Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples

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Thanks to Neil Girling for submitting this photo to the Offbeat Bride Flickr pool.

I've started my search for some offbeat readings for my wedding in October…

Have you compiled a list anywhere of readings from modern literature, songs, etc that are a little edgier and more current than the traditional?

-Buster

If you're looking for readings that have a few less thou shalts than your typical wedding material, here are a few of my very favorites, which include references to science-fiction vampires, insomnia, and red right ankles.

From "First Poems," 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.

Our Union, by Hafiz From "Love Poems from God," Daniel Ladinsky (ed), c2002

Our union is like this:

You feel cold so I reach for a blanket to cover
our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body
so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.

You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance and
I quickly kneel by your side offering you
a whole book as a
gift.

You ache with loneliness one night so much
you weep, and I say

here is a rope, tie it around me,
Hafiz will be your
companion
for life.

Red Right Ankle by the decemberists

this is the story of your red right ankle
and how it came to meet your leg
and how the muscle bone and sinews tangled
and how the skin was softly shaped
and how it whispered 'oh, adhere to me
for we are bound by symmetry
and whatever differences our lives have been
we together make a limb'
this is the story of your red right ankle

To Love is Not to Possess, by James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

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 hearts longing.

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

It doesn't interest me what planets are square in 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 down from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving, to hide it, 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 ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or 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 yourself;
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful 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 life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the moon in God's presence.

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 a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know, or how you came 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 empty moments.

Adrienne Rich, 21 Love Poems

Whenever in this city, screens flicker
with pornography, with science-fiction vampires,
victimized hirelings bending to the lash,
we also have to walk…if simply as we walk
through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties
of our own neighborhoods.
We need to grasp our lives inseparable
from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,
and the red begonia perilously flashing
from a tenement sill six stories high,
or the long-legged young girls playing ball
in the junior highschool playground.
No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.

From The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

I want to hold you close like a lute, so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror, and here are the stones.

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
Spider's WebDimly 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.

From The Irrational Season
By Madeleine L'Engle

But ultimately 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.

'The Book of Love' by Stephen Merritt (The Magnetic Fields)
From the album 69 Love Songs

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It's full of charts and facts and figures
and instructions for dancing

But I, I love it when you read to me
And you, you can read me anything

The book of love has music in it
In fact that's where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

But I, I love it when you sing to me
And you you can sing me anything

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know

But I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings

I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings

…and that's just the tip of the iceberg! We've got more readings here, and I'd love to invite my readers to share their favorite modern, non-"thou shalt" readings in the comments …

  1. How appropriate for the kindergarten teacher krowd…or, conversely, the Wall Street set just itching to shed their stodgy shell and fingerpaint for a living:

    The Gorilla Song, by Raffi

    One, two,
    A one two kazoo

    If I were a gorilla,
    la la la la la
    I'd eat me a banana.
    na na na na na
    I'd live in a treehouse
    And swing on a vine,
    But one thing is sure:
    I would love ya,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    And if I were a tuba,
    ba ba ba ba ba
    All I'd do is oompah.
    pah pah pah pah pah
    I would take a big breath,
    And I would march in a band,
    But one thing is sure:
    I would love ya,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    'Cause it don't matter to me-
    Whatever you happen to be;
    An eagle,
    An onion,
    A pig or a grape,
    As long as you're you,
    I will love ya.
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    And if I were a space ship,
    ip ip ip ip ip
    I would take a long trip.
    rip rip rip rip rip
    I would circle the planets
    And head for the stars,
    And then I'd come home,
    'Cause I love ya.
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    And if I were a daisy,
    sy sy sy sy sy
    Would you still be my baby?
    by by by by by
    I would pull all my petals out,
    One at a time,
    And always come up with
    I love ya
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    'Cause it don't matter to me-
    Whatever you happen to be;
    A beagle,
    A grunion,
    A fig or an ape,
    As long as you're you,
    I'll still love ya.
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
    Ba-bum-bump.

    2 agree
  2. This September I'm getting married and the first song will probablt be "If it's the Beaches" by the Avett Brothers. Here is an excerpt from it.

    "If it's the beaches
    If it's the beaches' sands you want
    Then you will have them
    If it's the mountains' bending rivers
    Then you will have them
    If it's the wish to run away
    Then I will grant it
    Take whatever what you think of
    While I go gas up the truck
    Pack the old love letters up
    We will read them when we forget why we left here"

    1 agrees
  3. I did a reading at a friend's wedding recently – Us Two, by A.A. Milne. I thought it was a gorgeous choice, though I did get a wee bit teary!

    Us Two

    Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
    There's always Pooh and Me.
    Whatever I do, he wants to do,
    "Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
    "Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
    Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
    "Let's go together," says Pooh.

    "What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
    ("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
    "I think it ought to be twenty-two."
    "Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
    "It wasn't an easy sum to do,
    But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
    "That's what it is," said Pooh.

    "Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
    "Yes, let's," said Pooh to Me.
    We crossed the river and found a few-
    "Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
    "As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
    That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
    "That's what they are," said Pooh.

    "Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
    "That's right," said Pooh to Me.
    "I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
    And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
    Silly old dragons!"- and off they flew.

    "I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
    "I'm never afraid with you."

    So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
    There's always Pooh and Me.
    "What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
    "If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
    It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
    Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. "That's how it is," says Pooh.

    1 agrees
  4. This may sound a little silly, but can anyone think of a Harry Potter reading?

    1 agrees
    • there is one on indiebride.com…it is the description of the preparations for Fleur and Bill's wedding and it's darling

      2 agree
  5. We'll use these lines somewhere in our ceremony in three months (probably somewhere in our vows, and then printed in the program as well):

    "i would not wish
    Any companion in the world but you."

    -Shakespeare, "The Tempest"

    Perfect, simple, lovely.

    3 agree
  6. After much searching, we finally found a sweet, non-pretentious and child-like reading for our personalized wedding. Perfect for all dog-lovers. p.s. an epithalamion is a poem written for a bride on her wedding day.

    Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog
    An Epithalamion by Taylor Mali

    First of all, it's a big responsibility,
    especially in a city like Washington, DC.
    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 gonna mess with you.

    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.

    Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
    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.

    8 agree
  7. I really like a lot of the passages that everyone posted, although for the most part I'm not really feelin them for ceremony readings – instead, I'm going to use the ones I like in a book of poetry that I've been wanting to make as a gift for my fiance for a while now. Thanks for the great ideas everyone!

  8. My favorite is a piece of slam poetry by Taylor Mali. It's called "Falling in love is like owning a dog."

    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.

    3 agree
  9. I fell in love with this poem working on a play of Wendell Berry poems. I nearly cried everytime the actors rehearsed it. It totally describes where we hope our future takes us.
    We plan to have 2 people read it together, alternating sentences.

    The Blue Robe
    by Wendell Berry

    How joyful to be together, alone
    as when we first were joined
    in our little house by the river
    long ago, except that now we know
    each other, as we did not then;
    and now instead of two stories fumbling
    to meet, we belong to one story
    that the two, joining, made. And now
    we touch each other with the tenderness
    of mortals, who know themselves:
    how joyful to feel the heart quake
    at the sight of a grandmother,
    old friend in the morning light,
    beautiful in her blue robe!

    3 agree
  10. I love the song "Anniversary" by Voltaire. Almost want it as a first song but afraid of it making me cry — it has done that before. :P

    Do I look the same to you? 'Cause I don't feel so.
    You know everything must change as time goes by.
    Though it feels like yesterday when we first met.
    I feel I'm sinking deeper.
    Do you look the same to me? Well, I don't think so.
    You know everything must change as time goes by.
    Like the flowers that dry, locking inside
    forever their beauty.

    And they said this feeling fades,
    it gets stronger everyday.
    And they said that beauty fades.
    You're more beautiful than ever.
    They said we'd drift away,
    we're still standing here.
    And it feels like everyday is our anniversary.

    Well, I stumble through the dark and light a candle
    and the path the wax will take, no one can know.
    And you said it looked like snow or maybe clouds,
    and I think it looks like heaven.
    So we make it into a ring and make a mold.
    And we welt above the flames the whitest gold.
    When hot and cold collide what's left in place
    is forever and ever.
    Some say things worth having take some time.
    As they get older they get better

    6 agree
  11. We used this for our wedding…

    Cat Heaven, by Jets to Brazil

    In the dream that awakened me,
    you had come and taken me to a sea of stars.
    The cat stood in the flowers, two ears above.
    And the ground that was under me
    was holding me so wonderfully on a bed of leaves
    and you were there with me and we were free.
    Everything we saw was beautiful and strong
    and I knew we belonged.
    Then the birds came and carried us to the sky
    and married us on a bed of stars
    where I was always yours and you were mine.
    And in the long black eternity
    I loved you so perfectly in the words of clouds,
    like a bird sings to his flowers
    and I was heard.
    Everything I saw was everything I'd want
    and this world had just begun to live.

    2 agree
  12. Long time fan of John Cooper Clarke so ours is:

    I Wanna Be Yours…

    I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
    breathing in your dust
    I wanna be your Ford Cortina
    I will never rust
    If you like your coffee hot
    let me be your coffee pot
    You call the shots
    I wanna be yours

    I wanna be your raincoat
    for those frequent rainy days
    I wanna be your dreamboat
    when you want to sail away
    Let me be your teddy bear
    take me with you anywhere
    I don’t care
    I wanna be yours

    I wanna be your electric meter
    I will not run out
    I wanna be the electric heater
    you’ll get cold without
    I wanna be your setting lotion
    hold your hair in deep devotion
    Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
    that’s how deep is my devotion

    2 agree
  13. My favorite is Shel Silverstein's "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O".

    Some excerpts:

    "It was missing a piece
    And it was not happy
    So it set off in search
    of its missing piece"

    ""Hi!" It said.
    "Hi!" said the piece
    "Are you anybody else's missing piece?"
    "Not that I know of."
    "Well, maybe you want to be your own piece?"
    "I can be someone's and still be my own."
    "Well, Maybe you don't want to be mine."
    "Maybe I do!"
    "Maybe we won't fit…"
    "Well…"

    "Hummmmm?"
    "Ummmmmm?"

    It fit
    It fit perfectly
    At last! At last!"

    5 agree
  14. I plan to use this as one of our readings, and still looking for a second.

    “Union” 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 promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with "When we're married" and continued with "I will and you will and we will" – 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 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, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.

    36 agree
  15. Here is a poem I intend to use at our upcoming wedding:

    A Marriage by Michael Blumenthal (for Margie Smigel and Jon Dopkeen)
    You are holding up a ceiling
    with both arms. It is very heavy,
    but you must hold it up, or else
    it will fall down on you. Your arms
    are tired, terribly tired,
    and, as the day goes on, it feels
    as if either your arms or the ceiling
    will soon collapse.

    But then,
    unexpectedly,
    something wonderful happens:
    Someone,
    a man or a woman,
    walks into the room
    and holds their arms up
    to the ceiling beside you.

    So you finally get
    to take down your arms.
    You feel the relief of respite,
    the blood flowing back
    to your fingers and arms.
    And when your partner’s arms tire,
    you hold up your own
    to relieve him again.

    And it can go one like this
    for many years
    without the house failing.

    5 agree
  16. I'm lovin the idea of someone doing a reading with Dr. Seuss. I just wish I knew people who would do it. lol

    1 agrees
  17. Such wonderful readings! You have awesomely creative readers! Trust I'll be poring over these for inspiration!!

  18. A Serenity Quote, Where the sidewalk ends and a request for Harry Potter. Now I am home. Thank you all so much for the lovely ideas, and congrats to all the new offbeat brides out there!

    3 agree
  19. Jeffrey mcdaniel never fails to be simultaneously witty & tremendously talented…this is a poem he wrote for some friends upon their engagement, beautiful stuff:

    The Archipelago of Kisses

    We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don't
    grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
    does one find love? When you're sixteen it's easy,
    like being unleashed with a credit card
    in a department store of kisses. There's the first kiss.
    The sloppy kiss. The peck.
    The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
    shouldn't be doing this kiss. The but your lips
    taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
    The I wish you'd quit smoking kiss.
    The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
    sometimes kiss. The I know
    your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
    older, kisses become scarce. You'll be driving
    home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
    with its purple thumb out. If you
    were younger, you'd pull over, slide open the mouth's
    red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
    does one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.
    Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
    Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
    Now what? Don't invite the kiss over
    and answer the door in your underwear. It'll get suspicious
    and stare at your toes. Don't water the kiss with whiskey.
    It'll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
    but in the morning it'll be ashamed and sneak out of
    your body without saying good-bye,
    and you'll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
    on the inside of your mouth. You must
    nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
    illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
    and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
    special beach. Place it on the tongue's pillow,
    then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
    a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
    But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
    intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
    The I'll love you through a brick wall kiss.
    Even when I'm dead, I'll swim through the Earth,
    like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.

    1 agrees
  20. Here's a great one:

    Facets of Marriage by Derek Rumpf

    Marriage is like a diamond, many facets both dark and light
    One thing to balance another, as the day does for the night.

    The union of a couple is indeed a wonderful thing,
    Yet remember the sweet and salt, whatever life may bring.

    The perfume of the rose, brings to you an olfactory treat,
    But the dishes left undone, can they not smell just as sweet?

    The letter left handwritten, such nostalgia and romance,
    The text message comes through, “Can you pick up milk by chance?”

    Shouting love over the rooftops, for all the world to hear,
    The seat was left straight up, “Who used it last my dear?”

    The flower petals on the floor, set a scene with romantic air,
    But forget them not those socks and pants strewn about with equal flair.

    A gourmet meal before you, what a scrumptious, wondrous feast,
    Yet mac and cheese with hotdogs, this still feeds a hungry beast.

    One time spending money, on a wonderful, fanciful thing,
    Another time scraping by, to escape the mortgage sting.

    At home and trading stories of the goings-on of the day,
    It’s time to do some house chores, “Must we get to that today?”

    There you stand fit-as-a-fiddle, my what a handsome pair,
    Now stand you soft-in-the-middle, breathless at the stair.

    Vacationing in a far off place, with palm trees all around,
    Working hard for most of the year, with no time to be found.

    Yes, the union of a couple, is indeed a wonderful thing,
    Yet remember the sweet and salt, whatever life may bring.

    Whether perfect or disorderly, fair skies or fowl, harsh weather,
    It’s all part of the program, you just have to do it together.

    2 agree
  21. My favorite is this, as it speaks to the work involved in a marriage:

    Scaffolding
    Seamus Heaney

    Masons, when they start upon a building,
    Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

    Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
    Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

    And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
    Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

    So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
    Old bridges breaking between you and me

    Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
    Confident that we have built our wall.

    6 agree
  22. The Challenge

    This marriage is a determination, to be sustained by love.
    This marriage is an aspiration, to be upheld by love.
    This marriage is an intention, to invite love.
    This marriage is a quest, to appreciate love.
    This marriage is a question, answered by love.
    This marriage is a statement, to honour love.
    This marriage is a request, to be grateful for love.

    This love is this marriage.
    It is humble, it is most noble.
    It is most delicate and it is mighty.
    By its strength may we be tempered.
    By its gentleness may we learn,
    And by love may we prove true.

  23. “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.
    Perhaps that is what
    Being a friend means,
    After all.”

    4 agree
  24. Oh the Places You’ll Go – Dr Seuss

    Congratulations! Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places!
    You’re off and away!
    You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the couple who’ll decide where to go.
    You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
    About some you will say,
    “We don’t choose to go there.”
    With your heads full of brains
    and your shoes full of feet,
    you’re too smart to go down,
    any not-so-good street.
    And you may not find any
    you’ll want to go down.
    In that case, of course,
    you’ll head straight out of town.
    It’s opener there
    in the wide open air,
    Out there things can happen
    and frequently do
    to people as brainy
    and footsy as you.
    And when things start to happen,
    don’t worry. Don’t stew.
    Just go right along.
    You’ll start happening too.
    OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
    You’ll be on your way up!
    You’ll be seeing great sights!
    You’ll join the high fliers
    who soar to great heights!
    You won’t lag behind,
    because you’ll have all the speed.
    You’ll pass the whole gang,
    and you’ll soon take the lead.
    Wherever you fly
    you’ll be best of the best.
    Wherever you go,
    you will top all the rest.
    Except when you don’t.
    Because sometimes, you won’t.
    You’ll get mixed up of course,
    as you already know.
    You’ll get mixed up with so many strange birds as you go.
    So be sure when you step.
    Step with great care and great tact
    and remember that Life’s
    a Great Balancing Act.
    Just never forget
    to be dexterous and deft.
    And never mix up your right foot with your left.
    And will you succeed?
    Yes! You will indeed!
    (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
    KIDS, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
    So, be your name Buxbaum or Dowrie
    or Bassor Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to great places!Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting.
    So … get on your way!"

    1 agrees
  25. I found this for ours & it still brings tears to my eyes in its simple truth:

    The Beauty of Love (Anonymous)
    The question is asked: “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?” And the answer is given: “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired but still strong with love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old Love.”

    Also- Don Williams' song- You're My Best Friend
    You placed gold on my finger
    You brought love like I've never known
    You'll give life to our children
    And to me, a reason to go on.

    When I need hope and inspiration
    You're always strong when I'm tired and weak
    I could search this whole world over
    You'd still be everything that I need.

    You're my bread when I'm hungry
    You're my shelter from troubled winds
    You're my anchor in life's ocean
    But most of all, you're my best friend

    4 agree
  26. This is a reading for the secular, science-y folk. It's adapted from on of my favorite books, "Woman: An Intimate Geography" by Natalie Angier.

    The circuitries of love and attachment are everywhere within us. No sense is left unseized. Babies play on this by being pleasing to the eye—by being almost too cute, literally, to bear. Human babies arrive pre-fattened, and the reason for this is unclear; gorilla babies are born with almost no fat on them, and the extra bulk of a human baby makes birth harder for the mother.
    Perhaps babies are fat simply to make them look adorable. The visual seductions of a baby, a chubby, soft, rounded baby with its fleshy arms and thighs, may magnify the baby’s power to win the warmth and the touch of its mother.
    Rounded too is the sound of love, the rising and falling voice with which we coo at babies and a mate. As adults, we co-opt the warmth of baby talk to win a lover’s affections. We step ontogenically backward, offering coos, swoops, and warm nicknames of our own invention.
    Touch also conveys warmth. We stroke and dance with our lovers, we stroke and rock our infants—just the thought of rocking our babies fills us with warmth and joy. We instinctively know the right way to stroke someone—too fast, that’s irritating, too slow, that’s dull. Other mammals lick their pups or kittens, and babies nuzzle into it—this is as lovely as life will be.
    Smell too is a subcognitive minister, preaching bonds we are at a loss to describe or understand. We know the way our lover smells. A person who is anosmic—who has no sense of smell—can feel lust, but has difficulty forming attachments. A scent can trigger a memory, an image, or an emotion, whether it is the smell of our lover’s perfume or our grandmother’s pumpkin pie.
    We humans can maintain with just our minds the neuronal state of attachment. We have photographs. We have friends who mention the loved one. We walk the same streets and eat in the same restaurants where we once strolled and dined with the loved one. Again and again, the circuitries of love are reignited, and our minds protect the pathways of attachment. We don’t understand all of the endocrinology, the neuroanatomy, or the biochemistry of love. But we know it when we feel it. And we feel it here today.

    3 agree
  27. Friendship By Elizabeth Jennings

    Such love I cannot analyse;
    It does not rest in lips or eyes,
    Neither in kisses nor caress.
    Partly, I know, it’s gentleness

    And understanding in one word
    Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
    By trust and by respect and awe.
    These are the words I’m feeling for.

    Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
    The giving comes, the taking ends
    There is no measure for such things.
    For this all Nature slows and sings.

    Friendship By Elizabeth Jennings

    Such love I cannot analyse;
    It does not rest in lips or eyes,
    Neither in kisses nor caress.
    Partly, I know, it’s gentleness

    And understanding in one word
    Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
    By trust and by respect and awe.
    These are the words I’m feeling for.

    Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
    The giving comes, the taking ends
    There is no measure for such things.
    For this all Nature slows and sings.

    That First Day By Christina Rossetti

    I wish I could remember, that first day,
    First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
    If bright or dim the season, it might be
    Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
    So unrecorded did it slip away,
    So blind was I to see and to foresee,
    So dull to mark the budding of my tree
    That would not blossom yet for many a May.
    If only I could recollect it, such
    A day of days! I let it come and go
    As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
    It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
    If only now I could recall that touch,
    First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!

    http://www.weddingreads.com/wedding_readings/ helped me alot :-)

  28. By Dorothy Day:

    We confess to being fools and wish that we were more so. In the face of the approaching atom bomb test (and discussion of widespread radioactivity is giving people more and more of an excuse to get away from the philosophy of personalism and the doctrine of free will); in the face of an approaching maritime strike; in the face of bread shortages and housing shortages; in the face of the passing of the draft extension, teenagers included, we face the situation that there is nothing we can do for people except to love them. If the maritime strike goes on there will be no shipping of food or medicine or clothes to Europe or the Far East, so there is nothing to do again but to love. We continue in our 14th year of feeding our brothers and sisters, clothing them and sheltering them, and the more we do it, the more we realize that the most important thing is to love. There are several families with us, destitute families, destitute to an unbelievable extent, and there, too, is nothing to do but to love. What I mean is that there is no chance of rehabilitation, no chance, so far as we see, of changing them; certainly no chance of adjusting them to this abominable world about them, — and who wants them adjusted, anyway?
    What we would like to do is change the world-make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, and the poor, of the destitute-the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words-we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world.

    We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and dear God-please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.

  29. at my sister's wedding i read this by Pam Ayres ( I got quite a few laughs even though I was so nervous!) her friends also did a performance recital of the lovely love story (dinosaur story) by edward monkton with big laminated pages from the book held up,

    Yes, I'll Marry You
    Pam Ayres

    Yes, I'll marry you, my dear,
    And here's the reason why;
    So I can push you out of bed
    When the baby starts to cry,
    And if we hear a knocking
    And it's creepy and it's late,
    I hand you the torch you see,
    And you investigate.

    Yes I'll marry you, my dear,
    You may not apprehend it,
    But when the tumble-drier goes
    It's you that has to mend it,
    You have to face the neighbour
    Should our labrador attack him,
    And if a drunkard fondles me
    It's you that has to whack him.

    Yes, I'll marry you,
    You're virile and you're lean,
    My house is like a pigsty
    You can help to keep it clean.
    That sexy little dinner
    Which you served by candlelight,
    As I do chipolatas,
    You can cook it every night!

    It's you who has to work the drill
    and put up curtain track,
    And when I've got PMT it's you who gets the flak,
    I do see great advantages,
    But none of them for you,
    And so before you see the light,
    I do, I do, I do!

    3 agree
  30. thank you so much!!! I have been looking for a great reading for weeks and i found one here!

  31. I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan and he wrote this poem for a friend's wedding and I think it's great and plan to use it at my 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

    BTW-I love this website and i'm so addicted to it.

    1 agrees
  32. I'm not so much for the outright mushiness, but I have always adored this little poem- perhaps for the order of service :)

    Sharing one umbrella,
    We have to hold each other,
    Round the waist to keep together,
    You ask me why I'm smiling-
    It's because I'm thinking,
    I want it to rain forever.

    —-Vicki Feaver

    6 agree
  33. These are great. I love Bill Bryson and am getting married in the woods. Anybody figured out a way to incorporate his writing into a cermony reading?

    • In his book "Notes from a Small Island," Bryson tells the story of how he met his wife, and praises his in-laws relentlessly, in case you want to have a moment to acknowledge yours, in or out of the ceremony. Of all his other books, you're most likely to find something wedding-appropriate in A Short History of Nearly Everything, as he remarks several times on unlikely successes or unexpected events. He also talks about how deeply Darwin loved his wife. I'd say your second best bet is In a Sunburned Country, because he talks a lot about thriving in hardship in that one, and beauty in the midst of inhospitable circumstances. A Walk in the Woods mostly focuses on him being miserable or terrified, so that one's up to you ;)

      Sorry I can't be more specific, but please post whatever you find — I've loved Bryson since I was 14, and one of the major things my fiancé and I bonded over was how much he loved Bryson once I introduced him to his books.

      1 agrees
  34. I'm so glad I looked through this post again. I've found a couple of readings that might just work for our wedding!

    And just to let you know: It seems the Kvetch section of Indiebride.com is down right now. I tried to access it on the weekend and got an error page, and when I tried to go to Kvetch directly (bookmarked), I got a blank page. So I'm not sure if they're doing work on it or not.

  35. I love this! I've never heard it before and I love it! Thank you!

    2 agree
  36. Another idea: Kahlil Gibran! I wish I had gotten to know him in the era he lived in, he must have been one hell of a guy :)
    I love what he writes about marriage (amongst other things):

    On Marriage
    Kahlil Gibran

    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

    http://www.katsandogz.com/onmarriage.html

    2 agree
  37. Here are a bunch from a great collection of poetry by Robert Priest called "Reading the Bible Backwards"

    I LOVE A METAZOAN

    Mitochondrial poetry
    Mother-mediated matter
    Multiply made and scattered
    Like data in transition
    In packets from node to node
    Tracking the human
    Diaspora
    Genome by genome

    And so I love a metazoan
    She got her structure from bacteria
    Her cells are full of manic replications
    I am prone to doting on her gestures
    Apparently encoded
    To act this way through the honeycomb
    Inside honeycomb inside
    Hive after hive
    Of genome
    In the genome
    Yes I love her
    Like the last Russian doll
    Like the last colour at the heart of a ~blackball
    She exudes chemicals
    Catalysts, her scripts finish mine
    Scratching the graffiti
    Inside our skins
    To hypertext
    Till they connect
    Mind to mind
    To take us both somewhere
    Inescapable
    Fast

    And so we are as the codes command
    I am the father of a trillion typewriters
    And she is the mother of all hands

    4 agree
  38. Here's a poem that I LOVE. It's from a really old computer game series called King's Quest which was developed by Sierra back in the early to late 90s. This poem has suck with me since I was 8, and I really love it.

    What was it when I looked at you?
    What power has chained me through and through?
    And binds my heart with links so tight,
    I can not live without the sight of you?

    What nameless thing has captured me?
    And made me powerless to flee?
    What thing is it without a name,
    That brings my mind ever back the same to thee?

    The name of 'love' cannot apply,
    Its commonness does not descry,
    The haunted, hunted, painful cry that my heart makes for you,
    That ever my soul eternal makes for you.

    2 agree
  39. I love the Magnetic Fields' version of Book of Love but it's originally by Peter Gabriel.

  40. An alternative to the Corinthians 1:13 reading.

    love is more thicker than forget, by ee cummings

    love is more thicker than forget
    more thinner than recall
    more seldom than a wave is wet
    more frequent than to fail

    it is most mad and moonly
    and less it shall unbe
    than all the sea which only
    is deeper than the sea

    love is less always than to win
    less never than alive
    less bigger than the least begin
    less littler than forgive

    it is most sane and sunly
    and more it cannot die
    than all the sky which only
    is higher than the sky

    2 agree
  41. someone did a thing about zombies at their wedding. i NEED to find this

    1 agrees
  42. The Indiebride list has moved, I was just looking at it here:

    http://kvetch.indiebride.com/kvetch/index.php?t=msg&goto=40800

    Thanks, all, for the lovely poems!

    Here's my favorite so far

    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 promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- 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 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, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.

    From Union by Robert Fulghum

    1 agrees
  43. These are fantastic and beautiful. And thank you to everyone above who added their own. We are hoping to use poems by Rumi and Pablo Neruda- both of whom are definitely worth a look over for anyone who is stumped.

    For the forum of suggestions for indiebride, the link seems to be old. I'm going to go searching for it, but if anyone else finds it first, please repost?

  44. We used this at our wedding, it real sums up for me how wonderful and how scary marriage can be.

    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
    the edge of the receding glacier
    where painfully and with wonder
    at having survived even this far
    we are learning to make fire

    6 agree
  45. A bit late, but I thought I'd throw in another possibility. Jonathan Coulton sings a beautiful song about "How terrible it is to be a parent (but not really)" called You Ruined Everything. It can easily also be about a relationship. Here's the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-8hrKb8SAQ
    and the words:
    I was fine
    I pulled myself together
    Just in time
    To throw myself away
    Once my perfect world was gone I knew
    You ruined everything
    In the nicest way

    You should know
    How great things were before you
    Even so
    They're better still today
    I can't think of who I was before
    You ruined everything
    In the nicest way

    Bumps in the road remind us
    The worst of the best behind us
    Only good things will find us
    Me and you

    Days will be clear and sunny
    We're gonna need more money
    Baby you know it's funny
    All those stories

    Coming true
    Despite my better efforts
    It's all for you
    The worst kind of cliche
    I'll be with you till the day you leave
    You ruined everything
    In the nicest way

    1 agrees
  46. I didn't see this one mentioned yet. My soon-to-be husband wanted to keep the ceremony as short as possible so we agreed to have only one reading. We choose "Union" 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.

    3 agree
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