My favorite love poems have always come from Shakespeare’s Sonnets (http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-sonnet-40.htm)
My favorite is Sonnet 18 “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?” and this would make a perfect love poem for a wedding.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
For a spring wedding poem, I would also choose Sonnet 105 “Let no my love be called idolatry” for its simplicity and the emotions it conveys as he expresses love as a higher devotion.
“Let not my love be call’d idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
‘Fair, kind and true’ is all my argument,
‘Fair, kind, and true’ varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords
‘Fair, kind, and true,’ have often lived alone,
Which three till now never kept seat in one.”
Another great poem is Sonnet 40 “Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all” . I like this sonnet for the way it expresses a true lover’s selflessness and helplessness at the mercy of love.
“Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blamed, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet, love knows, it is a greater grief
To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury.
Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.”
Another favorite of mine is Lord Byron’s She Walks In Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light 5
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face; 10
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 15
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
And O My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
O my luve’s like a red, red rose.
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my luve’s like a melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my Dear,
Till a’the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o’life shall run.
And fare thee weel my only Luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!
Finally, no wedding would be complete without Sonnet 151 “Love is too young to know what conscience is” for the mere definition of love as something very innocent and untouched , yet what each man strives for without realizing it.
“Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove:
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body’s treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no father reason;
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her love for whose dear love I rise and fall.”
Shakespearean sonnets have always been my favorite poems, and any one of the above set the perfect tone for a spring wedding whether used on the invitations, for a toast, or in exchange of vows.