Readings are most commonly introduced shortly after the opening words, or in the middle of the ceremony. Here are a few of Jeddah Vailakis's favorites.
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
How blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.
Song of the Open Road
. . . I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
Walt Whitman, from "Leaves of Grass"
Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy. . . . So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy.
from Plato's "Symposium"
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.
Our love will bloom always fairer,
Fresher, more gracious,
Because it is a true love
Honore de Balzac
Glorious is the moment we sit in the palace, you and I
Two forms, two faces, but a single soul, you and I
The flowers will blaze and bird cries shower us with immortality
The moment we enter the garden, you and I
All the stars of heaven will run out to gaze at us
As we burn as the full moon itself, you and I
The fire-winged birds of heaven will rage with envy
In that place we laugh ecstatically, you and I
What a miracle, you and I, entwined in the same nest
What a miracle, you and I, one love, one lover, one Fire
In this world and the next, in an ecstasy without end.
To Be One with Each Other
What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?
I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize ... to express the love of two lovers by a wedding of two complementary colors, their mingling and apposition, the mysterious vibration of kindred tones. To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a somber background.
To express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance.
Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The love of God, unutterable and perfect,
Flows into a pure soul the way that light
Rushes into a transparent object.
The more love that it finds, the more it gives
Itself; so that, as we grow clear and open,
The more complete the joy of loving is.
And the more souls who resonate together,
The greater the intensity of their love,
For mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.
from Dante's "Divine Comedy"
Understand, I'll slip quietly
Away from the noisy crowd
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I'll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows,
With only this one dream:
You come too.
Rainer Maria Rilke, from "First Poems"
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:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering 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 his 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, or no man ever loved.
A Dedication to My Wife
To whom I owe the leaping delight That quickens my senses in our wakingtime And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime, The breathing in unison. Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other Who think the same thoughts without need of speech And babble the same speech without need of meaning. No peevish winter wind shall chill No sullen tropic sun shall wither The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only But this dedication is for others to read: These are my private words addressed to you in public.
Hindu Marriage Poem
You have become mine forever.
Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.
May the night be honey-sweet for us.
May the sun be all honey for us.
May the mornings be honey-sweet for us.
May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us.
You were born to be together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in your silent memory.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bondage of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not of the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping,
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Kahlil Gibran, from "The Prophet"
Letters to a Young Poet # 7
For one human being to love another human being; that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person. It is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distance ...
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest of people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Here all seeking is over
The lost has been found,
A mate has been found
To share the chills of winter-
Now love asks
That you be united.
Here is a place to rest,
A place to sleep,
A place in heaven.
Now two are becoming one,
The black night scattered
The eastern sky grows bright.
At last the great day has come!
This marriage be wine with halvah, honey dissolving in milk.
This marriage be the leaves and fruit of a date tree.
This marriage be women laughing together for days on end.
This marriage, a sign for us to study.
This marriage, beauty.
This marriage, a moon in a light blue sky.
This marriage, this silence fully mixed with spirit.
Oh, the comfort -- The inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words -- but pouring them all right
out -- just as they are --
Chaff and grain together --
Certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them --
Keep what is worth keeping -- and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
Blessings are often used at the end of the service, before the pronouncement. They can double as readings, too. Here are a few of Jeddah Vailakis's favorites.
Apache Blessing 2
May the sun bring you new energy by day,
Many the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your worries
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all of the days of your life may you walk
Gently through the world and know its beauty.
"God in heaven above, please protect the ones we love. We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor mother-earth -- and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons; We honor fire -- and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts; We honor wind -- and ask we sail though life safe and calm as in our father's arms; We honor water -- to clean and soothe our relationship -- that it may never thirsts for love; With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together. Amen."
Blessing the Marriage
May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
Norito (Japanese blessing)
Bless them as unmoving and eternal
May their lives flourish like luxuriant trees.
May they, bride and groom, together with heaven and earth, with the sun and the
moon, continue to give out light and radiance.
Thus we do reverently pray.
When you were children, you talked like children,
But now that you've grown, you should be done
with childish things and put them away.
When you were children, you looked into a mirror
that gave only a blurred reflection of reality.
But with love and maturity, you shouldn't be
afraid to look into that mirror and see each other face to face.
Be swift like the wind in loving each other.
Be brave like the sea in loving each other.
Be gentle like the breeze in loving each other.
Be patient like the sun who waits and watches
the four changes of the earth in loving each other.
Be wise like the roaring of the thunderclouds and lightening in loving each other.
Be shining like the morning dawn in loving each other.
Be flexible like the sapling that bends with the wind in loving each other.
Be brilliant like the rainbow colors in loving each other,
Now, forever, forever, there will be no more loneliness
Because your words are joined together with the world.
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your field.
May the light of friendship guide your paths together.
May the laughter of children grace the halls of your home.
May the joy of living for one another trip a smile from your lips, a twinkle from
And, when eternity beckons, at the end of a life heaped high with love,
May the good Lord embrace you with the arms that have nurtured you the whole length
of your joy-filled days.
May the gracious God hold you both in the palm of his hand.
And today may the spirit of love find a dwelling place in your hearts.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself
... To wake at dawn with a winged heart
And give thanks for another day of loving.
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy.
To return home in even tide with gratitude,
Then sleep with a prayer
For the beloved in your heart
And a song of praise upon your lips.
Kahlil Gibran, from "The Prophet"