Adding readings to your ceremony is lovely opportunity to add more beauty to the moment. Obviously, lots of folks are moved to include poetic words words on love. But I encourage folks to think outside the box… poems can help you present your world view, what moves you, what’s most important in your life… Nothing wrong with love poems (and I’ll share some at another time)… But below are a sampling of some off the beaten path poems for a wedding ceremony that invoke whole worlds… I love using “not heard a million times” poems, but it is important to create context for folks, to weave these words in in a way that makes for more meaning and understanding. (At least that’s what I do when writing custom ceremonies

Does it feel important to you to remember your place on this earth, to get present to the vastness? You might like Remember, by Joy Harjo, and this could make for a beautiful opening invocation in a ceremony:

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving way to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Along those lines, but from a more cosmic perspective, how about these words by Caitin Moran:

The level of matter in the universe has been constant since the Big Bang.
In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing – not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over.
Each baby, then, is a unique collision – a cocktail, a remix – of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms.

When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes – we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely face of our existences. The honor of being alive. They will never be able to make you again.

This next one could be good for a relationship where inviting in the unexpected is a central theme, or they have an origin story that could have gone awry, had they not risked the yes as opposed to the safety of the no…. Advice, by Bill Holm:

Someone dancing inside us
has learned only a few steps:
the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,
the “What-Do-You-Expect” Waltz.
He hasn’t noticed yet the woman
standing away from the lamp.
the one with black eyes
who knows the rumba.
and strange steps in jumpy rhythms
from the mountains of Bulgaria.
If they dance together,
something unexpected will happen;
if they don’t, the next world
will be a lot like this one.

You can use poetry or readings to invoke grounding presence in ceremony, to help remind people what is most important… Along those lines, For Presence by John O’Donohue is a beautiful blessing to offer. That last line makes me swoon.

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

And last one for now…. This lovely Buddhist prayerful poem is a nice way to add a secular-ish, inclusive, prayerful moment to ceremony. A Blessing for The Journey by Sensei Wendy Egyoku Nakao:

Let us vow to bear witness to the wholeness of life,
realizing the completeness of each and every thing.
Embracing our differences,
I shall know myself as you,
and you as myself.
May we serve each other,
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to open ourselves to the abundance of life.
Freely giving and receiving, I shall care for you,
for the trees and stars,
as treasures of my very own.
May we be grateful
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to forgive hurt,
caused by ourselves and others,
and to never condone hurtful ways.
Being responsible for my actions,
I shall free myself and you.
Will you free me, too?
May we be kind
For all our days
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to remember that all that appears will disappear.
In the midst of uncertainty,
I shall sow love.
Here! Now! I call to you:
Let us together live
The Great Peace that we are.
May we give no fear
for all our days, here, there, and everywhere.

I could add 100 more, but hopefully this gives you a taste of the variety of off the beaten path poems for a wedding ceremony. You don’t need to choose the readings that are chosen over and over again, and you don’t need to choose only love poems. Or better said, you can choose poems that contain a love of the whole world, a love of mystery, a love of the earth…. Guaranteed to move you and your guests.