Poem Sampler

Wedding Poems

Whether you’re the bride, the groom, the officiant, or the maid of honor, you’ll find a poem below that will evoke the perfect nuptial sentiments.

Wedding Poems
Illustration by Jason Novak

Browse through a list of poems suitable for all of the occasions surrounding a wedding—ceremony or reception, vow or toast, invitation or thank-you note. If you’ve been asked to read a poem at the ceremony, you’ll find a list of classic and contemporary options. If you’re the one tying the knot, choose from several poems that might be incorporated into your vows. A handful of funny, offbeat poems might work well as a toast, on the back of the program, or as part of a table centerpiece. Whatever the moment, whatever the placement, you’ll find a poem to add to the joy and revelry of a wedding day.

 

CLASSIC PICKS

To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet: Bradstreet’s poem is a declaration of marital bliss on earth and in the hereafter by the 17th-century Puritan who was the first woman to publish a book of poems in England.

Sonnets from the Portuguese 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: After years as an invalid, Elizabeth Barrett eloped to Italy with Robert Browning, a romance that would inspire one of the most famous opening lines of any love poem: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

The Good-Morrow by John Donne: Donne’s speaker is so enthralled by a perfect love match (“Where can we find two better hemispheres”) that he can hardly remember living any other way: “I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I / Did, till we loved?” 

from Endymion by John Keats: Keats’s poetic romance opens with the memorable line, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” and extols the virtues of constancy in the face of transience, the way we can hold onto the seemingly ephemeral through memories.

Sonnet CXVI: Let me not to the Marriage of True Minds by William Shakespeare: A favorite for wedding ceremonies, this sonnet never grows old, thanks to its enigmatic imagery: steadfast love is not only the more familiar “an ever-fixed mark,” but also “the star to every wand’ring bark.”

The Wine of Love by James Thomson: Short and appetite-whetting, here’s the perfect poem to read at the beginning of a leisurely, abundant wedding meal: “And when Love sits down to the banquet, / Love sits long.”

 

BEST WISHES FOR THE COUPLE: ODES, TOASTS, AND EPITHALAMIA

Invitation to Love by Paul Laurence Dunbar: Anyone from the mother of the bride to the officiant could read this poem during the wedding ceremony, beckoning the spirit of love to the occasion: “Come, O love, whene’er you may, / And you are welcome, welcome.”

A Blessing for Wedding by Jane Hirshfield: This poem powerfully weds opposing forces (“fierceness and tenderness”), using incantatory repetition to summon good tidings for the couple: “Today, let this light bless you / With these friends let it bless you.”

Briefly It Enters, Briefly Speaks by Jane Kenyon: Love itself, spiritual and mysterious, seems to be the speaker of this poem, which wends its way through everyday scenes (“I am the stone step, / the latch, and the working hinge. . . .”) and ecstatic moments (“I am the heart contracted by joy. . . .”).

Wedding Hymn by Sidney Lanier: If you’re looking for a poem appropriate for a religious ceremony, Lanier’s hymn invokes a sacred mood, asking God to “Clear all the Heaven that bends above / The life-road of this man and wife.”

Fate by Carolyn Wells: Geography, language, war, and other forces that conspire to keep lovers apart have no chance against the forces that bring them together: “Until at last / They enter the same door, and suddenly / They meet.”

Marriage by Lawrence Raab: Perfect for a vow renewal ceremony, but also appropriate for tying the knot the first time around, this poem shows how the smallest acts can change the course of two lives: “Because she felt— / because she was certain—her life would change / if she picked up the phone.” 

 

 

FROM THE COUPLES' LIPS: VOWS AND PROFESSIONS OF LOVE

Song for the Last Act by Louise Bogan: A poem about the pleasures of knowing someone so well that, paradoxically, new and surprising aspects continue to unveil themselves: “Now that I have your face by heart, I look / Less at its features than its darkening frame. . . .”

Love Song by Mary Carolyn Davies: A timeless, passionate poem that begins with a description of love’s powers of protection and ends with a declaration of longing: “All the wishes of my mind know your name, / And the white desires of my heart / They are acquainted with you.”

Love Song by Henry Dumas: In this song of praise, nature has stolen all of its wonders from the beloved: “The wind must have heard / your voice once. / It echoes and sings like you.”

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda: “I love you as one loves certain obscure things, / secretly, between the shadow and the soul,” confesses Neruda’s speaker in an ode to love’s subtle, hidden, and inexplicable qualities.

Colors passing through us by Marge Piercy: A perfect poem to read aloud: the audience will enjoy following a rainbow of love similes, beginning with “Purple as tulips in May” and ending with the full spectrum: “all the colors of the world / pass through our bodies like strings of fire.”

Cave Dwellers by A. Poulin Jr.: In the side of a mountain, the speaker builds a vision of a “love that can’t destroy,” a bond strong enough to last through the dawn of a new world.


PLAYFUL AND OFFBEAT

[love is more thicker than forget] by E.E. Cummings: In Cummings’ vision, love exists somewhere between “mad and moonly” and “sane and sunly,” a swinging pendulum that the playful phrasing of this poem rides as well.

To You by Kenneth Koch: An exuberant celebration of the thrill of the chase (“I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut”) and the importance of love to a life worth living: “we live because we love, we are not / Inside a bottle, thank goodness!” 

Love Poem by Dora Malech: This poem soars through love’s highs and lows, from the Jerry Maguire riff “You had me at no duh” to the lyricism of “some peak and valley, some / bright equation.”

Everything Good Between Men and Women by C.D. Wright: An ode to the ordinary (“The socks off-white and a near match”) and even grotesque (“You with a fever blister / and myself with a sty”) aspects of daily togetherness, precious in their imperfection: “It is / just so sad so creepy so beautiful. / Bless it.”

 

BROWSE MORE WEDDING POEMS FROM OUR ARCHIVE.

Originally Published: January 1, 2006

COMMENTS (5)

On August 5, 2008 at 11:59am dee page wrote:
We are researching the poet and writer Edmund Cooper's writings in the U.S.Poetry Chicago is listed circa 1945-1955 can anyone help to confirm this and do any of your readers have any Cooper poems? thank you for your help.

On December 22, 2008 at 2:16pm David Crosson wrote:
A poem by Christiane Jacox Kyle called "A Late Epithalamion" reportedly was published in the June 1994 edition of Poetry Magazine. I cannot find it. Can a copy be sent to me via e-mail?

On July 5, 2013 at 12:05pm Tim Knecht wrote:
How can you not include Ciardi's "Men marry what they need. I marry you"???? It is, perhaps, the finest poem a groom can read to his new wife.

On July 21, 2014 at 1:45pm polack wrote:
Let's not forget "Epithalamion" by Adam Zagajewski!

On July 21, 2014 at 2:03pm aaron wrote:
What about for same gender/sex couples? Any good poems for those ceremonies?

POST A COMMENT

Poetryfoundation.org welcomes comments that foster dialogue and cultivate an open community on the site. Comments on articles must be approved by the site moderators before they appear on the site. By submitting a comment, you give the Poetry Foundation the right to publish it. Please note: We require comments to include a name and e-mail address. Read more about our privacy policy.

Related

Audio Article

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.