I’m a fan of love poems. Whether they are silly, sexy, funny, sappy, classic, modern, rhyming or free verse, I am find enjoyment in the words of poetry. Weddings are just the thing to get my mind going about love poems. Sure there are poems that are commonly read at weddings—not that there is anything wrong with using a tried-and-true poem. But did you know that you could find a love poem to capture just about any sentiment you are looking for?
Because I write weddings for a living, I have quite a few books of poems that I keep bedside to peruse for ideas. I have books of poems by Shakespeare, Rumi, Mary Oliver and Billy Collins. I also have compilations of love poetry by many authors that include ee cummings, Blake, Yeats, Shelly, Neruda and beyond.
If you are new to poetry, there are a couple of ways you can find poems for your wedding that appeal to you. Getting a beautiful book of love poems is a great approach. Perhaps surprise your partner by giving him or her the book of poems that you can share over your lifetime together. The Internet is another great resource. I frequently begin my searches at Poetry Foundation. I search on several keywords such as love and food. Then I read a bunch of titles until something looks interesting or I recognize a poet I am particularly fond of. And of course, if you love a certain poet, start with his or her poems and see if something fits the bill for you and your love.
Here are some of the poems that I have used in wedding ceremonies based on themes that emerged about the couple. Some of them may be unusual, but every couple is unique, so why not make your wedding readings match your style?
And please share your favorite love poems for weddings with us. We’d love to hear from you!
Do you love contradictions…
By Pablo Neruda
You must know that I do not love and that I love you,
because everything alive has its two sides;
a word is one wing of silence,
fire has its cold half.
I love you in order to begin to love you,
to start infinity again
and never to stop loving you:
that’s why I do not love you yet.
I love you, and I do not love you, as if I held
keys in my hand: to a future of joy-
a wretched, muddled fate-
My love has two lives, in order to love you:
that’s why I love you when I do not love you,
and also why I love you when I do.
Are you a Zen spirited guy or gal…
Come to the orchard in Spring
Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.
If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.
Perhaps you are a fan of sexy vocals like Johnny Hartman…
By Billy Collins
You are so beautiful and I am a fool
to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don’t hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.
For no particular reason this afternoon
I am listening to Johnny Hartman
whose dark voice can curl around
the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness
like no one else’s can.
It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette
someone left burning on a baby grand piano
around three o’clock in the morning;
smoke that billows up into the bright lights
while out there in the darkness
some of the beautiful fools have gathered
around little tables to listen,
some with their eyes closed,
others leaning forward into the music
as if it were holding them up,
or twirling the loose ice in a glass,
slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream.
Yes, there is all this foolish beauty,
borne beyond midnight,
that has no desire to go home,
especially now when everyone in the room
is watching the large man with the tenor sax
that hangs from his neck like a golden fish.
He moves forward to the edge of the stage
and hands the instrument down to me
and nods that I should play.
So I put the mouthpiece to my lips
and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish,
my long bebop solo begins by saying,
so damn foolish
we have become beautiful without even knowing it.
Are you shy about admitting your love…
I do not love thee
By Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.
I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!
I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.
I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.
I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.
Or are you sexy and not afraid to share it publicly…
When He Pressed His Lips
By Steve Kowit
When he pressed his lips to my mouth
the knot fell open of itself.
When he pressed them to my throat
the dress slipped to my feet.
So much I know—but
when his lips touched my breast
everything, I swear,
down to his very name,
became so much confused
that I am still,
unable to recount
(as much as I would care to)
were next bestowed upon me
& by whom.
Or maybe you are a doctor who appreciates the beauty of the living heart…
By Billy Collins
It has a bronze covering inlaid with silver,
the sides are decorated with openwork zoomorphic
panels depicting events in the history
of an unknown religion.
The convoluted top-piece shows a high
level of relief articulation
as do the interworked spirals at the edges.
It was presumably carried in the house-shaped
reliquary alongside it, an object of exceptional
ornament, one of the few such pieces extant.
The handle, worn smooth, indicates its use
in long-forgotten rituals, perhaps
of a sacrificial nature.
It is engirdled with an inventive example
of gold interlacing, no doubt of Celtic influence.
Previously thought to be a pre-Carolingian work,
it is now considered to be of more recent provenance,
probably the early 1940’s.
The ball at the center, visible
through the interstices of the lead webbing
and the elaborate copper grillwork,
is composed possibly of jelly
or an early version of water,
certainly a liquid, remarkably suspended
within the intricate craftsmanship of its encasement.
There is a love poem out there for you!