Wedding: The Ceremony, Part Two

My uncle Hamish officiated our ceremony. (My mom had managed to get him ordained over email!) In his thick English accent, Hamish kicked off the ceremony by saying, “It seems a bit rich, with a voice like this, to welcome you all to New York!” His service was beautiful–both funny and moving.

We had spent all summer choosing our readings (it was surprisingly tough!), and in the end, we found four poems we absolutely loved. First, our friend Kenan read “Our Union” by Hafiz. This poem breaks my heart, and Kenan read it achingly beautifully and slowly:

Our union is like this: You feel cold, so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet.
A hunger comes into your body, so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.
You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance, and I quickly kneel by your side offering you a whole book as a gift.
You ache with loneliness one night so much you weep, and I say here is a rope, tie it around me, I will be your companion for life.

Then, our good friend Penny read two poems:

From “First Poems,” Rainer Maria Rilke
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
Away from the noisy crowd
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows,
With only this one dream:
You come too.

The Dream Keeper, by Langston Hughes
Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

Finally, for a bit of comic relief, our friend Nora read “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.


(Photos by Max Wanger)

  1. I love reading your post. Thanks for sharing your great day with us..I enjoyed it fully. In fact, while reading it, I remembered my wedding days..I touched hearty. Great Experience !!

  2. Just read this for the first time and LOVE your poems. I have a little “journal” going of love-letters to my future husband (for whenever I’m destined to meet him) and these will make a perfect addition. Hope you don’t mind! I loved reading about your wedding!

  3. Joanna, I had read your series on your wedding earlier this summer when my then fiance and I were planning our wedding, and only just realized that we also read the same poem by Hafiz at our wedding in September. In the book I have it is titled “The Gift”. My grandmother and grandfather stood together and she read the poem aloud; I gushed during the rehearsal while she read it. It is such a beautiful, simple set of words. How special it was. xo

  4. huh, this poem is my Saviour :) ! thanks for sharing

  5. MK says...

    I love your blog! thank you for sharing your wedding!

    My fiancé and I are having the dilemma of finding an officiant while we live two states away from the actual wedding location.

    Who did your mom use to ordain your uncle? Were there any issues?


  6. Your blog has been so fun and full of beautiful pictures. I have been reading it for weeks, but just took the time to look through your wedding. It is so full of love, for your husband, family, and even strangers like me. You seem like a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing your life.

  7. wow – i had never heard the union before and it’s beautiful!

  8. such beautiful readings– i love Rainer Maria Rilke. : )

  9. I love that last poem. So great!

  10. hafiz has been one of my absolute favorites for years and years and years. i LOVED the poem that you included!
    the setting, the people, the words, everything was luminous.
    congratulations alex + joanna :)

  11. this sounds like the most beautiful ceremony! congratulations!

  12. Oh, I’m such a moosh; I just got all teary reading your beautiful poems. What perfectly lovely selections.

  13. The poems are beautiful! Great job on the selection =)

  14. Dear Joanna. I am beyond happy for you dear lady! :) Your wedding pictures are just so perfectly beautiful.

    and these poems are all so wonderful but can I just say Hafiz is the best?! :)

    Wish you a happy happy life, becuase you are bringing happy things daily to our livies!


  15. as someone who was actually there i can absolutely attest that the ceremony was as PERFECT as the photos suggest. j & a — eternal congratulations!

  16. oh, susan, thank you so much, that is so sweet :)

  17. I read your blog daily but comment close to never. I had to stop to do so today, though, because the poems you chose to be read at your beautiful ceremony have me weeping at my desk. So, so lovely. I can’t wait to share them with my husband. Thanks for sharing your special day with all of us.

  18. Congratulations Joanna and Alex!!! The pictures are gorgeous. You look so beautiful and the readings and poems are so wonderful.

  19. I am in love with that last poem. So sweet. I’ll definitely be sharing that with my guy!
    You both looked great and incredibly happy. Congratulations!

  20. Oh Joanna, I’ve been absolutely giddy over hearing all the details. The first poem gave me goosebumps. How sweet. Everything just looks and sounds perfect.

  21. Hey Jo, cheers for asking!

    An extended version of Judy Bielicki, “Friendship” as an intro:

    Then, as we’re getting married in Scotland, Sorley Maclean, “Shores” (here it is on my blog)

    For the exchange of rings, “These rings”, Geal Turnbull

    And the Louise Cuddon which I loved as it ties in with the themes of the first reading and it is so touching and funny.

  22. I’m crying over this. SO beautiful. The first poem gave me the goosebumps and then my the last one I was laughing. it must have been a wonderful ceremony. the images and the reading and the way you describe it…all so touching. congratulations, again!!

  23. noel, thank you! we didn’t have any runners up, really, we just loved these and went with them! :) xoxo

  24. Anonymous says...

    um, kenan is hot.

  25. I love your choice in readings (and I bet your guests did, too, as so often the same poems/verses are read at weddings).

  26. Beautiful beautiful readings! I loved them all, and welcomed the humor of the last piece especially after tearing up from the first. I’m so curious: what didn’t get included? Any other recommendations?

  27. Anonymous says...

    I adore that last poem…so cute! My honey as the flu right now and I’ve just recently found that I’m allergic to nearly every single thing I love and break out in a rash all the time! How appropriate! ~jen

  28. Absolutely beautiful, and I love that your uncle officiated :)

  29. Omg, Hamish is a hottie!

  30. I love readings at weddings. I think it adds the perfect personal touch. but yes, it must be hard to choose! I think you did a great job though with mix of funny and romantic.

  31. oh joanna, your wedding posts are just amazing and lovely. thank you for sharing this very special day with all of us.

  32. Joanna, I have so enjoyed all of your photos and the thought that you and Alex put into your wedding. You two deserve nothing but the best with one another.

  33. That’s so lovely, it hurts. I’m getting over a break up, and reading about your wedding here gives me hope. THAT, ma’am, is what love is supposed to look like. Breathtaking, beautiful, radiantly joyful. May your union be blessed!

  34. congrats and blessings!!!!

    wish you the happiest life ever :D

  35. I love that you’re sharing your wedding day. Your readings were fantastic.

  36. haha, i’ll tell hamish your compliments:) and Catherine, that’s SO COOL that you’re using the poem in your wedding!!! i love that!!! what other readings are you doing? xx

  37. i’m loving all the pictures. so intimate and genuine! and the readings are just perfect…

  38. That sounds like such a great ceremony.
    The poems were sweet.

    I’m digging the hubby’s glasses!

  39. Anonymous says...


  40. Beautiful! Images and words.

    But I thought I was being orginal by choosing the Louise Cuddon poem as *our* final reading (minus the bit about Santa! We’ll have kids there…) for exactly the same reason. But you have such impeccable taste I’m pleased :D

  41. ugh – that first on is KILLING me. we used the second half of the Rilke poem in our programs – maybe one of the best lines veer : )

    all of it is perfection, Joanna.

  42. oh hell…i’m crying again! such beautiful poems. and you looked AMAZING, joanna!!!

  43. If I weren’t in my office cubicle, I would be bawling my eyes out. “Our Union” is breathtaking.


  44. joanna, as everyone else has said, these posts are killing me! Hafiz is one of my all-time favorite poets. and, can i just say, your uncle is quite handsome! an English George Clooney, if i say so myself :)

  45. wow, those poems are so beautiful. We also had poetry read at our wedding – The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry. I think you’ll like it.

  46. oh joanna, first off, congratulations! second, these photos are gorgeous (YOU are gorgeous) and i am so thrilled that you are sharing them. third, i may have to steal that last reading. so cute. :)

  47. You guys picked some of the best poems and readings! Loving all of the pictures. I can’t wait for the next post…and the next!

  48. ugh! i have tears in my eyes!

    three or four posts in a row. gutting me. so so so lovely.


  49. LOVE all the pictures! :) They’re making me tear up! I’m linking you on my post today – these pictures are gorgeous! ;)

  50. Just ALL really lovely.


  51. I love these readings! How creative and genuine- just like you and Alex. :D