There are, in this dizzy world of weddings, a few taboos. A handful of things that (whispers) we simply don’t bother talking about. A smattering of subject matters that many blogs do, to all intents and purposes, skim over. We’re not talking about Top Table politics (though at a later date we might); we’re not ignoring budgets (for the record, set one, and then expect at least 10-20% overspend); we’re not talking guest lists (we’re inclined to say invite who you want there, but things are never that straightforward…).
Here at Tigerlily HQ, to us, no subject is too big, too small, too insignificant or off limits. In fact, aside from our love of weddings, cake, pedigree Chihuahuas, accidental spending sprees in Space NK and bottles of the pink fizzy (alcoholic) stuff, we see a subject neglected by other Blogs as top of our to-do list: today’s challenge, Wedding Readings. (And, more importantly, why you shouldn’t be afraid to completely ignore every single bit of Reading related advice you have heard thus far in your lives.)
Yes Readers, we are asking you to throw away the Wedding Reading Rule Book and think about you. Above all we want to encourage you not to treat your choice of reading as an afterthought, because it’s all too easy just to google ‘wedding readings’ and think, yes, that’s nice, it’ll do.
You can do better than that.
We are going to help you do better than that.
The written word is a beautiful thing: expressive, able to create the most vivid of pictures in our mind. There are times when reading a book you can find a passage, and, without wanting to go into too much over superlativising (and we know that is not an actual word) we want to read it out loud and share it. Actually, we often have. That’s the feeling that we want you to have about the Readings that you have at your wedding: the feeling that they are the perfect expression of your feelings. If you love them, that’s all that matters. If no one has heard them before? Well, then that’s all the more special.
Tigerlily is all about coming at things from a design perspective, be it flowers, fabrics, venue decoration, it all comes to you from a design based angle: the posts we write are here to inspire and give you ideas of how to express yourselves at your own wedding. We’re passionate about the small stuff, and we want you to realise that every choice you make creates the bigger picture.
Design is not as simple as a colour scheme, or what your favours are. Design is a delicate layering of choices, a metaphorical mille-feuille, things have to look light and fluffy and, well, effortless, but (and you’ll know from the months of planning), good God a lot of work has gone in. At every single turn in your wedding planning, those choices should shine a great big spotlight on you and your love. That’s right, your love.
We are going to have to break our own rules here and use capital letters when we say (and by say, we mean shout) THE LOVE THAT YOU HAVE IS UNIQUE. IT IS YOURS. IT IS NOT THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSES. And every single choice you make has to be true to you and your tastes. You wouldn’t choose a colour scheme because your mum likes it.
You wouldn’t buy the dress that your 8-year old self always thought you would if it looked awful. Make informed choices that are about you. They don’t call it the biggest day of YOUR life for nothing (capitals again, apologies). It is not the biggest day of your Brother’s girlfriend’s life who thinks you should have her reading the extract from Captain Corelli because it’s her favourite book ever (though, if it reflects you, by all means, do). That is what she wants at her wedding. Do not listen to her. Just encourage your brother to crack on and ask the question so that she can plan her own wedding and not live vicariously through yours.
It can be a tricky one… but we feel passionately that you should spend as much time choosing the readings as you need to get them right. Hours, days, weeks. Use it as an excuse to read some more (it can be quite lovely). Download some love letters onto the Kindle (there are anthologies a plenty). Go to a library. Your readings have the power to express you as a couple, and (and this is the bit we like most) make people sit up and pay attention. How many times have you heard the Velveteen Rabbit? Or The Art Of Marriage? The Prophet by Kahil Gibran? Guess How Much I Love you? (Not to mention the plethora of much used Bible Readings). And yes, they’re nice and all that, and clearly the sentiment is very wedding-y, but passages written about love, don’t have to be from a romance.
They can be from a tragedy. They can be from a pop song. There can be a phrase that you hear in a film that makes you sit up and think ‘that’s exactly it, that is what we have’. Surely that’s the kind of reading that you should have at your wedding? One that articulates and resonates what your love is. Not what ‘Love’ the noun is, but Love the verb… as Massive Attack (and later Jose Gonzalez) sang:
‘Love, love is a verb, Love is a doing word, Fearless on my breath. Gentle impulsion, Shakes me, makes me lighter, Fearless on my breath. Teardrop on the fire, Fearless on my breath.’
Just because a story has a sad ending, it doesn’t mean that yours will. If you find a passage in a book that, for you, encapsulates everything about YOUR love, then use it. God, even if it’s Sylvia Plath, the woman knew love! She was ruled by love! She died from love! Use her beautiful poems (just avoid gas ovens), quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – remember these people, these stories, they are Classics for a reason: the characters resonate with us: we understand that they’re love is whole, consuming. Total. And yes, they die. Badly. But no one ever doubted that Tess loved Angel. Or thought that maybe Romeo just fancied Juliet. Did Lizzy Bennett ever feel indifference to Mr Darcy? A gazillion screen adaptations would suggest not.
When starting to research this article we felt pressure. To cover a subject as rich as choosing from the centuries of literature and music, from poetry, love letters, Religious readings, the pressure was big.
And then we googled Wedding Readings, much as many of you will have done and top of the google search a link came up to Bracknell Forest Council. A list with the readings they suggested for ALL their Civil Ceremonies. In three A4 pages, you should be able to choose one of their recommended readings to portray your love. But worse than that (and this was the clincher that sealed for us that Love Scarlett had to cover this subject), you would have to have any alternative reading approved!
It took the pressure off. So the examples we will give are personal to us. You may love them (we do) but above all what we hope they will do is empower you to choose readings that are personal to you. No matter what your Great Aunt has to say (some people will never be content without a good bit of Corinthians) remember this is your day. On your wedding day there will always be someone who doesn’t like something (or everything). You can’t please everyone, and the only people you should try to please are yourselves.
One of the favourite readings we have ever heard, was at a Civil Ceremony. It was a tiny do (twenty two people in total). The reader stood up and started… and we knew we recognised it, but didn’t’ know why…
‘Love, Love is Strange.
A lot of people take it for a game…’
The Bride’s favourite film was Dirty Dancing, Baby and Johnny – that was love! The love that we all saw on screen as teenagers and wanted! The reading was perfect, and what made it more perfect was that out of the context we knew it in (Baby and Johnny writhing around a dance studio), all of a sudden we actually heard the words: The line ‘Baby, oh Baby, my sweet Baby, you’re the One.’… it’s a good line. Perfection in fact – for them. And a line is sometimes enough: don’t feel that you have to have long readings if a simple sentence says it all. Beethoven wrote to his anonymous love:
(and really, you can’t add anything to that).
Armed with these ideas we want you to go forward, to be adventurous, and be true to yourselves and the love you have. We’ve even included a couple of links for those literary inclined amongst you who might want to put into your own words what love means to you. Pen a poem, scribe a limerick. It’s the thing that springs to mind when you think of your love. Be true. Love is different to all of us, but you know why it is that you feel the way that you feel about the person you are marrying.
Once armed with perfection in word form to express your love, the only decision left is who you ask to read them. That may need another post entirely…
But for now, here are Tigerlily’s top picks – three (ish – you’ll have to forgive us where we couldn’t edit down) of our favourite poems, song lyrics and extracts from books and film. We hope you enjoy as much as we have choosing. Might we suggest you pop the kettle on and grab a Hob Nob (or any alternative twice baked product of your choice, we don’t believe in favourites here). Reading on this scale can be thirsty work.
When I see you Smile – Bic Runga
When I see you smile it feels like I’m falling
It’s not for anybody else to know
The way your face could light
The bitter dark of every street
In every town I’ll ever go
It’s not for anybody else to know
For anybody else to know When I see you smile first thing in the morning
It raises curtains on your lazy eyes
Could it be that you and I
Have the greatest love to ever be How could this have ever been before?
It’s not for anybody else to know
For anybody else to know When Friday night arrives
We’ll let it pass outside the door
This is not for anybody else
Anybody else to know
In My Life – Beatles
There are places I remember All my life though some have changed Some forever not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I’ve loved them all But of all these friends and lovers There is no one compares with you And these memories lose their meaning When I think of love as something new Though I know I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more Though I know I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more In my life I love you more
At Last – Etta James
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song Oh yeah yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you And I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known Oh yeah yeah, and you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in Heaven
For you are mine at last
Extract from I’ll be there – 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.
Yes, I’ll marry you my dear – Pam Ayres
Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear. And here’s the reason why. So I can push you out of bed When the baby starts to cry. And if we hear a knocking And it’s creepy and it’s late, I hand you the torch you see, And you investigate.
Yes I’ll marry you, my dear, You may not apprehend it, But when the tumble-drier goes It’s you that has to mend it. You have to face the neighbour Should our Labrador attack him, And if a drunkard fondles me It’s you that has to whack him.
Yes, I’ll marry you, You’re virile and you’re lean, My house is like a pigsty You can help to keep it clean. That sexy little dinner Which you served by candlelight, As I do chipolatas, You can cook it every night!!!
It’s you who has to work the drill And put up curtain track, And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flack, I do see great advantages, But none of them for you, And so before you see the light, I DO, I DO, I DO!!
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose – Robert Burns
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my Luve’s like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I: And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a’ the seas gang dry: Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun: I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o’ life shall run. And fare thee well, my only Luve And fare thee well, a while! And I will come again, my Luve, Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.
L’éternelle chanson – Rosemonde Gérard (translation)
When you and I are old When my fair hair turn grey In the month of May when the garden is drenched with sun We shall go and warm our old trembling limbs It is true. We shall be old , very old , weakened by age But I shall hold your hand more tightly Because, you see, each day I love you more, Today more than yesterday and far less than tomorrow.
Tiny Threads – Simone Signoret
Chains do not hold a marriage together.
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads,
which sew people together through the years.
“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”
Ted Hughes, The Letters of Ted Hughes
“I already love in you your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever precious – your heart, your soul. Beauty one could get to know and fall in love within one hour and cease to love it as speedily; but the soul one must learn to know.”
Leo Tolstoy writing to Valeria Arsenev
“Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can every quite cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same slight emphasis on the second word, as though she were the one to say them first. He had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that these words spoken aloud were like signatures on an unseen contract
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”
When Harry Met Sally
“People have two sides, a good side and a bad side, a past, a future. We must embrace both in someone we love.”
Bespoke Poetry for your wedding
Words by Harriet Rouse, Tigerlily
Content Choices By Penelope Cullen & Harriet Rouse, Tigerlily