From classic odes to modern pronouncements of love, there are so many poetry books to inspire your wedding day vows — check them out!
If you’ve chosen to write your own wedding vows, it can be hard to know where to start. Even as a professional writer, I had a hard time coming up with vows that felt true, heartfelt, and communicated a promise to my now-husband of what our future together would hold. Suffice it to say, it’s intimidating!
Luckily, there is a bounty of poets and writers who have been able to put into words what love feels and looks like. There are so many great love poems out there that it can make you downright jealous that it comes to some so easily. The flip side of that problem? There are so many great love poems — how can you find one that will actually inspire what you want to say in your wedding vows?
We did the digging to uncover 15 of the best poetry books that are full of insights, humorous metaphors, romantic devotions, and so much more. You’ll find them below, along with an excerpt from each one to give you a sneak peek of what’s inside.
Beyond Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 — better known as “How Do I Love Thee?” — this book is packed with classic musings on love that are sure to tug at your heartstrings. Take Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Invitation for Love,” as a token of unconditional love, for instance: Come in the twilight soft and gray, / Come in the night or come in the day, / Come, O love, whene’er you may, / And you are welcome, welcome.
Leonard Cohen is one of those artists whose songs transcend music, more poetic than simply something to sing along to. This book visualizes the sentiment of the song alongside its lyrics — double the inspiration for your wedding vows — to showcase the beauty of love in an unexpected way. A favorite excerpt? “Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn…”
In Every Word You Cannot Say, Thomas somehow successfully manages to accomplish the very difficult task of putting a whole slew of hard-to-describe feelings into words. If it’s been felt, it’s been written about in this book — which puts you in a perfect position if you’re using it as inspiration for your wedding vows. For instance, “…and that feels so good, so love, because love is good, / because it feels like you’re floating.”
The promise of marriage is a leap of faith, and Yung Pueblo puts that magical uncertainty into words in the pages of clarity & connection. If you’re looking for an earnest, no-nonsense way to express yourself at the altar, this is the book to grab. Here’s a sneak peek: one of the bravest things / you can do / is boldly embrace the unknown, / accept your fear, / and continue to move forward / a clear mission / does not always have a clear path.
“…Oh, to lick your love like tears.” Do you have goosebumps? It’s no secret that Maya Angelou is a master of the craft, and this anthology of her life’s work is a collection of stories, poetry, and letters celebrating a variety of experiences. If you need a way to gently cover the deeper topics around marriage in your vows, this book has no shortage of profound, lyrical inspiration.
Maybe you like to say it like it is — a matter of fact type of person. Still, the topic of love eludes just about anyone, and Courtney Peppernell weaves between the lines of what we know about love and the futility of trying to pin it down at all. She puts it perfectly, “Love makes us both happy and sad, and there is not a soul / alive that has been able to understand why.”
Marriage is by no means the end of a journey — but it’s a cumulation of a journey that started when you first met your significant other. The poems in Love by Night tell the story of young love that blossoms into something everlasting, and is a great reminder of all the little things that make us fall for someone in the first place. Some poems even read like vows in reverse, like: Please / be slow to remind me of my mistakes / be gentle in telling me when I am wrong / be kind when you don’t feel I deserve it.
Falling in love is a mix of sweetness and bitterness, which is the theme that runs throughout this best-selling collection of poetry. If you’re looking for a book that will inspire your vows with deep metaphors and honest introspection, milk and honey promises just that. There’s a poem to help you express just about any sentiment — like, “your name is / the strongest / positive and negative / connotation in any language / it either lights me up or / leaves me aching for days.”
Does being in love make you want to shout from the rooftops? Consider Rumi the original rooftop-shouter — this collection of his love poems are an explosion of devoted affection, so don’t say we didn’t warn you once the tears start flowing. Here’s a sweet excerpt: “every moment / the pang of love / makes me scream / for God’s sake / what do you think i should do”
The title says it all; On the Occasion of a Wedding is an inspired tribute to the writer’s friends as a wedding gift, and is full of poems all about marriage. From emotional odes to humorous writings, there’s a poem for just about every sentiment you can think of, making it a go-to for wedding vow inspiration. Take this simple piece: i want you to always look at me / like it is your birthday / and i am the cake.
“There are lovelier ones than you, lovelier. / But you are the queen.” Love between two people works in mysterious ways — we don’t know what makes us fall in love with one person over another or what drives us to persist in knowing them more deeply. In his poems (which caused quite an outcry when they were first published due to their…scandalous language), Pablo Neruda explores the landscape of love to help us understand it just a little bit better. Suffice it to say, you’ll find plenty of wedding vow inspiration between the covers of Love Poems.
Looking for wedding vow inspiration with a side of insight? John Kenney’s honest, oftentimes funny collection of poems (for married people) are a humble reminder that marriage isn’t just a collection of cliches, but something real — and real isn’t always perfect. For instance, here’s an excerpt to make you chuckle: Why are you dressed up? / Wait. Today is Valentine’s Day?
I have to admit something: I chose a poem from this book for a reading at my own wedding. I did it because Billy Collins has a way of balancing the big bold metaphors around love with the reality of living a life day in and day out with someone you love more than anything. Our reading came from a piece called “Litany,” which accomplishes just that: You are the white apron of the baker / and the marsh birds suddenly in flight / However, you are not the wind in the orchard.
When we experience love, we see the world in a whole new way. Atticus’s book of love poems is a testament to the experiences that punctuate our romances and ultimately shape how we live our lives. Your vows will be inspired by the youthful revelations and fantasy themes on every page, like, “There is nothing quite / so pure in love / as a boy / and a girl / building castles / in the clouds.”
Technically, this book is one long poem (think of it like Dr. Seuss for grown-ups), but it’s a sweet poem that conveys the childlike wonder and innocence that comes along with loving someone just because you love them. If you’re in need of silly, heartfelt inspiration for your wedding vows, or just a reminder of the simple pleasures of being in love, look no further. “I like you because / When I tell you something special / You know it’s special / And you remember it / A long long time.”
From classic musings on love by the old romantics to modern interpretations of what a relationship can mean, there’s so much to be inspired by just from the 15 books we listed here. Get inspired by the words between their covers — find a poem that speaks to you and your relationship and use the sentiment to guide your own wedding