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Words To Read When You Wed: Water, Wine

Words To Read When You Wed: Water, Wine | A Practical Wedding

I’m so excited to introduce Amanda’s first post on words to read at your wedding. The only advice I can offer is that if you love these passages, but they are feeling a little dense to read over lunch at your desk, print them out. I’ve printed them out myself, and I’ve been reading them at night before I go to sleep. I find a bit more inside them each day. Without further ado, I’m going to let Amanda herself explain how she picked the texts.

I tried to stay away from religious texts (not because I don’t think they’re appropriate and full of lovely, but because folks have such strong feelings about them, and because many of them are so well-known) and Shakespeare (obviously, even Sonnet 116, which was very hard to ignore), and found myself drawn toward passages that I love anyway–not just for weddings. There isn’t a lot about love, I’m afraid, because I figure by the time folks are getting married, well, there’s just more to it than that squishy kind of love. And I tried to come up with passages with which people might not be so familiar (or might simply have forgotten about), some of which are classic, and some of which are more modern. That’s all.

This week, a collection of those that cry to me of lovely and transformation, of what is real, what is full, what is peaceful, waves, swells. As for the whys and wherefores of choosing, I’m not sure I have much to say—it is my hope that these pieces will sing for themselves.

Words To Read When You Wed: Water, Wine | A Practical WeddingTHE POEMS OF OUR CLIMATE
–Wallace Stevens

Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations–one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.

Say even that this complete simplicity
Stripped one of all one’s torments, concealed
The evilly compounded, vital I
And made it fresh in a world of white,
A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
Still one would want more, one would need more,
More than a world of white and snowy scents.

There would still remain the never-resting mind,
So that one would want to escape, come back
To what had been so long composed.
The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

— Rumi, Trans: Coleman Barks with John Moyne

I used to be shy.
You made me sing.

I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.

In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.

Now children run through
and make faces at me.

–J.D. Salinger

When I’d checked into the bathroom with Seymour’s diary under my arm, and had carefully secured the door behind me, I spotted a message almost immediately. It was not, however, in Seymour’s handwriting but, unmistakably, in my sister Boo Boo’s. With or without soap, her handwriting was always almost indecipherably minute, and she had easily managed to post the following message up on the mirror; “Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. Love, Irving Sappho, formerly under contract to Elysium Studios Ltd. Please be happy happy happy with your beautiful Muriel. This is an order. I outrank everybody on this block.” … I read and reread the quotation, and then I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and opened Seymour’s diary.

Words To Read When You Wed: Water, Wine | A Practical WeddingTHE LITTLE PRINCE
— Antoine De Saint Exupery

“Are you looking for chickens?”
“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”
“‘To establish ties’?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike… But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat.”

–Tom Robbins

The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and the vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that. Loving makes love. Loving makes itself. We waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love. Wouldn’t that be the way to make love stay?

Intro photo by Moodeous Photography.

Photos via Flickr, from capturedbythelight and Siebe
**I am supposed to note to you, though it hardly seems worth noting, that the Rumi passage was my suggestion to Amanda. It’s a old love of mine.

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  • meredithbee

    Yay! Beautiful writings! Now I have to tweak our ceremony a little to include the Tom Robbins passage-how did I miss that? Thanks!

  • AnnC

    The Little Prince extract brings back such memories… I learnt by heart an extract just a bit further and can still remember it… Love that book.
    “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux”…

  • Cristan

    I love that you’ve reminded me to look to The Little Prince for our wedding day!

  • style-for-style

    I love that little prince passage.

    really that book is full of them.

  • Luis

    That Little Prince passage is perfect. I need to go back and read that book, its’ amazing how grown up the best children’s books really are.

  • east side bride

    Amanda. Amandaamandaamanda. Yes.

  • The Broke-Ass Bride

    Wonderful, wonderful and most wonderful. Thank you!

  • Mouse

    Glad Woodpecker made it in. Lovely piece.

  • Sara

    What a lovely series of posts! As an English graduate student and lover of literature, I really appreciate the inspiration! :)

  • Ruthie

    Lovely! Looking forward to more of these.

  • jamie

    good good series. yay!

  • amy

    Yahoo! Tom Robbins is my favorite & this exact quote serves as my email signature. I never, ever get bored with it – he's fantastic with words & storytelling.

  • Catherine

    Thank you! These are all so wonderful, I can’t wait to see what else Amanda has in store!

  • Mrs. Andi

    Those are so beautiful!! The last one was my favorite.

  • PDX Bride

    I really appreciate this because I am trying to decide what I want said at my wedding. If you have any ideas with something that may have some humor I would be very appreciative!

  • Lindsey

    Sorry, I’m about a year late seeing this. I’ve been looking for a good reading for our wedding and the Tom Robbins is so perfect. Thank you for putting these together; they’re still helpful even a loooong time after you put them up!

  • Murdock

    Tom Robbins = LOVE! Add it t the list of reasons I love APW!

  • Alison

    I just found your blog while planning our wedding(s). It has been a source of laughter, wisdom and peace. Thank you so much for compiling these ideas and love that I found a blog of spunky women who can also celebrate love and have a good time!

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