Wedding Readings: Centuries of Writing and Rituals on Love and Marriage


This rich collection of writings on the nature of love and commitment has long delighted brides and grooms of every denomination. Culled from both sacred and secular texts, and suitable for either traditional or informal wedding ceremonies, these selections might be included in Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, interfaith, and non-denominational exchanges of vows.

Among the passages appropriate for readings by parents, friends, or the bride and groom are selections from Plato and ...

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This rich collection of writings on the nature of love and commitment has long delighted brides and grooms of every denomination. Culled from both sacred and secular texts, and suitable for either traditional or informal wedding ceremonies, these selections might be included in Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, interfaith, and non-denominational exchanges of vows.

Among the passages appropriate for readings by parents, friends, or the bride and groom are selections from Plato and Sappho, Rilke and Auden, Ecclesiastes and Euripedes, Shakespeare and Donne, pascal and Montaigne, Emily Dickinson and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. There are love songs from the Aztecs and Eskimos, Hindu and African wedding prayers, a Buddhist marriage homily, a Shaker hymn, and Irish blessing, excerpts from Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox marriage services, and passages from the Old and New Testaments, some familiar, some surprising. With myriad choices, Wedding Readings will help you add a special, personal touch to your marriage ceremony.

Selected from both sacred and secular texts, this rich collection of poems, prose, and psalms offers wise, inspiring reflections on the nature of love and commitment. Available for the first time in paperback, Wedding Readings presents selections by writers from Plato to Emily Dickinson, from Shakepeare to Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Selected from both sacred and secular texts, this rich collection of poems, prose, and psalms offers wise, inspiring reflections on the nature of love and commitment.
Library Journal
Munro has selected prose, poetry, ethnic love songs, and prayers that are appropriate readings for Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant wedding ceremonies. North American Indian love songs, Chinese prayers, Japanese poems, Persian love poems, and Hindu wedding prayers are included, as well as the more standard Greek classical writings and biblical passages. While selections are often more suitable for private reflection than recitation during the ceremony, Munro has included suggested readings for the bride and groom, other immediate family members, and friends. The introduction to the readings and each of the seven chapters contain information on wedding customs throughout the world. Recommended for public libraries.-- Mary Ann Wasick, West Allis P.L., Wis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140088793
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 520,508
  • Product dimensions: 5.04 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Table of Contents

Wedding ReadingsAcknowledgments

Wendell Berry, from "The Country of Marriage"

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from Bring Me a Unicorn

From "Simple Gifts, " a Shaker hymn


I. The Time Is Come

Ancient Greek dedications to brides


Revelation 3:8 (New English Bible)

Isaiah 61:10-11 (New English Bible)

Ecclesiastes 4:7-13 (New English Bible)


George Herbert, from "Easter"

Charles Dickens

Robert Herrick, "Love Me Little, Love Me Long"

Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a young Poet
from First Poems

Chippewa song

Robert Louis Stevenson, from "A Night Among the Pines"

James Joyce, poem XIII from Chamber Music

E. M. Forster, from A Room with a View

Joseph Cambell, from The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Paul Valéry

Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Bring Me a Unicorn

Randall Jarrell, from "A Man Meets a Woman in the Street"

Gabriela Mistral, God Wills It"

Delmore Schwartz, "Will you perhaps consent to be"

Alan Dugan, "Love Song: I and Thou"

José Garcia Villa, from Have Come, Am Here

Robert Creeley, "Kore"

Madame LePrince De Beaumont, from Beauty and the Beast"

Kenneth Rexroth, from One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

II. In Search of Love

Louise Bogan, from Journey Around My Room


Plato, from the Symposium

I Corinthians 13 (King James Version)

I Corinthians 13:4-8a (New English Bible)

Baruch Spinoza

Emily Dickinson, from the The Complete Poems
number 611
number 917
number 1155

William Shakespeare, Sonnets

Herbert Spencer, from The Principles of Psychology

Blaise Pascal, from "On the Passion of the Soul"

Kenneth Rexroth, from One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

John Keats, letters to Fanny Brawne

Edward FitzGerald, from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Matthew Arnold, from "Dover Beach"

Ralph Waldo Emerson from "Give All to Love"
from the essay "Love"

Emily Brontë, from Wuthering Heights

Edgar Allan Poe, from "Annabel Lee"

Marcel Proust, from The Past Recaptured

Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet

Ezra Pound from The Cantos

James Baldwin

Michael Ignatieff, from "Lodged in the Heart and Memory"

Robert Creeley, "The Language"

Wallace Stevens, from "Of Modern Poetry"

III. The Processional Begins

From a Moravian hymn


Ruth 1:16-17 (King James Version)

Isaiah 42:16 (New English Bible)

Huda Shaarawi, from Harem Years: Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist

John Donne, from "Epithalamion Made at Lincoln's Inn"

Robert Browning, from "Rabbi Ben Ezra"

Juan Ramón Jiménez, "Oceans"

Saint-Jean Perse, from "Drouth"

Walt Whitman
"Darest Thou Now O Soul"
"Are You the New Person Drawn Toward Me?"
from "Song of the Open Road"

D. H. Lawrence
"Bavarian Gentians"

Gerard Manley Hopkins, "At the Wedding March"

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from Gift from the Sea

Louise Glück, "Under Taurus"

Antonio Machado, from "Rebirth"

Peter Matthiessen, from the The Snow Leopard

John Ashbery, from "The Skaters"

Louise Bogan, "Henceforth, from the Mind"

Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, from The Little Prince

IV. Eternal Vows in Sacred Space

Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Persion love poem


Sir James George Frazer, from The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

Ernest Crawley, from The Mystic Rose: A Study of Primitive Marriage and of Primitive Thought in Its Bearing on Marriage

From "Terumah," in the Zohar

Marge Piercy, "The Chuppah"

Hebrew "Seven Blessings"

Philip and Hanna Goodman, "The Sabbath as Bride"

From "Lekhah Dodi," Hebrew hymn to the Sabbath as a bride

Psalms (King James Version)
from Psalm 98
Psalm 100
from Psalm 104

Hebrew blessing for Sabbath end

Judah Halevi, from a poem to the bridegroom

Jeremiah 33:10-11 (King James Version)

From "The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage," in The Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal)

Wedding prayer from the The Book of Common Prayer

From the apocryphal Acts of Thomas

Ephesians 4:25-32 (New English Bible)

Matthew 19:4-6 (New English Bible)

I John 4:7-12 (New English Bible)

Colossians 3:12-17 (New English Bible)

From the Greek Orthodox marriage service

From the Coptic Orthodox marriage service

From the Hindu marriage ritual of "Seven Steps"

Hindu wedding prayer

Buddhist marriage homily

Jalal al-din Rumi, Persian love poem

Robert Herrick, "To Julia"

Geoffrey Chaucer

Edmund Spenser, from "Epithalamion"

Edgar Allen Poe, from "The Bells"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet XXII from Sonnets from the Portuguese

Temple Gairdner, prayer before his marriage

A. E. Housman, from "Epithalamium"

Iris Murdoch, from The Book and the Brotherhood

William Butler Yeats, from "A Prayer for My Daughter"

Gertrude Stein, from "Patriarchal Poetry"

V. The Miracle of the Body

Devara Dasimayya, poem to Lord Siva (Ramanatha)


Greek prayer to Priapus


Emily Dickinson, from The Complete Poems
number 249

Aztec love song

The Song of Solomon (King James Version), set as a play

From an ancient Sumerian sacred-wedding poem

Vidyapati, Hindu love poem

Hindu love poem

"On Kissing," from The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana

Michael De Montaigne, from The Autobiography

William Blake from The Notebook
from "Infant Joy"

Amy Lowell, "A Decade"

H.D., "Evadne"

Dylan Thomas, "On the Marriage of a Virgin"

E. E. Cummings poems from "Amores"
"somewhere i have never travelled"

Octavio Paz, from "Sunstone"

Denise Levertov
"The Ache of Marriage"
"A Psalm Praising the Hair of Man's Body"
"Song for a Dark Voice"

Halina Po´swiatowska

Kenneth Patchen, "There Is Nothing False in Thee"

Anne Sexton, from "Us"

Philip Larkin, "Wedding Wind"

W. H. Auden, from "Lay Your Sleeping Head"

Pablo Neruda

Sharon Olds, "I Love It When"

Wendell Berry, "The Mad Farmer's Love Song"

Kenneth Rexroth, "The Old Song and Dance"

VI. The Country of Marriage

John Cheever, from "The Country Husband"


Hecaton of Rhodes

From the Wisdom of Ben Sira

Jalal al-Din Rumi, Persian love poem


Sir Philip Sidney, "My True Love Hath My Heart"

Sappho, poems

Turkoman love song

Afghan love song

Li Tai Po, "Song on the River"

Tu Fu, "On the River Tchou"

Madame Kuan

"Simple Gifts," a Shaker hymn



John Donne from "The Anniversarie"
"The Good-Morrow"

Christine de Pisan, "In Praise of Marriage"

George Herbert, "A Wreath"



Anne Bradstreet, "To my Dear and loving Husband"

Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love"

Katherine Philips, from "To My Excellent Lucasia, on Our Friendship"

Christina Rossetti, from "Monna Innominata: A Sonnet of Sonnets"

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from "The House of Life"

Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Sonnets from the Portuguese
Sonnet XIV
Sonnet XLIII

George Eliot

Robert Louis Stevenson, from Virginibus Puerisque

William Butler Yeats, from "When You Are Old"

Denis De Rougemont, from Love in the Western World

Bertrand Russell, from Marriage and Morals

Simone De Beauvoir, from The Second Sex

Mark Van Doren
"Slowly, Slowly Wisdom Gathers"

W. H. Auden

Betty Friedan, from The Feminine Mystique

David Keller, from "Afternoon, in a Back Yard on Chestnut Street"

Graham Greene, from The Heart of the Matter

Ogden Nash, "Tin Wedding Whistle"

John Berryman, from "Canto Amor"

Sylvia Ashton-Warner, from Myself

Renée Haenel Levine, letter to her daughter

Louise Glück, "The Undertaking

Theodore Roethke
"I Knew a Woman"
"Wish for a Young Wife"

Louise Bogan
"To Be Sung on the Water"
from "After the Persian"

Marianne Moore, from "Marriage"

Archibald MacLeish, "Poem in Prose"

Samuel Menashe
"Whose Name I Know"
"Many Named"

Maxine Kumin, "Homecoming"

Willaim Jay Smith, "Song for a Country Wedding"

Phyllis Rose, from Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages

Mary Stewart Hammond, "Slow Dancing in the Living Room: Thanksgiving

Wendell Berry
"A Homecoming"
from "The Country of Marriage"

VII. Morning in Eternal Space

James Agee, from Let Us Now Praise Famous men


Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Love's Philosophy"

John Keats, from "Endymion"

C. Day Lewis, from "Live You by Love"

Denise Levertov, "The Depths"

Louise Bogan, "Song for the Last Act"

Hosea 2:14-15; 18-23 (New English Bible)

Greek prayer to the god Ayion

Hymn of the Great Plains Indians to the sun

Tanganyikan fishermen's prayer

African prayer to the new moon

Chinese prayer of thanksgiving

Japanese invocation to the spirits to protect the Palace

Three Turko- Mongolian prayers

Eskimo love song

Navajo hymn to the Thunderbird

Blackfoot prayer to the four directions

Chinese prayer to the four directions

Chinese blessings

Henry David Thoreau from Walden
from The Journal

Cino Da Pistoia, "Sestina of the Lady Pietra degli Scrovigni"

Thomas Hardy, "I Found Her Out There"

Vincent Van Gogh, from a letter to his brother, Theo

Chief Seattle of the Dwamish Tribe

Grace Schulman, "Blessed Is the Light"

Wendell Berry, "A Marriage, an Elegy"

Irish blessing

Stanley Kunitz, "Benediction"

Amenophis IV (Ikhnaton), hymn to the sun

Anne Dillard, from Holy the Firm

African wedding benediction

Edward Lear, from "The Owl and the Pussycat"

Wintu tribe, "Dream Song"

Suggested Readings for Various Members of the Wedding Party



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