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The Right Words

2012 August 29

Over the last couple of weeks, the focus of the wedding has been the ceremony itself. More precisely—where, exactly, on the grounds will it be held? What will be said (we are writing it ourselves, but borrowing heavily from models)? And, of course, the thing that took up the most of our time and energy—finding readings for the ceremony. A wedding ceremony is a very personal experience for everyone, of course. It’s fraught with a lot of pressure to be individual, to communicate the essence of your relationship to your closest friends and family, and to be at least somewhat entertaining.

Because both Joe and I are what you would call “book people,” our readings were immensely important to us, and because we are only doing two, we wanted to be sure we were choosing the right ones. Scratch that–the PERFECT ones. Obviously, this took us quite some time. We had many considerations:

  • Readability:  No one wants to saddle their readers with a long-winded reading full of antiquated language or difficult-to-pronounce words.
  • Length: Not too short, and not too long. We are trying to keep our ceremony brief, so this one was important.
  • Engagement: Was it going to be enjoyable for guests to listen to this reading? We didn’t want to choose anything too abstract, obscure, or flat out boring.
  • Format: We are not religious, so religious readings were out. We both love music, but felt that song lyrics weren’t the way to go either. Choosing passages from favorite books proved too challenging and daunting a task. Ultimately, we chose two poems.
  • Appropriateness: You’d be surprised at how many poems talk about bodies, desire, kisses, touching…nice things, sure, but not exactly the stuff you want to talk about in front of your grandmother at your wedding.
  • Originality: We’ve been to many weddings between the two of us, and the last thing we wanted was to repeat/steal anyone else’s readings. Hopefully we’ve avoided this!
  • Sentiment: Above all, we wanted readings that resonated personally with each of us, and communicated some aspects of our relationship, and what it means to us. This, of course, was the most difficult part of all.
For months, we went back and forth about potential readings. We emailed each other with poems, passages, and snippets that could work. We kept a Google doc with potential readings and links to websites with reading suggestions. We looked through our favorite books of poetry, multiple times. We finally found a poem we both liked a great deal, but could not find a second to agree on. It turned out that the one we finally chose was a poem that Joe had suggested a while ago, but that we had forgotten about.
With just a few weeks left to go, we’ve finally got our readings, and I am very happy with them. We’ve emailed them off to our readers so we are locked into our decision. They may not be PERFECT, but as much as I love words, sometimes they’re just not enough to express all of the things you’re feeling.
Have you had to choose readings for a wedding, or other event? How did you make your choices? Any favorite pieces?


*Image from Obvious State


3 Responses Post a comment
  1. Raquel permalink
    August 29, 2012

    We felt the same way you guys did–for a long time, we agonized over finding THE MOST PERFECTEST READING EVS OMG. We went round and round and round until nothing made sense anymore and it was all a blur.

    Finally I randomly came upon a poem on a website that expressed a sentiment we both liked and we decided to just go with that and stop looking and driving ourselves nuts. It was not perfect but it was good enough and it fit with the ceremony’s sentiments so we were happy. And anyway, how can any other writer perfectly encapsulate EXACTLY what your own unique love relationship is like? In that way, even the most seemingly perfect reading can never be perfect, I think. It can be hard to translate the language of the heart into mere words.

    Although I have to say that our processional song was pretty perfect for us and made up for the good-enough poem. :)

    I am sure you guys will have a fantastic and personal ceremony (looking forward to experiencing it!) because that’s the kind of people you are. And no matter what words are said, perfect or not, we all know that you two are destined to be a perfect match.

    Also, your line about not wanting to talk about desire in front of your grandmother made me LOL! :)

  2. Joe permalink
    August 29, 2012

    I love the readings we chose. Had I known how difficult it was going to be, I may have gone with one of Jill’s original suggestions – having a friend compile a few sentences about us from our friends & family that were coming to the wedding, and then turning that into a reading. Just a suggestion for those of you who run into the same problem we did.

    For the record I like the poem Jill found better than the one I found :-)

  3. Nancy permalink
    August 29, 2012

    I approve! Also, it was noticed and appreciated that the reading is shockingly free of antiquated language and difficult-to-pronounce words :)

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