Wedding season is almost here, everybody! When spring rolls around, brides and grooms always look to their bookish friends for advice on wedding readings. Sure, 1 Corinthians is great, but what about reading some short wedding poems instead? These literary selections from Nikki Giovanni, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, and more are sure to add style and sophistication to any wedding ceremony. So whether you’re trying to find a reading for a friend’s wedding or your own, look no further than this list of short wedding poems.
“How Do I Love You” by Mary Oliver
How do I love you?
Oh, this way and that way.
Oh, happily. Perhaps
I may elaborate by
like this and
no more words now
“Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
“You Came too” by Nikki Giovanni
I came to the crowd seeking friends
I came to the crowd seeking love
I came to the crowd for understanding
I found you
I came to the crowd to weep
I came to the crowd to laugh
You dried my tears
You shared my happiness
I went from the crowd seeking you
I went from the crowd seeking me
I went from the crowd forever
You came, too
“Pathways” by 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.
“Beauty That Is Never Old” by James Weldon Johnson
When buffeted and beaten by life’s storms,
When by the bitter cares of life oppressed,
I want no surer haven than your arms,
I want no sweeter heaven than your breast.
When over my life’s way there falls the blight
Of sunless days, and nights of starless skies;
Enough for me, the calm and steadfast light
That softly shines within your loving eyes.
The world, for me, and all the world can hold
Is circled by your arms; for me there lies,
Within the lights and shadows of your eyes,
The only beauty that is never old.
“Touched by an Angel” by 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.
“A Moment of Happiness” by Rumi
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
“Love is a Place” by ee cummings
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
“Love Song” by Mary Carolyn Davies
There is a strong wall about me to protect me:
It is built of the words you have said to me.
There are swords about me to keep me safe:
They are the kisses of your lips.
Before me goes a shield to guard me from harm:
It is the shadow of your arms between me and danger.
All the wishes of my mind know your name,
And the white desires of my heart
They are acquainted with you.
The cry of my body for completeness,
That is a cry to you.
My blood beats out your name to me,
Your name, your name.
“Habitation” by Margaret Atwood
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
What are your favorite short wedding poems? Looking for more poetry recommendations? Read on at: