As a busy Whistler wedding celebrant I come across many wedding poems that couples ask me to read or have a friend or family member read during their wedding ceremony. Some wedding poems are super classic and I see them all the time and accidentally quote them while I dream at night or sometimes use them to sweet talk my lovely wife. Other wedding poems, like the ones I’ve listed below, are a little more off-beat or are rarely used wedding poems and marriage readings. Explore a little deeper into literature and you are certain to find beautiful wedding poems and marriage readings appropriate for your wedding day. All images in this post provided by Leah Kathryn Photo.
8 Example Wedding Poems & Marriage Readings from Literature
1. Wedding Poem From French Romanticism
Victor Hugo’s well-known story of redemption and love in Les Miserables is filled with beautiful images and conversations. Here is a wonderful example, not quite a poem, but written by a famous poet from the French Romantic movement of the 1800’s.
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no longer germinate in it, than a nettle in a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crest of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.
2. Wedding Poem From English Romanticism
English Romanticism has been significantly shaped and influenced by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. A contemporary and friend of Lord Byron, Shelley was a visionary writer whose work was largely underground and unpublished while he lived. Also, his wife wrote Frankenstein, how rad is that?! This wedding poem is titled Love’s Philosophy.
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the river with the ocean:
The winds of heaven fix forever
With a sweet emotion.
Nothing in the world is single.
All things by a love divine
In one another’s being, mingle.
Why not I with thine?
See! The mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another.
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disclaims its brother.
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea.
What are all these kissing’s worth
If thou kiss not me?
3. Wedding Poem From Modern American Literature
I was first introduced to novelist Neil Gaiman through Terry Prachet and their collaboration on a book titled “Small Gods.” Gaiman is an insanely talented writer who doesn’t often provide commentary on love and weddings, but when he does, it’s honest.
Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.
You build up all these defences, you build up a whole suit of armour, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…and you give them a piece of you.
You didn’t ask for it. They something one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t yours anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside of you.
4. Wedding Poem From the Monastery
Thirteenth century poet and theologian Thomas a Kempis is well known for his gifts of contemplation and devotion. I have been personally impacted by his life and writings and so, share this poem with you. This selection is widely known as a wedding poem and is too good not to add to the list.
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good.
Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth.
It bears every hardship as though it were nothing,
And renders all bitterness sweet and acceptable.
Nothing is sweeter than love,
Nothing more pleasant,
Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth.
For love is born of God.
Love flies, runs and leaps for joy.
It is free and unrestrained.
Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil,
Attempts things beyond its strength.
Love sees nothing as impossible, for it is able to achieve all things.
It is strange and effective, while those who lack love faint and fail.
Love is not fickle and sentimental, nor is it intent on vanities.
Like a living flame and a burning torch,
It surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.
5. Wedding Poem From Philosophy
Another person of faith, philosopher Saint Augustine, spoke of love often. His thinking and writing influence much of modern western thought. Here is how he describes love, in a natural and earthy way.
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 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 proclamation 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, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. My love and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen our branches, we found that we were one tree and not two.
6. Wedding Poem from Francis
Keeping with the men-of-faith theme that seems to be developing, meet Saint Francis. Father of the Franciscan movement Francis lived with a wide-open and generous heart and taught his followers to live similar. Though The Prayer of Saint Francis is not a love or wedding poem, it does speak to the continuing act of love and marriage. It can be easily re-worded to be a civil blessing and not a Christian prayer (though I personally think this prayer gets to the heart of the Christian message).
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
7. Wedding Poem from Italy
I first travailed through Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy as a teenager, learned to appreciate it as a young adult, and fell in love with the epic tale while spending time in Italy.
True love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way light rushes into a transparent object. The more love we receive, the more love we shine forth; so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.
Sometimes the first phrase is re-worded: “Love, unutterable and perfect, flows….”
A modern companion text to this (influenced by Plato’s Symposium and the desire for recognition):
Marriage – and in fact every whole relationship – is a search for and a finding of another soul who resonates with our own. It is a recognition of original wholeness, a completeness, and when we see it inside of somebody else something inside of us goes, “Ahhhh, there it is. There I am. Here we are.”
And when our soul suddenly finds resonance with another it is as though we are seeing ourselves again for the first time. And this is maybe one of the great mysteries of love: love allows us to see ourselves whole again, love allows completeness and incompleteness to live in harmony, and love allows wholeness and brokenness, light and dark to share space and for that to be ok. This is love and it is good and what we celebrate in marriage as two lives become one.
8. Wedding Poem From the Internet
Finally, I will give you a modern love poem sometimes used as a wedding poem. By Instagraming poet Tyler Knott Gregson, he picks up the common themes of earth and sea, nature and love and brings them to us in his own unique way.
What if all we have ever wanted isn’t hiding in some secret and far away dream but inside of us now as we breathe one another and find home in the way our arms seem to fit perfectly around the space between us?
What if we are the answer and love was the question? What if all this time it was us you were supposed to find?
I am filled with wonderings, questions, and doubt but of one thing I am certain: it will always be you that gives flight to the butterflies inside me, calm to the sea I have become, and hope to the darkness all around us.
It is you and it has always been you.
You that soothes and excites and spreads joy like rainfall on the already damp earth; You that pulled me from the longest sleep and kissed my tired eyelids awake.
If life is a question mark, then you my love, are the proud and bold period that typed with certainty.
If you come across a strange or obscure wedding poem or marriage reading that you think should be added here, please email me here!