The Perfect Reading

The Perfect Reading
Posted 19 May 2009 by Nikesh Shukla

Recently I've been on the hunt for the perfect reading for during my wedding ceremony. It needs to be romantic, quirky, funny and hopefully not too earnest. It needs to celebrate an ideal of love I recognise and can relate and not something too intangible or personal to the writer. It needs to say something about us as a couple, and it needs to be easily readable. What else? It needs to be easy enough for my relatives from India to understand.


The contenders have been certainly diverse. There were calls for good ol' Sonnet 18 by Bill Shakespeare ('Shall I compare thee to a summer's day/ Thou art more lovely and more temperate...') as well as more leftfield choices like new Poet Laureate Carol Anne Duffy's dark Valentine, which calls love 'Lethal. Its scent will cling to your fingers/ Cling to your knife.' Maybe comparing your love to an onion isn't the best declaration of your feelings on the most special day of your life. Another friend put forward Edward Lear's surreal and funny The Owl and the Pussycat, saying that at his wedding, 'it was a big hit with adults and children a-like, and ultimately was incredibly cute and kooky' which is what he was going for.


A colleague recently made adults and children a-like cry with her rendition of Dr Suess' Oh! The Places You'll Go, mixing lines like 'You're together. And you know what you know/ And you are the guys who'll decide where to go' with Suess' usual blend of child-like starry innocence.


I've ended up reading a lot of terrible love poetry, some cheesy, others bizarre. I've been reading passages in my favourite novels and realising that my tastes aren't particularly romantic, quite the opposite. Even having someone read your favourite song lyrics loses the words' rhythm and cadence without the musical backing and melody. Whatever we use, it has to be personal to us, which is why choosing is driving us crazy. It needs to be relevant to us as a couple and strike a chord within us. Choosing songs is easy, they relate to the tenure of our relationship more tangibly than pieces of literature or poetry, which are a more personal and individual experience. As long as it's quirky and not too earnest and fun, it'll be the one. Who knows? We might even opt for Pam Ayres' Yes I'll Marry You, 'I do see great advantages, / But none of them for you, / And so before you see the light, / I do, I do, I do!'


So, I put it to you, what readings did you have at your wedding? Let me know so I can steal your ideas for my own!

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