10 more cheese-free wedding readings – you’re welcome!
It’s Wednesday, and every Wednesday I set aside time to write my ceremonies. I jump back into them periodically throughout the week, but Wednesday is my designated writing day. And how I love Wednesdays! Love, love, love!
And as part of my writing today, I found myself musing over a reading. The couple had chosen a reading, which by their own admission wasn’t quite right. Finding the perfect reading is so important. I’d rather write a ceremony with no readings included, rather than one with a reading stuffed into it as an afterthought or filler. But I definitely prefer to include a reading or two, it can completely shift the energy of a ceremony, bringing with it additional humour - or wisdom - or reflection, and it’s a great way to include some of your guests in the proceedings . In my humble opinion, a reading should be an emotional extra to the ceremony, not a dull distraction. (And if you want to find out more about my humble opinions on readings – read up on this blog first!)
Anyway, while my couple muses over what really appeals, inspired by their story I have come up with something I hope they agree is perfect for them. But it got me back to thinking about readings in general, and I wanted to share some of my more recent favourites with you. And while I've previously said I'm not a fan of rhyming poems, this time I have included a few - but of the non-cheesy variety obvs! The next one I think is a great piece for two people to read, and bounce off one another:
I’ll Be There For You by Louise Cuddon I’ll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train When life is just threatening to drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm When the forecast said, ‘Fine,’ but you’re out in a storm
When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum And your holiday photos show only your thumb When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay And return to discover you’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear… When you break a rule, when you act the fool When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue ’Cause I’m telling you, I’ll be there.
Mr Gaiman is a bit of a star when it comes to creating the perfect readings for weddings, and I discovered that he wrote this piece for a friend's wedding– so who are we to argue about its suitability? About Love by Neil Gaiman This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing. This is everything I've learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated, and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain, and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes, is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze, and not to be alone.
It's not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it's what they mean. Somebody's got your back. Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn't want to rescue you or send for the army to rescue them.
It's not two broken halves becoming one. It's the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing, like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them. Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials. Because nobody else's love, nobody else's marriage, is like yours, and it's a road you can only learn by walking it, a dance you cannot be taught, a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.
And that's all I know about love.
Now regular readers will know I do like a bit of prose, definitely Mr Hardy features among my favourites, and although this is much more modern than I would usually choose, this writer sums up love pretty cleverly in her latest novel:
Extract from Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
I know that love can be loud and jubilant…It can be dancing in the swampy mud and the pouring rain at a festival and shouting “YOU ARE AMAZING” over the band. It’s introducing them to your colleagues at a work event and basking in pride as they make people laugh and make you look lovable just by dint of being loved by them.
It’s laughing until you wheeze.
It’s waking up in a country neither of you have been in before.
It’s skinny-dipping at dawn. It’s walking along the street together on a Saturday night and feeling an entire city is yours.
It’s a big, beautiful, ebullient force of nature.
I also know that love is a pretty quiet thing.
It’s lying on the sofa together drinking coffee, talking about where you’re going to go that morning to drink more coffee. It’s folding down pages of books you think they’d find interesting.
It’s hanging up their laundry when they leave the house having moronically forgotten to take it out of the washing machine.
It’s saying ‘You’re safer here than in a car’ as they hyperventilate on an EasyJet flight to Dublin.
It’s the texts: ‘Hope your day goes well’, ‘How did today go?’, ‘Thinking of you today’ and ‘Picked up loo roll’.
I know that love happens under the splendour of moon and stars and fireworks and sunsets but it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up airbeds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport, or in a traffic jam.
Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.
And here is another piece of modern prose which appeals to my romantic nature:
Extract from The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White:
I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.
Next I stumbled upon a poem which is new to me, and sadly the author is unknown, but it resonates wonderfully with me:
When I Hear You Laugh by Anon
When we share a secret When your eyes sparkle When we're just us When we don't have to talk When I watch you sleeping When you remember When I don't have to explain When you walk into the room When we are in a crowd When I am by myself When you are just being you When you make me giggle When I hear your heartbeat When you reach for me
Even when you're not looking That's when I love you.
Something I often include at the end of the ceremony are words in the form of a spiritual blessing – this one is great, and could be read by a guest during the ceremony:
An Uncommon Love by Terah Cox
May you have the love only two can know. May you go where only two as one may go. May the sun rise and set in your bonded hearts and the moon never find you too long apart.
May you cherish each other’s dreams as your own and turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. May you brave life’s mountains and miles together. May there be no storm your love cannot weather.
May you be lovers and allies and friends. May your soul’s conversation never end. May you capture on earth what’s in heaven above. May your hearts know the rapture of an uncommon love.
And this next poem is a cute alternative to the rather more popular Taylor Mali’s Why Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog:
What I Learned about Love, I Learned from my Dog by Anon
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Run, romp, and play daily. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. Thrive on affection and enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck. When you leave your yard, make it an adventure. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t pout – run right back and make friends. On cold nights, curl up together in front of a crackling fire. When you’re excited, speak up. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Leave room in your schedule for a good nap. Always give one another a friendly greeting. If it’s not wet and sloppy, it’s not a real kiss. And most importantly, Love each other unconditionally.
Next up – isn’t this what true love is all about?
I Will Be There by Steven Curtis Chapman
Tomorrow morning if you wake up And the sun does not appear I will be here If in the dark we lose sight of love Hold my hand and have no fear ‘Cause I will be here
I will be here When you feel like being quiet When you need to speak your mind I will listen And I will be here When the laughter turns to crying Through the winning, losing and trying We’ll be together ‘Cause I will be here
Tomorrow morning if you wake up And the future is unclear I will be here As sure as seasons are made for change Our lifetimes are made for years So I will be here
I will be here And you can cry on my shoulder When the mirror tells us we’re older I will hold you And I will be here To watch you grow in beauty And tell you all the things you are to me I will be here
And just as sure as seasons are made for change Our lifetimes are made for years So I will be here We’ll be together I will be here
And finally, the tale of the dinosaurs in the Lovely Love Story is known to many, but who knew that the writer is also responsible for this beautiful piece?
That Still and Settled Place by Edward Monkton
In that still and settled place There’s nobody but you You’re where I breathe my oxygen You’re where I see my view And when the world feels full of noise My heart knows what to do It finds that still and settled place And dances there with you.
And there you have it – 10 more readings which might strike a chord, but which are most definitely cheese-free. But remember – it doesn't have to be a piece from a book, or a poem, lines from films are pretty cool too. And I’ll be coming onto songs in a future blog! But for now, I’ll leave you with this – yes it’s a rom-com but it’s a CLASSIC rom-com!
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion love actually is all around.