Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples

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

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

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


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 …

Comments on Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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]

    • Thank you so much! I saw that a while ago when I was browsing one day and couldn't find it again. I love it.

    • oh my god. I HAVE to use that!! there are so many things in there that exactly relate to my relationship…. like it was written for me! lol…. okay I am a nerd but THANK SO MUCH!!!!!!

    • THANK YOU for introducing this to me! 🙂 I LOVE IT! It is right up my alley! I may end up using this for my ceremony as well, and I’m definitely buying the book! It is perfect! <3

    • We used this as a reading! It was read by a friend with theatrical flair. Very fun.

    • Did you use the entire thing for your vows?? Or some? Cause I would love to use all of it ^_^ lol

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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…

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