Gorgeous, unusual readings for weddings that will make lasting memories

Finding unusual wedding readings for ceremonies is difficult. Do you go for words about love, or words that you love? Do you ask people you love to read, or people that love to read? You don’t have to have readings at your wedding. If you want wedding readings, they are a great way to add some more humour, poignancy, or full-on teary eyed romance to your celebrant ceremony.

Perhaps you’re deep in the hole of choosing unusual wedding readings, firstly, ask yourself, do you want them at all? If you feel obligated to ask people to do them, that’s not a good enough reason to have wedding readings. If you have words that you want to hear, I suggest asking people who read well and can give your chosen reading some character. Somebody you trust to not just get through it, but to bring people with them. Celebrants also can do readings as part of the ceremony.

Here’s some alternative and unusual wedding readings for couples looking for something different. I’ve chosen many of my favourite poets, from slam poetry to spoken word. They all look at love in a different way, and I’ve deliberately picked ones that are suitable for LGBTQ+ wedding readings as well. One of them was one of three wedding readings at our ceremony. I can’t pick a favourite. Kae Tempest is a masterclass in last lines and that one is a chest-opener. Timothy Liu is romantic simplicity personified. Harry Baker is honestly one of the most talented poets on Earth and I love the misfit nature of this, and Andrea Gibson – well here they are reading it. It’s perfection.

Love, by Kae Tempest

The way you hold your cup in a closed fist

Your wrists that get rheumatic in the rain

Your long feet, long legs and bony shoulders

Your smile a crash of teeth from nose to chin.

Your eyes drop three octaves when you want me

Your body is transposed into the key

Of sand dunes, raw quartz, heat from a low sun.

Suddenly as graceful as when you dance

No longer smashing your limbs into

Unmoving table-tops or burning your hands

On every available hot surface

Or head-butting the car door when you dive in

You know, it used to keep me up at night,

The lack of you

Until I Arrive, by S.Marie

Whenever you feel
Lost in time,
Place your hand
Over your heart,
Imagine it is mine,
And with every beat
I hope you feel
More alive.

Just think of me
Until I arrive.

Resignation, by Nikki Giovanni

I love you
            because the Earth turns round the sun
            because the North wind blows north
            because the Pope is Catholic
                 and most Rabbis Jewish
            because the winters flow into springs
                 and the air clears after a storm
            because only my love for you
                 despite the charms of gravity
                 keeps me from falling off this Earth
                 into another dimension
I love you
            because it is the natural order of things

I love you
            like the habit I picked up in college
                 of sleeping through lectures
                 or saying I’m sorry
                 when I get stopped for speeding
            because I drink a glass of water
                 in the morning
                 and chain-smoke cigarettes
                 all through the day
            because I take my coffee Black
                 and my milk with chocolate
            because you keep my feet warm
                 though my life a mess
I love you
            because I don’t want it
                 any other way

I am helpless
            in my love for you
It makes me so happy
            to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
            locking me in an echo chamber
            where your voice reverberates
            through the four walls
            sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
            because it’s been so good
            for so long
            that if I didn’t love you
            I’d have to be born again
            and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
            is so simple
            the thought though of you
            sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
            thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
            because no two snowflakes are alike
            and it is possible
            if you stand tippy-toe
            to walk between the raindrops
I love you
            because I am afraid of the dark
                 and can’t sleep in the light
            because I rub my eyes
                 when I wake up in the morning
                 and find you there
            because you with all your magic powers were
                 determined that
I should love you
            because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you

I love you
            because you made me
                 want to love you
            more than I love my privacy
                 my freedom          my commitments
                      and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
            to love you
            because you saw me one Friday
                 afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

The Lovers, by Timothy Liu

I was always afraid

of the next card

the psychic would turn

over for us—

                              Forgive me

for not knowing

how we were

every card in the deck.

I Take, by Imtiaz Dharker

I take
your body where love takes place
I take
your mouth where my life takes shape
I take
your breath which makes my space
I take
you as you are, for good
I take
you with open arms, to have
I take
you to have
and to hold but not to hold
too hard
I take
you for farther for closer
for sooner for later
death tries to get us
and we laugh and we stall
and we tell it to call us some other
fine day because we are busy today
taking our tea with buttered
hope and
I take
I take

All I know about love, by Neil Gaiman

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.

59, A poem for lonely prime numbers, by Harry Baker

59 wakes up on the wrong side of the bed,
Realises all of his hair is on one side of his head,
Takes – just under a minute – to work out it’s because of the way that he slept,
He finds some clothes and gets dressed.
He can’t help but look in the mirror and be subtly impressed
How he looks rough around the edges and yet casually messed,
As he glances out the window sees the sight that he is blessed with
Of 60 from across the street.
Now 60 was beautiful,
With perfectly trimmed cuticles,
Dressed in something suitable,
Never rude or crude at all.
Right on time as usual,
More on cue than a snooker ball
But liked to play it super cool.
59 wanted to tell her that he knew her favourite flower,
He thought of her every second every minute every hour,
But he knew it wouldn’t work, he’d never get the girl,
Because although she lived across the street they came from different worlds.

While 59 admired 60’s ‘perfectly round’ figure,
60 thought 59 was… odd.
One of his favourite films was 101 Dalmatians,
60, of course, preferred the sequel.
While he romanticised the idea that they were star-crossed lovers,
They could go against the odds (and evens) because they had each other,
She maintained the views imposed upon her by her mother
That separate could not be equal.
Even with rose-tinted eyes 59 could realise
The reason why 60 would never love him.
He had picked up on the vibes, that because he was 59,
60 felt she was above him.
And though at the time he felt stupid and dumb,
For trying to love a girl controlled by her stupid mum,
He should have been comforted by the simple sum –
Take 59 away from 60, and you’re left with the one.

Sure enough it took him 2 months of moping around,
But 61 days later, 61 was who he found,
His next-door neighbour, he went round to her house,
Because he had lost his keys again and his parents were out.
As he noticed the slightly wonky numbers on the door,
He wondered why he’d never introduced himself before,
As she politely let him in his jaw dropped in awe –
61 was like 60, with a little bit more.
She had prettier eyes, and an approachable smile,
And like him, rough-around-the-edges casual style,
And like him, everything was in disorganise piles, a
And like him, her mum didn’t mind if friends stayed a while.
Because she was like him, and he liked her.
He reckoned she would like me if she knew he was like her,
It was different this time – these feelings felt proper,
So he plucked up the courage and asked for her number

She laughed – I’m 61.
He grinned – I’m 59,
And today I’ve had a really nice time,
So tomorrow if you wanted you could come over to mine?
She said yeah…
I love talking to people, who are just as quirky,
So she agreed to this unofficial first date.
In the end he was only ready 1 minute early,
But it didn’t matter because she arrived I minute late.
From that moment on there was non-stop chatter,
How they loved x-factor, how they had 2 factors,
How it didn’t matter – distinctiveness made them better,
By the end of the night they knew they were meant together.
As time went by the relationship deepened,
He found all the little things about her more appealing,
He had complicated ways of telling her his feelings,
Like his reasoning for why things would work between them…

He explained – you’re 61, I’m 59,
Rotated round/upside down, that’s 19 and 65,
The age that one might get a job until the day that they retire,
Of course it will work because we’ve got the world to be inspired?
She laughed at him.

Now one day she was talking about ‘stuck up 60’,
She noticed that 59 looked a bit shifty.
He blushed – told her of his crush:
“The best thing that never happened, because it led to us”
61 was clever see, not prone to jealousy,
Looked him in the eye and told him quite tenderly,
You’re 59 I’m 61 together we,
Combine to become twice what 60 would ever be.
At this point 59 had tears in his eyes,
Was so glad to have this one-of-a-kind girl in his life.
He told her the very definition of being prime
Was that with only one and himself could his heart divide,
And she was the one he felt he could give his heart to,
She said she felt the same and now she knew the films were half true.
Because this was better than that, that love was just a sample,
Because when it came to real love, they were a prime example.

Love poem, by Andrea Gibson

You are the music of two grasshoppers making love on a rosebush outside my schoolyard,
where four-year-olds ask me, 
“Andrea,what are the grasshoppers doing?” 
and I tell them they’re dancing to the music
of you are the gaps in my ribcage where the sunrise shines through to my heart 
and you are the part of the sunset that is so pink 
the grasshoppers think ‘maybe we should just stop and watch’
You are the moon when it blooms for the very first time
and the child, inspired, unwound the little jar that set 10,000 grasshoppers free. 
And you drive me fucking crazy.
I mean insanely.

You make me wanna take a fork to my eyeballs,
rip the hair from my arm pits and shove it down my throat
‘cause I would rather choke than argue another minute with you,
but you are so pretty and smart. 
You know so many words.
You’re every poem I would write if ink could ever hold the light that glows from your toes 
when you’re climbing up trees.
II swear you got sap running thick in your veins 
and I never love you more than when you’re mourning the death of raindrops falling foresaken on pavement.

God I love how you hate pavement 
but you make me wanna smash my skull on pavement. 
It’s true when we argue you make me wanna rip off my nose, bone and all,
like my uncle Billy used to pretend to do 
he’d say “girl, I’m gonna rip off your nose” 
and he’d tug at my face and hold out half his thumb
and half the time he’d fool me and I’d start crying but I’m older now.
and I’m not lying you make me wanna rip off my nose
…except when you don’t
…Sometimes you make me wish I had an extra nose only to smell your hair 
because I love how your hair smells like hair. 
I always hated the smell of shampoo.

Besides, I love you, it’s true. 
The way you pretend to chew gum when you’re nervous.
The way you stick out your tongue when you look in the mirror
‘cause you think your face is shaped better that way.
And I love the way you pray.
And I love the way you chew and use chopsticks like you’re from Japan
or China or where ever chopsticks are from. 
God, you’re a woman of culture I wanna eat you like not a vulture… A swan.
I wanna eat you like swans eat flowers.
Baby, if swans ever ate flowers I would eat you like that for hours
…except when you’re sour
… And acting like a self-righteous grumpy old grump like you do sometimes 
‘cause those times you make me wanna run to the edge of the fucking world
and hurl myself into a black fucking hole and never come back ever…

And then there are the times I wanna be with you forever.
And follow you forever where ever you go.
If only for that freckle in the middle of your belly that’s just like mine
or the time you corrected me for saying man instead of human kind. 
I can’t believe I did that.

You know how much I love your boobs. 
Almost as much as I love how you hate that I call breasts boob.
And say you’re tired of dating a twelve-year-old boy but God your boobs bring me joy,
Though I could live forever between the lines of your teeth and eat nothing but memory 
and purge myself clean.
You are a dream.
We are a nightmare sometimes,
but if you wake up crying I’ll be there to hold you
fold you in the pockets of my faith and say “we’ll be okay…”

Love blossomed, by The Digital Poet

Love blossomed
At the intersection of lust, dreams, and desire,
Where crowded clouded skies
Yield to chocolate cream sunsets,
Harbors can’t harness
The depths
Of passion
So pervasive you can taste it

You make me laugh.
You’re a sack of something else sometimes.
I laugh uncontrollably
At your antics
And inappropriate chimes
About the things you’d really like to say to your boss,
Or certain friends who might be overdoing the lip gloss,
And what types of clothing are just too close to dental floss.

When you came through
Everything I thought I knew
Was interrupted like
Trojan air by arrows…

My narrow minded vision
Of nuclear fission
Reactions, contractions,
Eyeball satisfaction,
It all fell by the wayside,
You were bona fide
I was stupefied…
Sure you denied
My request on facebook…
And sure I had to promise ‘no expectations’ for a first (not) date,
But I’d pay that price.

Again and again.

You’re my striking lightning
Open the dark
With luminous allure,
You’re my poetic metaphor,
Rhythmic waves
Crashing ashore,
You’re my 80’s mix tape:
“Every Breath You Take” is a “Kiss On My List” “Time After Time”,
And “I’m Givin’ You The Best That I Got” Oh “Sweet Child O’ Mine”…

You have the strength of hurricanes with a tiger’s heart,
And I love that you
Genuinely care for your teddy bears
And wear your love to impart.
…oh, and live for desert a la carte,
Because that’s my sweet spot right there,
You had me at “chocolate”

I love you more than I love chocolate chip pancakes.
I love you more than you love peanut butter
And ice cream,
Together or in tandem.
I love you more than you love horror movies,
Just kidding,
I know you can’t stand ‘em,
I love you more than New Yorkers love a victory parade,
And definitely more than New Englanders yearn for one!

I love you
Just as much as I like you.
And every day I like you more than yesterday.

I even like you more than I like to sleep diagonally in the bed,
And now I love that I get to share that bed with you,
Every day,
Every night,
Into every morning,
For the rest of our lives.

Love blossomed
At the intersection of lust, dreams, and desire,
Where crowded clouded skies
Yield to chocolate cream sunsets,
And now there’s an uncontrollable fire,
You’ve taken my world
Out of a daze,
And shaken it up
With your ways.
I’m thankful, I’m lucky,
I’m constantly amazed
At how our love blossomed.

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