101 Ways to Say Suck

Last week K. and I met with the officiant for our wedding. She was much cooler than we thought she would be, even though we suspect that she has doubts about our suitability for married life, due to the fact that we didn't have a ready response to her request that we describe what we want other people to know about our relationship and that we went to shake hands when she instructed us to hold right hands. She also seemed terrified by the fact that we both hold degrees in national literatures and that K. repeated several times that "We're fussy."

Well, we are fussy, but we didn't think that we were that fussy until the rough draft of the ceremony/vows arrived in our in-box. Now we're faced with the hard truth that we are either that fussy or that other people are that tasteless. Either way, we are going to need to re-write everything, because the ceremony is, as K. so eloquently described it: "crap-ass crap."

The problems with the original draft:

1. The language is a mess. There's the obligatory faux-archaic sounding stuff with painfully colloquial sentences sprinkled in. While I'm all for the mixing of high and low styles, there has to be a purpose behind it. There must be an effect created. The only effect created here is a roll of the eyes and giggling.

2. The readings suck: we have no attachment to George Eliot and don't really want her opening the ceremony. We'll probably opt for the Rilke quote that everyone uses, because we like Rilke and have a relationship with his oeuvre. And it sounds beautiful, even in translation. We've had to reject some poems we adore because of the translation issue. "Leibst du um Schönheit" ("If you love beauty") by Friedrich Rückert was deemed horrible-sounding in English, although the alliteration and assonance in the original are gorgeous. All of Mandel'shtam's oeuvre will be ignored because Mandel'shtam sounds perfect in Russian and stilted in English. Pasternak also doesn't sound good in English and there's too much sex in him anyway. Currently we contemplating a couple of poems by ee cummings:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

We'll gladly read any suggestions for readings you might have.

3. When we say, "No God" we mean "no gods." We were clear about how we desired God to be absent from the ceremony, but we forgot that most people feel that there must be a spiritual side to everything, even if it means appropriating other cultures. Inserted in the ceremony before the vows is currently a Native American blessing. While we can appreciate the sentiment contained in the blessing, it's all wrong. We're neither Native American, nor spiritual. It's out.

4. The requirements, the requirement, the requirements: which don't think are actually necessary anyway. According to officiant, there is a list of requirements. We must say this, we must say that and we don't really want to say this and that because it doesn't correspond to our relationship or our attitudes toward our relationsip. I suppose that we'll see how much we can omit/alter before the officiant calls us on it.

And I could go on at greater length, but it's probably time to sit down and fix the bloody thing. Our wedding is our day and it's damn well going to suit us. -Zh.


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