To Love is Not to Possess, The Perfect Feminist Wedding Poem


Eschewing wedding traditions for feminist-friendly revisions requires some research, and my husband and I had a helluva time finding appropriate ceremony readings, with one exception: To Love is Not to Possess, by James Kavanaugh. I stumbled across this poem in 2012 and knew it would be included in our wedding ceremony (three years before it actually happened). Although our wedding has passed,  it still crosses my mind frequently, and I hope some of you might use this reading in your big fat feminist weddings.

To Love is Not to Possess
James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Which feminist readings did you opt for in your wedding?


  1. I'm totally copying this and putting it on my blog. Like, literally, right now it's on the clipboard. PERFECTION. Sometimes I'm so happy there are poets in the world. XOXO

  2. I love this so much! I must use it at my wedding. (check out my blog if you want- multiple Utah feminists contribute to it)

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