How to write a wedding poem to make ’em cry

Guest post by Kathleen Latham
Illustration photos from a styled shoot by photographer Brittany Elena Photography

When my nephew Chase and his fiancé, Steph, asked me to read a poem during their wedding ceremony, I was honored, even more so when they asked if I would write one for the occasion.

But I had no idea where to begin figuring out how to write a wedding poem.

…Finding the right reading for a wedding is hard enough, but writing one?

First, I tried the personal approach. But other than an adorable story about Chase first noticing Steph when she performed a dare-induced, decade-old flag girl routine using cloth wedding napkins and her telling me he was “perfect for her heart,” I didn't know them well enough as a couple to do them justice. Should the reading be tailored to their destination wedding? How does one write for an upscale dude ranch in Montana?

Steph and Chase remained confident I'd figure it out. “Just give us your best advice,” they suggested.

So I tried researching how to write a wedding poem

Despite being married thirty years and counting, I'm not an expert on the subject, so I turned to the internet and read article after article with titles like 20 Secrets to a Successful Marriage or How to Make Love Last. When I finished, the only thing I was sure of was this: Experts can't agree on whether we choose who we fall in love with. But ask anyone who's been married a long time, and they'll tell you we definitely choose who we stay in love with.

But this still felt like only half of what I wanted to say.

Marriage is the intersection of love found and commitment promised, and I wanted my reading to acknowledge the integral parts of both: Marvel and intent. Gratitude and purpose.

Chase and Steph loved their poem when I read it at their wedding, and I offer it here for anyone else it might speak to…

A WEDDING POEM
by Kathleen Latham
~for Steph and Chase

When we are young, we move through a world of strangers
and wonder when love will come for us. Wonder if and when
and how. Let them find me, we whisper to the sky.
Let the right one come.

And when love does arrive—finally, miraculously—it arrives
like a hurricane, a tidal wave, a sudden, overwhelming storm
that sweeps us away from where we started, alone on the shore,
and delivers us to horizons barely imagined. Together.

What a gift it is to be found.
What a blessing, in this world of billions,
to link hands and know that you are home.

Still, I wish you this:

May you carry the memory of searching.
May you tuck it in a small, quiet corner of your heart
to remind yourself how long you waited for the someone beside you.
How cherished they are. How perfect for your heart.

May you remember, every day, something good
about each other, something worth fighting for.
May you remember what brought you here, to this moment,
to this promise to join hands and never let go.

Because if falling in love is a hurricane,
staying in love requires harnessing the forces of nature.
It requires agency. Action.

Staying in love requires waking every day to say,
I choose to see the best in you, even when you are at your worst.
I choose to practice kindness and show forgiveness and remember,
daily, how precious you are to me.
I choose to stay.

If love is water, be the moon that draws the tide.
If love is fire, be the wood that feeds it.
If love is a dance, be the music that keeps it going.
If love is a choice, make it, again and again and again,
until your last breath.

Say, I choose you, my love.
Today and every day, I choose you.

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