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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.
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.

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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.

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