Wedding ceremony readings for polyamorous couples

April 10 | Guest post by Jessie Blum
We did it!
"Our small happy family" from Christine and Derek's wedding. Photo by Angie Gaul.
I am extremely thrilled that one of my dear friends has asked me to do a reading at her upcoming wedding ceremony. This bride is very flexible and is basically giving me free rein to read whatever I want, within reason.

Here's the challenge: one of the reasons I love this couple is because they are polyamourous and extremely nerdy (particularly with Harry Potter, Spiderman and Star Wars). So many of the wedding readings I come across say things like "You are the only one for me," and "I will never love anyone the way I love you," when the truth is those things don't apply to this couple. They will continue loving other people and my reading needs to be respectful of that.

I need help finding a poly-friendly wedding reading that shows that this couple loves each other but that also shows respect to their extra-marital partners, who will all be in attendance at the wedding ceremony. -Deesse Du Soleil

Great question! That's why we asked super-officiant and Offbeat Bride vendor Jessie BlumThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them to give some advice. She's helped you with Wedding Ceremony 101 and have your friend officiate, so we knew she'd have some perfect suggestions for poly-friendly wedding readings. Here's what she had to say…


When choosing a reading for a situation like this, the best way to go about it is to look at the context of the readings. Choose passages that concentrate on the love or relationship that the couple shares, but isn't exclusionary. Passages that reflect more on the ideals of love than the ideals of partnership. Many wedding readings are directed towards two people, or are about the joining of two people's lives, but there are a lot that are much more about just having a whole lot of love in your lives and letting that love grow — that, to me, seems to be the best way to approach a reading appropriate for a polyamourous couple.

You could also ask your friends for their favorite authors or books, to see what they say about love (there has to be something good in Harry Potter about it, though I can't think of anything off the top of my head!).

Also, don't be afraid to edit readings slightly, to fit the context. If there is a reading that feels perfect, but concentrates a little bit too much on being faithful to only your partner, or is exclusionary, just take those lines out.

I think the most important thing to remember is that every couple is different — every relationship that every person has is different. Finding the readings that work the best, that speak to the relationship, can be a very daunting task, especially with a few parameters stuck in there, too. But it is worth the research, the time, and the effort to find that one reading that just says, "Hey! I need to be read in this wedding!"

Some poly-friendly suggestions:

Rumi would work well. Really sensual, lovely, lyrical — and much more about loving and finding another person who you connect with, without saying, "Hey, you! You can't ever have a relationship with another person!" There's so much Rumi to choose from, too!

From Gift from the Sea by Annie Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

From Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road

I do not offer the old smooth prizes,
But offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid-up stores,
However convenient the dwellings,
You shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port,
And however calm the waters,
You shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you
You are permitted to receive it but a little while
Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before you,
The long brown path before you,
leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another:
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law:
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

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.

From Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love.

Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.

From Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

You could also look into some other "classic" non-traditional readings that have already been featured on Offbeat Bride, such as a selection from the Velveteen Rabbit and Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog.

Now we'll open this one to y'all: any suggestions for readings that respect polyamorous relationships?

  1. Every time I read a post like this, I'm proud to have had even a tiny hand in Offbeat Bride.

    26 agree
  2. This is lovely and useful, thank you!

    I hope with all the focus on whether or not marriage is "one man/one woman", at some point, we might as a culture turn our attention next to the "one" part of that question, and realize that families come in all sizes as well as all sexes.

    11 agree
  3. This is such great timing because Offbeatbride JUST featured a wedding that used a reading perfect for your situation: "Scientific Romance" by Tim Pratt http://tim-pratt.livejournal.com/106839.html

    It hits every nerdy point, and is in no way exclusionary. My fiance and I are using this reading in our own ceremony next week! It's lighthearted, and beautiful, but it's not about possession or two becoming one. It's just a sweet poem this guy wrote for his wife that says "hey you are super cool and no matter what crazy sci-fi way the world ends I want to experience it with you"

    4 agree
  4. And this is why I love Offbeat Bride. Such a wonderful post and such profound readings. Thanks, Offbeat Bride and community!

    1 agrees
  5. I'm a big fan of this poem/prayer from Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing:

    My love, you are a river fed by many streams.
    I bless all who have shaped you,
    The lovers whose delights still dance patterns on your back,
    Those who carved your channels deeper, broader, wider,
    Whitewater and backwater lovers,
    Swamp lovers, sun-warmed estuary lovers,
    Lovers with surface tension,
    Lovers like boulders,
    Like ice forming and breaking,
    Lovers that fill and spill with the tides.
    I bless those who have taught you
    and those who have pleased you
    and those who have hurt you.
    All those who have made you who you are.

    15 agree
  6. This might be a moot point to a lot of people, and don't feel bad because I have seen it attributed as such ALL over the internet (and even in books), but as far as I have been able to determine, only the last three sentences of the "Les Miserables" reading above are actually from the novel by Victor Hugo. The first sentence (You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving) is more commonly attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson. The second (The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness) may be a remix of Mother Teresa's quote "We can do no great things, only small things with great love," and the third (We pardon to the extent that we love) seems to be a Francois de La Rochefoucauld quote. (I have no idea who wrote or said, "Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again.")

    Please don't let that stop you from using the reading at your wedding though! I am posting this more in the hopes of helping someone like myself — I'm looking for a wedding reading in French and was searching through the entire novel looking for the excerpt above!

    Les Miserables (and Victor Hugo) DOES have a lot of other really lovely stuff to say about love though — including one of my favourites, "Love is a child six thousand years old."

    3 agree
    • Thanks for letting me know! I'll make a note of this, and see if I can make a better attribution.

      1 agrees
  7. I run a poly forum on alternative network site, and I found this thru Google. I love this.

    1 agrees
  8. this is lovely. my girlfriend and i are both married to men, and i really would like some way of marking or celebrating our own committment to each other. this is a wonderful page! thank you!!

    2 agree
  9. Thank you for this! I've been legally married to one of my partners for over 10 years, and my other partner and I are just starting to seriously talk about having a ceremony in about a year. Offbeat Bride was the first place I thought to start browsing for ideas, and I was very happy to see this recent post. Thanks for being so inclusive! I'll be happy to share our celebration when it happens.

    1 agrees
  10. To Love is Not to Possess by James Kavanaugh would have to be my favourite in this list.. I like the idea of maybe having a friend of ours read something during the ceremony that ties it all together.. hmm

    0 agree

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