Speak To Me Of Love.

Inspiration For Your Wedding Readings

If you’re anything like me then you’re a hopeless romantic.

You probably openly admit that you love Valentine’s Day despite being fully aware that it’s a commercial gimmick, cry at every romantic film you’ve ever watched and you’re a compulsive hoarder of every single note and letter than your beau has written to you. Actually that last trait makes me sound slightly odd doesn’t it…

Moving on…

If you are indeed a member of the ‘hopeless romantic’ club then I’d wager that you’re currently or have already agonised over which readings and/or poems to include in your w-day. The ceremony was hand-over-fist the best part of our wedding but it took us a darned long time to find the most perfect passages for it.

I’ll take a moment to admit here that there was a point when we thought that we might not actually find anything that we really liked or that reflected us as a couple. You can imagine then the despairing cries of aforementioned ‘hopeless romantic’ one month before the big day.

I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say this is not an experience that I want you to endure. With this in mind, what more can I do than to share some of my favourite poems, lyrics and readings with you in the hopes that it will inspire you on the way to wedding ceremony glory.

If you can’t stand the twee sentimentality of so many conventional wedding readings (I hear ya lady!!) then ‘Foxtrot From A Play’ by W H Auden might be your bag. It’s sweet without being saccharine and funny too. It canters along at a fairly decent pace so if you’re not one for long ceremonies then this will slot in perfectly without taking up too much time.

Foxtrot

I actually chose ‘Love’ by Roy Croft for my own big day alongside one other poem which I haven’t included in this post namely because it includes some choice swear words and the ’s’ word. Trust me there were a couple of raised eyebrows but the boy and I loved the poem so much that we had to include it.

‘Love’ was our tamer reading but no less powerful for it. It resonates with me partly because even within its lines it speaks of a relationship between two people and the role love has to play within it. It’s a two way thing people! Admittedly this is a shortened version of the whole poem but the lines ‘I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things, that you can’t help dimly seeing there’ still make me tearful every time I read them.

Love

‘Valentine’ by Carol Ann Duffy is perhaps an unconventional choice but I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I read it as part of my GCSE English course. Incidentally did anyone else have that anthology? It’s powerful, it’s passionate and a bit dark too. You could even argue that it’s slightly critical of marriage but I choose to overlook this because of the gritty truth that emanates from its lines.

Valentine

‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams is slightly longer than your average poem but I can’t help but implore you to have it for your big day. Gorgeously written with bagfuls of emotion and depth and of course, love, I guarantee that you’ll have every couple in the place looking at each another with misty eyes. One of my dearest friends included it in her big day last year and I nearly blubbed my way out of the service…

The-Velveteen-Rabbit

Lastly why not think about using lyrics instead of more traditional readings and poems? I walked down the aisle to Angus and Julia Stone’s ‘The Wedding Song’ because the boy and I heard the song together one hot summer’s day and immediately fell in love with the delicious lyrics.

Is there a song that is close to your heart? Why not read it aloud on your big day…

The-wedding-song

So there we have it – a few of our favourites as a starter for ten but we’d really appreciate it if you would share yours too, that way the RMW community can all be inspired by each other’s romantic genius.

All my love Lolly xxx

43 thoughts on “Speak To Me Of Love.

  1. I absolutely love these readings! ‘Love’ is just beautiful, it’s the one I’ll be reading on our wedding day. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes, goodness knows what I’ll be like on the day! Waterproof mascara at the ready 😉

  2. Oooooo how timely is this – I was asked at the weekend to do a reading at one of my best friend’s wedding – and she’s told me to pick something….no pressure there then!

    I ADORE that Carol Ann Duffy poem, and yes, I did have that GCSE anthology. I like that it’s quite brutal while still being about love…bit dark but very true.

    My absolute favourite though for a poem about love is William Yeats’ ‘Cloths of Heaven’. I just think it’s beautiful and really captures the vulnerability that you feel when you first fall in love with someone…

    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

    Enwrought with golden and silver light,

    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

    Of night and light and the half-light,

    I would spread the cloths under your feet:

    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

    I have spread my dreams under your feet;

    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

    1. So glad you like the Carol Ann Duffy poem Pamela – I worried it might be a bit intense for some folks! I love the Yeats poem because of the vulnerability as well as the references to night. It’s otherworldly isn’t it. Excellent choice doll xx

    1. It’s called ‘When A Woman Loves A Man’ by David Lehman – we changed it slightly to make it relevant to us and our favourite places rather than the American landmarks. Went down very well on the whole!

  3. Our readings were

    During the service

    Guess how much i love you By Sam McBratney

    Little Nut Brown Hare,who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s very long ears.
    He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening.
    “Guess how much i love you,” he said.
    “Oh, I don’t think I could guess that,”said Big Nutbrown Hare.
    “This much,”said Little Nutbrown Hare,stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.
    Bid Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms.”But I love YOU this much,” he said.
    Hmmm,that is a lot thought Little Nutbrown Hare.
    “I love you as high as I can reach,”said Little Nutbrown Hare.
    “I love you as High as I can reach,”said Big Nutbrown HAre.
    That is quite high, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that.
    Then Little Nutbrown Hare had a good idea.He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet.
    ” I love you all the way up to my toes!” he said.
    “And I love you all the way up to your toes,” said Big Nutbrown Hare,swinging him up over his head.
    ” I love you as high as i can HOP!” laughed Little Nutbrown Hare,bouncing up and down.
    “But I love you as high as I can hop,” smiled Big Nutbrown hare-and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.
    Thats good hopping,thought Little Nutbrown Hare.I wish I could hop like that.
    “I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river,” cried Little Nutbrown Hare.
    That’s very far,thought Little Nutbrown Hare.
    He was almost too sleepy to think anymore.
    Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes,out into the big dark night.
    Nothing could be further than the sky.
    “I love you right up to the MOON,” he said,and closed his eyes.
    “Oh,that’s far”said Big Nut Brown Hare.”Thats is very far.”
    Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves.
    He leaned over and kissed him good night.
    Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile,”I love you right up to the moon-AND BACK.”

    I read this during our speeches

    A Lovely Love Story
    The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.
    Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.
    Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
    I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.
    He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
    I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.
    She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
    She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
    But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    He is also overly fond of things.
    Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?
    But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur.
    She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
    Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
    I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
    For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
    I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur.
    For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides,
    I am not unkeen on shopping either.
    Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
    Look at them.
    Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
    And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
    Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
    For the sun is warm.
    And the world is a beautiful place

    And my nephew read this during the speeches

    Opening lines from Love Actually

    Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

    1. I’m so pleased you like them Helen! And I adore your boy’s poem and if my boy found something as gorgeous as this then he’d have stacked up serious man points! Well done him xx

    2. Hi Helen! I love this poem, well done to your boy! Who did the reading during the ceremony? Just trying to think how i could maybe fit it in 🙂 thanks xx

      1. Hi Jen,

        So glad you like it.

        I must confess we played with the words a little bit to make it work better for a wedding, and no doubt infringed some copyright laws! 🙂 I didn’t like that it was all about the girl, though most of the lines are gender neutral some of them are specific to the female, so I amended about 50% of those to make them male focused.

        We also tweaked the last line so it wasn’t in a first person narrative, I’ve put a quickly amended example below to give you an idea. Our best man read it out on the day and lots of people commented on how much they loved it.

        Many words have been spoken to you:
        I love you. I hate you. I want you. I want you to leave me alone. You’re wonderful. You’re hurtful. You’re true and false. The list goes on as do the owners of the words. The people who have held your hand and walk you through experience. Some short, some long. Now add my name. For here are my words:
        You’re a miracle. You’re the eye of the storm. You’re the smell of honey to a bee swarm. You’re Helen of Troy. You’re a young girl’s dream. You’re the feel of a win to a losing team. You’re paradise. You’re a bucket of gold in 1849. You’re that first sip of an exquisite wine. You’re a hole in one on a par five. You’re a light to a Cuban cigar. You’re that first drive in a brand new car. You’re an ambassador of Beauty. You’re a fire amongst frost. You’re the North Star to someone lost. You’re a goddess. You’re food to the poor. You’re a band-aid laid over an open sore. You’re Joan of Arc. You’re a dive in a pool on a summer day. You’re the truth behind “everything will be OK”.
        You’re a verse from the bible. You’re a happy shout. You’re a flashlight when the lights go out. You’re a revolution. You’re a poster above someone’s bed. You’re the majority of thought inside her head. You’re a lake in the desert. You’re the antidote to a snake bite. You’re the knock-out blow in the first round of a fight. You’re a prince. You’re a poet’s ink. You’re what makes philosophers think. You’re the birth of Venus. You’re remnants of a fallen angel. You’re the warmth of lovers’ limbs tangled.
        You’re god’s magnum opus. You’re the chemistry of candy on a kid’s tongue. You’re the burn of nicotine to a smoker’s lungs. You’re Juliet. You’re the relief of stillness after an earthquake. You’re the joy that surrounds a birthday cake. You’re Magdalene. You’re the sight sore I seek. You’re the feeling of lips on a lonely cheek. You’re inspiration. You glow.
        And you already know that together your are ideal. Perfect. Surreal. And to one another you will always kneel.

        Hope this gives you an idea of how it would work. Xx

        1. Sorry that early line should have said, ‘Now add each other’s names, for here are their words…’

          That’s what I get for rushing! 🙂 xx

  4. We are having those lines from Love Actually too! Also having EE Cummings I carry your heart – this was one of our easier decisions!!

  5. We are having Love by Roy Croft also, the words about ‘passing over the foolish, weak things’ ring so true and make me shiver just reading them so goodness knows how much of a mess I will be on the actual day! We’re also having the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s Wedding Song read by my older brother (‘I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun), and AA Milne’s ‘Just Us Two’, featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, read by my nieces and nephews. Too. Cute. My current dilemma is music for the wedding ceremony – does it need to be traditional or can I have a bit of fun with it?! The choices are overwhelming..! x

    1. Music choices are so hard too!!
      We’re having a church wedding and have decided to have some songs that aren’t very traditional….
      I’ll be walking down the aisle to ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow and we’ll be walking back up the aisle to Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’

      I think have fun with the music and choose songs that mean something to you as a couple!!! x

      1. That’s what I think, but worried it might not be ‘weddingy’ enough – if that makes sense?! I love the Candi Statton idea, that sounds amazing! I’d love to walk down the aisle to something a bit folky and fun, Angus and Julia Stone would be perfect. Six months to go and this is something I’ve really been putting off..! x

  6. Thank you so much for this post! We are having a blessing after the registry office and have been searching for the perfect reading or poem. We are open to either! To date our favourite was the dinosaur reading as written above. However, we have decided to write our own based on the dinosaur idea. This is going to sound mad but…

    My cat LOVES my partner (he always maintains I would have ended up as a single woman with only my cat to talk to if he hadn’t come along!) Anyway, my partner of course loves my cat and she is known by the whole family as she is a bit nuts. So we have written a reading which is written from the perspective of my cat!?! It is based on the dinosaur reading, so I am the lovely owner in it and he is the other man. At the end it reads how she is now very happy that her lovely owner chose the other man and he is now her lovely other owner.

    I know that this sounds mad but thought I would share! (It is mad and people we have told have raised an eyebrow!) I think really what I wanted to say is that we really enjoyed writing our own, we enjoyed the process and thought really carefully about the impact we have had on each other’s lives. x

  7. Fab post. We’re getting married in a church and really struggling to decide on our non-religious reading..
    at the moment my favourite is Yvaine’s monologue from the film Stardust:

    You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love.
    I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable.
    All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again.
    But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful.
    So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing,
    and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan is… I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan?
    I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it.
    Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you.
    And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion.
    Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.

    Our other contender is a short but sweet one:
    “Carrie’s Poem” from Sex and the City
    His hello was the end of her endings
    Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
    His hand would be hers to hold forever
    His forever was as simple as her smile
    He said she was what was missing
    She said instantly she knew
    She was a question to be answered
    And his answer was “I do”

    x

      1. Jess I’ve just written the exact same passage a few comments down! For me, that’s the moment in Stardust where I start to cry and then just carry on from there 🙂

        1. Absolutely love this, and I’d completely forgotten about it! Trying to think if I can use it somewhere else in the wedding…? Hmmm. Time to get my thinking cap on.

  8. I found it so hard to find readings for our wedding, that I delegated to those that were going to be reading them. I thought it would also make them more comfortable also. My sister-in-law read a Native American Love Blessing and my best friend wrote her own poem. I hadn’t read or heard it until the day, and it was so lovely for an element of the day to be a surprise. She had incorporated lines from my favourite songs and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

      1. With pleasure!

        Where would I be if we’d never met?
        That day your face was hard to forget
        No one could know how everything changed
        But you made me laugh and I was never the same
        I loved you then and I love you today
        So stay just as you are in every way
        You’re my present, my future, my life ’til old age
        If love were a book, you’d fill every page
        To day why I love you would take me all year
        So I’ll just say I’m happy that you’re standing here
        When today is over and the excitement is done
        I’ll love you more than ever and I’ve only just begun

  9. I’m doing a reading at my friend’s wedding later this year. One that I was totally blind to until revisiting it about a month after we got married, it’s Yvaine’s monologue on love from the film Stardust:

    “You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love.

    I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again.
    But when I see the way that mankind loves…
    You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful.

    So yes, I know that love is unconditional.
    But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing.

    What I’m trying to say, is… I think I love you.
    Is this love? I never imagined I’d know it for myself.
    My heart feels like my chest can barely contain it.
    Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more.
    It belongs to you.
    And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion.
    Nothing but knowing you loved me too.
    Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”

    So beautifully put and so true! I can’t wait to read it (and probably cry) xx

  10. Gosh, such a well timed post Lolly! We have recently been debating this; actually ‘agonising’ is definitely a better choice of word here!

    I absolutely love The Velveteen Rabbit, and we very nearly went for this one. We’ve settled on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – a classic, and probably over done, but it genuinely is one of my favourite books ever and such a powerful passage for me so I don’t care!

    The second one we’ve gone for is a children’s book by Dr Seuss, called ‘Oh, the places you’ll go’. I absolutely love it, and it has a real fun aspect. I’m hoping one of our flower girls will read it for us, because it sounds even more awesome when coming from a child. It goes like this:

    Congratulations! Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
    You have brains in your heads. You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourselves any direction you choose.

    You’re not on your own. And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guys who’ll decide where to go.
    You’ll look up and down streets. Look them over with care.
    About some you will say, “We don’t choose to go there.”
    With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
    you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

    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 high heights.

    Except when you don’t. Because sometimes you won’t.
    I’m sorry to say so, but sadly, it’s true
    that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you
    But on and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far
    And face up to your problems whatever they are.

    You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
    You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
    So be sure when you step. Step with 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 you’ll find the bright places where the Boom Bands are playing.
    With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
    Ready for anything under the sky.
    Ready because you’re those kind of guys!

    And will you succeed?
    Yes! You will, indeed!
    (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

    Guys, you’ll move mountains!
    You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day!
    And your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!

    What do you reckon? Sorry for the epic post!!

    1. Sophie – we had Captain Corelli’s Mandolin too. I stopped caring if anything was seen to be ‘overused’ for our wedding and whatever choice it was, as long as it was right for us, we made it. I’m sure most of your guests will have never heard it at a wedding, so you’re dead right about not caring!

      1. I think you’re totally right Karen. If you worry about things being over used, you wouldn’t have anything at your wedding! It’s only those of us who stalk blogs that know which things are more or less popular. Doesn’t make them any less special or unique to your guests. x

    2. The Captain Corelli’s Mandolin one is beautiful!!
      LOVE the Dr Suess one, will be extra special if one of your flowergirls reads it – children reading at weddings are so sweet!!

    3. Love Dr Seuss – we’ve got 2 boys and our 8 year old will hopefully read this – I did a run through with him the other day and it was EPIC!
      Our 6 year old is going to read the shortened card version of the lovely dinosaur – i’m not sure he’ll manage the full version.

  11. This is brilliant timing – just trying to work out our readings!

    We are thinking of having this. I can’t read it out loud without crying – which must be a good sign!

    Wendy Cope
    A Vow

    I cannot promise never to be angry;
    I cannot promise always to be kind.
    You know what you are taking on, my darling –
    It’s only at the start that love is blind.

    And yet I’m still the one you want to be with
    And you’re the one for me – of that I’m sure.
    You are my closest friend, my favourite person,
    The lover and the home I’ve waited for.

    I cannot promise that I will deserve you
    From this day on. I hope to pass that test.
    I love you and I want to make you happy.
    I promise I will do my very best.

  12. awh reading these poems are the best way to spend a boring afternoon in work.
    We are getting married in a church so are reading will have to be religious. I’m hoping to have the following read as a reflection:

    Please take each other’s hands, so that you may see the gift that they are to you.
    These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
    These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.
    These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
    These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes to you.
    These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
    These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, the hands that will join your family as one.
    These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it, support and encouragement to pursue your dreams, and comfort through difficult times.
    And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

    1. Another favourite of mine Helen! We’re building aspects of this reading into our ceremony. We have a lot of free reign over the ceremony luckily so we’re trying to make it personal.

  13. I too had that GCSE anthology! GCSE English also introduced me to Yeats, and I’m with Pamela – He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven is my absolute favourite poem ever. So we chose that, plus the extract from The Velveteen Rabbit. I remember having the hardback book as a kid and think that it’s just lovely x

  14. I love the Wendy Cope one! Beautiful.

    we’ve gone for union by Robert Fulghum….

    You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

    The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

    Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

    For after today you shall say to the world –
    This is my husband. This is my wife.

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