July 6, 2011

Ceremony Readings: Me and Shel Silverstein

As a writer, my primary goal for our wedding ceremony was to find texts that reflected us as a couple, that embodied our sense of humor, and that avoided religion at all costs. 

I search endlessly online -- not for texts but for ideas. How do you make it your own? How do you find something that hasn't been done before?? Every piece of writing I encountered in my every day was a possibility: the backside of parking tickets; nutritional information; the messages on urinal cakes. 

Then, one morning, 2Es and I raided the children's section at Borders, read through ALL of his books, and came across a poem that matched our intentions. It's called ATIONS.

I've loved Shel since I was a kid. Back then, I thought he was weird. Today, I'm convinced that that man was nothing short of a genius.

Unfortunately, his poem didn't end on the right note. I could just envision our guests' faces, puzzled; I could predict their confusion. So (being a writer), I decided to write an addendum to the poem. Feeling ballsy, I put my own spin on Silverstein. 

We printed out the wording, highlighted "parts" for my siblings, and taped the text into the pages of the book. This way, from our guests' perspective, they were reading straight out of A Light in the Attic.

A few of our relatives and friends who attended the wedding have asked that I publish the text. So for them -- and for those people who feel like they're stuck and can't find a single ****ing poem or song with wedding-friendly prose or lyrics -- here's the proof that all that searching pays off in the end.

by Shel Silverstein (and Brian Leahy)
performed by my brother & sister

If we meet and I say, "Hi,"
That's a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That's consideration.

If we stop and talk awhile,
That's conversation.
And if we understand each other,
That's communication.

If we argue, scream and fight,
That's an altercation.

If we later apologize,
That's reconciliation.

If we help each other home,
That's cooperation.

And all these "ations" added up
Make civilization.

Now Brian  and Jo -- their paths crossed
During their higher education.
Two kids bonding in acting class
Over lack of pigmentation.

And call it what you will --
Be it coincidence,
Or ... electromagnetic radiation --
They bonded instantly.
They were meant for each other.
No exaggeration.

And after six years of flirtation,
And co-habitation,
And one cross-country relocation...

...we've made it here, to the celebration
of this perfectly logical pair formation.

And if there's one thing they don't have today,
It's hesitation.

If there's one thing they do have,
It's each other --


-- ation.

Photo © Noah Devereaux


  1. YES! I can't find a single ****ing poem or song with wedding-friendly prose or lyrics either & since our wedding is in just 15 days, I've been a little frantic. So I jumped on Google & searched "Shel Silverstein poem in wedding." Low & behold, this post popped up. Thank you for being another sane person in the world & thank you for the wonderful inspiration.

    1. Laura,

      First of all, congrats on your wedding! I hope it was lovely. And I'm so glad I could provide some sanity and inspiration for you. If you have a moment, I've love to read and potentially share what you came up with on the blog. You can send it to me at thegroomsays at gmail.


  2. This is wonderful. I am in search of how to incorporate Shel Silverstein into a wedding, you perfected it. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. you're a genius. thank you for publishing this text. we too were looking for something that wasn't cheesy, reflected us as a couple and was completely secular. also, because my two young nieces (12+14) will be doing the reading, it had to be a piece that wasn't too "wise." this poem from our childhood gives nod to their purity and innocence while bringing meaning to our ceremony. thank you, thank you, thank you!