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Poetry and readings

Couples are welcome to include poetry and readings in their ceremony. It is a way of lengthening the ceremony while at the same time including a guest who wishes to be actively involved. Some guests write a romantic piece exclusively for the couple, which makes it particularly personal but many choose poems written by others.

Below are ten poems and prose which have been used in ceremonies recently. There are many others available on the internet and from other sources. At civil ceremonies, it is not possible to include readings or poems that are religious or that have religious connotations. If you are not sure if a piece is suitable, please contact the register office and staff will be pleased to advise.

The One

When the one whose hand you’re holding
Is the one who holds your heart,
When the one whose eyes you gaze into
Gives your hopes and dreams their start,
When the one you think of first and last
Is the one who holds you tight
And the things you plan together
Make the whole world seem just right,
When the one whom you believe in
Puts their faith and trust in you,
You’ve found the one and only love
You’ll share your whole life through

Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken,
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with its brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

What is Love?

Sooner or later, we begin to understand that love is more
than verses on valentines and romance in the movies.
We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true,
the most important thing in our lives. For love is the creator
of our favourite memories and the foundation of our fondest
dreams. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that
can never be spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most
unlikely of places. And this radiance that never fades, this
mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all –
one known only by those who love.

On Your Wedding Day

Today is the day you will always remember,
The greatest in anyone’s life,
You’ll start off the day just two people in love
And end it as husband and wife.

It’s a brand new beginning, the start of a journey,
With moments to cherish and treasure
And although there’ll be times when you both disagree,
These will surely be outweighed by pleasure.

You’ll have heard many words of advice in the past,
When the secrets of marriage were spoken
But you know that the answers lie hidden inside,
Where the bond of true love lies unbroken.

So live happy forever, as lovers and friends,
It’s the dawn of a new life for you,
As you stand there together with love in your eyes
From the moment you whisper "I do".

And with luck, all your hopes and your dreams can be real,
May success find its way to your hearts.
Tomorrow can bring you the greatest of joys
But today is the day it all starts.

The Key to Love

The key to love is understanding…
The ability to comprehend not only the spoken word
But those unspoken gestures,
The little things that say so much by themselves.

The key to love is forgiveness...
To accept each other's faults and pardon mistakes
Without forgetting but with remembering
What you learn from them.

The key to love is sharing…
Facing your good fortunes as well as the bad, together,
Both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
To intensify your happiness.

The key to love is giving…
Without thought of return
But with the hope of just a simple smile
And by giving in but never giving up.

The key to love is respect…
Realising that you are two separate people, with different ideas,
That you don’t belong to each other,
That you belong with each other and share a mutual bond.

The key to love is inside us all…
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients
That will take you to its threshold.
It is the continual learning process that demands a lot of work
But the rewards are more than worth the effort
And that is the key to love.

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.

Fidelity

by D.H. Lawrence

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.

Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminifera,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.

And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man's heart and a woman's,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.

The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

by Thomas Moore

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Live fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervour and faith of a soul may be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose!

These I Can Promise

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise riches, wealth, or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old.
But I can promise all my heart's devotion;
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
A love that's ever true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.

She Walks In Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!