Great poets use words to make thoughts and emotions come alive, so what better time to read one aloud than at your wedding? To find the wedding poem that suits both of you best, determine what style you’d like. Do you want something that rhymes? Or do you favor a more modern free verse? Are you a fan of the classic poets? Do you want a verse on nature? A sonnet? Or even a Haiku? Remember, it is all up to you.
A poem will fit into your ceremony wherever readings are appropriate. You can set the tone at the beginning of your ceremony with a poem after the officiant's welcome. You may also include a poem before your vows. If you’re having a sub-ceremony like a unity candle or sand ceremony, a poem can be read while you perform these actions. A wedding poem can also be read after your ring exchange just before the officiate offers a blessing of the marriage or pronounces you married.
If you are having a religious ceremony, check with your priest or minister to see if secular love poems are allowed. You may be limited to scripture only.
Ahead, we've rounded up poems that are all about love and looking to the future with your partner.
"Slow Me Down, Lord!" Wilferd A. Peterson
“Let me look upward
into the branches of the towering oak
and know that it is great and strong
because it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord,
and inspire me to send my roots deep
into the soil of nature’s enduring values
that I may grow towards the stars
of my greater destiny.”
"A Wedding Toast," James Bertolino
“May your love be firm,
And may your dream of a life together
be a river between two shores
by day bathed in sunlight, and by night
illuminated from within. May the heron
carry news of you to the heavens, and the salmon bring
the sea’s blue grace. May your twin thoughts spiral upward
like leafy vines, like fiddle strings in the wind,
and be as noble as the Douglas fir.
May you never find yourselves back to back
without love pulling you around
into each other’s arms.”
"New Beginnings," Barbara Crooker
“May this be a day of new beginnings
the sun, like a fragrant apple; the summer air,
soft on your hands as the kiss of a child.
May berries melt like honey on your tongue.
May your heart rise in wonder
at the clouds drifting across the sky.
May the trails under your boots
be covered in pine quills,
let the leaves rain down
in the autumn of your heart.
May the snow beneath your skis
run as fast as watered silk,
may the cold air kiss your cheeks,
turn them red as summer's roses.
May the rivers always flow
with their unexpected beauty,
the first freshets of snowmelt,
the rush of early spring. May you always walk in gladness
through whatever path or highway;
may you always walk within the golden circle of your love.”
"In One Another’s Souls," Rumi
“The moment I heard my first love story
I started looking for you,
not knowing how useless that was.
Lovers don’t meet somewhere along the way.
They’re in one another’s souls all along.”
"Now Touch The Air Softly," William Jay Smith
“Now touch the air softly, step gently, one, two...
I’ll love you ’till roses are robin’s-egg blue;
I’ll love you till gravel is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange, and lavender’s red.
Now touch the air softly, swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you till windows are all of a room;
And the table is laid, And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes on bottomless air.
I’ll love you ‘till heaven rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down like a river below,
And earth is ablaze, and the oceans aglow.
So touch the air softly, and swing the broom high.
We will dust the grey mountains, and sweep the blue sky:
And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plough,
As however is ever, and ever is now.”
"In Your Light I Learn How to Love," Rumi
“In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”
"I Saw Two Clouds at Morning," John G. C. Brainard
“I saw two clouds at morning,
tinged by the rising sun,
and in the dawn they floated on,
and mingled into one;
I thought that morning cloud was blest,
it moved so sweetly to the west.
I saw two summer currents
flow smoothly to their meeting,
and join their course, with silent force,
in peace each other greeting;
calm was their course through banks of green,
while dimpling eddies played between.
Such be your gentle motion,
‘till life’s last pulse shall beat;
like summer’s beam and summer’s stream,
float on in joy, to meet
a calmer sea, where storms shall cease,
a purer sky, where all is peace.”
"Touched by an Angel," Maya Angelou
“We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.”
"The Gift," Pam Brown
“In you are flowers and firelight,
stars and songbirds,
the scent of summer,
the stillness just before dawn.
I love you today,
dressed in glory.
I will love you always-
dancing, singing, reading, making, planning, arguing.
I will love you cantankerous, and tired,
courageous and in terror,
joyful, fearful and triumphant.
I will love you through all weathers and all change.
For all you are is precious to me.
And every day I live with you
and share your love
is a gift to me.”
"At Nightfall," Charles Hanson Towne
“I need so much the quiet of your love
After the day’s loud strife;
I need your calm all other things above
After the stress of life.
I crave the haven that in your dear heart lies,
After all toil is done;
I need the star shine of your heavenly eyes,
After the day’s great sun.”
"It Was Said With Such Authority," Gary E. McCormick
“I’ll give you the gist of
what was said
It was about love
and the sayer
said it had nothing to do with receiving
love was all about giving
plain and simple
You could tell this guy
walked the talk
He made it clear
you must love yourself
before you can
begin to love another
The guy reminded me
of that lover from Galilee”
"Devoted," Lori Eberhai
“My heart can be your home,
my soul can be your refuge.
You can turn to me when you are weak,
you can call to me when the way is not clear.
I will be your promise and your prayer,
I will always be there,
Constant and complete.
Run to me,
reach out for me,
and I will love you in a unique and tender way.
Bring your love to me,
share your love with me,
sing your love to me,
and I will offer you peace, ease and comfort.”
"The Privileged Lovers," Rumi
“The moon has become a dancer at this festival of love.
This dance of light, this sacred blessing, this divine love,
beckons us to a world beyond, only lovers can see with their eyes of fiery passion.
They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.
Once they were particles of light, now they are the radiant sun.
They have left behind the world of deceitful games.
They are the privileged lovers who create a new world
with their eyes of fiery passion.”
"How Do I Love Thee?" Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."
"I Carry Your Heart With Me," E.E. Cummings
"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart"
"Stardust," Lang Leav
"If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a name I have never heard, I would still know you. Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you. Somewhere between the sand and the stardust, through every collapse and creation, there is a pulse that echoes of you and I.
When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories. Love is the only thing we take with us. It is all we carry from one life to the next."
"Variation on the Word Sleep," Margaret Atwood
"I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary."
"Our Souls Are Mirrors," Rupi Kaur
"god must have kneaded you and i
from the same dough
rolled us out as one on the baking sheet
must have suddenly realized
how unfair it was
to put that much magic in one person
and sadly split that dough in two
how else is it that
when i look in the mirror
i am looking at you
when you breathe
my own lungs fill with air
that we just met but we
have known each other our whole lives
if we were not made as one to begin with"
"To Love Is Not to Posses," 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 Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer," Eugenio Montejo
"The earth turned to bring us closer,
it spun on itself and within us,
and finally joined us together in this dream
as written in the Symposium.
Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices;
time passed in minutes and millennia.
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh
arrived in Nebraska.
A rooster was singing some distance from the world,
in one of the thousand pre-lives of our fathers.
The earth was spinning with its music
carrying us on board;
it didn’t stop turning a single moment
as if so much love, so much that’s miraculous
was only an adagio written long ago
in the Symposium’s score."
"Chemistry," Nayyirah Waheed
you touching my arm
setting fire to my mind."
"Defeated by Love," Rumi
"The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon
I fell to the ground
has made me sure
I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
to the magnificence
of your Being"
"Desire," Alice Walker
is always the same; wherever Life
I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water.
I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
I want to grow
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I’ve survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it."
"The Day Sky," Hafiz
"Let us be like
two falling stars in the day sky.
Let no one know of our sublime beauty
as we hold hands with God
Into a sacred existence that defies
Every description of ecstasy
"Children Running Through," Rumi
"I used to be shy.
You made me sing.
I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.
In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.
Now children run through
and make faces at me."
"The Wedding Vow," Sharon Olds
"I did not stand at the altar, I stood
at the foot of the chancel steps, with my beloved,
and the minister stood on the top step
holding the open Bible. The church
was wood, painted ivory inside, no people—God’s
stable perfectly cleaned. It was night,
spring—outside, a moat of mud,
and inside, from the rafters, flies
fell onto the open Bible, and the minister
tilted it and brushed them off. We stood
beside each other, crying slightly
with fear and awe. In truth, we had married
that first night, in bed, we had been
married by our bodies, but now we stood
in history—what our bodies had said,
mouth to mouth, we now said publicly,
gathered together, death. We stood
holding each other by the hand, yet I also
stood as if alone, for a moment,
just before the vow, though taken
years before, took. It was a vow
of the present and the future, and yet I felt it
to have some touch on the distant past
or the distant past on it, I felt
the silent, dry, crying ghost of my
parents’ marriage there, somewhere
in the bright space—perhaps one of the
plummeting flies, bouncing slightly
as it hit forsaking all others, then was brushed
away. I felt as if I had come
to claim a promise—the sweetness I’d inferred
from their sourness; and at the same time that I had
come, congenitally unworthy, to beg.
And yet, I had been working toward this hour
all my life. And then it was time
to speak—he was offering me, no matter
what, his life. That is all I had to
do, that evening, to accept the gift
I had longed for—to say I had accepted it,
as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take?
I do. I take as he takes—we have been
practicing this. Do you bear this pleasure? I do."
"Every Day You Play," Pablo Neruda
"Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.
You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.
Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.
The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.
You are here. Oh, you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.
Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.
How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.
My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."
"I Got Kin," Hafiz
so that your own heart
so God will think
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
for coffee and
because this is a food
our starving world
because that is the purest
"The Ache of Marriage," Denise Levertov
"The ache of marriage:
thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth
We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each
It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it
two by two in the ark of
the ache of it."
"Love Is A Place," E. E. Cummings
"love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
"We," Nayyirah Waheed
return to each
"A Great Need," Hafiz
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is a letting go.
The terrain around here
"Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond," E. E. Cummings
"somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands"