Stallion and I have been engaged for, what, fifteen months now? We’ve got most of the reception details all squared away. And we’re only now starting to give some thought to the ceremony – you know, the whole reason we’re having this big old party in the first place. Priorities, people.
As I’ve previously mentioned, for a plethora of reasons, we’re not doing a church wedding. Rather, our ceremony will be officiated by my cousin F and will be held on the sundeck of our hotel, overlooking the beautiful Cape May beaches.
The setting for our ceremony. (via The Grand Hotel)
We really don’t have any big plans for the ceremony. As my mom put it, F will crack a few jokes, pronounce us husband and wife, and then we’ll get the party started.
So in an effort to infuse the ceremony with some personal touches, Stallion and I have started looking at ideas for potential readings. We are planning on keeping the ceremony short and sweet – maybe fifteen minutes max? – so just one or two selections will do the trick. Here are some of our top contenders …
“Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health”, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations…Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”
Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family… Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.
Most recently used by Mrs. Panda, this reading is from the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case legalizing same-sex marriage here in the Bay State. It’s perfect for a couple of Massholes like us! It paints a practical yet poignant portrait of modern marriage – or at least, what I imagine it to be. Because, you know, not married yet.
“Le Petit Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
”It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
(via Love is a Small Word)
Like Mrs. Camel, I was first introduced to Le Petit Prince at a young age, and although it’s a children’s book, the story has always resonated with me. The chapter in which the little prince encounters the fox is a beautiful metaphor for love and marriage. Downside? It’s awfully long for a wedding reading (clearly, I did not share the entire text here for exactly that reason), and as Mrs. Camel found, it’s really hard to abridge without losing the overall meaning of the passage. If we were to choose this, it would have to stand as our one and only reading for the ceremony.
“The Irrational Season”, Madeleine L’Engle
But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.
I grew up devouring Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction, but I’m not all that familiar with her nonfiction works. Stumbling across this passage made me remember all the things I loved about L’Engle’s writing. I am particularly drawn to the sentence, “It takes a lifetime to learn another person.” My heart just grew three sizes, you guys.
“Song of the Open Road”, Walt Whitman
The way this poem has been traditionally abridged for a wedding reading more or less takes a few stanzas, cuts them up, and scrambles them around. But it works so well! (I say this as a poetry ignoramus.) The first and last few lines are absolutely wonderful. Bonus: Whitman lived in New Jersey. So did Stallion and I. JERSEY PRIDE.
“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernières
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.Love is not breathless, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion… That is just ‘being in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
May your roots grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms fall from your branches, you find out that you are one tree, and not two.
Truth be told, when I think about this book, potential wedding readings are the LAST things to come to mind. Mostly, I remember sobbing. But this particular passage really speaks to me about our relationship. Stallion and I have been together for eight years now. The “temporary madness” is gone, but our roots have been growing together for a long time. That’s exactly what we want our wedding to celebrate – our stability and commitment.
I wanna make you smile
Whenever you’re sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad
All I wanna do is grow old with you
I’ll get you medicine when your tummy aches
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks
Oh, it could be so nice growing old with you
I’ll miss you
Give you my coat when you are cold
Even let you hold the remote control
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink
Put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink
Oh, I could be the man that grows old with you
I wanna grow old with you.
I think we can agree that Adam Sandler hasn’t done anything funny in years, but that doesn’t make The Wedding Singer any less great. Sure, it’s a comedy, but this moment in the movie is so touching and sweet, and guess what? It describes Stallion’s and my relationship perfectly! Okay, so I’m half joking about using this in our ceremony, but that means I’m half serious, too. Mind = blown.
So that’s what we’re working with. I feel like there is a common theme with these selections, trending more towards pragmatic than mushy and idealistic. So pragmatic, in fact, that we’re considering a reading that references arthritis. That’s true love right there, y’all.
Share your favorite wedding readings with me, Hive!
(P.S. For all you Bees in the midwest and northeast, stay safe and warm this weekend – looks like there’s a pretty nasty nor’easter heading our way! How come we always get walloped with snow on the weekend, not during the week when I can at least get a snow day out of it?)