17 Unconventional Wedding Readings From Literature

It's not that there's anything wrong with William Shakespeare; it's just that when you're sitting at the fifth wedding in the fifth dress at the fifth hotel you have been to, bought, and stayed at this year, sometimes "Love Sonnet 116" gets a little stale. Let me not to the marriage of true minds.... The same goes for the (wonderful) Pablo Neruda and Rumi and even Corinthians. If you're planning your own wedding and looking for more unconventional wedding readings from literature, you have more of a chance to express your unique love for your partner, and not get lumped in with all the others your guests have attended this year.

It's hard to choose a wedding reading. How can you narrow years (or weeks, I'm not judging) of love into a few lines your BFF is going to deliver at your wedding ceremony? Well, book nerds can always turn to literature — but put down the Shakespeare plays and your collection of 100 Best Love poems and turn to things that are a little more peculiar to see in a wedding. To get fun and offbeat, turn to your favorite children's books, a shared beloved science fiction novel, or even a novel about (gasp!) a breakup. An unconventional wedding reading will definitely keep your guests' attention — whether you want them laughing or swooning — and it will make your big day even more memorable and personal.

1. Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton

I like you a lot
You're funny and kind
So let me explain
What I have in mind.
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to walk right by your side
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to travel with you far and wide
Wherever you go, I'll go there too
Here and there and ev'rywhere
And always with you
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
From now on.
Now lots of other penguins seem to do fine
In a universe of nothing but ice
But if I could be yours and you could be mine
A cozy little world would be twice as nice
Look at these wings, so perfect to hold you
I'd like to say again
What I have already told you
Let me be Your Personal Penguin
From now on.

2. "Let Me Put It This Way" by Simon Armitage

Let me put it this way:
if you came to lay
your sleeping head
against my arm or sleeve,
and if my arm went dead,
or if I had to take my leave
at midnight, I should rather
cleave it from the joint or seam
than make a scene
or bring you round.
There,
how does that sound?

3. The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

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.

4. "The Day The Saucers Came" by Neil Gaiman

That day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and
stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn't notice it because
That day, the day the saucers came, by some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because
On the saucer day, which was the zombie day, it was
Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-men's nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold,
and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because
On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods
day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true
brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across
the land, and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because
That day, the saucer day, the zombie day,
The Ragnarok and fairies day, the
day the great winds came
And snows, and the cities turned to crystal, the day
All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the
Computers turned, the screens telling
us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of
the Time Machine day,
You didn't notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.

5. "Us Two" by A.A. Milne

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.
"What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
"I think it ought to be twenty-two."
"Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
"It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what it is," said Pooh.
"Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
"Yes, let's," said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
"Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
"As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what they are," said Pooh.
"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.
"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!"- and off they flew.
"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you." 
So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. "That's how it is," says Pooh.

6. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

My mother’s last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinnertime: love, love, love, love, love. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word "love" to the people you love so when it matters most to say it, you will.
We’re all going to die. Hit the iron bell like it’s dinnertime.

7. A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton

The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.
Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.
Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.
He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.
She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also overly fond of things.
Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?
But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur.
She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur.
For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides,
I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
Look at them.
Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.
And the world is a beautiful place.

8. "How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog" by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Somethimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block
and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you
until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches… I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids…
I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I ell-oh-vee-ee why-oh-you. Want it backward? You love I.

10. I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, “Remember when you told me something special?”
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
Hah-hah!
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly!
Sometimes we don’t say a word
We snurkle under fences
We spy secret places
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off
You are one too
If I pretend I am drowning, you pretend you are saving me
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
HOORAY!
That’s because you really like me
You really like me, don’t you?
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that’s the way we keep on going every day
If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don’t just say “Well see you around sometime, bye”
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me
And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose
I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did
If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t
If I break my arm, and if you break your arm too
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours
We are both sorry
We write our names and draw pictures
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too
I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do
So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
See what I mean?
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That’s how it would happen every time
I don’t know why
I guess I don’t know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.

11. The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.

12. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat’s blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, and that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.

13. "Habitation" by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert 
the unpainted stairs 
at the back where we squat 
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

14. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

We throw the frisbee farther than anyone has ever seen a frisbee go. First it goes higher than anyone has thrown before, so that in the middle of the pale blue there is only the sun’s glazed headlight and the tiny white disc, and then it goes farther than anyone has known a frisbee to go, with us having to use miles of beach, from one cliff to the other, thousands of people in between, to catch it. It’s the trajectory that’s important, we know that, that the distance relies on both velocity and angle of flight, that you have to throw the hell out of the thing, and also put it on the correct trajectory, an upward trajectory both straight and steady, not too high, not too low, because if it’s sent on the right upward path, its momentum will carry it almost twice the distance, the second half on its way down, the second half a gimme, meaning that you need only to provide for half of its distance yourself, it’s momentum providing for the second half, when finally its forward progress slows and slows and stops and it falls, as if parachuting, and then we move and run under, our quick steps scratching into the wet sand and when it falls, it falls into our hands, because we are there. We look like professionals, like we’ve been playing together for years. Busty women stop and stare. Senior citizens sit and shake their heads, gasping. Religious people fall to the knees. No one has ever seen anything like it.

15. "Happy Ending?" by Shel Silverstein 

There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part, 
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.

16. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

It's a mystery of human chemistry and I don't understand it, some people, as far as their senses are concerned, just feel like home. 

17. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes in the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking.  Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain.  Shared and once again shared experience.

 Images: hot-vision/Flickr; Teddy Kelley/Unsplash; you mee/Flickr; Mayur Gala/Unsplash; jakrapongt.germeau,  Tony Faiola,  J.BCmasterdesignerMichael Foyle Photography (2), Azchael/Flickr; Greg Rakozy/Unsplash; Hernan PiñeragovirulezManik RatheeClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser/Flickr

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