By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 05-16-2021
Many of these wedding poems and readings may already be known to you as they are all freely available in the public domain. (That means they can be used without fear of infringing their author's rights.)
Over the centuries countless couples have included them in their marriage ceremonies because of their enduring wisdom. They resonate now with as much truth as they did when they were first put together. Essential matters, those of the heart, do not change.
Take your time. The page is long and the poems hugely varied in both cultural background and content.
I hope you find something for your special day.
You are my husband, you are my wife
My feet shall run because of you
My feet dance because of you
My heart shall beat because of you
My eyes see because of you
My mind thinks because of you
And I shall love, because of you.
Now we will feel no rain, for each of us will be shelter to the other.
Now we will feel no cold, for each of us will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness.
We are two bodies but there is one life before us, and one home.
When evening falls I will look up and there you'll be.
I'll take your hand and you'll take mine and we'll turn together to look at the road we traveled to reach this - the hour of our happiness.
It stretches behind us as the future lies ahead, a long and winding road whose every turning means discovery, old hopes, new laughter, and shared tears.
The adventure has just begun.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
I want to be your friend forever and ever
When the hills are all flat
and the rivers run dry,
When the trees blossom in winter
and the snow falls in summer,
when heaven and earth mix -
not till then will I part from you.
(See this poem used as the perfect ending for a 50th anniversary toast.)
When two people are at one
in their inmost hearts,
they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.
And when two people understand each other
in their inmost hearts,
their words are sweet and strong,
like the fragrance of orchids.
What is well planted will not be torn up.
What is well kept will not escape.
Whosoever leaves their memory to their children will not fade away.
Whosoever molds their person, their life becomes true.
Whosoever molds their family, their life becomes complete.
Whosoever molds their community, their life will grow.
Look to this day!
For it is life,
The very life of life ...
For yesterday is only a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope!
Take a lump of clay, wet it, pat it,
And make an image of me, and an image of you.
Then smash them, crash them, and add a little water.
Break them and remake them into an image of you,
And an image of me.
Then in my clay, there's a little of you.
And in your clay, there's a little of me.
And nothing ever shall us sever;
Living, we'll sleep in the same quilt,
And dead, we'll be buried together.
A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more
than you love me?
The beloved replied,
I have died to myself
and I live for you.
I’ve disappeared from myself
and my attributes.
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learning,
but from knowing you
I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
but from your power
I am able.
If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.
(Who for his sake wished herself younger)
Here are two births; the one when light
First strikes the new awaken'd sense;
The other when two souls unite,
And we must count our life from thence:
When you loved me and I loved you
Then both of us were born anew.
Love then to us new souls did give
And in those souls did plant new powers;
Since when another life we live,
The breath we breathe is his, not ours:
Love makes those young whom age doth chill
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give re-competence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere
That when we live no more, we may live ever
Anne Bradstreet (c.1612-1672)
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:
Oh, 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.
O my Love's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Love's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.
As fair art, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I;
And I will love still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will love still, my dear,
While the sands o' time shall run.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting;
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best, which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
Rupert Brooke (1887–1915)
“Oh! Love,” they said, “is King of Kings,
And Triumph is his crown.
Earth fades in flame before his wings,
And Sun and Moon bow down.”
But that, I knew, would never do;
And Heaven is all too high.
So whenever I meet a Queen, I said,
I will not catch her eye.
“Oh! Love,” they said, and “Love,” they said,
“The gift of Love is this;
A crown of thorns about thy head,
And vinegar to thy kiss!”
But Tragedy is not for me;
And I’m content to be gay.
So whenever I spied a Tragic Lady,
I went another way.
And so I never feared to see
You wander down the street,
Or come across the fields to me
On ordinary feet.
For what they’d never told me of,
And what I never knew;
It was that all the time, my love,
Love would be merely you.
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Come, live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies.
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shephards' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.
George Herbert (1593-1633)
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack'd any thing.
A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, you shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.
Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321)
In that book which is
My memory . . .
On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words . . .
Here begins a new life.
Sir Philip Sidney (1554 - 1586)
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his.
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
Light, so low upon earth,
You send a flash to the sun.
Here is the golden close of love,
All my wooing is done.
Oh, the woods and the meadows,
Woods where we hid from the wet,
Stiles where we stay'd to be kind,
Meadows in which we met!
Light, so low in the vale
You flash and lighten afar,
For this is the golden morning of love,
And you are his morning star.
Flash, I am coming, I come,
By meadow and stile and wood,
Oh, lighten into my eyes and heart,
Into my heart and my blood!
Heart, are you great enough
For a love that never tires?
O heart, are you great enough for love?
I have heard of thorns and briers.
Over the thorns and briers,
Over the meadows and stiles,
Over the world to the end of it
Flash for a million miles.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning(1806-1861)
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
"I love her for her smile - her look - her way
Of speaking gently, - for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day" -
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayest love on, through love's eternity.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning(1806-1861)
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 everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
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.
Ralph Emerson (1803-1882)
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the muse;
'Tis a brave master,
Let it have scope,
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope;
High and more high,
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
But 'tis a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
'Tis not for the mean,
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Such 'twill reward,
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.
Leave all for love;
Yet, hear me, yet,
One word more thy heart behoved,
One pulse more of firm endeavor,
Keep thee to-day,
To-morrow, for ever,
Free as an Arab
Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid;
But when the surprise,
Vague shadow of surmise,
Flits across her bosom young
Of a joy apart from thee,
Free be she, fancy-free,
Do not thou detain a hem,
Nor the palest rose she flung
From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself,
As a self of purer clay,
Tho' her parting dims the day,
Stealing grace from all alive,
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.
William Morris (1834-1896)
Love is enough: though the world be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the skies be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter:
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
John Clare (1793 - 1864)
I sleep with thee and wake with thee
And yet thou art not there;
I fill my arms with thoughts of thee-
And press the common air.
Thy eyes are gazing upon mine
When thou art out of sight,
My lips are always touching thine
At morning, noon, and night.
I think and speak of other things
To keep my mind at rest,
But still to thee my memory clings
Like love in woman's breast.
I hide it from the world's wide eye
And think and speak contrary;
But soft the wind comes from the sky
And whispers tales of Mary.
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels,
but have not love,
I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.
And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
And if I dole out all my goods, and
if I deliver my body that I may boast
but have not love, nothing I am profited.
Love is long suffering,
love is kind,
it is not jealous,
love does not boast,
it is not inflated.
It is not discourteous,
it is not selfish,
it is not irritable,
it does not enumerate the evil.
It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth
It covers all things,
it has faith for all things,
it hopes in all things,
it endures in all things.
Love never falls in ruins;
but whether prophecies, they will be abolished; or
tongues, they will cease; or
knowledge, it will be superseded.
For we know in part and we prophecy in part.
But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.
When I was an infant,
I spoke as an infant,
I reckoned as an infant;
when I became an adult,
I abolished the things of the infant.
For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know as also I was fully known.
But now remains
faith, hope, love,
but the greatest of these is love.
Let us love one another:
For love is of God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God;
For God is love.
God is love:
And he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,
And God in him.
Perfect love casteth out fear.
This brings my wedding poems and readings collection to a close.
I hope you've found what you wanted!