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I guess I do.
February 16, 2009 1:22 AM   Subscribe

The future Mrs. and I don't have a clue as to what we should "preform" for our quite possibly surrealist wedding ceremony. Any suggestions for cynics like us?

I'm a bit of a curmudgeonly introvert who doesn't much care for being the center of attention, having my picture taken, wearing a suit, dancing, or really doing anything typically wedding, but for the sake of norms I can do a bit that's against my nature. She also isn't bound to any wedding traditions and doesn't have much interest in the ceremonial but is committed to developing the rest of the event's aesthetic. We both are atheists, utterly hate schmaltz, and have been living in sin for almost a decade now. Still, we like to throw a good party, and a wedding will make our families happy. So, what's the right way to show the guests that, ok, now we're married and you all can go eat?

Essentially in the woods, we plan to get married at dusk in front of a small audience of immediate family and close friends only. The staging will be sort of gypsy hippie--psychedelic anarchoprimitivism, if you must--a bit eccentric maybe but not at all campy. Also, my annual tradition of hosting a derivative pyrotechnics show (Burning Manchild) will immediate follow the wedding (Burning Man and Wife). I don't know what this year's build will be, but if it helps I'm leaning towards a large Rube Goldburgian chapel contraption of some sort.

We'll have a "reception" or some such nonsense a month or so after for extended family and other relative strangers, so we won't have to appease the expectations of anyone we're not close with the day of the wedding. We're also throwing ourselves a We're Getting Bloody Married bachelor/bachelorette burlesque party a month or so prior, so we shouldn't feel a need to out-debauchify that.

So what can we do for a wedding ceremony? Poetry? We might be able to find some Ferlinghetti or maybe Bukowski that we both like and won't offend the grandparents, but that's unlikely. Music? I don't know. Fischerspooner probably best captures the sentiment I'm feeling about this all today. Otherwise, I'm really hoping Jonathan Richman does weddings. She digs accordions. The presider? We really have no idea. I have an old antisemitism and christianity professor whose company I enjoy. What's a good balance between fun and not giving our folks heart attacks?
posted by glibhamdreck to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
A humanist ceremony might be a good place to start looking for inspiration - we're having one here in the UK and they give you a really useful book full of readings and "pick and mix" sort of ceremonies that you might like. The ceremonies range from a traditional walk-down-the-aisle to a more casual two-people-stand-up-while-celebrant-speaks format. A celebrant will likely have a wide range of ceremonies that they've attended, and could hopefully give you some pointers.
posted by ukdanae at 1:28 AM on February 16, 2009


You could have a go at doing Steve Reich's Clapping Music. Instructions here. It was written for two people who can listen to each other pretty well.
posted by rongorongo at 4:38 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My fiance and I have a wedding coming up in September. Neither of us are religious (non-practicing Christian and an Agnostic). We have a best friend whom we both love very much. We requested he get ordained through the Universal Life Church and perform our ceremony for us. It is recognized in our state (Kansas).

You mentioned the fact that the ceremony will mostly be to make your families happy. I think doing something that is quasi-traditional would be your best bet. Poetry would be nice. The benefit of having a friend perform the ceremony would be that the words can be whatever you want them to be. It isn't schmaltzy if you really mean it. Doing something weird and impersonal just for the sake of doing something weird would be a disservice to you and your family as I think you may look back after 30 years and wonder 'Why did we just sit there and clap? I wish we would have done something more meaningful'. I certainly understand that your life is not defined by one day - but, I think you should make the best memories that you can that day as it is YOUR ONLY day like that in your life (hopefully!). Good luck and congratulations!
posted by Brettus at 6:45 AM on February 16, 2009


Try calling up a UU church and speaking with their minister about this. They will likely be happy to help two atheists get married.
posted by All.star at 8:11 AM on February 16, 2009


I suggest Simon and Garfunkel as the music, or perhaps Travis and the Invisible Band. It sounds as if you all have things pretty much sorted out, congratulations!
posted by big open mouth at 9:17 AM on February 16, 2009


i remember when i was getting married a few years ago, i found a lot of inspiration from this chick's wedding details posted on indiebride. there's lots of gypsy freaky wedding pictures here. just found out she also wrote a book called offbeat bride that might be a good jumping-off point. i am not a stalker.
posted by apostrophe at 9:18 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, you could have a friend conduct the ceremony for you even if they're not certified. Just go to your local secular State authorised officiator to officially marry you the day before the ceremony.
posted by big open mouth at 9:19 AM on February 16, 2009


There may be people who perform weddings of a non traditional character in your area- call around.

My wife and I split what we considered the wedding ceremony completely off from the public spectacle. I really liked making our committments to each other private. We did that earlier in the day and it took a hugh pressure off when the families were gathered. I worked well for us. For the spectacle we held the form of a more traditional ceremony and filled it with what we wanted.

Music.

A processional. This is theatre. You wait for your bride to join you. Does some one deliver her? Or does she bring herself? Either way she needs a posse. You should have one too.

Someone in charge delivers a statement of purpose.

Yea, poetry. What does your union mean to you? Get a couple of people to read stuff.
I like Adrienne Rich:
An honorable human relationship-- that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word "love"-- is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
You each say something. You want to make promises, go for it.

More poetry or music.

Wrap it up.

Fifteen minutes from beginning to end is plenty.

Reception line is nice.

Even though you have been together so long don't be surprised if expectations and fears you thought you both were clear of surface. Society has been packing this moment for an ungodly long time.
posted by pointilist at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


A wedding is for you 2 to formally make commitments to one another, with your family and friends there to witness and support you. If you read the traditional marriage vows, they are quite lovely, esp. if you leave out obey and any other bits you don't like. I had friends who had a lovely chuppah, covered in vines and flowers.

There's a lot of love poetry out there. Even St Paul has some still meaningful words to say, and I am not a believer. Shakespeare is classy and relevant. Neruda is a treasue trove of love poetry. "I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."

If this is for your families, ask them to sing or read a poem. Ritual events deserve great food celebrations. My family drew the line at potluck, so I recommend it to you. Have a big, beautiful, memorable party. Make it uniquely you, and involve them, and it will be a great day. They may moan about your hippie wedding, but they'll love it.
posted by theora55 at 9:40 AM on February 16, 2009


p.s., thanks for not participating in the Wedding Marketing Machine. I think that may be a big part of what you're resisting, and that's a great choice.
posted by theora55 at 9:41 AM on February 16, 2009


What a great question!

If Mr. Sculpin and I were planning our wedding all over again in a surrealist mode, we'd call up a good local juggling troupe (a very good local juggling troupe) and have them throw clubs past us as we said our wedding vows. We'd play it totally straight, of course -- big fluffy dress, suit, the works.

The bit where the participants turn to each other to exchange rings would be a nice bit of theater. And I like the symbolism of it. More wedding ceremonies should involve a little terror and risk, imho. The best thing I know about a committed life together isn't just that it can be blissful, but that it's resilient, trusting, and strong enough that it can be bliss under pressure. Actual married life as I've experienced it is much like committing to each other, over and over, while things fly past your heads and threaten to clock you.

So, what's the right way to show the guests that, ok, now we're married and you all can go eat?

What you need is a shill, basically. Select a friend and tell him or her what the order of events will be. It's your friend's job to be first in line at the buffet. Once one person starts in at the buffet, everybody else will wander over.

Good on you for resisting the Wedding Industrial Complex.
posted by sculpin at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2009


during the ceremony, tell everyone that there is a very special and personal secret ritual that you wish to perform privately, and ask that they turn around and not look at the two of you for a minute. Then, when no-one is looking, flash each other.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:19 PM on February 16, 2009


psst. "this chick" is a Mefite.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:14 PM on February 16, 2009


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