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Written by Kate Thompson Last updated: May 5, 2015
Wedding poems bring your ceremony to life, with beautiful imagery, emotion or humour. Here is a collection of classic and contemporary poetry, including some lesser known non-rhyming verses and lightly humorous peices that are sure to move your guests and add an extra special element to your wedding day.
For a more formal wedding, classic words of love, written long ago, will never go out of fashion, and they might have been the very readings your own parents or grandparents chose to have read at their weddings in years before.
I Loved You First, by Christina Rossetti
I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.
How Do I Love Thee? Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
From Sonnet 116 in Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
There are some beautiful pieces of contemporary poetry that are every bit as profound as the well-known classics we have all heard before. If lyrical balladry and verse is too formal for your wedding then consider something lightly humorous that is as much a joy to read as amusing to listen to.
I Carry Your Heart With Me By E. E. 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)
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 soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
Come with Me, by Fran Landesman
Sleep with me, wake with me
Give with me, take with me
Love me the way I love you.
Let me get high with you
Laugh with you, cry with you
Be with you when I am blue
Rest with you, fight with you
Day with you, night with you
Love me whatever I do.
Work with me, play with me
Run with me, stay with me
Make me your partner in crime
Handle me, fondle me
Cradle me tenderly
Say I’m your reason and rhyme.
Pray with me, sin with me
Love with me, win with me
Love me with all of my scars
Rise with me, fall with me
Hide from it all with me
Nothing is mine now – it’s ours.
Vow by Roger McGough
I vow to honour the commitment made this day
Which, unlike the flowers and the cake,
Will not wither or decay. A promise, not to obey
But to respond joyfully, to forgive and to console,
For once incomplete, we now are whole.
I vow to bear in mind that if, at times
Things seem to go from bad to worse,
They also go from bad to better.
The lost purse is handed in, the letter
Contains wonderful news. Trains run on time,
Hurricanes run out of breath, floods subside,
And toast lands jam-side up.
And with this ring, my final vow:
To recall, whatever the future may bring,
The love I feel for you now.
Rings by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate
I might have raised your hand to the sky
to give you the ring surrounding the moon
or looked to twin the rings of your eyes
or added a ring to the rings of a tree
by forming a handheld circle with you, thee,
or walked with you
where a ring of church-bells,
looped the fields,
or kissed a lipstick ring on your cheek,
a pressed flower,
or met with you
in the ring of an hour,
and another hour . . .
have opened your palm to the weather, turned, turned,
till your fingers were ringed in rain
or held you close,
they were playing our song,
in the ring of a slow dance
or carved our names
in the rough ring of a heart
or heard the ring of an owl’s hoot
as we headed home in the dark
or the ring, first thing,
of chorussing birds
waking the house
or given the ring of a boat, rowing the lake,
or the ring of swans, monogamous, two,
or the watery rings made by the fish
as they leaped and splashed
or the ring of the sun’s reflection there . . .
I might have tied
a blade of grass,
a green ring for your finger,
or told you the ring of a sonnet by heart
or brought you a lichen ring,
found on a warm wall,
or given a ring of ice in winter
or in the snow
sung with you the five gold rings of a carol
or stolen a ring of your hair
or whispered the word in your ear
that brought us here,
where nothing and no one is wrong,
and therefore I give you this ring.
I Take by Imtiaz Dharker
your body where love takes place
your mouth where my life takes shape
your breath which makes my space
you as you are, for good
you with open arms, to have
you to have
and to hold but not to hold
you for farther for closer
for sooner for later
death tries to get us
and we laugh and we stall
and we tell it to call us some other
fine day because we are busy today
taking our tea with buttered
All I Want by Afurbie
All I want is to love you, for the rest of my life.
I want you to be the one; I’ll wake up every morning with you by my side.
Knowing at no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come to your loving arms.
All I want is to share everything with you.
To be able to talk about our ideas, our dreams and little every day things.
Things that make us laugh, and the not so little things that we can’t help worrying about.
All I want is to give you is my love.
As a place you, can always come to for acceptance.
The simple comfort that silence brings, when things left unspoken, can still be understood.
All I want is to grow old with you, to watch our life unfold.
All I want is to love you forever.
From the Song Dynasty by Nick Drake (For gay weddings)
The tale survives of two men
Who fell in love “at first sight”;
Who shared everything
In unbounded intimacy
Including the pillow
And the red embroidered coverlet
Which had been in the family
Whether they had bad days,
Or inappropriate dreams
We do not know –
No doubt such burrs
Were worked away by time
Polishing its story;
How they found each other
And lived together all their lives,
And died on the same day,
And were buried by the grieving town
On Mount Luofo’s peak
With their pillow and red coverlet;
And a pine tree grew
Out of the grave
Like the character for longevity
And true love.
Such is the legend.
I like to think of them,
Pan Zhang and Wang Zhangxian,
In the crowd of well-wishers
Waiting in the April sunshine,
Yes, under white cherry trees
In full bloom, for us
Here and now, on this day
Early in the century,
In our very best suits and ties,
With our new rings
Growing warm on our fingers
Like keepsakes of light
Saved from the stars.
I’d Choose You, from ‘The Chaos of Stars’ by Kiersten White
And I’d choose you;
in a hundred lifetimes,
in a hundred worlds,
in any version of reality,
I’d find you and I’d choose you.