Joanna Goddard and Alex Williams

Are you going to any weddings this summer? When Alex and I got married seven years ago, we luckily didn’t have too many hitches with our wedding planning. But one part threw us for a loop…

The wedding readings. Did you feel the same? It felt weirdly impossible to find a romantic reading that didn’t either sound corny or pat or end with a depressing twist. We were big readers — couldn’t we come up with something? — but somehow we kept hitting walls. Should we just scrap that part of our ceremony?

Finally, in the eleventh hour, we found two poems we really loved.

First, our friend Kenan read “Our Union” by Hafiz. This beautiful poem still breaks my heart:

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.

And, for 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.

Emma Straub wedding

For her lovely small wedding, writer Emma Straub chose Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” David Sedaris’s essay “The End of the Affair,” and the last paragraph of Jane Austen’s Emma:

The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own. — “Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! Selina would stare when she heard of it.” — But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.

Diana Moss wedding

Says graphic designer Diana Moss: “I found our wedding reading — Union by Robert Fulghum — pretty quickly and immediately knew, this is it. There’s something so straightforward about it, much like our relationship. Anton and I are not very mushy or sentimental people, and this was just the right mix of touching and true without making me want to, well, gag.”

And when I asked her about wedding readings, the author Una LaMarche told me about the best one she’d ever seen: “The bride and groom met through Craigslist in the early 2000s, so they had two friends do a staged reading of their first months of online messages.”

What readings would (or did) you have at your wedding? Help out any future couples! I’d love to hear…

P.S. A casual City Hall wedding and 15 wedding dos and don’ts. Plus, did you have sex on your wedding night?

(Photos from our wedding by Max Wanger. Emma Straub’s photo by Cappy Hotchkiss. Diana Moss’s photo by Love Made Visible.)