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The Book of Love: Wedding-Planning Ideas for Bibliophiles
Posted On June 18, 2024
This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Information Today.

No one believes in a romantic happily-ever-after more than the book-loving betrothed. Primed by stories of enchantment and souls uniting, literary fans can incorporate their love of books, authors, and reading into their wedding plans. With bookish-themed venues, decorative accents, signature drinks, honeymoon hotels, and more, well-read couples can turn to print for inspiration as they write their first chapter together.


In thinking about playful backdrops for engagement photos, book lovers might consider organizing photo shoots at their favorite library or bookstore. Imagine sitting together on the rising steps of a grand municipal public library, posing under the quaint shop sign of a favorite bookstore, or meandering into endless book stacks for a one-of-a-kind portrait. Smiles and googly eyes just go naturally together around books, and these hallowed stomping grounds can be a fitting place to capture a couple’s love for each other and their fondness for reading.

Playing on the library idea, couples can design engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, and wedding invitations in the shape and style of books, vintage library checkout cards, or “ex libris” bookplates. Iconic covers of favorite novels can provide graphic inspiration too. With a favorite design on file, couples can order matching thank-you cards to use during the engagement festivities and after the wedding.


Before the wedding, couples share their excitement with friends and family during engagement parties, bridal showers, planning meetups, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinners. These get-togethers are perfect opportunities to slip in bookish touches. Couples can search their area for literary-themed bars and restaurants or seek out event spaces at libraries and bookstores. The Oscar Wilde bar in New York, Niche Book Bar in Milwaukee, and Protagonist Cafe in St. Louis are fun spots that play on the book theme.

When planning wild bachelorette and bachelor parties, couples might inject a touch of wholesomeness into their revelry and opt for literary-themed pub crawls such as New York’s Literary Pub CrawlLit Crawl San Francisco, and Lit Crawl Boston (part of the Boston Book Festival). Conversely, couples can lean into debauchery and seek out places similar to the now-closed Barkowski—a Charles Bukowski-themed dive bar in Los Angeles.


When it comes to the wedding, rather than live flowers, Pinterest-worthy decorative arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres made from repurposed printed pages could bring whimsy to the day—and afterward, they become long-lasting souvenirs. Similarly, aisles and wedding spaces can be decorated with bunting made from book pages, and flower girls and attendees can toss heart-shaped confetti cut from old book pages in lieu of petals and rice. How nice to be showered with words!

For the ceremony, couples might consider having passages from their favorite books printed onto aisle runners, and they can replace ring bearer pillows with a faux book box or a hollowed-out book to carry rings. Couples can trade traditional flowy, floral wedding arbors and bowers for an arch built of books. A portico of books would be a delightful place to exchange vows and could double as a charming backdrop for wedding photos.

Literary-loving couples might go the extra mile and seek out a librarian to officiate their ceremony. While currently there isn’t a registry of librarian wedding officiants, with a little footwork, librarian friends can become licensed to perform civil wedding ceremonies through sites such as the Universal Life Church and American Marriage Ministries.


Book lovers’ imaginations have no limit when seeking out spaces for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Private rental halls at libraries, authorial historic homes, and museums can be delightful and offer ample space for large bashes or quaint surroundings for intimate gatherings. Digging into local history can help couples identify bookish connections in their area that might be the perfect venue for their special day. Wedding planning website giant The Knot offers a “Library” vendor filter to help couples locate local literary-adjacent venues.

Thanks in part to Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic influence in the library world, many cities have stunning flagship public libraries with impressive and beautiful architecture and publicly available reception accommodations that are memorable places to hold wedding celebrations. Stunning examples include Providence Public Library in Rhode Island, The New York Public Library, Boston Public Library, and The Indianapolis Public Library. Similarly, smaller branch libraries or a beloved college library can offer enchanting spaces and might be a perfect fit for some weddings.

Many private libraries have inspiring venues too. Picture-perfect spaces include the George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Chicago’s Newberry library, and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Moreover, presidential libraries with handsome rental spaces might appeal to civic-minded couples. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and the Richard Nixon Foundation in California have hosted many nuptials.

Some cities are home to literary museums and historic homes. Chicago’s American Writers Museum celebrates the written word and offers a quaint wedding space. Couples can also explore local connections to specific authors when scouting for venues. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Florida, Connecticut’s Mark Twain House & Museum, the Poe Museum in Virginia, William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak in Mississippi, and The Mount—Edith Wharton’s mansion with formal gardens in Massachusetts—are all beautiful settings for couples to celebrate their love.

Outside of libraries and museums, some hotels are intimately associated with famous authors and literary figures. In New Orleans, Hotel Monteleone was the temporary home to Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway and has appeared in many stories. In New York, Dorothy Parker and prominent literary figures dined and convened roundtable meetings at the Algonquin Hotel. Arranging space for wedding festivities in these places adds to the continuity of appreciating literature and writing.


Newlyweds can personalize their reception with endless bookish accents. When entering the reception hall, couples can create a “story of us” guest book or ask friends and family to sign and share well-wishes in books from a tabletop library of their favorite titles. They could place a vintage typewriter on the welcome table, where guests can leave notes of love.

Tables can be named after favorite books, such as Great Expectations, Little Women, or The Joy Luck Club, or authors, such as George Orwell, James Baldwin, or Octavia Butler. These homages to authors and classic works can usher guests to more personalized places than, say, Table 4. Couples can use vintage library checkout slips as table markers or incorporate the design into dinner menus. Replacing floral arrangements or candle centerpieces, each table could have paper-crafted book art sculptures folded from pages and text blocks of old books. Couples might also include framed love-themed quotes and passages from their favorite books on each table.

As tokens of appreciation, couples can give their guests book-themed favors such as bookmarks with the couple’s name and wedding date, small booklets of photos, jewelry made from vintage typewriter keys, or, if they are authors themselves, signed copies of books they have published. Punctuating the book theme, couples can install a wall of books or a photo backdrop showing library stacks or a close-up of a printed book page. They can promote their wedding by encouraging guests to use bookish hashtags such as #wilsonlovestory or #jonesontheroad.


Wedding cakes are classic reception showstoppers, and couples can tap into their baker’s creativity and ask them to design a multitiered wedding cake in the shape of a stack of books. Or, they can ask confectionaries to print romantic book passages on the cake frosting. For a subtle touch, couples can include a personalized book-themed topper to accent the cake.

At the dessert table, nods to sweet treats inspired by delicacies described in favorite books might include Victorian seed cakes in keeping with Jane Eyre, pickled limes from Little Women, or Turkish delight as savored in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, not to mention an endless array of chocolates and fantastical treats tied to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Alison Walsh’s A Literary Holiday Cookbook and A Literary Tea Party or Christin Geweke’s Fairytale Baking can provide inspiration.


Many couples personalize their celebrations with signature drinks, and mixology is another avenue to celebrate literary connections. Author Tim Federle published a series of pun-riddled, literary-inspired recipe books—Tequila Mockingbird and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita—featuring drinks such as those in the titles and Love in the Time of Kahlua, Vermouth the Bell Tolls, and The Handmaid’s Ale. If Federle’s books don’t suffice, Amira Makansi’s Literary Libations book and a list of ideas from OEDb can help couples find the perfect pairing.


Garden venues, long tables, and endless trimmings not only delight guests, but also transport them into fantasy worlds. Literary-loving couples can look to lush parties from classic books such as Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to inspire elegant tea parties and fairy feasts. Couples can work with caterers to curate a special menu.

Feasts such as the extravagant suppers detailed in James Joyce’s The Dead, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or Karen Blixen’s Babette’s Feast might guide wedding dinner plans. When menu planning, couples can consult Barbara Scrafford’s Literary Feasts: Recipes From the Classics of Literature, Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, and Jennifer Barclay’s A Literary Feast: Recipes Inspired by Novels, Poems and Plays. Robert Tuesley Anderson’s Recipes From the World of Tolkien is a must to consider for any J.R.R. Tolkien fan.


After a whirlwind wedding day, honeymooners can continue building literary links at boutique book-themed hotels. In New York, overlooking The New York Public Library is the Library Hotel, which organizes its 10 floors of guest rooms, along with its 6,000-book collection, in keeping with the Dewey decimal system. Rooms are themed to match categories of books, and newlyweds would feel at home in the Love Room—a honeymoon suite with a library curated by sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Couples escaping to the Pacific Northwest might enjoy a stay at Sylvia Beach Hotel, where suites are decorated in the spirit of literary heavyweights such as Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, Dr. Seuss, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Inn Boonsboro in Maryland is a charming bed-and-breakfast that offers guest rooms styled after favorite literary couples who lived happily ever after. Newlyweds staying in the Elizabeth and Darcy or Westley and Buttercup rooms can kick-start their love story with a toast to those immortal literary lovers. Comic book enthusiasts might head to the playful The Curtis hotel in Denver and reserve the Comic Book Hero “hyper themed room.” The Black Swan Inn in Idaho pampers guests in its suites, and newlyweds might enjoy the charm of the Arabian Nights or Romeo and Juliet rooms.

Couples traveling to Japan can seek out Book and Bed Tokyo, a bookstore-hostel where guests can slumber among books. Lovers heading to Paris might appreciate a stay at the Hôtel Littéraire Le Swann, where bibliophile hotelier Jacques Letertre designed four-star rooms paying homage to celebrated authors. Guests can browse multilingual libraries, check out exhibit spaces highlighting authors, and enjoy a range of literary-themed evening events. Hobbit-inspired cave units at Woodlyn Park in New Zealand can be the perfect and unforgettable getaway for fantasy lit lovers looking for unique, immersive accommodations.

Though not as on the nose as other literary-inspired hotels, the landmark The Seelbach Hilton in Kentucky would appeal to F. Scott Fitzgerald fans. Its gorgeous grandeur was the inspiration for a hotel in The Great Gatsby. Couples looking to hole up during their honeymoon may enjoy The Ben hotel in Florida, where guests can dial 0 to summon the Book Butler to send up room service and books.


A love of words might be the perfect inspiration for a book-themed destination wedding at a literary-related venue, accompanied by related group activities to celebrated authors’ homes, libraries, bookshops, and writers’ favorite watering holes. Dublin and Edinburgh are two perfect options to consider for getaway wedding trips with close family and friends—or later, for anniversary trips.

Dublin, Ireland, home to legendary writers and wordsmiths, could make a great wedding destination, and couples and their guests might delight in visiting the Dublin Writers Museum, the Museum of Literature Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin’s impressive book collection displayed in its Long Room, the Oscar Wilde House, the James Joyce Centre, and The Gutter Bookshop, as well as spending an evening on the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl.

Edinburgh, Scotland, is the home of Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and poet Robert Burns. One of its most recognizable landmarks is the monument that memorializes novelist and historian Sir Walter Scott. Wedding guests may enjoy visiting Stevenson’s childhood home, The Writers’ Museum, and nearby Makars’ Court—an outdoor courtyard space with stone plaques quoting Scottish literature—before enjoying The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. Harry Potter fans would delight in The Potter Trail, a walking tour around the city to see where J.K. Rowling wrote the first novel and to step into the real-life locales that color Potter books.


Incorporating book motifs into wedding planning is a natural fit. As book lovers know, literature and stories transport people to another world and engage their imaginations, and reading offers poignant personal experiences that haunt and move people—just like romantic love does. Literary-minded couples can use these ideas to frame and accent their wedding festivities and infuse their celebrations with a true-blue love of books.

Patti Gibbons is a Chicago-based librarian and freelance writer. Her email address is

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