A five-minute long wedding reading?
March 22, 2012 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Some of my best friends are getting married, and they have asked my husband and I to give a reading during the ceremony. Help us find the perfect reading. Difficulty level: Must be around 5 minutes long.

We've searched all over the internet, and we've found a ton of almost-helpful posts here on ask.mefi (this one comes closest to being helpful), but nothing is long enough. We'll handle splitting it into parts so my husband and I each read part, but we just can't figure out how to fill five full minutes.

Details: The couple are fun-loving, relaxed, outdoorsy, travel-loving, sci-fi/fantasy loving, cool tech-geeky people. The ceremony will be relatively casual and small, and will be outdoors on a beach.

Any readings from religious texts or with religious or spiritual references would be seen as strange, if not highly inappropriate. Humor would have to be of the dry, witty variety. Humorous veiled sexual references are okay, but nothing too dirty or overt (kids will be present).

Can't wait to hear your suggestions!
posted by erst to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you get them to scale back the length at all? I personally would be bored to death with a reading that long, and so would the kids, probably.
posted by runningwithscissors at 2:25 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

How about a (two-person) dialogue from a play, movie or book? (Something from a one-act -- I'm partial to David Ives, myself -- or short film might be best.) That seems like it would fit the couple dynamic much better than just splitting up a single reading, and it would be less boring. (I had the same thought, runningwithscissors.) Plus, it'd almost certainly fit your length requirements (at least, more so than other types of readings). Someone more literary-minded than me will have to provide specific suggestions
posted by supercres at 2:27 PM on March 22, 2012

I'm sorry - I couldn't imagine a five minute long reading at a wedding. Five minute long speeches from loving parents/friends are long enough, let alone listening to someone read (especially in a non-religious context).

If it's the couple that's asking you to do this reading, my inclination would be to do this:
1. Tell them, "Sure, five minutes, no problem. I'll make it great."
2. Get up there when the time comes, read something impassioned in the 1-2 minute range.
3. Sit down.
posted by smitt at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Okay, thanks, people, we're aware that five minutes is a Really Long Reading, which is part of our problem. We will not be asking the couple to change their requirement, we'll be attempting to honor their request as best we can, and we're hoping to find something that is as not-boring as possible.
posted by erst at 2:31 PM on March 22, 2012

This sounds like a great opportunity to re-enact the entirety of the soon-to-be-married kids' relationship with sound effects, giant props, and musical numbers a la that scene from Moulin Rouge where everyone is scrambling to show the Count what their show will look like before it's actually been written.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:36 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Added level of awesome: each minute must be done in the style of one of their favorite books/tv shows/movies/etc.

Ambitious? Yes. Awesome? I should think so.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:39 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss?
posted by sawdustbear at 2:58 PM on March 22, 2012

Instead of one long read, can you create a storyline by stringing together several small ones For example, you could start off with Wedding vows by Robert Fulgham and moving on to something focusing on the joys of marriage and staying through thick and thin.
posted by theobserver at 3:38 PM on March 22, 2012

Have you asked the couple for any suggestions? It seems a bit weird that they're making you choose the reading yourselves. My fiancee and I will be asking a friend of ours to do a reading at our wedding, but we'll be choosing the reading ourselves because it is meaningful to us (and because we'd feel badly if we made her try to choose the perfect reading...how stressful for her!).

If they want you to choose it yourself, I guess that's fine, but I'd ask them for some suggestions.
posted by asnider at 3:39 PM on March 22, 2012

I've been to weddings where that would be half the entire length! How long is this thing going to be? Maybe sit them down and show em how long.... five mins....... really is..... Especially since kids will be present, an hour long wedding might be too long. Anyway!

uh... lordy. Maybe Tolkien? He likes to say things.
posted by Jacen at 4:29 PM on March 22, 2012

Not meeting your length requirements, but The Owl and the Pussycat would be a great wedding read. Pad it out with puppets. If you are on a beach anyway, send them out to sea.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:32 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are some lengthy selections from Tony Kushner's "An Epithalamion" that work well (especially for two readers). Try starting on P198 here. There's a brief selection in an earlier thread but you could definitely find five minutes worth.
posted by cushie at 4:33 PM on March 22, 2012

The two of you could make it like a cutting contest, each with several passages, sonnets, monologues, or even parts of a dialogue, and act as if you are trying to 'one-up' the other on the romantic scale. or you could just do a rap battle.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Does it have to be one reading? Could you and your husband each do a two and a half minute reading, or even four minute+ readings?
posted by KathrynT at 5:02 PM on March 22, 2012

What if you do a 1.5 minute reading, lead the audience in singing an easy, pertinent song (maybe Simple Gifts?) and the close with another minute of reading?
posted by carmicha at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2012

Ummmm. Try to up the nerdiness by including bits of dialogue from SF/F movies/TV shows? You could introduce it by saying that everything you know about love you learned from space, zombies, and unicorns.


“This is the only time for high ideals because those ideals are all that we have. We aren't just fighting for our physical survival, but for the survival of our civilization. We don't have the luxury of old-world pillars. We don't have a common heritage, we don't have a millennia of history. All we have are the dreams and promises that bind us together. All we have...is what we want to be.”
― Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Zoë: I don't give a good gorram about relevant, Wash. Or objective. And I ain't so afraid of losing something that I ain't gonna try to have it. You and I would make one beautiful baby. And I want to meet that child one day. Period. (Firefly)

“Ah, love may be strong, but a habit is stronger,
And I knew when I loved by the way I behaved.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
posted by spunweb at 6:08 PM on March 22, 2012

Ugh, wrong passage from TLU. Here:

“I think love is stronger than habits or circumstances. I think it is possible to keep yourself for someone for a long time and still remember why you were waiting when she comes at last.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
posted by spunweb at 6:09 PM on March 22, 2012

At our county courthouse wedding the judge pulled out her tattered copy of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea," and read a very nice passage about marriage. It was about 2-3 minutes I think (which, really, is a more appropriate length than 5 minutes; your husband can get away with that I bet). I don't really recall where the passage was...so you'd have to read the (short) book. While I probably wouldn't read her books on my own time, I think they make for good content of this sort--not too trite/cute, not too smart.
posted by bennett being thrown at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife seconds - Oh the places you'll go!
posted by notned at 9:09 PM on March 22, 2012

My best friend had someone read I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg at her wedding and it was a huge hit - sweet without being too schmaltzy. I cried.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 1:59 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

rabbitbookworm beat me to it, but "I Like You" is a great wedding reading....and looooonng. I used excerpts of it at my bff's wedding last summer, and it was universally approved.
The full text is online here, if you want to get a sense of it....
posted by Dorinda at 6:35 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you sure they really want it to be five minutes? Or was it a "How long should it be?" "Oh, about five minutes" situation where the people really didn't stop and think how long five minutes is? Like when you say you were stopped at a stoplight for five minutes, but in reality it was one minute, which actually is a long light but it's not five minutes? Or when the phone rings and you tell the person you just walked in the door five minutes ago and can you call them back, when you've really been puttering around for 15? "Five minutes" is just one of those generic shortish amounts of time that people say. Might want to double check, unless you've already confirmed. /OK, done.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2012

Samuel Johnson's "Lovers on Park Bench", well known from the last movement of Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach (reading starts ~4:00, lasts about 4 minutes), in my mind ranks high among the most brilliant and beautiful writings on the subject of love.
"My love for you is higher than the heavens, deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth. It has no limits, no bounds. Everything must have an ending except my love for you."
posted by leapfrog at 1:16 PM on March 23, 2012

A reading of the lyrics to Kate Nash's "I Hate Seagulls" might actually work nicely here. It takes her about four minutes to sing. You could add some sweet and more personal lines about your couple, like "X hates Daleks" or "Y likes when X makes lasagna," etc., to fill out the time to the full five minutes.
posted by argonauta at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2012

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