Photography by Mona Moe Machava – visit her website; monamoe.com;)
Wedding season is coming up soon, and I know that a huge amount of people usually struggle for months with their speeches. What is appropriate for them to say? Should they make the audience laugh? How should they start/end and so on.
Trust me. I’ve been there. And I can safely tell you that the easiest way out – which I would highly recommend for anyone – is to start off with a good poem or a quotation from a book. Afterwords, you can start analyzing it, and then slowly – add some of those personal stories about the bride/groom.
So here is my selection of some rather unconventional/unique wedding-openings – taken from both the classics and the more modern works:
1. William Shakespeare. (Hamlet’s love declaration)
Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
2. William Shakespeare. “Love sonnet 116”
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments;
love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark, Whose worth’s unknown,
although his heighth be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
3. Knut Hamsun. “What is love?” (Johannes’s declaration from his novel, Victoria)
What was love? A wind whispering among the roses, no, a yellow phosphorescence in blood. Love was a hot devil’s music that could make – even the hearts of old men – dancing. It was like the marguerite, which opens wide as night comes on, and it was like the anemone, which closes with one breath and dies with one touch.
Such was love.
It could ruin a man, raise him up again, and then make him new; it could fancy me today, you tomorrow, and someone else tomorrow night, that is how changeable it was. But it could also hold tight like an unbreakable seal and blaze with unquenchable passion until the hour of death, because it was eternal.
So, what was the nature of love?
Oh, love is a summer night with stars printed on the sky and fragrance on earth. But why does it make young men follow secret ways, and old men sit idly by in their lonely rooms? Alas, love turns human heart into a mildewed garden, a lush and shameless garden in which grows mysterious, obscene toadstools. Does it not make monks bowl by night through closed gardens and press their eye to the windows of sleepers? And doesn’t it possess the nuns with foolishness and darken the understanding of princesses? It can knock a king’s head in the dust, making his hair sweep the road as he whispers lewd words to himself, laughing and sticking out his tongue.
Such was the nature of love.
No, no, again it was very different, it was like nothing else in the whole world. It came to earth on a spring night when a young man saw two eyes. He stared and stared. He kissed two lips – it was as though two flames met in his heart, a sun flashing at a star. He fell into a pair of arms, and he heard and saw no more in the whole wide world.
Love is a God’s first word, the first thought that sailed through his brain. When he said, “Let there be light!” there was love. And everything that he made was very good, and no part thereof did he wish undone. And love became the world’s beginning and the world’s ruler; but all it’s ways are full of blossoms and blood, blossoms and blood.
4. Victor Hugo. “Les Miserables”
“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
5. Victor Hugo. “Les Miserables” (Marius and Cosette)
He fell to the seat, she by his side. There were no more words. The stars were beginning to shine. How was it that the birds sing, that the snow melts, that the rose opens, that May blooms, that the dawns whitens behind the black trees on the shivering summit of the hills?
One kiss, and that was all.
Both trembled, and they looked at each other in the darkness with brilliant eyes.
They felt neither the cool night, nor the cold stone, nor the damp ground, nor the wet grass; they looked at each other, and their hearts were full of thought. They had clasped hands, without knowing it.
She did not ask him; did not even think where and how he had managed to get into the garden. It seemed so natural to her that he should be there.
From time to time Marius’ knee touched Cosette’s. A touch that thrilled.
At times, Cosette faltered out a word. Her soul trembled on her lips like a drop of dew on a flower.
Gradually, they began to talk. Overflow succeeded to silence, which is fullness. The night was serene and glorious above their heads. These two beings, pure as spirits, told each other everything, their dreams, their frenzies, their ecstasies, their chimeras, their despondencies, how they had adored each other from afar, how they had longed for each other, their despair when they had ceased to see each other. They had confided to each other in an intimacy of the ideal, which already, nothing could have increased, all that was most hidden and most mysterious in themselves. They told each other, with a candid faith in their illusions, all that love, youth and the remnant of childhood that was theirs, brought to mind. These two hearts poured themselves out to each other, so that at the end of an hour, it was the young man who had the young girl’s soul and the young girl who had the soul of the young man. They interpenetrated, they enchanted, they dazzled each other.
6. Edgar Allan Poe. “A dream within a dream”
(maybe I’m the only one who associates this with love .. but I think it’s so beautiful that for me, it’s romantic as hell!)
7. Edgar Allan Poe. “Annabel Lee”
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love–
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason, that long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre,
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angel, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me…
Yes!–that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we,
Of many far wiser than we–
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee,
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
8. Maya Angelou. “Touched by an angle”
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
9. Sir Philipp Sydney. Extract from Arcadia.
(perfect vow for a bride to read during the ceremony!)
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There was never a better bargain driven.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one;
My heart in him, his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for it was once his own;
I cherish his because it bides.
His heart his wound received from my sight;
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart;
For as from me on him his hurt did light,
So still, methought, in me his hurt did smart:
Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss,
My true love hath my heart and I have his.
10. Duet by Selina Jobbins
As one, they will duet through life,
Singing their song as husband and wife.
As they each face challenges over time,
They will take it in turns to grow and shine.
Holding hands, the whole way through,
Teaching each-other what to do.
And when it doesn’t turn out perfect,
They will remind each-other their attempts were worth it.
And now we wait excitedly,
To hear what the tune of their wedding will be.
Today will be full of the rhythm and soul,
Of a love that sets a whole new goal.
When times are hard and not so fun,
This date will be theirs to look back on.
Memories that will be shared and retold,
For the bride and groom they will never grow old.
11. Isabel Allende. “Ínes of my My Soul”
“How accommodating love is; it forgives everything.”
12. Thomas Mann. “Death in Venice: And Seven Other Stories”
This was love at first sight, love everlasting: a feeling unknown, unhoped for, unexpected — in so far as it could be a matter of conscious awareness; it took entire possession of him, and he understood, with joyous amazement, that this was for life.
13. Hermann Hesse. “Home”
A home isn’t just a roof over our heads. A home is a place where we feel loved and where we love each other. It’s a place we belong. Love is what makes a home, not the contents inside the house or the number on the door. It’s the people waiting for us across the threshold, the people who will take us in their arms after a bad day and kiss us good night and good morning everyday for the rest of our lives.
14. Jane Austen. The Love letter; Wenthworth to Anne, Persuasion.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.
There you go! Hope you liked it♥ And good luck on that speech!
Aftur s. Nerdrum