I recently attended a very sweet vow renewal ceremony celebrating seven years of marriage. It's no small feat to make it to the many milestones of marriage. A lot can happen to change you and your relationship and a vow renewal can cement all of that work into a more unified commitment. But how do you address that in your vow renewal ceremony?
Some wedding readings are totally universal for a wedding or a vow renewal, but some are just a little bit more apt for those who have traversed the trenches of longtime marriage. Here are a few weddings readings we love for a vow renewal ceremony…
Please add your choices in the comments so we can add them to the list!
“Litany” by Billy Collins
You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine…
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.
“When You Are Old” by W.B. Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sad, “From us fled Love,
He paced upon the mountains far above,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.”
“Prayer for a Marriage” by Steve Scafidi
When we are old one night,
and the moon arcs over the house
like an antique china saucer,
and the tea cup sun
follows somewhere far behind
I hope the stars deepen to a shine
So bright you could read by it, If you liked,
and the sadness we will have known will go away for a while,
in this hour or two before sleep,
and that we kiss, standing in the kitchen,
not fighting gravity so much as embodying its sweet force,
And I hope we kiss, Like we do today,
Knowing so much good is said in the primitive tongue —
From the wild first surprising ones,
To the lower dizzy ten thousand infinitely slower ones –
And I hope while we stand there in the kitchen,
Making tea and kissing,
The whistle of the teapot wakes the neighbors.
“I Carry Your Heart With Me” by e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Ann Morrow Lindbergh, from Gift from the Sea
When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of the tide of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide of life and resist in terrors it’s ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life, as in love, is growth… is fluidity… is freedom.
From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must need have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart
and a song of praise on your lips.
By Theodore Parker
It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even the most loving and well assorted. A happy wedlock is a falling in love. Young persons think love belongs to the brow-haired and crimson cheeked. So it does for its beginning. But the golden marriage is part of love which the bridal day knows nothing of…. Such a large and sweet fruit is marriage that is needs a long summer to ripen, and then a long winter to mellow and season it.
By Martin Luther King Jr.
The meaning of love is not to be confused with some sentimental outpouring. Love is something much more than emotional bosh …. An overflowing love which seeks nothing in return, [agape] is the love of God operating in the human heart. Love is the most durable power in the world.
This creative force, so beautifully exemplified in the life of our Christ, is the most potent
instrument available in humankind’s quest for peace and security. The great military leaders of the past have gone, and their empires have crumbled and burned to ashes. But the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing.
“The Place Poem” by Ted Enslin
I could open the doors and the windows
to great winds
Let everything be scattered,
like loose sheets of paper
Let tumbling take sense and proportion
from what we have put in order.
That suits us,
but it would not change anything.
You have come in,
and your entrance has been final.
You do not leave me,
nor do I leave you, beloved.
We have made this house our place,
And our shelter.
When we go out,
we will go out together.
“The Art of a Good Marriage” by Wilfred Arlan Peterson
A good marriage must be created.
In the marriage, the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once each day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of value and common objectives.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating
gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right person,
it is being the right partner
“Union” by Robert Fulghum
You have known each other for years, through first glance of acquaintance to this moment of recommitment. At some moment, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” — those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. Just two people working out what they want what they believe what they hope for each other. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.”Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another — acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. You have learned that good company and friendship count for more than good looks. And you have learned that marriage is a maze into which we wonder- a maze that is best got through with a great companion. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.