Sarah and John had a lot of interesting ways to incorporate their family and friends into their wedding ceremony, but this had to be my favorite: their readers.
They asked six of their friends (three couples) to each choose a reading to present during the wedding ceremony. I thought it was great that they were going to let their friends choose the readings, so they could pick something that they thought was very representative and appropriate for Sarah and John. But here’s the big thing: they asked me to keep the readings a secret from that!
That’s right – the readers “reported” directly into me. I placed the readings into the ceremony, based on their content, and had full veto power if something wasn’t quite right or a duplicate. But the bride and groom had no idea what was going to be read at their wedding!
I sent the readers an email, with some of my favorite wedding reading resources, a deadline, and encouraged them to use me as a resource as well – to ask me any questions, have me offer suggestions, or simply point them in the right direction. But all six friends did a fabulous job and picked perfect readings for the wedding!
The first reading was a selection of notes that Charles Darwin had written down in his sketchbook – the pros and cons of getting married. It was a piece I had never seen before, and I love it!
Notes on Marriage
Made When Deciding Whether or Not to Marry
Freedom to go where one liked
Choice of society and little of it.
Conversation of clever men at clubs.
Not forced to visit relatives, and to bend to every trifle…
To have the expense and anxiety of children – perhaps quarreling.
Loss of time – cannot read in the evenings.
Fatness and idleness.
Anxiety and responsibility.
Less money for books.
If many children, forced to gain one’s bread (but then it is very bad for one’s health to work too much).
Perhaps my wife won’t like London, then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent, idle fool.
Children (if it please God)
Constant companion, who will feel interested in one (a friend in old age)
Object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow
Home, and someone to take care of house
Charms of music and female chit chat – these things good for ones health but terrible loss of timMy God, it is unthinkable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all.
No, no, won’t do.
Imagine living all one’s days solitary in smoky dirty London House.
Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, and books, and music perhaps – compare this vision with dingy reality.
Marry! Marry! Marry!
The second readers chose a selection from the Velveteen Rabbit, a dialogue between the Rabbit and the Skin Horse, discussing how love makes you real. They each had a role, one reading the Rabbit’s lines and one the Skin Horses. It was especially fun because there’s a line about how when you’re finally real, most of your hair has been loved off – appropriate for a bald groom!
The third reading were two love poems – a perfect way to close a ceremony. They chose my favorite poem of all time, which I can’t even read without tearing up a bit:
Sonnet XVII from 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
By letting their readers choose, Sarah and John’s friends felt even more included in the ceremony, as they got to share these pieces that especially touched them and spoke to them about the bride and groom. It was a fabulous idea that really spoke to the bride and groom’s fun loving ways, and I’m so glad that it worked out in the end!