Boasting approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems and a host of other verses, Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, and is author to some of the most romantic sentiments in history.
Promising inspiration for budding brides and grooms, SoGlos takes a look at some of his most beautiful verses, offering 14 romantic readings for your wedding day.
Known as Shakespeare’s marriage sonnet, this is arguably one of the most popular of the Bard’s wedding readings, and one with a simple message; true love perseveres.
‘Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.’
Sonnet 115 captures the true essence of love, with the poet explaining that he loves more fully now than ever before, but still cannot say ‘I love you most now’, because he knows that love will continue to grow.
‘Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Ev’n those that said I could not love you dearer.
Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.’
Romeo and Juliet
Perhaps one of literature’s most famous couples, Romeo and Juliet is packed with beautiful soliloquys and monologues, with this conversation between the two lovers seeing Juliet describe her love as limitless and of knowing no boundaries.
‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.’
The Merchant of Venice
Tying in beautifully with the theme of marriage and unity, summarise what love is by reciting that you will share your life and soul with your love.
‘Beshrew your eyes,
They have o’erlooked me and divided me.
One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
Mine own, I would say. But if mine, then yours,
And so all yours.’
Perfectly romantic and providing some fitting wedding vows, this quote explains that more than anything else in the world, you will love, value and honour your partner.
‘O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound
And crown what I profess with kind event
If I speak true! If hollowly, invert
What best is boded me to mischief! I
Beyond all limit of what else i’ th’ world
Do love, prize, honor you.’
One of Shakespeare’s best known and most loved sonnets, this reading explains that the stability of love will immortalise a partner’s beauty and youth.
‘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.’
As You Like It
Commenting on love at first sight, this quote from As You Like It professes that once a couple in love find each other, they simply have to be together, with the quote going on to say ‘clubs cannot part them.’
‘No sooner met but they looked, no sooner looked but they loved, no sooner loved but they sighed, no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason, no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy;
and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage.’
Hamlet claims that you can doubt many things in life, even the very physics of the planet can be questioned. However, the one thing that cannot be doubted is his love, suggesting that his love is more powerful and stable than the very foundation of the universe.
‘Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.’
Love’s Labour's Lost
This beautiful speech explains how love is a powerful force, comparing love to be as brave as Hercules, as subtle as a Sphinx, as musical as Apollo’s lute, and as having the voice of all the Gods.
‘But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain,
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.’
Perfect for couples who want an alternative reading from a registrar or celebrant, The Tempest sees a wedding celebration like no other, with spirits offering their blessings to the happy couple.
‘Honor, riches, marriage, blessing,
Long continuance, and increasing,
Hourly joys be still upon you.
Juno sings her blessings on you.’
Sonnet 29 shows the turmoil of a poet who is troubled by jealousy of others around him, before remembering his ‘sweet love’, and realising that he wouldn’t swap his place for a king as his love brings unrivalled happiness.
‘Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.’
Romeo and Juliet
Dazzle any blushing bride with one of Romeo’s most flattering speeches, marvelling at how beautiful Juliet is, and asking himself if he ever did love before the moment he saw her, as he exclaims: ‘I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’
‘Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.’
This sweet song is perfect for a pre-wedding reading, as the bride is about to walk down the aisle, or when the bride and groom are reunited at the front of the venue. The last line: ‘journeys end in lovers meeting’ provides the perfect mantra for your happily ever after.
‘O, stay and hear! Your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting.
Journeys end in lovers meeting.’
While Shakespeare offers some beautiful ways to express love and devotion, sometimes less is more, with this beautiful line from King Henry V summing it all up.
‘I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say, I love you.’