I understand giving consideration to a request by a family member, but I also urge a couple to remember that it is their wedding, and there must be limits to making promises for the most important ceremony in their lives. I also strongly urge a couple not to share text of what the couple wishes and has approved. The text and the tone and the elements written to reflect passions must remain in the hands of the couple. To share text in advance with anyone else is running the risk of changes which will no longer reflect their feelings.
Most of you already know that I collaborate with the use of individual questionnaires to arrive at a draft. Then for many couples begins the additional inclusions or removal of text and even certain elements suggested. When I speak of "elements" I am addressing parts of the wedding program. Fortunately for many couples, the initial draft, based on openly honest questionnaire responses, allows for producing a product which often stands as written.
Over the years I have initially received excellent leads from couples who remember a ritual, a poem, a reading, personal vows, ring exchanges, family participation, etc. which they would like to incorporate in structuring their special ceremony. Knowing some of these suggestions in the initial exchanges can be so helpful in early writing. Providing the exact text of a poem (or scripture) for the minister is helpful, since many poems or bible verses are shortened or changed over time. Adaptations are fine, as long as they are true for the couple.
Poems and readings in the ceremony can be so meaningful. Actually there were three poems used in Holly and John Cho's wedding on September 17, 2011 at the Khimaira Farm outside Luray, Virginia. The stand-alone poem selected for their wedding was new to me. It offers an example of an opportunity for the lightness which the couple wanted to be introduced into the ceremony, in addition to aspects of the text. The other two poems were carefully integrated into opening remarks by the minister and the promises which the couple openly read to each other, as a part of their standard vows.
Of course every wedding is a serious celebration, but this wedding kept the audience smiling and enjoying. Holly asked her friend Rebecca Banks to put her special skills to the task of making the poem come alive for the audience. Rebecca was what is often referred to as the perfect reader by adding a special brightness to the ceremony.
I generally recommend that no more than two poems, or a poem and a reading, be the limit for most weddings. Poems and readings should not exceed two minutes in length. I always ask for the text in advance. This allows me to know the exact wording of the poem or reading, and thus eliminates what might be repetitious comments in the minister's remarks.
I am offering this poem as an example of bringing something new to a ceremony and to encourage exploration of poems and readings which allow the audience a deeper sense of a couple's personalities. Essentially, I am making a plea for removing the somber in a ceremony.
A wedding is a serious celebration, but do allow it to remain celebratory.
There are so many lovely poems from which to select, and they are tried and true for transition from one element to another. They should be stand-alone, heartfelt, and able to bring an added flavor. With that said, enjoy "Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog," by Poet Taylor Mali.
"First of all, it's a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you're walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain't no one going to mess with you.
Love doesn't like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time?
No! No! Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you're all wound up and can't move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops."
Blessings ... Rev. Elisheva