I was at a wedding recently where one of my best friends stood up and read a poem. She had sent it to the bride a few months before, just as a private wedding gift, but the bride had then asked her to read it at the ceremony.
Rebecca* wants to be a professional poet, but this was the first time that I had heard one of her poems, as she hadn’t wanted to share them with her friends before.
As she stood up and started reading, announcing the title clearly and softly speaking the next few lines, it felt like a “moment” in that expectant room, like I was witnessing the very start of her future as one of the great poets (as dramatic as that sounds!)
It was a poem which drew on an ancient form and spoke about what she envisioned for the bride and groom when they made their new lives together.
I could not fully grasp all the allusions and meanings on the first reading – it is the kind of poem that you want to read several times, and then several times again.
I knew, though, that it was incredibly moving and that she was saying that she saw and deeply understood the love that they had for one another.
It was a beautiful wedding, in the countryside, catching up with very good friends from school and walking in the nearby yellow-flowered fields and woodlands. There was a hilarious two-year-old child running around in a full suit, waistcoat and tie.
There was lots to enjoy, but my second stand-out moment, however, was when the bridesmaids, who were all friends from school, stood up and made their speeches.
They had all chosen a word that they felt best represented the bride, and then spoke about why it was such an important aspect of her character.
One of my friends stood up and described how the bride had always been a dreamer, following extraordinary trains of thoughts in a family of scientists.
The final bridesmaid spoke about how the bride was ‘hilarious.’ As children, they would make up imaginary and ridiculous-sounding worlds and characters.
And then she said something along the lines of, ‘if you can find somebody that you can be that silly with, hold on to her and never let her go.’
I know that the wedding would have meant many different things to many different people, not least the bride and groom and their parents.
For me, it was about the overwhelming and sometimes selfless love of friendship.
It was about people who will stand by you and encourage you to walk down the path of your dreams, even if, at the same time, they are also, in a way, saying goodbye.
Those were the most spiritual moments of the wedding for me.