To me, poetry is the nectar of the gods…kinda like mangos. I love including poems in a wedding ceremony, it helps set the tone in a way that prose and exposition just can’t. But…. I also don’t love hearing the same poems over and over again… I like the poems to be unexpected… to land like a taste of sweetness. Below are some favorite off the beaten path love poems…

I know I said poems, but this little piece of prose by Tom Robbins reads like a poem. And man, just a nice idea to hold — especially if you are an off the beaten path kind of human.

“The world is a wonderfully weird place, consensual reality is significantly flawed, no institution can be trusted, certainty is a mirage, security a delusion, and the tyranny of the dull mind forever threatens — but our lives are not as limited as we think they are, all things are possible, laughter is holier than piety, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end it’s love and love alone that really matters.” -Tom Robbins

Ok…. on to the poetry. I love this one by David Whyte. I read it to a couple who dated and loved each other in high school, drifted apart, and came back together 20 years later and married. Those closing lines… sigh… “you want to live and you want to love and you will walk across any territory and any darkness, however fluid and however dangerous, to take the one hand you know belongs in yours.”

The Truelove, by David Whyte~
There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of the baying seals,

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
so Biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,

so that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t

because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

This one by the Persian poet Hafiz moves me to tears every time I read it. I love it’s humble sweetness.

Companion For Life, by Hafiz~
Our union is like this: If you feel cold I would
reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet.

If hunger comes into your body I would run
to my garden and start digging potatoes.

If you asked for a few words of comfort and
guidance I would quickly kneel by your side
and offer you a whole book.

If you ever ache with loneliness so much you
weep, I would say,

Here is a rope, tie it around me, I will be
your companion for life.

Can you ever go wrong with Maya Angelou? I’ll answer that: no, you will never go wrong with Maya Angelou. This poem feels like a call to love, love more, love fiercely, love it all, costs be damned.

Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou~
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Lastly, I love this poem about a garden by Tash McGill. I work with so many couples who are gardeners, and I myself love to be attuned to the rhythms of life on earth. This one feels sweetly humble as well… just a lovely little garden to enjoy with your beloved. A great poem for an outdoor wedding for a couple who loves the garden, the earth, & the seasons.

A Garden by Tash McGill~
Today, my love – I am giving you a meadow.
A meadow is a wonderful place to begin something new.
We have seen this full run of seasons;
summer, autumn, winter and spring
passed over in each other’s eyes, held hand in hand
I know what seasons look like on your face
I am comforted, I am hopeful, I am sure.
So now in this summer, I give you a meadow
full of wildflower, full of promise
so we may begin in earnest.
Let me tell you – how I want to build you a garden here,
A corner devoted to each season –
There daffodils in spring, here falling leaves for autumn
From an oak tree that bends but cannot break in winter storms.
And every year, roses in summer
Blooming over and over, recounting the fragrance
by which I loved you first, and love you now.
I long to see the trees grow older and take their shape
Against the prevailing wind provide some shelter
For each sacred herb and flower, that may feed us
And to sit at the end of day beside you, always beside you.
Let us be entwined together, anchored securely in this earth
Never one removed from the other,
each bringing life to the other.
Today I am giving you a meadow,
Tomorrow I am making you a garden.

Thankfully, there are so many more options for poems, and I could add so many more. (May those blessed with lyrical tongues keep on keeping on!) But at the very least, I hope this gives you a taste of the variety of off the beaten path love poems for a wedding ceremony. There are so many ways to honor your love with a poem, and it can be unique, original, and your own take on love.