Our ceremony was definitely the part of the day which required the most preparation from both of us, and the part that was the most time-consuming in my desire to be thorough and filter through all of my available options. Our officiant was amazing, and the choice for the day that we both agree was the best one that we made. Rather than a “cookie-cutter” ceremony, where we could choose from a handful of readings and a list of musical selections, we were given free rein over every moment of the event. It was practically a “choose-your-own-adventure” of wedding ceremonies (“If you want everyone to laugh, choose this. If you want everyone to cry, go to page 28. If you want people to think you’re total nerds, include “Princess Bride” quote here”. Done and done!), and everything from the greeting to the closing presentation of the couple was chosen specifically by us.
I extensively searched the Interwebs for reading selections, and found a great deal of help on the amazing wedding blog “A Practical Wedding.” (Seriously. If you’re engaged, or thinking about becoming engaged, you need to read these ladies. They’re wise, witty and helped me retain my sanity during planning on more than one occasion.)
They did a series of posts called “Words to Read When You Wed,” (Here, here and here) which helped me get a great deal of searching out of the way right off the bat. (The OTHER best thing about APW is the other readers- they’re as down-to-earth and smart as Meg and her team, and I got some great reading suggestions from the comments on the posts above.)
I copied and pasted reading after reading into word documents, and then read them over and over to see if they could capture the emotion that I wanted from the day. If they did, the narrowed down choices were printed out for Army Boy to mull over. After his review, we were left with a short list, which came under STILL MORE scrutiny.
As I religiously followed my “wedding countdown” lists, the time came for us simultaneously to meet with our reverend and get our programs ready for printing. I needed to have solid decisions ASAP. And honestly, I still wasn’t feeling the majority of our shortlist.
Back I went to the interwebs, and just out of curiosity I checked on The Knot. I figured that most of the readings on there would be far too cliché (Corinthians, I’m lookin at you), but sometimes cliché is ok if it gives you the right emotional response. Fortunately, I found TWO pieces that were just what I was hoping for, and they immediately bumped all but two of our previous choices into oblivion.
They ended up being the two that we used in our ceremony, because we felt that they captured our relationship and our families so well. Army Boy’s brother read the first selection, and did a gorgeous job giving life to Paulo Coehlo’s lovely words.
From the “The Alchemist”
“When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert… She smiled, and that was certainly an omen — the omen he had been awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life…
“It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”
“They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days. They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always. They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even — for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health — when they don’t feel like it at all. In other words, the vows they make could hardly be more extravagant. They give away their freedom. They take on themselves each other’s burdens. They bind their lives together… The question is, what do they get in return?
“They get each other in return… There will always be the other to talk to, to listen to… There is still someone to get through the night with, to wake into the new day beside. If they have children, they can give them, as well as each other, roots and wings….
“They both still have their lives apart as well as a life together. They both still have their separate ways to find. But a marriage made in heaven is one where a man and a woman become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could ever have managed to become alone.”
~Frederick Buechner (from “Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith”)
The last reading selection that I felt that we HAD to use was a poem written by Neil Gaiman, one of my absolute favorite authors. Since we’d set the ceremony in stone, I decided to put it on the back of our programs, where we had some room left after the listing of our limited wedding party. I think it’s just beautiful, and I’m glad that I could share it with our guests.
This for you, for both of you,
a small poem of happiness
filled with small glories and little triumphs
a fragile, short cheerful song
filled with hope and all sorts of futures
Because at weddings we imagine the future
Because it’s all about “what happened next?”
all the work and negotiation and building and talk
that makes even the tiniest happily ever after
something to be proud of for a wee forever
This is a small thought for both of you
like a feather or a prayer,
a wish of trust and love and hope
and fine brave hearts and true.
Like a tower, or a house made all of bones and dreams
and tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows
What readings did you choose for your Big Day, and why? Were there any writers in particular that you wanted to feature?
Up Next: I’ll finally stop being a jerk about our music selections and just tell you already.