A carefully selected poem can be a meaningful addition to your wedding ceremony and can help to express sentiments you may find difficult to verbalise in your own words. If you are considering incorporating the art of poetry into your ceremony, here are some tips and marriage celebrant approved examples to help you make your decision.
Choosing a wedding poem
Civil Celebrant Sally Cant has more than 20 years of experience as a celebrant and says that in recent years couples are “opting to choose readings that they really connect with”, when it comes to selecting the right poem for their wedding ceremony.
Sally says that many of the couples she marries express to her that they are seeking truly authentic ceremony experiences, and they will often choose content that deeply resonates with them, rather than using a poem they don’t connect with simply for the sake of including a reading.
Sally advises that when choosing a family member or friend to perform a reading during your ceremony it can be beneficial to consider allowing them to choose it for you. This can create a more meaningful experience for both the reader and the couple. “Often you will find that when your family member or friend picks something they want to read they actually take ownership of it, and they will thoughtfully consider a piece that will resonate with you both as a couple.”
When choosing more than one poem to incorporate in your ceremony, Sally suggests that couples should try to keep a sense of balance in the timing of the readings. Sally says, “If there is a light-hearted reading and a more heartfelt reading chosen, it flows better to have the light-hearted poem read before the vows, and the heartfelt one to be said after.”
How to incorporate a poem in your wedding ceremony
A wedding poem can be read at any moment throughout the duration of your ceremony, however, it is important to discuss this with your celebrant before deciding the timing of your recitals. You may recite a poem as part of your vows, you may ask your celebrant to recite a poem, or you may request a friend or family member to recite a poem in honour of you and your partner.
Below are examples of marriage celebrant approved poems.
From The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let here be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart
And a song of praise upon your lips.
To Chloe – William Cartwright
There are two births; the one when light
First strikes the new awakend sense;
The other when two souls unite,
And we must count our life from thence:
When you loved me and I loved you
Then both of us were born anew.
Love then to us new souls did give
And in those souls did plant new powers;
Since when another life we live,
The breath we breathe is his, not ours:
Love makes those young whom age doth chill,
And whom he finds young keeps young still.
O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns
My luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a the seas gang dry.
Till a the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho it were ten thousand mile!
Oh the Places You’ll Go – Dr Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the couple who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, ‘We don’t choose to go there’
With your heads full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down, any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air,
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to great heights!
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have all the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang, and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because sometimes, you won’t.
You’ll get mixed up of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with so many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with great care and great tact
and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and + percent guaranteed.)
KIDS, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So, be your name Buxbaum or Dowrie or Bass
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So get on your way!
From A Navajo Wedding Ceremony
Now you have lit a fire and that fire should not go out.
The two of you now have a fire that represents love,
understanding and a philosophy of life.
It will give you heat, food, warmth and happiness.
The new fire represents a new beginning – a new life and a new family.
The fire should keep burning; you should stay together.
You have lit the fire for life, until old age separates you.
Unknown title – Regina Hill
When two people join together
and bond their lives forever
because they are certain they have something special
that will make their commitment last
this is the first act of faith. Upon this act of faith these two people will build a life.
and as long as their determination stays with them
this life will always be their hope, their dreams, their truth, their being, their inspiration,
and their source of strength.
Through their life together, they will hurt and laugh.
Together they will feel all of life’s up and downs.
They will learn and grow through trial and error.
The lessons will show them the meaning of true love
And the difference between a love that lasts
and one that just gives up.
These two people will face each failure together and
discover the strength to go on.
They will encourage each other’s dreams and forgive each other’s faults.
Through a labour of love.
these two will become as one,
fighting against the odds and ultimately creating
a commitment that will grow into an infinite love.
I love you – Unknown
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 me
I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
I love you for passing over all my foolish and weak traits,
That you can’t help but see
I love you for drawing out into the light my beauty,
That no one else had looked quite far enough to din
I love you.
Leap into the void – Yves Klein 1957
Come with me into the void
If you return one day
You who, like me dream,
Of that wonderful void
That absolute love
I know that together
Without needing to say a single word to each other
We will leap
Into the reality of that void
That awaits our love
The way I wait for you every day
Come with me into the void
A tapestry of love
Just as two very different threads woven in opposite directions can form a beautiful tapestry, so can your two lives merge together to form a beautiful marriage.
To make your marriage work will take love.
Love should be the core of your marriage;
love is the reason you are here.
But it will also take trust – to know in your hearts
you want the best for each other.
It will take dedication to stay open to one another;
to learn and to grow together even when this is not so easy to do.
It will take faith to always be willing to go forward to tomorrow, never really knowing what tomorrow will bring.
And it will take commitment to hold true to a journey you both now will share together.
It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round.
However, without doubt, it is friendship which keeps our spinning existence
on an even keel.
True friendship provides so many of the
essentials for a happy life
it is the foundation on which to build an enduring relationship,
it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony,
and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic.
True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness.
True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential.
This couple came together as friends,
they pledge to each other not only their love but also the strength, warmth and,
most importantly, the fun of true friendship.
Song written by Daniel Handler of The Magnetic Fields
Asleep and Dreaming
I’ve seen you laugh at nothing at all
I’ve seen you sadly weeping
The sweetest thing I ever saw
was you asleep and dreaming
I’ve seen you when your ship came in
And when your train was leaving
The sweetest thing I ever saw
was you asleep and dreaming
Well you may not be beautiful
But it’s not for me to judge
I don’t know if you’re beautiful
Because I love you too much
November’ – F.S. Flint
What is eternal of you
I saw in both your eyes.
You were among the apple branches;
the sun shone, and it was November.
Sun and apples and laughter
and love we gathered, you and I.
And the birds were singing.
You share today the joy of a deep commitment
And a sacred trust, and you have given each other
The most precious gift of love
Treasure it, nurture it and encourage it
With all the honesty you used in creating it
You are sharing something rare and beautiful
Always speak the truth and listen attentively
So that you may understand each others thoughts and intentions
Inspire each other by sharing your accomplishments
Say I love you often to retain the warmth between you
Laugh a lot too, even when you are angry
Remember you are each other’s best friend
Stand together and for each other always
May each day be a blessing
And the fulfillment of your dreams.
From the Sanskrit
Look to this day for it is life
The very life of life in its brief course
lie all the varieties and realities of your existence
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty
For yesterday is already a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Wedding prayer – Adapted . Robert Lois Stevenson (1850-1894)
Lord, behold our family and friends here assembled
We thank you for this place in which we celebrate
For the love that it unites us
For the peace accorded to this day
For the hope with which we dream
For the health, the work, the food,
And the bright skies that make our lives delightful
For our friends and family in all parts of the earth.
Celebration – Rev. Carl Thitchener 2003
We celebrate the love that brought you to this day.
With love that deepens through many years, may they know its meaning and its mystery-how we become truly one in sharing ourselves with one another, and yet, remain truly two in our own uniqueness. May your house be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing, a place for music, a place for laughter. And when shadows and darkness fall within its rooms, may it still be a place of hope and strength for all who enter it, especially for those who may be entrusted in your care. May no person be alien to your compassion. May your larger family be the family of all humankind. And may those who are nearest to you and dearest to you constantly be enriched by the beauty and the energy of your love for each other