How Do I Deliver the Reading at my Friend’s Wedding?
In nine days, one of my best friends, Harold, will be getting married to Christina. Long time readers know their story, and for those who don’t, you can read about it here.
In addition to being one of the groomsmen, I was also asked by the couple if I could do the honor of delivering the reading. Here is what they asked me to read:
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithlessand therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Now I’m not nervous about reading out loud or in front of a bunch of people. I was one of those kids who was always volunteering to read in class because, frankly, I’m damn good at reading. I’m also not afraid of public speaking, especially at emotional ceremonies like this. When our friend Trey was killed in a car accident in 2010, I spoke at his funeral, and many of the same people who were there, will be here at Harold’s wedding, so there will be many familiar faces.
There is nothing for me to worry about, I know I’ll be fine, but I want to make this reading great for my friends. Even though I’m not shy, I don’t know if I’m the most gifted public speaker, so I have some questions I’d like you all to answer.
How big of a deal is this in comparison to other traditions at the wedding ceremony?
I know the most important part of a wedding is the open bar reception (at least that’s what’s most important to me), but is the reading a duty high up there in significance? I’ve only been to a couple of weddings, and I can’t even remember if people read something, so if any married readers can tell me how important this was in their ceremony, I’d love to hear it.
How should I read this?
It’s a beautiful piece of writing, right? The first time I read it, I had a tear in my eye at the end because of allergies, but still, these words are heavy and emotional considering the setting. The thing I appreciate most about it is the contemporary language. If I was given Shakespeare, I’d be intimidated, but since it’s not, I want to know how you all suggest I tackle it. Do I go the Obama 2004 DNC keynote address route, and try to get people up out there seat? Do I approach it like a quiet storm radio DJ who’s reading a listener’s confession email? Do I act like Larenz Tate in “Love Jones”? The work does have a poetic lift to it. Or do I get emo with it, like this:
Do I say hello before I start or just go right into it?
To acknowledge the gathering of people or not, is the question.
Should I memorize it?
It’s a reading, not a recital, so I feel like I should be seen actually reading it, but would I be showing off if I memorized it? I mean, I don’t want my head bowed the whole time. Eye contact is important here, right? Maybe I memorize it enough so I can lift my head up every now and then and at least make eye contact with the bride and groom?
Do I bring up the piece in a folder of sorts or on my iPhone
It’s 2013 people! Don’t give me that face because I’m asking this question. I’ve seen a lot of people break out the Holy Bible iPad app in service, so I don’t think this question is crazy. But what’s proper here? Should I read it from a hard copy piece of paper or my device (it will be turned off, of course) and if I bring it on a piece of paper, should it be in a folder? Y’all know unfolding a piece of paper is not sexy.
What were some of the worst wedding readings you ever witnessed?
Answer this so I know what not to do.
What were some of the most memorable readings you ever witnessed?
This isn’t about me, this is about my best friend and his bride-to-be getting married. I only want to fulfill my duties in a memorable way for them, so if any of you can recall what made a wedding reading memorable, I’d appreciate you sharing the story with me.
THE WEDDING IS IN 9 DAYS! I CAN’T WAIT!