Reading list

Literary wedding readings

Looking for an unusual reading for a partnership ceremony or wedding? Search no further: we bring you alternative readings from novelists and poets to beguile and enchant loved ones, family and friends

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Louis de Bernières

‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.’

 

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven from Collected Poems

W. B. Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 

Portrait of a Marriage

Vita Sackville-West

It was just then, however, that I first met Harold. He arrived late at a small dinner-party before a play, very young and alive and charming, and the first remark I ever heard him make was, ‘What fun’, when he was asked by his hostess to act as host. Everything was fun to his energy, vitality, and buoyancy. I liked his irrepressible brown curls his laughing eyes, his charming smile, and his boyishness. But we didn’t become particular friends. I think he looked on me as more of a child than I actually was, and as for myself I never thought about people, especially men, under a very personal aspect unless they made quite definitive friendly advances to me first; even then I think one wonders sometimes what people are driving at.

I was eighteen then and he was twenty-three.

 

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

Reader, I married him. A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present. When we got back from church, I went into the kitchen of the manor-house, where Mary was cooking the dinner, and John cleaning the knives, and I said:–

‘Mary, I have been married to Mr Rochester this morning.’ The housekeeper and her husband were both of that decent phlegmatic order of people, to whom one may at any time safely communicate a remarkable piece of news without incurring the danger of having one’s ears pierced by some shrill ejaculation, and subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonderment. Mary did look up, and she did stare at me: the ladle with which she was basting a pair of chickens roasting at the fire, did for some three minutes hang suspended in air; and for the same space of time John’s knives also had rest from the polishing process: but Mary, bending again over the roast, said only –

‘Have you, Miss? Well, for sure!’

 

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo

There was tumult, then silence. The bride and groom disappeared. A bit after midnight, the Gillenormand house turned into a temple.

We will stop there. On the threshold of wedding nights, an angel stands, smiling, a finger to its lips. The soul enters into contemplation before this sanctuary where the celebration of love takes place.

There must be glimmers above houses like this one. The joy they contain must escape through the stones of the walls as light and dimly streak the darkness. This sacred and fateful celebration is simply bound to send a celestial shimmer into infinity. Love is the sublime crucible in which a man and a woman melt together; the one being, the triple being, the final being, the human trinity, the result. This birth of two souls in one must move deep night. The lover is priest; the rapt virgin filled with fear. Something of this joy travels up to God. Wherever there is a real marriage, meaning where there is love, the ideal is involved. A nuptial bed creates a pocket of dawn light in the darkness. If it were given to our eye of flesh and blood to see the fearsome and lovely sights of the higher life, we would probably see the forms of the night, winged strangers, the blue bystanders of the invisible, bend down, a throng of dark heads, over the luminous house, satisfied, blessing, pointing out to each other, sweetly alarmed, the virgin bride, and wearing the reflection of human bliss on their divine faces. If at that supreme moment, the newlyweds, dazed with sensual rapture and believing themselves alone, were to listen, they would hear in their room the muted sound of fluttering wings. Perfect happiness implies the solidarity of angels. This little dark nook is overhung by the whole heavens. When two mouths, sanctified by love, come together to create, that ineffable kiss is simply bound to set the mysterious stars shuddering throughout immensity.

This is the real bliss. There is no joy beyond these joys. Love is the sole ecstasy here. Everything else weeps.

To love or to have loved is enough. Don’t ask for anything more. There is no other pearl to be found in the shadowy folds of life. To love is an achievement.

 

Any Woman

Katharine Tynan

I am the pillars of the house;

The keystone of the arch am I.

Take me away, and roof and wall

Would fall to ruin utterly.

 

I am the fire upon the hearth,

I am the light of the good sun,

I am the heat that warms the earth,

Which else were colder than a stone.

 

At me the children warm their hands;

I am their light of love alive.

Without me cold the hearthstone stands,

Nor could the precious children thrive.

 

I am the twist that holds together

The children in its sacred ring,

Their knot of love, from whose close tether

No lost child goes a-wandering.

 

I am the house from floor to roof,

I deck the walls, the board I spread;

I spin the curtains, warp and woof,

And shake the down to be their bed.

 

I am their wall against all danger,

Their door against the wind and snow.

Thou Whom a woman laid in a manger,

Take me not till the children grow!

 

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1926

H. W. Fowler

wed is a poetic or rhetorical synonym for marry, & the established past & p.p. is wedded; but it is noticeable that the need of brevity in newspaper headings is bringing into trivial use both the verb instead of marry (DUKE WEDS ACTRESS), & the short instead of the long p.p. (SUICIDE OF WED PAIR); see INCONGRUOUS VOCABULARY; here is a chance for sub-editors to do language a service if they will.

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