Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples

Updated Nov 9 2016
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?


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

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
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. My two favorite bands in this post?! Ariel, you just made the OBB even more awesome.

    The Magnetic Fields have another great song along the same lines –

    It's Only Time

    Why would I stop loving you
    a hundred years from now?
    It's only time.
    It's only time.

    What could stop this beating heart
    once it's made a vow?
    It's only time.
    It's only time.

    If rain won't change your mind,
    let it fall.
    The rain won't change my heart
    at all.

    Lock this chain
    around my hand,
    throw away the key.
    It's only time.
    It's only time.

    Years falling
    like grains of sand
    mean nothing to me.
    It's only time.
    It's only time.

    If snow won't change your mind
    let it fall.
    The snow won't change my heart,
    not at all.

    (I'll walk your lands)
    I'll walk your lands
    (And swim your sea)
    And swim your sea

    Marry me.
    Marry me.

    (Then in your hands)
    Then in your hands
    (I will be free)
    I will be free

    Marry me.
    Marry me.

    Why would I stop loving you
    a hundred years from now?

    • Oh, this is our first dance song! And my fiance picked Book of Love for his reading which even though I love the song, I thought might not be quite appropriate. I feel a bit relieved that others have used it before us!

      • aww, i walked down the aisle to 'the book of love'. i am a huge stephen merritt/the magnetic fields. my ladies walked to 'nothing matters when we're dancing' and one of our "featured songs" was a cover of 'strange powers'.

        • I would highly recommend Mike Doughty's version of Book of Love for wedding songs. So darned perfect.

  2. Can I add one that we're using? Feel free to take it off the comments if this is the wrong place to post, but we found it hard to find a lovely reading that relates to offbeat mountain bikers!

    Feel free to use: A Marriage Made for Two

    A successful marriage can learn a lot from bicycle riding.

    You should promise each other that you will not be fair weather riders, but venture out together in the wind and the rain. Only by braving the storms as a team will you reap the rewards when the sunshine arrives.

    Look after each other. A well oiled bike will run smoothly and change gear easily.

    Marriage is like a tandem…keep pedalling or the one at the front shouts at you!

    You should promise each other to not only enjoy new adventures and explorations, but appreciate the same old routes you know and love.

    Marriage is a promise to each other to endure the climbs so that you may chase the swoops and swerves of perfect singletrack.

    The journey may be long and may have hills ahead, but if you climb together with love and passion, you will be able to achieve everything you both desire!

    Wishing you all the best from the start line of the greatest endurance event of your lives. Good luck and may each lap be a great adventure.


    Our friend is reading this for us. We actually wrote it ourselves, using some of the lovely comments guests had written with their RSVP's.

    • AHHH! This is perfect. We've just started planning our ceremony. We're not religious and we're having problems finding something that suits our families as well…
      Plus, we're currently restoring an old tandem bike that we're going to ride off on after the ceremony!!!

      • I love this! We are both mountain bikers & snowboarders did you write something similar about snowboarding in the end? I'd love to read it if you are happy to share it?! Also, can anyone recommend anything else outdoorsy, maybe linked to the beautiful mountains??!! x

        • I'm reading for my best friends wedding and came across this one in my search!
          "Blessing For A Marriage", by James Dillet Freeman (back to top of page)

          "May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another's presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another."

          • this is a BEAUTIFUL blessing! thanks for posting it … my brother is officiating my ceremony & i wanted something he could say instead of the typical prayer or blessing.

          • This is so beautiful and I am definitely having this at my wedding. Thank you so much for posting. <3

    • Oh my goodness this is amazing! It would be so great to use something like this for my FFIL to read! He is a bicycle enthusiast! You are a great writer!

    • Hi! I love your offbeat biking love writing. We're getting married in two weeks! Would it be possible to use part/all of your poem? We are both cyclists (road, mountain, and motorcycles). If so, how would you like to be credited if people asked for the author?

  3. When we started looking for wedding readings I especially had a very hard time – I'd start going through the Neruda and Rilke poems and, though they were often lovely, my eyes just glazed over and I couldn't foster any personal connection with any of them. But we finally found some GREAT things – here's what we read when we got married a few weeks ago!


    From Colin's grandmother, a Miss Manners lover, the following excerpt.

    "While exclusionary interest in one other human being, which is what we call courtship, is all very exciting in the stages of discovery, there is not enough substance in it for a lifetime, no matter how fascinating the people or passionate the romance.
    The world, on the other hand, is chock full of interesting and curious things. The point of the courtship — marriage — is to secure someone with whom you wish to go hand in hand through this source of entertainment, each making discoveries, and then sharing some and merely reporting others. Anyone who tries to compete with the entire world, demanding to be someone's sole source of interest and attention, is asking to be classified as a bore. "Why don't you ever want to talk to me?" will probably never start a satisfactory marital conversation. "Guess what?" will probably never fail."


    My Dad – the only one who actually chose his own reading – read from Da Vinci's notebooks some Notes on the Construction of Arches, interspersed with his own commentary on how this actually is all about marriage. (I don't yet have a transcript of his words, alas, which were really the best part.)


    The arch is nothing else than a force originated by two weaknesses,
    for the arch in buildings is composed of two segments of a circle, each of which being very weak in itself tends to fall; but as each opposes this tendency in the other, the two weaknesses combine to form one strength.


    As the arch is a composite force it remains in equilibrium because
    the thrust is equal from both sides; and if one of the segments
    weighs more than the other the stability is lost, because the
    greater pressure will outweigh the lesser.


    The way to give stability to the arch is to fill the spandrils with
    good masonry up to the level of its summit."


    My dear friend Katie read a selection from the Massachusetts State Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage, and we briefly mentioned how awe-inspiring it was that in our very city, in only two days, EVERYONE was about to get the right to marry. The cheer our guests let up was a joy to hear.

    "Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.

    Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. The benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death.

    It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right."


    Colin's sister read an excerpt from "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," included partially because the HHGttG being a crucially formative book for me when I was a child, and partially because it is awesome:

    "They looked at each other for a moment.

    The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

    For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss Cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who awakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savannah stretching grey and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

    He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

    He hadn't realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones till it now said something it had never said to him before, which was "Yes"."

    And those were our readings. =)

    • Hello Jess! Can you please tell me who wrote the first one" From Colin's Grandmother"? What is that from? Who is Colins Grandmother?

    • The excerpt from "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish" brought me to tears! I've been looking for readings that are personal and non-traditional about honoring and obeying, and he LOVED that book. When looking for readings I had no idea where to start, THANK YOU!

    • Hi Jess

      I realise it was a very long time ago you posted your comment. I'm looking to do a reading for my brothers wedding and I love the one your Dad did. You mentioned that he added some of his own words, which were excellent, but you hadn't posted them yet.
      If you still have them, and are happy to share them, I'd love to read them.
      Thanks for your time

    • My friends had the Da Vinci and thier wedding, and it was basically perfect for them – one is a bit of a history buff, the other an engineer, and it was just so beautiful and perfect that I couldn't even.

  4. Thanks, Ariel!

    This is just what I needed. When I started looking for an offbeat-but-meaningful reading for our ceremony, I went to wikiquote and looked up "marriage." Almost every one of the results were NEGATIVE! How frustrating.

    Ok, I'm off to present the Madeleine L'Engal passage to dear fiance!

  5. If you're looking for something more secular that could cloak itself easily in a traditional ceremony, give Plato a once-over. My siblings-in-law used passages from Plato's "Symposium." It brought something different and unexpected to their otherwise traditional church wedding. It's the only thing I remember about the ceremony…that counts for something, right?

  6. I didn't know that was L'Engle–I came across it as an option for opening words, so that is what we are using it for, although modified a little.

    I also think that we're going to use that Magnetic Fields song for either the processional or the signing.

  7. We used:

    Reading # 1: Wedding Ritual (adapted from StarTrek: Celebrations by Maureen McTigue)

    With fire and steel did the gods forge the man’s heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out: “On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.” But then the man’s heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered, and the gods said: “Why do you weaken so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation.” And the heart said…"I…am alone." And the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart. But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power. Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom.

    "If we join together, no forces can stop us." And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a ferocious sound–and to this very day, no one can oppose the beating of these two hearts.

    Reading #2: "A Picnic on the Earth" by Shuntaro Tanikawa

    Let’s jump rope here, you and I. Right here!
    Let’s have lunch here, you and I.
    Here I will love you.
    Your eyes will reflect the blue of the sky
    And your back will be dyed the color of mugwort.
    Let’s learn, you and I, the names of the constellations.
    Here let us dream of things distant.
    Here let’s gather shellfish.
    Let’s pick a little starfish
    From the sea of the dawning sky.
    At breakfast let’s throw it back
    And let the night recede.
    Here I’ll go on saying “I’m home!”
    While you keep saying, “Welcome back!”
    I’ll come back here again and again.
    Here let’s drink hot tea.
    Let’s sit here, you and I, and be caressed for a while
    By the cool breeze.

  8. My favorite quote that I have had memorized forever:

    To love very much is to love inadequately: We love- That is all. Love cannot be modified without being nullified. Love is a short word but it contains everything. Love means the body, the soul, the life, the entire being. We feel love as we feel the warmth of our blood, we breathe love as we breathe the air, we hold it in ourselves as we hold our thoughts. Nothing more exists for us. Love is not a word. It is a wordless state indicated by four letters.

    Guy De Maupassant

  9. I just got married on June 21 and these are the two readings we used. Though I LOVE all the ones you posted.

    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice —
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    "Mend my life!"
    each voice cried.
    But you didn't stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do —
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

    ~ Mary Oliver ~

    It's not as much about love, but in a second marriage, it was very appropriate!

    Other one was:
    Crusoe by George Bilgere
    When you’ve been away from it long enough
    You begin to forget the country
    Of couples, with all its customs
    And mysterious ways. Those two
    Over there, for instance: late thirties,
    Attractive and well-dressed, reading
    At the table, drinking some complicated
    Coffee drink. They haven’t spoken
    Or even looked at each other in thirty minutes
    But the big toe of her right foot, naked
    In its sandal, sometimes grazes
    The naked ankle bone of his left foot,
    The faintest signal, a line thrown
    Between two vessels as they cruise
    Through this hour, this vacation, this life,
    Through the thick novels they’re reading,
    Her toe saying to his ankle,
    Here’s to the whole improbable story
    Of our meeting, of our life together
    And the oceanic richness
    Of our mingled narrative
    With its complex past, with its hurts
    And secret jokes, its dark closets
    And delightful sexual quirks,
    Its occasional doldrums, its vast
    Future we have already peopled
    With children. How safe we are
    Compared to that man sitting across the room,
    Marooned with his drink
    And yellow notebook, trying to write
    A way off his little island.

  10. The reading I love that we will use somehow at our ceremony is this one:

    Loving the wrong person

    We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us, but if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems – the ones that make you truly who you are – that you’re ready to find a life-long mate. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person – someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.” – Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions.

  11. I am planning on playing this song or reading the lyrics…

    Dreaming my Dreams
    The Cranberries

    All the things you said to me today
    Changed my perspective in every way
    These things count to mean so much to me
    Into my faith you
    and your baby

    It's out there
    If you want me
    I'll be here
    It's out there

    I'll be dreaming my dreams with you
    And there's no other place
    that I'd lay down my face
    I'll be dreaming my dreams with you

    It's out there
    If you want me, I'll be here
    I'll be dreaming my dreams with you
    And there's no other place
    that I'd lay down my face
    I'll be dreaming my dreams with you

  12. Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem, by Bill Hicok

    My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
    of my palms tell me so.
    Never argue with rivers. Never expect your lives to finish
    at the same time. I think

    praying, I think clapping is how hands mourn. I think
    staying up and waiting
    for paintings to sigh is science. In another dimension this
    is exactly what's happening,

    it's what they write grants about: the chromodynamics
    of mournful Whistlers,
    the audible sorrow and beta decay of "Old Battersea Bridge."
    I like the idea of different

    theres and elsewheres, an Idaho known for bluegrass,
    a Bronx where people talk
    like violets smell. Perhaps I am somewhere patient, somehow
    kind, perhaps in the nook

    of a cousin universe I've never defiled or betrayed
    anyone. Here I have
    two hands and they are vanishing, the hollow of your back
    to rest my cheek against,

    your voice and little else but my assiduous fear to cherish.
    My hands are webbed
    like the wind-torn work of a spider, like they squeezed
    something in the womb

    but couldn't hang on. One of those other worlds
    or a life I felt
    passing through mine, or the ocean inside my mother's belly
    she had to scream out.

    Here when I say "I never want to be without you,"
    somewhere else I am saying
    "I never want to be without you again." And when I touch you
    in each of the places we meet

    in all of the lives we are, it's with hands that are dying
    and resurrected.
    When I don't touch you it's a mistake in any life,
    in each place and forever.

  13. We used the Roy Croft one for our wedding last month. We did it as part of our vows, though, each of us reading a line of the poem to each other and then adding our self-written vows at the end. (We hated the idea of repeating after the minister.)

    Everyone loved it. So did we. It was perfect for us. 🙂

  14. We didn't have this as a reading–I actually incorporated it into my vows–but it would make a REALLY nice reading. From the book "I like you" by Sandol Stoddard:

    I like you
    And I know why
    I like you because
    You are a good person
    To like
    I like you because
    When I tell you something special
    You know it's special
    And you remember it
    A long long time
    You say
    Remember when you told me
    Something special
    And both of us remember
    When I think something is important
    You think it's important too
    When I say something funny
    You laugh
    I think I'm funny and
    You think I'm funny too
    I like you because
    You know where I'm ticklish
    And you don't tickle me there
    Just a little tiny bit
    But if you do then I know where to tickle you too
    You know how to be silly
    That's why I like you
    Boy are you ever silly
    I never met anybody sillier than me
    till I met you
    I like you because
    You know when it's time to stop being silly
    Maybe day after tomorrow
    Maybe never
    Oops too late
    It's quarter post silly
    We fool around the same way all the time
    Sometimes we don't say a word
    We snurkle under fences
    We spy secret places
    If I am a goofus on the roofus
    Hollering my head off
    You are one too
    If I pretend I am drowning
    You pretend you are saving me
    If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag
    Then you are getting to jump
    That's because
    You really like me
    You really like me
    Don't you
    And I really like you back
    And you like me back
    And I like you back
    And that's the way we keep on going
    Every day
    If you go away
    then I go away too
    Or if I stay home
    You send me a postcard
    You don't just say
    Well see you around
    Some time
    I like you a lot
    because of that
    If I go away
    I send you a postcard too
    And I like you because
    If we go away together
    And if we are in Grand Central Station
    And if I get lost
    then you are the one that is yelling for me
    Hey where are you
    Here I am
    And I like you because
    When I am feeling sad
    You don't always cheer me up right away
    Sometimes it is better to be sad
    You can't stand the others being so googly and gaggly
    every single minute
    You want to think about things
    It takes time
    I like you because if I am mad at you
    Then you are mad at me too
    It's awful when the other person isn't

    They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about
    punch them in the nose
    I like you because if I think I am going to
    throw up then you are really sorry
    You don't just pretend you are busy looking at
    the birdies and all that
    You say maybe it was something you ate
    You say same thing happened to me one time
    And the same thing did

    If you find two four-leaf clovers
    You give me one
    If I find four
    I give you two
    If we only find three
    We keep on looking
    Sometimes we have good luck
    And sometimes we don't
    If I break my arm and
    If you bread your arm too
    Then it is fun to have a broken arm
    I tell you about mine
    You tell me about yours
    We are both sorry
    We write our names and draw pictures
    We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too
    I like you because
    I don't know why but
    Everything that happens
    Is nicer with you
    I can't remember when I didn't like you
    It must have been lonesome then
    I like you because because
    I forget why I like you
    But I do
    So many reasons
    On the Fourth of July I like you because
    It's the Fourth of July
    On the Fifth of July
    I like you too
    If you and I had some drums
    And some horns and some horses
    If we had some hats and some
    Flags and some fire-engines
    We could be a HOLIDAY
    We could be a CELEBRATION
    We could be a WHOLE PARADE
    See what I mean?
    Even if it was the
    nine-hundred-and-ninety-ninth of July
    Even if it was August
    Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
    Even if it was no place particular in January
    I would go on choosing you
    And you would go on choosing me
    Over and over again
    That's how it would happen every time
    I don't know why

    I guess I don't know why I like you really
    Why do I like you
    I guess I just like you
    I guess I just like you
    Because I like you

    [sorry that was hella long]

  15. our wedding was themed to edward monkton's lovely love story, and that was our reading.

    The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, HIS cage.

    Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

    The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur's cage with kind words and loving thoughts.

    I like this Dionsaur, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.

    I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

    But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

    He is also overly fond of Things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of Things?

    But her mind skips from here to there so quickly, thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on Shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?

    I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for Things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

    I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thought and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.

    Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them.

    Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.

    And that, my frends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.

    For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place.

    • we are using this one as well at the end for a reading in lieu of a blessing! And instead of the more traditional opening words that make me want to puke we are opening with the Kavanaugh poem, no intro or "friends and family we are here today" stuff, just straight into the poem.

  16. Thanks for posting this site. My son has asked me to speak at his wedding, and there are some great resources here . . . Nothing corny, just great poems and passages.

  17. With so many great ones, I thought to possibly add another.

    BTW: LOVE (!) 'I think I like you' Sounds just like me rambling on. I'm so glad to be reminded why we're having this wedding to begin with.

    OK, here's mine. It's from the song 'Love Rain Down On Me' by Jill Scott featuring Mos Def. I took Mos Def's part and changed part of it. Other than obvious he/she differences what I changed is in parentatheses.

    Love rain down on me
    I stretch my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass
    A rhythm bounces between my shoulders like carnival jumps
    I sat still in hopes it would help my wings grow
    So then I’d really be fly
    And then she arrived
    Like daybreak inside a railway tunnel, like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines
    Like high noon to a drunkard, sudden
    She made my heart beat in a now-now time signature
    Her skinny canvas were ultraviolet brush strokes
    She was the suns painting; she was a deep cognac color
    (Straight from the sniffer of God’s brandy)
    Her (My) eyes sparkled like lights along the new city
    (Only when reflected in your beauty ocean)
    Her lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet and full for her mouth to hold
    (My lips are pursed waiting for your sweet breath to fill my mouth)
    I said, you are the beautiful distress of mathematics (that I never took the time to learn)
    I said, for you I will peel open the clouds like new fruit
    Give you lightning and thunder as (well as myself) a dowry
    I will make the sky shit (pour) all of its stars like rain
    And I will clasp the constellations across your waist (shoulders)
    (To ease your load of the world)
    (And when you return to me at night)
    And I will make the heavens your (a) quilt
    (Draped over the bed that we will share)
    And they will be pleased to cover you (as they twinkle and shine)
    They will be pleased to cover you (lover of mine)
    (They will be pleased)
    May I please, cover you
    Please, (love you)

  18. don't forget depeche mode.

    I want somebody to share
    Share the rest of my life
    Share my innermost thoughts
    Know my intimate details
    Someone wholl stand by my side
    And give me support
    And in return
    Shell get my support
    She will listen to me
    When I want to speak
    About the world we live in
    And life in general
    Though my views may be wrong
    They may even be perverted
    Shell hear me out
    And wont easily be converted
    To my way of thinking
    In fact shell often disagree
    But at the end of it all
    She will understand me

    I want somebody who cares
    For me passionately
    With every thought and
    With every breath
    Someone wholl help me see things
    In a different light
    All the things I detest
    I will almost like
    I dont want to be tied
    To anyones strings
    Im carefully trying to steer clear of
    Those things
    But when Im asleep
    I want somebody
    Who will put their arms around me
    And kiss me tenderly
    Though things like this
    Make me sick
    In a case like this
    Ill get away with it

    • I love this song. It is part of our recessional music. I used to sing it in the bathtub when I was 8. My parents loved that I loved their music. Thanks for posting this.

  19. Anyone have any ideas about a reading for a wedding ceremony from an ancient greek or roman myth? Something from Ovid or someone else in that vein? Thanks!

  20. i just wanted to say i had "the invitation" hanging in my house for years and when it came time to choose something to read at my cousins wedding, nothing seemed more appropriate or supportive. now that i am getting married, i am a bit unsettled that i didnt hold onto this reading for myself! these are true words that will never disappoint…

  21. From Marge Piercy's book, "The Art of Blessing the Day"
    The day I forget to write
    the day I forget to feed the cats
    the day I forget to love you
    the day I forget your name
    and then my own.

    Until then I will not cease
    this spinning pattern: part weave
    of skeins of soft wool to keep
    us warm, to clothe our too open
    flesh, to decorate us —

    and part dance, through woods
    where roots trip me, a dance
    through meadows of rabbit holes
    and old ribs of plowing hidden
    under thick grass.

    Until then I will whirl
    through my ragged days.
    Like a spindle, like a dreydl
    I will turn in the center
    of my intricate weave

    spelling your name in my dance
    in my weaving, in my work,
    your hidden name which
    is simply, finally,
    This poem is called "All lovers have secret names"

  22. Our wedding isn't for six months (from today, actually!), but we've already written our ceremony. We chose a range of readings, but my favorite is from the movie 'Serenity' when two of our favorite Joss Whedon characters are talking:

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds- It ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.

    River Tam- I do. But I like to hear you say it.

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds- Love. You can know all the math in the 'Verse, but take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the world. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

  23. There are so many beautiful readings here.

    One that seems very obvious to me is The Cure's Lovesong:

    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am home again
    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am whole again

    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am young again
    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am fun again

    How ever far away, i will always love you
    How ever long i stay, i will always love you
    Whatever words i say, i will always love you
    I will always love you

    Quietly into the night…

    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am free again
    Whenever i'm alone with you
    You make me feel like i am clean again

    However far away,i will always love you
    How ever long i stay, i will always love you
    What ever words i say, i will always love you
    I will always love you

  24. We are definitely thinking of having The Cure's Lovesong.

    We are also having a bit more of a funny reading. The lyrics from The Two Of Us by The Mr T Experience:

    Now there are two of us, instead of only one,
    two times as many things get left half undone.
    We're twice as half-asleep when the new day has begun
    and maybe twice as on the run,
    'cause some of them will still be making fun of us.
    They'll say the two of you will never be one of us.
    But even if that's true,
    they'll have twice as much to do
    when there are two of us,
    and one of them is you.
    They'll find the two of us much harder to restrain,
    outsmarted by our impressive double brain
    If one of us runs dry, still another will remain,
    and it's twice as hard to pull the chain
    of two of us, against a ton of them:
    but two of us outnumber every single one of them.
    Two lives are semi-rough
    with half the rent and twice the stuff.
    There are two of us, and that should be enough.
    Look at everybody.
    Everybody's always
    falling apart or breaking up.
    But the two of us never will be one of those,
    and I should know– I have had a run of those
    Our love's not guaranteed,
    but it's growing like a weed.
    There are two of us,
    I think that's all we need.

    • That's awesome! I just got my partner to read it aloud (without telling him what it was or why) and he found it hard not to laugh. I think we may have found at least one of our readings 🙂

  25. Sometimes I think I've been planning my readings my whole life the way other folks plan the tulle, funky reception ideas or number of kids (I mean, depending on the person). Anyhow, here's one I love.

    Tony Kushner, from “An Epithalamion”

    Encircled by this breathing world
    within this close sphere of warm summer night
    ringed by this congress of friends here assembled
    we make declaration of our love and our union
    in public declaring what’s privately ours.
    From this crowd of hearts, shared heat and blood.

    I am yours, who I love, not a dream by life, not fantasy,
    immortality, eternity, but the present moment and all-too-
    mortal flesh; to what is hardest; love is hardest; hard and
    simple and what is best in life.

    Love care honor growth—fine simple things and I make a
    vow of them to you.

    I too vow these to you who I also love and also to the
    careful protecting and preserving of dreams. Circle within
    circle, concentrically guarded, in the pliable element of
    the innermost heart, a garden blossoms in a golden ring;
    the dream of dawn in paradise shines there. Love is
    imagination’s spur and food.

    I promise you a future, impossible things, Justice and freedom
    and life without loss,

    a practical pillow, a home, in fact, a sheltering and withstanding
    spirit and always a room for your dreaming.

    Light is the Wedding of Matter and Spirit,
    wave and particle, it is neither and both,
    and is in itself the blood of creation.
    It floods across galaxies and has no end,
    it describes and transforms with a single motion.

    May our love be as light.

    VI. And Then…

    Together, old and content,
    the day is warm and nearly over, the first breeze of
    plays in your hair. The sun sinks behind us,
    silhouetting the city.
    An old hand is ringing down the curtain.
    We cross the bridge that goes east
    into night.

  26. I love the ancient Greek story about soulmates. Basically, the gods created humans to have two heads, four arms, and four legs, but one heart. All people were truly happy, and the gods became jealous, so they split every human so that they only had one head, two arms, two legs, and half a heart. We are destined to find our other half, or soulmate, to become complete again.

    The actual wording of the myth is beautiful (I butchered it just now).

    Another myth I particularily love is Eros and Psyche. Basically, Eros represents the physical, and Psyche the mind. For true love to exist, there needs to be both.

    I love the statue of eros and psyche with his wings all flung out, and her in his arms <3 !!!

    • I love the first myth, too! If anyone is looking for a set out "script" for the myth, Aristophanes explains it in his speech in Plato's Symposium, and I think "The Origin of Love" song in Hedwig and the Angy Inch is absolutely beautiful.

      I haven't heard the second myth, but that sounds gorgeous.

    • there's a song about the first myth actually, its called The Origin of Love from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch

  27. If you are looking for particularily unique love poems, you might also try a metaphysical poet. They have this amazing way of comparing things so obscurely, but making it sound SO RIGHT.

    Eg- in "Valediction of Forbidden Mourning," John Donne compares his love to the foot of a compass (drawing tool), and himself to the wandering end. No mater how far he goes (the poem is about him leaving on a long journey), her foot brings him in a full circle, and make him end where he began.

    LOVE IT!

  28. We had the Sandol Stoddard one at our wedding. It was awesome. My friend is an actor and he read it brilliantly.

    We also had these:

    "All I Ever Really Needed to Know
    I Learned in Kindergarten"
    Robert Fulgham
    "All of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
    These are the things I learned..
    Share everything.
    Play fair.
    Don't hit people.
    Put things back where you found them.
    Clean up your own mess.
    Don't take things that aren't yours.
    Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
    Wash your hands before you eat.
    Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
    Live a balanced life.
    Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
    Take a nap every afternoon.

    Be aware of wonder.
    Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

    Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.

    And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."

    and this:

    “When we find someone
    Whose weirdness
    Is compatible with ours
    We join up with them
    And fall into
    Mutually satisfying weirdness
    That is called
    True love”

    We also had this printed on the first page of our orders of service:

    “This guy is walking down the street, when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out.

    A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up,
    'Hey, you, can you help me out? I'm in a hole here'.
    The doctor writes out a prescription, throws it into the hole and moves on.

    A priest walks past. The guy calls out,
    'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?'.
    The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

    Then a friend walks by. The guy shouts up,
    'Hey, it's me, can you help me out?'
    The friend jumps into the hole.

    Our guy says,
    'Are you stupid, now we're both down here?'
    The friend says,
    'Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out'.”
    Leo McGarry – The West Wing

  29. Writer Dan Savage explaining marriage to his 6-year-old son:

    (From act II of the This American Life Episode “A Little Bit of Knowledge” — It's a great story about how Dan and his boyfriend explain marriage and gay marriage to their son.)

    "There's something in your heart that makes you go out into the world and find someone new, someone you've met before, and that's the person you fall in love with."
    “Because that's how new families are made and someday you'll meet the person you want to make a new family with and that's the person you're supposed to marry.”
    “Because marriage is a promise that you make to that other person, a promise to stay in love with them forever, to be related forever, and that you'll always be together.”

    I'm not sure if/how I'll use this for my wedding, but it's my favorite definition of marriage so far.

  30. One of my favorite readings is a hilarious and sentimental poem by Ogden Nash, "Tin Wedding Whistle". I first heard it at one of the first weddings I photographed — a Scottish groom and a Jewish bride under a chuppah made of cornstalks on the family farm. Very OBB long before OBB existed…I'm sure she would have fit right in here! Anyway, it is as follows:

    Tin Wedding Whistle
    Ogden Nash

    Though you know it anyhow
    Listen to me, darling, now,

    Proving what I need not prove
    How I know I love you, love.

    Near and far, near and far,
    I am happy where you are;

    Likewise I have never larnt
    How to be it where you aren't.

    Far and wide, far and wide,
    I can walk with you beside;

    Furthermore, I tell you what,
    I sit and sulk where you are not.

    Visitors remark my frown
    Where you're upstairs and I am down,

    Yes, and I'm afraid I pout
    When I'm indoors and you are out;

    But how contentedly I view
    Any room containing you.

    In fact I care not where you be,
    Just as long as it's with me.

    In all your absences I glimpse
    Fire and flood and trolls and imps.

    Is your train a minute slothful?
    I goad the stationmaster wrothful.

    When with friends to bridge you drive
    I never know if you're alive,

    And when you linger late in shops
    I long to telephone the cops.

    Yet how worth the waiting for,
    To see you coming through the door.

    Somehow, I can be complacent
    Never but with you adjacent.

    Near and far, near and far,
    I am happy where you are;

    Likewise I have never larnt
    How to be it where you aren't.

    Then grudge me not my fond endeavor,
    To hold you in my sight forever;

    Let none, not even you, disparage
    Such a valid reason for a marriage.

    • LOVE this poem! I'm also a fan of Ogden Nash's "To My Valentine":

      More than a catbird hates a cat,
      Or a criminal hates a clue,
      Or the Axis hates the United States,
      That's how much I love you.

      I love you more than a duck can swim,
      And more than a grapefruit squirts,
      I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
      And more than a toothache hurts.

      As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
      Or a juggler hates a shove,
      As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
      That's how much you I love.

      I love you more than a wasp can sting,
      And more than the subway jerks,
      I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
      And more than a hangnail irks.

      I swear to you by the stars above,
      And below, if such there be,
      As the High Court loathes perjurious oaths,
      That's how you're love by me.

  31. There are some really beautiful readings on here, so many I'd love to use but feel slightly hypocritical as this is my partner's second marriage so all the 'marriage is forever' stuff doesn't really ring true.

    Anyone got any ideas?

    ~ James Dillet Freeman ~

    May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
    May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.
    May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
    May you want one another, but not out of lack.
    May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
    May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
    May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
    May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults.
    If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
    May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another's presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
    May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
    May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

  33. This one is from the Velveteen Rabbit

    a link to the full online text

    I think we edited it down a bit from this though it seems really long now that I look at it again, and my whole ceremony was 15 minutes. No need to make people sit quietly in chairs for hours when really they want to hang out and have fun.


    For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his rigging in technical terms. The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn't know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles. Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, who was made by the disabled soldiers, and should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended he was connected with Government. Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

    The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

    "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

    "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

    "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

    "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

    "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

    "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

    • OMG!! I haven't heard this in forever! My mom used to read this to me as a kid!! I'm totally going to make her read it at the wedding! hahaha great poem and hilarious.

  34. Love the MTX song. I'm not sure how we're going to use it but The Groovie Ghoulies will be part of our wedding for sure. My boy sang this song to me when we first got together and I was down about him going back to base.

    Till Death Do Us Party:
    Here's how it is, I know the score, don't count on anything for sure.
    Leave no regrets, and waste no time.
    What's mine is yours and yours is mine.
    'Til death do us party, let us make a pact.

    No one will come between us, no one will turn us back.
    No one will get in our way, no one will bring us down.
    No one will make us feel like we're not worthy of the crown.
    I look at things surrounding me, and I like everything I see.
    If it was gone, I wouldn't care, when I look over you're right there.
    'Til death do us party.
    1-2-3-5 No one here gets out alive!
    6-7-9-10 Re-incarnate, do it again!

  35. And hand in hand,
    by the edge of the sand,
    they danced by the light of the moon,
    the moon,
    they danced by the light of the moon

    Amen. I love The Owl and the Pussycat and was wondering how to incoorporate it into the wedding. I made us a picture book once where I was the pusscat and he was the owl (his totem animal). I really want to repeat the theme.

  36. ZOMG!!! I was looking for a reading for our wedding and have to thank Jess for posting the one taken from the Massachusetts Supreme Court. My partner and I have decided to get married in Mass even though our license won't be valid in our home state of Florida. This makes it bittersweet for us, but just the thought that for the short time we are there, we will have the same rights as our friends, family, neighbors and coworkers have is too much for us to refuse the opportunity. 🙂

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