21 modern poems that make swoon-worthy wedding readings #Ceremony Advice#ceremony#readings April 19 2019 | Catherine Clark bijouxandbits Litany By Billy Collins print from Graphic Display Finding the right wedding readings for your ceremony can be a bear if you don't know where to look. This is especially so if you're diverting from traditional and/or religious readings and want something more modern, secular, funny, or all of the above. I wanted to see what was cooking in modern poetry to see if there were some new poems that would make amazing wedding readings that we hadn't seen before. Spoiler alert: there were! Some are secular, some are funny, some are a little older, but all are lovely options that may just be the one that pulls at your heartstrings. Here are some poignant and modern wedding readings from poetry to snag for your ceremony. Hit up our full archive of ceremony readings for even more inspiration! "Litany" by Billy Collins Related Post The giant list of non-barfworthy love poems for weddings We love us a good non-cheesy love poem that makes our arm hair stand up without triggering the cringe from barf-worthy poems that suck. Good... Read more You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight. However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air. It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge, maybe even the pigeon on the general's head, but you are not even close to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither the boots in the corner nor the boat asleep in its boathouse. It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof. I also happen to be the shooting star, the evening paper blowing down an alley and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table. I am also the moon in the trees and the blind woman's tea cup. But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife. You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and — somehow — the wine. "Love" by Czeslaw Milosz Love means to learn to look at yourself The way one looks at distant things For you are only one thing among many. And whoever sees that way heals his heart, Without knowing it, from various ills A bird and a tree say to him: Friend. Then he wants to use himself and things So that they stand in the glow of ripeness. It doesnt matter whether he knows what he serves: Who serves best doesnt always understand. "Gratitude" by Louise Gluck Do not think I am not grateful for your small kindness to me. I like small kindnesses. In fact I actually prefer them to the more substantial kindness, that is always eyeing you, like a large animal on a rug, until your whole life reduces to nothing but waking up morning after morning cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks. "Love Song" by William Carlos Williams I lie here thinking of you:— the stain of love is upon the world! Yellow, yellow, yellow it eats into the leaves, smears with saffron the horned branches that lean heavily against a smooth purple sky! There is no light only a honey-thick stain that drips from leaf to leaf and limb to limb spoiling the colors of the whole world— you far off there under the wine-red selvage of the west! "About Marriage" by Denise Levertov Don't lock me in wedlock, I want marriage, an encounter— I told you about the green light of May (a veil of quiet befallen the downtown park, late Saturday after noon, long shadows and cool air, scent of new grass, fresh leaves, blossom on the threshold of abundance— and the birds I met there, birds of passage breaking their journey, three birds each of a different species: the azalea-breasted with round poll, dark, the brindled, merry, mousegliding one, and the smallest, golden as gorse and wearing a black Venetian mask and with them the three douce hen-birds feathered in tender, lively brown— I stood a half-hour under the enchantment, no-one passed near, the birds saw me and let me be near them.) It's not irrelevant: I would be met and meet you so, in a green airy space, not locked in. "Having a Coke with You" by Frank O'Hara is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt partly because of the fluoresent orange tulips around the birches partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles Related Post 10 gender neutral and feminist-friendly wedding readings for your rad wedding ceremony When searching for weddings readings for your LGBT wedding, feminist wedding, or just a wedding where you want to embrace gender neutral terms, it can... Read more and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together the first time and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully as the horse it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it Margaret Atwood poem 'Habitation' in hand-written calligraphy from Paint And Words "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 outdoors, eating popcorn where painfully and with wonder at having survived this far we are learning to make fire. "Why Marriage?" by Mari Nichols-Haining Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person, With all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body… Related Post 14 wedding readings from songs (from David Bowie to Metallica!) When it comes to wedding readings, sometimes the best sentiments come from the hands of musical wordsmiths. From David Bowie to Paul Simon and the... Read more Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me, Who won’t hold them against me, Who loves me when I’m unlikable, Who sees the small child in me, and Who looks for the divine potential of me… Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night With someone who thanks God for me, With someone I feel blessed to hold… Because marriage means opportunity To grow in love in friendship… Because marriage is a discipline To be added to a list of achievements… Because marriages do not fail, people fail When they enter into marriage Expecting another to make them whole… Because, knowing this, I promise myself to take full responsibility For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness I create me, I take half of the responsibility for my marriage Together we create our marriage… Because with this understanding The possibilities are limitless. "Autumn" by Garrison Keillor Here on an autumn night in the sweet orchard smell, Sitting in a pile of leaves under the starry sky, Oh what stories we could tell With this starlight to tell them by. October night, and you, and paradise, So lovely and so full of grace, Above your head, the universe has hung its lights, And I reach out my hand to touch your face. I believe in impulse, in all that is green, Believe in the foolish vision that comes true, Believe that all that is essential is unseen, And for this lifetime I believe in you. All of the lovers and the love they made: Nothing that was between them was a mistake. All that we did for love's sake, Is not wasted and will never fade. All who have loved shall be forever young And walk in grandeur on a cool fall night Along the avenue, They live in every song that is ever sung, In every painting of pure light, In every pas de deux. Oh love that shines in every star And love reflected in the silver moon. It is not here, but it's not far. Not yet, but it will be here soon. "Spring Giddiness" by Jelaluddin Rumi Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. I would love to kiss you. The price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running toward my life shouting, What a bargain, let's buy it. Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear? All day and night, music, a quiet, bright reedsong. If it fades, we fade. "My Rules" by Shel Silverstein If you want to marry me, here's what you'll have to do: You must learn how to make a perfect chicken-dumpling stew. And you must sew my holey socks, And soothe my troubled mind, And develop the knack for scratching my back, And keep my shoes spotlessly shined. And while I rest you must rake up the leaves, And when it is hailing and snowing You must shovel the walk…and be still when I talk, And — hey — where are you going? "The Forerunner" by Khalil Ghibran Related Post This Tolkien wedding poem (that he wrote to his wife!) is the Arkenstone of wedding readings J.R.R. Tolkien had a great love with his wife, Edith. She's the inspiration for a character in The Silmarillion and he's buried next to her... Read more You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have builded are but the foundation of your giant-self. And that self too shall be a foundation. And I too am my own forerunner, for the long shadow stretching before me at sunrise shall gather under my feet at the noon hour. Yet another sunrise shall lay another shadow before me, and that also shall be gathered at another noon. Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be. And all that we have gathered and shall gather shall be but seeds for fields yet unploughed. We are the fields and the ploughmen, the gatherers and the gathered. When you were a wandering desire in the mist, I too was there, a wandering desire. Then we sought one another, and out of our eagerness dreams were born. And dreams were time limitless, and dreams were space without measure. And when you were a silent word upon life's quivering lips, I too was there, another silent word. Then life uttered us and we came down the years throbbing with memories of yesterday and with longing for tomorrow, for yesterday was death conquered and tomorrow was birth pursued. And now we are in God's hands. You are a sun in His right hand and I an earth in His left hand. Yet you are not more, shining, than I, shone upon. And we, sun and earth, are but the beginning of a greater sun and a greater earth. And always shall we be the beginning. You are your own forerunner, you the stranger passing by the gate of my garden. And I too am my own forerunner, though I sit in the shadows of my trees and seem motionless. "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things. "Wedding" by Alice Oswald From time to time our love is like a sail and when the sail begins to alternate from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat; and if the coat is yours, it has a tear like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions…. and this, my love, when millions come and go beyond the need of us, is like a trick; and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck; and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding, which is like love, which is like everything. "Today" from Nine Horses by Billy Collins If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze that it made you want to throw open all the windows in the house and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage, indeed, rip the little door from its jamb, a day when the cool brick paths and the garden bursting with peonies seemed so etched in sunlight that you felt like taking a hammer to the glass paperweight on the living room end table, releasing the inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage so they could walk out, holding hands and squinting into this larger dome of blue and white, well, today is just that kind of day. Pablo Neruda Quote from Monday Moon Design From 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: Where “I” does not exist, nor “You”, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close. "somewhere I have never travelled" by e.e. cummings Related Post Celebrating the journey: wedding readings for a vow renewal ceremony It's no small feat to make it to the many milestones of marriage. A lot can happen to change you and your relationship and a... Read more somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which I cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though I have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me, I and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (I do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands Maya Angelou Poem print from Minimaland "Touched by an Angel" by Maya Angelou We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life. Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free. "I Wanna Be Yours" by John Cooper Clarke let me be your vacuum cleaner breathing in your dust let me 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 let me be your raincoat for those frequent rainy days let me be your dreamboat when you wanna sail away let me be your teddy bear take me with you anywhere I don’t care I wanna be yours let me be your electric meter I will not run out let me be the electric heater you get cold without let me be your setting lotion hold your hair with deep devotion deep as the deep atlantic ocean thats how deep is my emotion deep deep deep deep deep deep I don’t wanna be hers I wanna be yours "In Love Made Visible" by May Swenson In love we are made visible As in a magic bath are unpeeled to the sharp pit so long concealed With love’s alertness we recognize the soundless whimper of the soul behind the eyes A shaft opens and the timid thing at last leaps to surface with full-spread wing The fingertips of lover discover more than the body’s smoothness They uncover a hidden conduit for the transfusion of empathies that circumvent the mind’s intrusion In love are we set free Objective bone and flesh no longer insulate us to ourselves alone We are released and flow into each other’s cup Our two frail vials pierced drink each other up. Roy Croft print by Betty And Marie Designs "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 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 works Of my every day Not a reproach But a song. Our personal ceremony script featuring Star Wars, Johnny Cash, & Obergefell v. Hodges Be inspired by this personal ceremony script with so many sweet details (like vowing unlimited pet adoption, unlimited Star Wars, and unlimited chill-as-hell wedding readings!). Don't miss Johnny Cash, Bruce… Read More Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Catherine Clark Catherine Clark is Offbeat Bride's Senior Editor. In her spare time she loiters at her local library, makes art, watches movies en masse, plays video and tabletop games, poorly cooks healthy things, cuddles with her feline fur baby, and blogs at BijouxandBits.com. @enidjcoleslaw @bijouxandbits @bijouxandbits PREVIOUS Hidden waterfalls & mountain views at this Iceland elopement with a fab red dress NEXT Murals, shots, & a wicked venue at this Jersey City wedding Show/Hide comments [ 1 ] We did Taylor Mali's "Falling in love is like owning a dog" as a reading at our wedding, which is now hilariously ironic in retrospect because two years on, we have two cats and no dogs. 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