At some point, Mama Wallaby became a little critical that Mr. W and I hadn’t planned out our ceremony. Fair enough—we’d spent plenty of time talking escort cards, ice cream trucks, and reception playlists, but we hadn’t put onto paper any concrete ideas about how our ceremony would be conducted. So while Mama Wallaby was in town for a quick surprise visit in September, Mr. W and I sat down with her and his parents to discuss the ceremony deets.
Most of our ceremony would follow Protestant wedding tradition, but we planned to add a few Persian twists. Here’s the order we agreed to and presented to our officiant for his review:
- Processional: The groom and best man will stand and look handsome under the oak tree, while the groomsmen, bridesmaids, maids of honor, flower girl, and ring bearer walk down the aisle (in that order). Last but not least, my dad will escort me down the aisle while I try my hardest not to sob uncontrollably.
- The introduction: Our officiant will begin the ceremony by greeting all the guests.
- Two readings: My uncle and cousin will read two passages from the Bible, or some other sweet words. Reading selections are TBD. 🙂
- Giving away of the bride (and groom): Both Mr. W and I will be given away by our respective parents. The officiant will ask, “Who presents this woman and this man to be married to each other?” This is a Persian tradition too! Except in Iran, the officiant also asks the bride three times if she agrees to the marriage, and the third time she responds “yes!” (Apparently, making the groom wait for the bride’s answer signifies that the husband anxiously seeks the wife, and not vice versa.)
- Vows and ring exchange: We may or may not read traditional vows. Mr. W and I like the idea of writing our own vows, but our officiant is old school and likes to keep things traditional. We’ll see. Persian ceremonies also involve vows and a ring exchange—there are so. many. similarities between Persian and Protestant ceremonies, it’s hard to believe.
- Unity ceremony: I am not the biggest fan of unity candle ceremonies, and we wanted to insert some Persian culture at this point in the ceremony. We are going to follow in the footsteps of Mr. W’s parents, grandparents, and ancestors and dip our pinkies into a small bowl of honey and feed each other the honey. This symbolizes eternal sweetness. Mr. W’s cousin S will explain the significance of this tradition, and his aunt C will then read a poem from the Persian poet Rumi. C is traveling all the way from Iran to attend our wedding, and she only speaks Farsi, so she’ll be reading the poem in Farsi. I’m planning to include a translation of the poem in our program.
- Pronouncement of husband and wife: I will not be surprised if Mr. W takes this as the lead to kiss me, like Mr. Bunting did. I always get confused too during this part of the ceremony. Cross your fingers that he waits for the closing prayer!
- Closing prayer: Our officiant will close the ceremony with a blessing of peace and joy.
- The kiss: After the vows, my favorite part of the ceremony.
- Presentation of the couple: “It is now my privilege to introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Wallaby!”
- Recessional: Mr. W will pick me up and carry me down the aisle in his arms. My parents did this, and from the pictures, they looked so sweet! Mr. W has been worked out his arms and upper body all summer in preparation. 🙂 As our wedding party follows us down the aisle, the guests will toss lavender at us from my DIY sachets.
The hardest part was choosing meaningful passages and poems for a few of our loved ones to read during the ceremony. We decided to ask our officiant for some ideas of appropriate Biblical passages. Here were some of my favorite non-religious readings:
I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz or arrow of carnations that propagate fire: I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom, and carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers, and thanks to your love, darkly in my body lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I know no other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you; so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
– Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII
I am your moon
and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden
and your water too
I have come all this way
eager for you
without shoes or shawl
I want you to laugh
to dispel all your worries
to love you
to nourish you
Oh sweet bitterness
I will soothe you and heal you
I will bring you roses
I too have been covered with thorns.
The springtime of Lovers has come,
that this dust bowl may become a garden;
the proclamation of heaven has come,
that the bird of the soul may rise in flight.
The sea becomes full of pearls,
the salt marsh becomes sweet as spring rain,
the stone becomes a diamond from the mine,
the body becomes wholly soul.
How long will you keep pounding on an open door
Begging for someone to open it
In Love no longer “thou” and “I” exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Your hope in my heart is the rarest treasure
Your Name on my tongue is the sweetest word
My choicest hours Are the hours I spend with You
…One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. They stopped here and turned toward each other. Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.
His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Have you planned out your ceremony? How did you and your significant other choose readings?