UPDATED September, 2010 – My new book, Hear My Soul Speak : Wedding Quotations from Shakespeare, is available now!
This article from Newsweek about how to give a wedding toast recommends not quoting Shakespeare. As the article says, “Some of your guests may have even heard on MTV that he’s dead.”
But it did get me thinking. Shakespeare’s not exactly known for writing many happily married couples, or having much that’s very nice to say on the subject. If you’re in the market for Shakespeare wedding quotes, what have you got?
When I asked my wife to marry me I said, ‘There’ll be time enough for Shakespeare, and limousines and travelling around the world…” before popping the question. So I knew that I’d have to do something at the wedding. We didn’t do much with speeches (not even the dads, just the best man), so pulling the microphone over for myself and giving a speech to everybody would have been a little over the top. So instead, during one of our dances together, I whispered this in her ear:
Who will believe my verse in time to come, if it were filled with your most high desserts? Though yet Heaven knows it is but as a tomb which hides your life and shows not half your parts. If I could write the beauty in your eyes, and in fresh numbers number all your graces? The age to come would say This poet lies, such hea’enly touches ne’er touched earthly faces. So should my papers yellowed with their age be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue, and your true rights be termed a poet’s rage, stretched meter of an antique song. But if some child of yours were live in this time, you should live twice, in it and in this rhyme.
That’s Sonnet 17, if you don’t recognize it. I realize that some of my grammar is off, and I deliberately didn’t type it out in the correct format, because I did it from memory whispering it in her ear, and I’m not sure it really matters where the linebreaks were.
When we did the wedding video I made sure to work the “If I could write the beauty in your eyes…” bit right into one of the credit screens.