Weddings can present a whirlwind of emotions, and the most powerful, of course, is love. The wedding ceremony is the beginning of a lifetime commitment, and this can be daunting.
Poetry is such a great way to express what you feel, and a very romantic way to speak of your love. Reading poetry at a wedding (or having someone else read a poem) could make the moment all the more sweet.
What Is a Wedding Poem Called?
Epithalamiums are poems that were written specifically for the bride on her way to the marital chamber. This tradition originated among the Greeks as a song of praise for the bride and groom, and remained popular through the history of the classical world.
Today, however, many couples choose to read a love poem before the ceremony or in lieu of traditional vows, or perhaps have a member of the bridal party read the poem at the reception.
The Best Wedding Poems
While most of the poems below speak of love, they especially highlight the affection, admiration, and commitment between the couple on their big day, whereas other love poems might speak of the pain, excitement, versatility, and many other sides of love.
All of the following poems could make great additions to a wedding program, and could be read by the officiant, the couple themselves, a member of the bridal party, or a special guest.
“The White Rose” by John Boyle O’Reilly
John Boyle O’Reilly speaks of the perfect combination for a lasting love: one that is pure, but with a “kiss of desire” on the lips.
The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
“The Day Sky” by Hafiz
A surpassing expression of great love, Hafiz writes “The Day Sky” about how he sees love as an ecstatic and most glorious thing.
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
“This Marriage” by Rumi
Another poem from Rumi, “This Marriage” may as well be a vow one would read at his/her wedding. It is a gentle wish for a lifetime of joyous marriage.
May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
“She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron
This poem by Lord Byron speaks of great admiration for the beauty of your better half.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
This sweet and touching poem by Anne Bradstreet is sure to get an emotional response from your wedding’s attendees, but most of all from the groom.
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere,
That when we live no more we may live ever.
“My True-Love Hath My Heart” by Sir Philip Sidney
This sweet poem by the English poet Sir Philip Sidney tells of the mutual, unconditional love between two people.
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one to the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven:
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.
His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own;
I cherish his because in me it bides:
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.
“Falling Stars” by Rainer Maria Rilke
A Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, Rainer Maria Rilke is known for his lyrically intense poetry. “Falling Stars” speaks of a love so magical and enduring.
Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes...
Read the full poem here.
“It’s all I have to bring today” by Emily Dickinson
Regarded as one of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson shows her powerful skills in “It’s all I have to bring today.” The poem speaks of love’s generosity and enveloping passion.
It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This classic poem offers a sweet, heartfelt way to tell your significant other just how much you really love them on your special day.
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.
“Marriage” by William Carlos Williams
This short and sweet poem by William Carlos Williams may not seem to say much, but it illustrates how two different individuals come together through the act of marriage.
So different, this man
And this woman:
A stream flowing
In a field.
How to Write a Love Poem of Your Own
Want to express yourself in your own words on the big day? You can try writing your very own love poem from the heart.
Start by checking out our tips on how to write a poem, which will give you the right foundation to start with. Then, when you’re ready to write something really special for your wedding day, keep these notes in mind:
- Speak from the heart.
- Focus on what makes your relationship special.
- Avoid clichés.
- Use a sincere tone.
- Keep it short and sweet, if possible.
- Write it down and keep it forever to remember this special moment!
The Best Poetry for Weddings
These poems likely won’t leave a dry eye in the wedding chapel, and they’re also awesome ways to speak your heart out.
Reading poetry for your better half is quite a creative and certainly heartwarming way to start your lifetime of love together.
Which of these poems did you find most touching? Let us know in the comments below!