Monday, May 4, 2009

Call for suggestions for a feminist gal gettin' hitched

As some of you know, I got engaged to my lover of four+ years back in January. This last Saturday I attended my cousin's wedding, which was a lovely affair with all the glory of God and man and woman being made for one another...etc. While it was beautiful for them, I realized then that it wouldn't work for me or my fiance, since neither of us is religious.

I want my wedding to be special for the both of us, not just a celebration that I got me a man; but I don't want it to be a five-minute secular deal. I have agreed to let my mother do a reading from the Bible since I love and respect her and her religion as she loves and respects my decision not to have one, but I would like our officiant to share something meaningful with our friends and family sans God and Jesus.

If anyone has any suggestions for readings, I would love to hear them. I would like something androgynous since I don't wish to invoke the "standard" of heterosexual couple--none of this man and woman stuff; two people will work just fine. I also don't want one person being active, the other passive. At my cousin's wedding, a poem was read, the audience being the bride, who was told that her husband's hands will essentially serve her. While a romantic sentiment, it simply illustrated the ideas of wives being objects unto which husbands will execute actions. I want it to be about an equal relationship; not archetypes.

Anyway, I welcome all suggestions provided they meet the basic requirements. I suppose I could even write something myself (I've already made my wedding dress, so why not make more stuff?) but suggestions will get me thinking; and if there's already something out there I could borrow, then that's one less thing to worry about.

Have at it.


G.D. said...

we're trying to help. :-)

Anonymous said...

There's a Native American blessing that's pretty secular and gender neutral - IIRC it was an Apache prayer.

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other.

"Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

"Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.

"Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you.

"Go now to your dwelling place, to enter into the days of your togetherness. And may your days be good and long upon the earth."

I remember another one from a children's book, though I don't remember which one. It's meant to be recited in unison.

"Today begins my walk with you.
Where you go, I go,
And where you stay, I will stay.
I will spend my days within the reach of your voice,
And my nights within the reach of your hand,
And none shall come between us.
This I vow."

Siobhan said...

There's a walt whitman piece on travelling together that I excerpted for my wedding, as well as bits from the Velveteen Rabbit on being real.

Unknown said...

At my parents' wedding 20 years ago, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran had a section on marriage that was read aloud. It's pretty gender neutral, and only one invocation of God:

You were born together,
and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings
of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other's shadow.

PG said...

FYI, the words that Anonymous describes as an Apache prayer apparently were actually made up for a Western movie.

A great suggestion that I heard at the brunch the day *after* my wedding was to use the description of marriage from Goodridge, the Massachusetts court decision that first allowed couples to marry regardless of their sex.

"Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations."

-- Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003).

I like this because it accords with my idea with marriage, which is that it is not merely a private matter between the two individuals, but rather involves their community and society, and also that it comes with obligations as well as benefits.

Anonymous said...

I have heard excerpts of the Massachusetts gay marriage decision read at weddings (of lawyers, generally). It has some nice statements about the meaning and value of marriage, but I don't have the exact words in front of me.

Anonymous said...

We had a Mary Oliver poem read:

The Roses

One day in summer
when everything
has already been more than enough
the wild beds start
exploding open along the berm
of the sea; day after day
the honey keeps on coming
in the red cups and the bees
like amber drops roll
in the petals: there is no end,
believe me! to the inventions of summer,
to the happiness your body
is willing to bear.

from American Primitive.

That pretty much sums up how we still feel.

PG said...

A statement on marriage that I saw just today and liked:

"The vast majority of us -- gay and straight -- are brought up to understand that the apex of emotional life is found in the marital bond. It may not be something we achieve, or even ultimately desire, but its very existence premises the core of our emotional development. It is the architectonic institution that frames our emotional life. The marriages of others are a moment for celebration and self-affirmation; they are the way in which our families and friends reinforce us as human beings. Our parents consider our emotional lives to be more important than our professional ones, because they care about us at our core, not at our periphery. And it is not hard to see why the marriage of an offspring is often regarded as the high point of any parent's life."

-- Andrew Sullivan, in a 1993 essay

Siobhan said...

I found the readings I used. I was just going to email them to you, but I can't find your email address on here!

So, here is what I used, I included the pebble ceremony I had people do.

What is Love?
by Walter Rinder
Love is just not looking at each other and saying "You're wonderful".
There are times when we are anything but wonderful.
Love is looking out in the same direction.
It is linking our strength to pull a common load.
It is pushing together towards the far horizons, hand in hand.
Love is knowing that when our strength falters, we can borrow the strength of someone who cares.
Love is a strange awareness that our sorrows will be shared and made lighter by sharing;
that joys will be enriched and multiplied by the joy of another.
Love is knowing someone else cares that we are not alone in life.

From “Song of the Open Road”
by Walt Whitman
Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here!
However sheltered this port, however calm these waters, we must not anchor here!

By Dorothy Nell McDonald
We do not wish you joy without sorrow
Nor endless day without the healing dark,
Nor brilliant sun without the restful shadow,
Nor tides that never turn against your bark.
We wish you love, and strength, and faith, and wisdom,
Goods, gold enough to help some needy one,
We wish you songs, but also blessed silence,
And God's sweet peace when every day is done.

The Pebble CeremonyEach of you has a pebble. We ask that you hold your pebble, and put into it all of the happiness & good wishes you hold for Joel, Siobhan & their new life together. During the ceremony, these pebbles will be collected into a vase for the happy couple to cherish forever.

Madison said...

I like the Gibran or the Native American blessing though the Gibran might have a little more substance, you know "oomph." It's a titch more uhh... writerly. Have you thought of writing something yourself?

Madison said...

p.s. I don't care if it was made up for a movie.