Its guerdon
    is a fairy flower;
    a cat of twenty lives.
    If no one came to try it
    the world
    would be the loser.
    It has been
    for you and me
    as one who watches a storm
    come in over the water.
    We have stood
    from year to year
    before the spectacle of our lives
    with joined hands.
    The storm unfolds.
    plays about the edges of the clouds.
    The sky to the north
    is placid,
    blue in the afterglow
    as the storm piles up.
    It is a flower
    that will soon reach
    the apex of its bloom.
    We danced,
    in our minds,
    and read a book together.
    You remember?
    It was a serious book.
    And so books
    entered our lives.

  • We fell in love after a year of friendship, and it was very much one of those instances where I didn’t see what was right in front of me. So with that in mind, we plan to have a reading from “Anne of Avonlea” by LM Montgomery:

    “Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart it’s pages betrayed the rhythn and the music; perhaps… perhaps… love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”

    I had also considered using this quote from the end of Jane Eyre:

    “I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest–blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully is he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character–perfect concord is the result.”

    • Lauren

      I just got chills when I saw the passage from Anne of Avonlea! I read and re-read the series as a little girl, was frequently compared to Anne by parents and teachers (I was a…well…willful…child), and had such a literary crush on Gilbert Blythe. My fiance and I were best friends for four years before we started dating, but it never occurred to me to go back to my original education on romance for inspiration. Suffice to say this passage has just claimed a prominent role in our ceremony. Thank you!!

      • Jen M

        Gilbert Blythe is my literary true love…

        • Irene

          I was just re-reading that last week! And also in the process of falling in love with a friend – perhaps that will be our reading in years to come! Such a wonderful romance.

  • Kaydo

    These are quite beautiful.
    May we also have a post about traditional readings? i would love to hear new Psalms.

    • Kaydo

      Is anyone else planning a traditional wedding despite their possibly unconventional beliefs, and having trouble finding anything but main stream readings allowed in the ceremony?

      • Kaydo

        sorry, I think that last comment doesn’t sound quite right. What i mean to say is, I am having trouble choosing traditional readings, and I would love to hear what people choose for their ceremony.

  • We did this one by e.e. cummings:

    i thank You God for most this amazing
    day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
    wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

    (i who have died am alive again today,
    and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
    day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
    great happening illimitably earth)

    how should tasting touching hearing seeing
    breathing any-lifted from the no
    of all nothing-human merely being
    doubt unimaginable You?

    (now the ears of my ears awake and
    now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

    and Fallin in love is like owning a dog by Taylor Mali:

    First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
    especially in a city like New York.
    So think long and hard before deciding on love.
    On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
    when you’re walking down the street late at night
    and you have a leash on love
    ain’t no one going to mess with you.
    Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
    Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

    On cold winter nights, love is warm.
    It lies between you and lives and breathes
    and makes funny noises.
    Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
    It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

    Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
    But come home and love is always happy to see you.
    It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
    but you can never be mad at love for long.

    Is love good all the time? No! No!
    Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

    Love makes messes.
    Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
    Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
    Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
    Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
    and swat love on the nose,
    not so much to cause pain,
    just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!

    Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
    Because love loves exercise.
    It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
    It pulls you in several different directions at once,
    or winds around and around you
    until you’re all wound up and can’t move.

    But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
    People who have nothing in common but love
    stop and talk to each other on the street.

    Throw things away and love will bring them back,
    again, and again, and again.
    But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
    And in return, love loves you and never stops.

    • V

      Aha I was about to post Falling in love is like owning a dog- it always makes me a little teary cause I love my dog and I love my love and I think each makes me better for the other.

    • Suzanna

      Lindsay, I have that ee cummings framed in my living room. Love to look at it daily.

  • I also love this poem my favorite author wrote for two friends and read at there wedding –

    This for you, for both of you,

    a small poem of happiness
    filled with small glories and little triumphs
    a fragile, short cheerful song
    filled with hope and all sorts of futures

    Because at weddings we imagine the future
    Because it’s all about “what happened next?”
    all the work and negotiation and building and talk
    that makes even the tiniest happily ever after
    something to be proud of for a wee forever

    This is a small thought for both of you
    like a feather or a prayer,
    a wish of trust and love and hope
    and fine brave hearts and true.

    Like a tower, or a house made all of bones and dreams
    and tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows

    -Neil Gaiman

    • Thank you, Tricia!! I’ve loved Neil Gaiman for YEARS and to see this reduced me to tears. That’s just what I was looking for. :)

  • Lydia

    These are the poems we’re thinking of using so far, if we incorporate poems. I’m actually considering printing or writing out several poems and letting guests choose one to read, if they’d like, during the part of the ceremony where they can speak (we’re drawing lots of inspiration from Quaker ceremonies). I think I would feel strange asking someone to read something deeply personal to me, and it seems like a good way to allow people to choose something that works for them and speaks to our relationship.

    Tie Your Heart at Night to Mine, Love; Pablo Neruda:

    Tie your heart at night to mine, love,
    and both will defeat the darkness
    like twin drums beating in the forest
    against the heavy wall of wet leaves.

    Night crossing: black coal of dream
    that cuts the thread of earthly orbs
    with the punctuality of a headlong train
    that pulls cold stone and shadow endlessly.

    Love, because of it, tie me to a purer movement,
    to the grip on life that beats in your breast,
    with the wings of a submerged swan,

    So that our dream might reply
    to the sky’s questioning stars
    with one key, one door closed to shadow.
    Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy:

    Not a red rose or a satin heart.

    I give you an onion.
    It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
    It promises light
    like the careful undressing of love.

    It will blind you with tears
    like a lover.
    It will make your reflection
    a wobbling photo of grief.

    I am trying to be truthful.

    Not a cute card or a kissogram.

    I give you an onion.
    Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
    possessive and faithful
    as we are,
    for as long as we are.

    Take it.
    Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
    if you like.

    Its scent will cling to your fingers,
    cling to your knife.

    • Printing them for your guests to read if they choose is such a great idea!

      • ddayporter

        I agree, having guests pick from a selection to read during your ceremony is a wonderful idea! One of my ideas that I never followed through on, was to pick out 8 or 9 readings and type them up and frame them, to put one on each table at the reception. I basically wanted to do this because there were so many pieces I loved but couldn’t fit into the ceremony (or weren’t necessarily what we wanted for ceremony readings but we loved them anyway, like an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit (the Rabbit asks what it means to be REAL), and the song Adam Sandler sings to Drew Barrymore in the Wedding Singer). of course I overbooked my brain on centerpiece ideas so this one didn’t make it to the tables.. ;)

        • liz

          i LOVE the velveteen rabbit. i know exactly what selection you mean- i get teary just thinking about it.

    • ellen

      Love the Carol Ann Duffy! (and of course the scads of e.e. cummings.

  • Becky

    I had this read at my ceremony…it is, unfortunately, time specific, but for anyone having a September wedding…(ours was, indeed, in a beautiful flowered glen in September, and it did rain briefly!)

    From the musical “The Fantasticks”
    by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

    You wonder how these things begin.
    Well, this begins with a glen.
    It begins with a season which, for want of a better word we may as well call- September.
    It begins in a forest where the woodchucks woo,
    and the leaves wax green, and vines intertwine like lovers;
    try to see it. not with your eyes, for they are wise,
    but see it with your ears: the cool green breathing of the leaves.
    And hear it with the inside of your hand:
    the soundless sound of shadows flicking light.
    Celebrate sensation.
    Recall that secret place.
    You’ve been there, you remember:
    That special place where once- Just once- in your crowded sunlit lifetime,
    you hid away in shadow from the tyranny of time.
    That spot beside the clover where someone’s hand held your hand
    and love was sweeter than the berries, or the honey, or the stinging taste of mint.
    It is September- before a rainfall- a perfect time to be in love.

    • My grandpa used to sing this song all the time and now I’m all teary. Great choice!

  • Erin

    During our engagement, I read “Adam Bede”, by George Eliot (good book), and wrote this quote down because it gave me shivers:

    “‘My soul is so knit with yours that it is but a divided life I live without you. And this moment, now you are with me … I feel that our hearts are filled with the same love….’

    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? ”

    Then some friends used it in their wedding, so I saved it for just me and the hubs :)

  • My favorite reading, which we used in our ceremony:

    “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

    Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away. This is both an art and a fortunate accident to have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from the branches you realize that you are one tree and not two.”
    -Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres.

    • Tricia

      I love this quote and agonized for a long time before choosing a Madeleine L’engle quote instead.

      There comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

      To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.

      • Erica

        I’m a bit confused–is your quote, then, from Madeleine L’Engle? I love it!

  • Jamie

    My friend had me read this at her wedding. She adores Miss Manners and I can’t remember if this was from one of her books or one of her columns:

    “While exclusionary interest in one other human being, which is what we call courtship, is all very exciting in the stages of discovery, there is not enough substance in it for a lifetime, no matter how fascinating the people or passionate the romance. The world, on the other hand, is chock full of interesting and curious things. The point of the courtship — marriage — is to secure someone with whom you wish to go hand in hand through this source of entertainment, each making discoveries, and then sharing some and merely reporting others. Anyone who tries to compete with the entire world, demanding to be someone’s sole source of interest and attention, is asking to be classified as a bore. “Why don’t you ever want to talk to me?” will probably never start a satisfactory marital conversation. “Guess what?” will probably never fail.”

  • Missg

    My husband and I chose this story for one of our readings – it perfectly describes both of us! And everyone at the ceremony laughed at the shopping part, so they must have thought so too!!

    A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton

    The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.

    Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.

    I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.
    He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.

    I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
    She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

    But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    He is also overly fond of things.
    Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?

    But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
    Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?

    I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

    I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.

    Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
    Look at them.
    Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.

    And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
    Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
    For the sun is warm.
    And the world is a beautiful place.

  • Aine

    thanks for reposting this, Meg! So many of these have made me tear up!

  • L

    Adapted from Plato’s Symposium:

    Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.

    To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. There were three sexes then: one comprised of two men called the children of the Sun, one made of two women called the children of the Earth, and a third made of a man and a woman, called the children of the Moon. Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them.

    It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind.

    Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. Those whose original nature lies with the children of the Sun are men who are drawn to other men, those from the children of the Earth are women who love other women, and those from the children of the Moon are men and women drawn to one another. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.

  • KM

    It’s little long but with some tweaks, it gets at the mundane and transcendent aspects of relationships.

    Resignation — Nikki Giovanni

    I love you
    because the earth turns round the sun
    because the North wind blows north
    because the Pope is Catholic
    and most Rabbis Jewish
    because winters flow into springs

    and the air clears after a storm
    because only my love for you
    despite the charms of gravity
    keeps me from falling off this Earth
    into another dimension
    I love you
    because it is the natural order of things

    I love you
    like the habit I picked up in college
    of sleeping through lectures
    or saying I’m sorry
    when I get stopped for speeding
    because I drink a glass of water
    in the morning

    and chain-smoke cigarettes
    all through the day
    because I take my coffee Black
    and my milk with chocolate
    because you keep my feet warm
    though my life a mess
    I love you
    because I don’t want it

    any other way.

    I am helpless
    in my love for you
    It makes me so happy
    to hear you call my name
    I am amazed you can resist
    locking me in an echo chamber
    where your voice reverberates

    through the four walls
    sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
    I love you
    because it’s been so good
    for so long
    that if I didn’t love you
    I’d have to be born again
    and that is not a theological statement

    I am pitiful in my love for you

    The Dells tell me Love
    is so simple
    the thought though of you
    sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
    thrills throughout and through-in my body
    I love you

    because no two snowflakes are alike
    and it is possible
    if you stand tippy-toe
    to walk between the raindrops
    I love you
    because I am afraid of the dark
    and can’t sleep in the light

    because I rub my eyes
    when I wake up in the morning
    and find you there
    because you with all your magic powers were
    determined that
    I should love you
    because there was nothing for you but that

    I would love you

    I love you
    because you made me
    want to love you
    more than I love my privacy
    my freedom my commitments
    and responsibilities
    I love you ’cause I changed my life

    to love you
    because you saw me one friday
    afternoon and decided that I would
    love you
    I love you I love you I love you

  • I’m framing favorite poems for our reception centerpieces instead of having flowers, and this is one of the best-loved ones that I’m using:

    Bring us no candle-light at dark
    Because the moon-face of our love is full.
    We worship wine and pour our vows, and it is
    Against my law to be without your face…
    …In our assembly bring no rose perfumes,
    We breathe the fragrance of your long hair.
    Do not praise to me the taste of sugar,
    For my desire is satisfied on your sweet lip.
    — Hafiz, translated by R. M. Rehdar

  • totallytwitterpated

    Ok so I had to post my favourite verse on here. This is my first post ever on APW!!! It is short, sweet and right to the point. I’m thinking of using it in conjuction with other poem verses & some biblical verses that I love. The end result will be my own creation!Anyways, here it is:

    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half-light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet,
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

  • Sylvia

    This isn’t a patch on the lovely lovely pieces above but I thought I’d share this poem written as a present for my Sister and her husband on their Wedding Day (tucked inside an antique china tea cup from our Grandmother’s tea set)

    Your love is like this china cup
    fragile and treasured
    beautiful and frail
    The chips and cracks of age are not imperfections
    But marks of love

  • Karen

    My absolute favorite poet on love is Kahlil Gibran. His wisdom is just amazing.

    Kahlil Gibran on Love

    When love beckons to you, follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.
    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
    And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams
    as the north wind lays waste the garden.

    For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
    Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
    So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

    Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
    He threshes you to make you naked.
    He sifts you to free you from your husks.
    He grinds you to whiteness.
    He kneads you until you are pliant;
    And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

    All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

    But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
    Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
    Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
    For love is sufficient unto love.

    When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
    And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

    Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
    But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
    To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
    To know the pain of too much tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
    To return home at eventide with gratitude;
    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

    I absolutely love the line “you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

  • Tricia

    I also love this quote from Wendell Berry’s “In the Country of Marriage”

    Sometimes our life reminds me
    of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
    and in that opening a house,
    an orchard and a garden,
    comfortable shades, and flowers
    red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
    made in the light for the light to return to.
    The forest is mostly dark, its way
    to be made anew day after day, the dark
    richer than the light and more blessed
    provided we stay brave
    enough to keep going in.

    It didn’t fit in our ceremony, but I think I may read it as a toast.

  • I thought I’d share our two readings as everyone else is sharing theirs:


    “Red Earth and Pouring Rain”

    What could my mother be to yours?
    What kin my father to yours anyway?
    How did you and I meet ever?
    But in love, our hearts have mingled
    As red earth and pouring rain.”

    (This one is last because the final two lines pack a real punch and we want to end the readings on a bang).

    (Trans. by AK Ramanujan, author unknown, from the 2,000 compendium of Sangam poetry of southern India called the “Kuruntokai”) – we’re having the reader give a short preface on how in the past, marriages were arranged within clans/families, but the message still holds true when you consider the randomness of happening upon deep love in such an unpredictable world).


    “Married Love”

    Julian: 你濃我濃,忒煞情多
    Jennie: You and I have so much love
    Julian: 情多處,熱似火。
    Jennie: That it burns like a fire
    Julian: 把一塊泥,撚一個你,塑一個我。
    Jennie: In which we bake a lump of clay, molded into a figure of you, and a figure of me.
    Julian: 將咱兩個一齊打破,用水調和
    Jennie: Then we take both of them, break them into pieces, and mix the pieces with water
    Julian: 再撚一個你,再塑一個我。
    Jennie: And mold again a figure of you, and a figure of me –
    Julian: 我泥中有你,你泥中有我。
    Jennie: So that I am in your clay and you are in my clay.

    – by Guan Daosheng, a 13th century *female* Chinese poet and artist (considering how hard it was for any woman to gain fame and be noted by historical records, especially not just as the wife of a famous man, we find it significant that Guan was a woman in medieval China

    (It’s not necessary to read the Chinese and the English – we are doing so because many attendees speak Chinese. It works just as well with only the English though).

    And Robert Frost’s “The Master Speed” which I am sure you’ve all heard before.

  • That’s odd – it didn’t post. Lemme try again.

    Julian: 你濃我濃,忒煞情多
    Jennie: You and I have so much love
    Julian: 情多處,熱似火。
    Jennie: That it burns like a fire
    Julian: 把一塊泥,撚一個你,塑一個我。
    Jennie: In which we bake a lump of clay, molded into a figure of you, and a figure of me.
    Julian: 將咱兩個一齊打破,用水調和
    Jennie: Then we take both of them, break them into pieces, and mix the pieces with water
    Julian: 再撚一個你,再塑一個我。
    Jennie: And mold again a figure of you, and a figure of me –
    Julian: 我泥中有你,你泥中有我。
    Jennie: So that I am in your clay and you are in my clay.

    – Guan Daosheng (a female 13th century Chinese artist and poet) (We’re reading with the Chinese because we can but I’ve heard of this poem just being read in English)

  • What could my mother be to yours?
    What kin my father to yours anyway?
    How did you and I meet ever?
    But in love, our hearts have mingled
    As red earth and pouring rain.”

    – author unknown, trans. from the Kuruntokai (a 2,000 year old poetry anthology from southern India) by AK Ramanujan

    We’ll include a preface on how the randomness of love in those days was when you fell in love with someone outside your clan or family, but it’s just as true now – in a huge, unpredictable world, actually finding someone to stay with and love deeply is no less random and no less amazing.

  • Camille

    another one I saved for a friend (it describes them rather well…)

    a romance
    Stephen Dunn

    He called eel grass
    what she called seaweed.
    He insulated their house with it.
    She was interested in
    the transparance of her skin.
    He walled the bathroom
    with barn-siding, he built the couch
    with wood he had chopped.
    She, a friend once said,
    was a calligrapher of the dark.
    He dug a root cellar
    to store vegetables. He built a shack
    for his ducks. Once, while asleep,
    he said “the half-shut eye of the moon.”
    She spoke about the possible
    precision of doubt.
    He knew when the wind changed
    what weather it would bring.

    She baked bread, made jam
    from sugar berries, kept a notebook
    with what she called
    little collections of her breath.
    He said the angle the nail goes in
    is crucial.
    She fed the ducks, called them
    her sentient beings.
    She wondered how one becomes
    a casualty of desire.
    He said a tin roof in summer
    sends back the sun’s heat.
    She made wine from dandelions.
    She once wrote in her notebook
    “the ordinary loveliness of this world.”
    He built a bookcase
    for her books.
    They took long walks.

  • Victoria


  • Kelsey

    This post is super old and this poem will be used on the back of our program rather than read, but this is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Princess.” I read it in Brit Lit in college and fell in love with the message of equality. It’s from a section usually referred to at “The woman’s cause is man’s”:

    ‘Blame not thyself too much,’ I said, ‘nor blame
    Too much the sons of men and barbarous laws;
    These were the rough ways of the world till now.
    Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that know
    The woman’s cause is man’s: they rise or sink
    Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free:
    For she that out of Lethe scales with man
    The shining steps of Nature, shares with man
    His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal,
    Stays all the fair young planet in her hands–
    If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
    How shall men grow? but work no more alone!
    Our place is much: as far as in us lies
    We two will serve them both in aiding her–
    Will clear away the parasitic forms
    That seem to keep her up but drag her down–
    Will leave her space to burgeon out of all
    Within her–let her make herself her own
    To give or keep, to live and learn and be
    All that not harms distinctive womanhood.
    For woman is not undevelopt man,
    But diverse: could we make her as the man,
    Sweet Love were slain: his dearest bond is this,
    Not like to like, but like in difference.
    Yet in the long years liker must they grow;
    The man be more of woman, she of man;
    He gain in sweetness and in moral height,
    Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
    She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
    Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind;
    Till at the last she set herself to man,
    Like perfect music unto noble words;
    And so these twain, upon the skirts of Time,
    Sit side by side, full-summed in all their powers,
    Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be,
    Self-reverent each and reverencing each,
    Distinct in individualities,
    But like each other even as those who love.
    Then comes the statelier Eden back to men:
    Then reign the world’s great bridals, chaste and calm:
    Then springs the crowning race of humankind.
    May these things be!’
    Sighing she spoke ‘I fear
    They will not.’
    ‘Dear, but let us type them now
    In our own lives, and this proud watchword rest
    Of equal; seeing either sex alone
    Is half itself, and in true marriage lies
    Nor equal, nor unequal: each fulfils
    Defect in each, and always thought in thought,
    Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,
    The single pure and perfect animal,
    The two-celled heart beating, with one full stroke,

    • Kelsey

      Well shucks. It got rid of some of the formatting, but you can still understand it.

  • Erynn

    Oh my gosh. Crying at my desk. This is perfect..cannot wait to share it with my fiance and see what he thinks! Thank you!