Part of my role as a wedding planner specialising in weddings in Central Park is to write a wedding ceremony for each couple. I have a standard list of questions that I ask them about who they are as individuals and as a couple, about their loved ones, about their relationship up to now and their plans for the future. Then I use their answers to create a first draft of ceremony wording for the couple to check over. Sometimes the couple are happy with the first draft, sometimes we go back and forth a little, making changes until we get it right.
It’s very popular in traditional weddings and also the less traditional destination weddings and elopements that I am involved with to include a poem or reading during the introduction of the ceremony. This might be read by the officiant, or by a guest. I am often asked for suggestions, so back in the summer of 2017 I posted twenty readings that my couples have used in the past, and some of my favorites. This is one of the most-read posts on my blog, and it’s been a couple of years, I’ve done lots more weddings since then, so I have a few more suggestions.
How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali
First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block
and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you
until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.
Reasons Why by Joanna Fuchs
Our love is the long-lasting kind; we’ve been together quite a while.
I love you for so many things, your voice, your touch, your kiss, your smile.
You accept me as I am; I can relax and just be me.
Even when my quirks come out, you think they’re cute; you let me be.
With you, there’s nothing to resist; you’re irresistible to me.
I’m drawn to you in total trust; I give myself to you willingly.
Your sweet devotion never fails; you view me with a patient heart.
You love me, dear, no matter what.
You’ve been that way right from the start.
Those are just a few reasons why
I’ll always love you like I do.
We’ll have a lifetime full of love, and it will happen because of you.
1 John 4:7-19
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.
Excerpt from The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
“When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”
A quote from Rumi:
“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, eastern or western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”
Married Love by Kuan Tao-sheng, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung
You and I
Have so much love,
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.
An Apache Blessing
“Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the
journey ahead and through all the years,
May happiness be your companion and
your days together be good and long upon the earth.
Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and
remind yourselves often of what brought you together.
Give the highest priority to the tenderness,
gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.
When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship,
as they threaten all relationships at one time or another,
remember to focus on what is right between you,
not only the part which seems wrong.
In this way, you can ride out the storms when
clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives – remembering that
even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there.
And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your
life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
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.
Excerpt from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gabran
“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Marriage is… by Anonymous
Learning to give not always to take,
Learning to forgive each little mistake,
Learning to give not always to take,
Learning to forgive each little mistake,
Learning to love whatever the cost,
Always remember alone you’d be lost.
Trying so hard your partner to please,
Trying to save whilst paying the fees,
Trying to smile when things turn out wrong,
Always remember to curb your tongue.
Never to think of only yourself,
Never to say you wish you had wealth.
Never to let your temper get hot,
Always be thankful for what you have got.
If you remember all of these things,
You will discover the joys that it brings,
Then you will have what so many folks miss,
A lifetime of love and a marriage of bliss.
“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”
I like you by Sandol Stoddard Warburg
I like you and I know why
I like you because you are a good person to like
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember
When I think something is important you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
You know how to be silly – that’s why I like you
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
They are so nice and oooh you could just about punch them on the nose
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
And that’s how it would happen every time
A piece of advice from Bob Marley
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
Marriage is Madness by Anonymous
Marriage is about giving and taking
And forging and forsaking
Kissing and loving and pushing and shoving
Caring and sharing and screaming and swearing
About being together whatever the weather
About being driven to the end of your tether
About sweetness and kindness
And wisdom and blindness
It’s about being strong when you’re feeling quite weak
It’s about saying nothing when you’re dying to speak
It’s about being wrong when you know you are right
It’s about giving in, before there’s a fight
It’s about you two living as cheaply as one
(you can give them a call if you know how that’s done!)
Never heeding advice that was always well meant
Never counting the cost until it’s all spent
And for you two today it’s about to begin
And for all that the two of you had to put in
Some days filled with joy, and some days with sadness
Too late you’ll discover that marriage is utter madness.
You and I Become One
Hear my words,
The silence has been broken,
In the air I taste,
The feeling of this moment.
You’re the one that reaches me,
You’re the one that I admire,
Every time we are together,
My soul feels like it’s on fire.
Nothing matters to me,
And there’s nothing I desire,
No more lies, the feeling is true,
Look into my eyes, and all you’ll see is you.
That’s when you and I become,
You and me as one
Now we make our loving memories,
Living heart to heart,
Walk beside each other,
Until the end of time.
That’s when you and I become,
You and me as one.
Everything by JM Storm
when I say I love you.
what I really mean is
you are my everything.
and when I say everything,
i mean you are my fire
and my rain.
i am saying that you
are my wind and my calm.
you are my sword,
you are my shield
My Fate by Atticus
Does the sun promise to shiine?
No, but it will
even behind the darkest clouds it will-
and no promise
will make it shine longer or brighter
for that is its fate
to burn until to can burn no more-
so, to love you is not my promise
it is my fate
to burn for you
until I can burn no more
The Lantern in the Lifeboat, written by Iain S. Thomas
I am nervous.
But I will stand here in the white hot heat of you.
I will play Russian roulette with your playlists.
I will tell jokes I’m not sure you’ll find funny.
I will hold on until there is no more reason to.
And in the end, I will break the stars and resurrect the sun.
This Marriage by Rumi
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.
Neil Gaiman’s Poem for a Friends’ Marriage
“This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.
It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.
It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet,
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.
And that’s all I know about love.”
I would love to hear any other suggestions for readings, poems or prayers for a wedding. If you are considering a Central Park wedding, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest. Check out the first list I made of wedding readings and poems for more ideas. Please comment below if you have any suggestions of your own, or let me know what reading(s) you had at your own wedding.