21 Real Poems to Read at your Wedding

Updated: Apr 21, 2019


If, like me, you love poetry, it's hard to imagine your wedding ceremony without a poetic reading or two but it's so difficult to find the right one.

When I was planning my wedding, I thought it would be easy to choose the perfect reading but whenever I found a poem I loved I'd find a problem too.

Here are a few excerpts from my train of thought during this time:

1) Won't people assume the speaker in the poem is me or David and then won't they be confused if there's a detail that doesn't match our exact biographies? (NB - the answer is no!)

2) This poem might be hauntingly lovely when you've sat down and read it five times but would it make any sense to a diverse audience on one reading?

3) Why do half these poems need to throw in overtly sexual references? My parents will be there!

4) Why do the other half always have to end with death?

5) Is there a way you can exclude horrible, cringey greetings card 'poems' from your search results? (Answer: I have never found a way to do this - please tell me if you do!)

6) Why does almost every blog that promises 'different' or 'unusual' wedding poems have all the same poems in them?

Well, I concluded it's just a numbers game - you have to efficiently search through as many potential candidates as possible, not wasting time on the ones that don't do it for you. (It's actually remarkably similar to the strategy I used to find the husband in the first place.)

So, if you're currently reading through lots of love poems until you find one that resonates with you, here are few more ideas. I do hope you haven't seen them all before on other blogs - I did find them in real printed books, rather than just copy and pasting! I haven't written you any commentary or analysis because - well to be honest I don't think you'll read it!

So, here it is, my selection of wedding poems - written by real poets and the odd songwriter, but definitely not by anyone working for Hallmark. The poems in this selection are mainly fairly short, accessible and quite romantic (with a small 'r').

If you've got some great ideas for love poems to read at weddings, please share them in the comments!

Resignation


by Nikki Giovanni

I love you

because the Earth turns round the sun

because the North wind blows north

sometimes

because the Pope is Catholic

and most Rabbis Jewish

because the 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

Love Listen

By Ann Gray

Let’s love, listen, take time when time is all we have. Let’s be unafraid to be kind, learn to disregard the bad if the good outweighs it daily. Let’s make a gift of silence, the day’s hushing into dark, and when we hold each other let’s always be astonished we are where we want to be. Let’s hope to age together, but if we can’t, let’s promise now to remember how we shone when we were at our best, when we were most ourselves.

Habitation

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 First Poems

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Understand, I’ll slip quietly

Away from the noisy crowd

When I see the pale

Stars rising, blooming over the oaks

I’ll pursue solitary pathways

Through the pale twilit meadows,

With only this one dream:

You come too.

So in Love

by Cole Porter

Strange, dear

But true, dear

When I'm close to you, dear

The stars fill the sky

So in love with you am I

Even without you

My arms fold about you

You know, darling, why

So in love with you am I

In love with the night mysterious

The night when you first were there

In love with my joy, delirious

When I knew that you could care

So taunt me

And hurt me

Deceive me, desert me

I'm yours 'til I die

So in love

So in love

So in love with you my love

Am I

Taunt me

And hurt me

Deceive me

Desert me

I'm yours 'til I die

So in love

So in love

So in love

So in love

So in love with you my love

My love

Am I

Let Me Put It This Way

by Simon Armitage

Let me put it this way:

if you came to lay

your sleeping head

against my arm or sleeve,

and if my arm went dead,

or if I had to take my leave

at midnight, I should rather

cleave it from the joint or seam

than make a scene

or bring you round

There,

how does that sound?

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.

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

Nuptials

by John Agard

River, be their teacher,

that together they may turn

their future highs and lows

into one hopeful flow

Two opposite shores

feeding from a single source.

Mountain, be their milestone,

that hand in hand they rise above

familiarity's worn tracks

into horizons of their own

Two separate footpaths

dreaming of a common peak.

Birdsong, be their mantra,

that down the frail aisles of their days,

their twilight hearts twitter morning

and their dreams prove branch enough.

Not Anyone Who Says
by Mary Oliver

Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be careful and smart in matters of love,” who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,” but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all but were, as it were, chosen by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable and beautiful and possibly even unsuitable — only those know what I’m talking about in this talking about love.

The Romance

by Shel Silverstein

Said the pelican to the elephant, “I think we should marry, I do. ’Cause there’s no name that rhymes with me, And no one else rhymes with you.”

Said the elephant to the pelican, “There’s sense to what you’ve said, For rhyming’s as good a reason as any For any two to wed.”

And so the elephant wed the pelican, And they dined upon lemons and limes, And now they have a baby pelicant, And everybody rhymes.

A Word to Husbands

by Ogden Nash

To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you’re wrong, admit it; Whenever you’re right, shut up.

Hug O’ War

by Shel Silverstein