Find the write words: Ceremony readings that tell your love story

Photo: Meredith Sledge Photo: Meredith Sledge

Describing love is hard. Describing the love you and your partner share in front of a congregation of family and friends? That’s hard enough to render any author speechless—even UVA creative writing professor and distinguished poet Lisa Russ Spaar.

When couples ask Spaar for recommendations, her go-to, she says, is poetry. “Everything looks like a love poem, depending on how you read it,” she says.

Spaar’s daughter, Suzannah, will be married this November, and while Spaar hasn’t yet been asked to pen a poem for her daughter’s wedding, there are a few moving pieces on her list of recommendations.

Song of Songs 2:10-12, King James version of the Bible

“My beloved spoke, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away […].

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

Passage from Letters to a Young Poet
by Rainer Maria Rilke

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”

“The Shampoo”
by Elizabeth Bishop, lines 13-18

“The shooting stars in your black hair

in bright formation

are flocking where,

so straight, so soon? —

Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,

battered and shiny like the moon.”

“Blessing the Boats (at St. Mary’s)” 

by Lucille Clifton, lines 1-9

“may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss

the wind then turn from it

certain that it will

love your back”