If your wedding tastes lean towards tradition -- as in you've always dreamed of wearing a floaty white dress or black-tie tux while a loved one reads a classic text -- these are the passages for you. Perhaps you're simply looking for one of the wedding readings that have meant so much to so many brides and grooms throughout the years. Either way, here are some the most classic and traditional wedding readings to incorporate into your ceremony.
"Sonnet from the Portuguese, XLIII" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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 candlelight.
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.
Excerpt #1 from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gabran (aka Kahlil Gibran)
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.
Excerpt #2 from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gabran (aka Kahlil Gibran)
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.
"My Luve" by Robert Burns
O my luve is like a red, red rose,
That`s newly sprung in June:
O my luve is like the melodie,
That`s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a` the seas gang dry.
Till a` the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi` the sun;
And I will luve thee still my dear,
While the sands o` life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho` it were ten thousand mile
From I Corinthians 13:4-7, New American Standard Edition of the Bible
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe
Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle,
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs,
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.
"Wedding Prayer" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow,
for the health, the work, the food,
and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
"Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe--I have tried it--my own feet have tried it well--be not detain'd!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn'd!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the
court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
"Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIV" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so.
Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.
An Irish Wedding Blessing
You are the star of each night,
You are the brightness of every morning,
You are the story of each guest,
You are the report of every land.
No evil shall befall you, on hill nor bank,
In field or valley, on mountain or in glen.
Neither above, nor below, neither in sea,
Nor on shore, in skies above,
Nor in the depths.
You are the kernel of my heart,
You are the face of my sun,
You are the harp of my music,
You are the crown of my company
"A Dedication to My Wife" by T.S. Eliot
To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
The breathing in unison
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech
And babble the same speech without need of meaning.
No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only
But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.
"To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet
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 that 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 persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
"The Bargain" by Sir Philip Sidney
My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for another 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.
Scottish Wedding Prayer
Lord help us to remember when
We first met and the strong
love that grew between us.
To work that love into
practical things so that nothing
can divide us.
We ask for words both kind
and loving and hearts always
ready to ask forgiveness
as well as to forgive.
Dear Lord, we put our
marriage into your hands
"Sudden Light" by Dante Rosetti
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall---I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
More About Planning a Traditional Wedding
- Choosing and Writing Traditional Wedding Vows
- The Traditional Approach to Sharing Wedding Costs
- Traditional Wedding Ceremony Songs to Avoid
- Popular and Traditional Father-Daughter Wedding Dance Songs