10 best literary wedding readings (& my own from The Amber Spyglass)

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“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”

Haruki Murakami, After Dark

It’s been two years now since Iain and I got married in a treehouse on the stunning shores of Loch Goil in Scotland with just one guest (and a photographer). Wild nature, stunning surroundings, zero stress… we had the perfect wedding day.

We wrote our own adventure-inspired vows, but knew we also wanted to include some bookish additions to our wedding. While thinking back to the day, I’ve compiled the best wedding readings we were considering – and, of course, the one we eventually chose.

I hope these excerpts and poems can inspire your own perfect wedding day, whether you’re planning a literary-themed wedding or just a few bookish touches. Which reading (or readings) will you choose?

The best literary wedding readings for booklovers

1. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

From The Folio Society edition of His Dark Materials (which would also be a perfect wedding gift)

Could this be the best literary wedding reading of all time? This quote from The Amber Spyglass is the perfect addition to bookish weddings for fans of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. At least, if you don’t mind a few tears being shed.

At our wedding, Iain’s sister read this beautiful quote before we shared our vows; it created such a lovely moment that we’ll remember forever.

“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.”

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Song of Achilles cover

This exquisite short quote is a gorgeous choice for any reader who loves Madeline Miller’s captivating writing.

“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

As another of the best book quotes for weddings, this excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a wonderful choice. Some of our friends included it in their own wedding readings, and it was a lovely small literary touch.

“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 root was 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. 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.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

4. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L’Engle

How perfect is this quote about marriage by Madeline L’Engle?

“Love of music, of sunsets and sea; a liking for the same kind of people; political opinions that are not radically divergent; a similar stance as we look at the stars and think of the marvelous strangeness of the universe – these are what build a marriage. And it is never to be taken for granted.”

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L’Engle

5. One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda is best known for his tear-jerking poems about love, and this sonnet which he wrote for Matilde Urrutia, his (third) wife, is one of his finest.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” 

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

One of the best wedding readings from classic literature is this beautiful quote from Jane Eyre.

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy — my better self — my good angel — I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you — and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

7. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

If you love Murakami as much as I do, this quote would be a magical way to start your wedding ceremony.

“I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

8. The Ent and The Ent Wife – The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien

If you and your partner love all things Middle Earth, this wedding reading from The Lord of the Rings will be a perfect addition to your big day.

“When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last;

When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;

I’ll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:

Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!

Together we will take the road that leads into the West,

And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.”

The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien

9. “Soul Mates” By Lang Leav (from Love & Misadventure)

Penned by Lang Leav, “Soul Mates” is a gorgeous poem about the inextricable bond of love; of finding your media naranja who makes you feel whole.

“I don’t know how you are so familiar to me — or why it feels less like I am getting to know you and more as though I am remembering who you are. How every smile, every whisper brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I have known you before, I have loved you before — in another time, a different place, some other existence.”

“Soul Mates” By Lang Leav

10. “A Vow” by Wendy Cope (from Anecdotal Evidence)

Some of the best wedding readings admit that while marriage isn’t always easy, we can try our best. This poem by Wendy Cope is one of the best excerpts about perfectly imperfect love.

I cannot promise never to be angry;

I cannot promise always to be kind.

You know what you’re taking on, my darling

It’s only at the start that love is blind.

And yet I’m still the one you want to be with

And you’re the one for me – of that I’m sure.

You’re my closest friend, my favourite person,

The lover and the home I’ve waited for.

I cannot promise that I will deserve you

From this day on. I hope to pass that test.

I love you, and I want to make you happy.

I promise I will do my very best.

“A Vow” by Wendy Cope
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