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Bartlett's Words for the Wedding
By Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley

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 Bartlett's  Words for the Wedding

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Bartlett's Words for the Wedding
By Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley
ISBN: 0316016969
Genre: Non Fiction

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Chapter Excerpt from: Bartlett's Words for the Wedding , by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley


Mark McMorris writes, "Tell me in short, Love, what is a wedding? / A wedding is at once a crowded place / and a private room, packed with trusts / and empty of all but the heart's letters / which one other heart may read and decipher." A wedding is both a public and private ceremony, and so the readings selected must be meaningful to the couple to be married as well as to the family and friends who gather to witness the occasion. It is the address of private words to the public, words that express the nature of love and enrich the wedding ceremony, with which this anthology is concerned. In the editing process, we sought to compile a variety of expressions of the love, commitment, companionship, devotion, and trust of the marital bond.

In choosing the work for this anthology, we reflected on our own experience and the amount of thought we gave to the selection of a poem for our wedding. We kept similar concerns in mind when editing this volume: Would we read these words at our own wedding? Could we imagine this selection being read at someone else's wedding? Is there a selection our nephew would enjoy? Is there a passage our grandparents would find moving? Because a wedding is also a bringing together of people - a blending of households, so to speak - it seemed important to represent a broad range of possibilities for a broad range of potential guests and readers. But for us, what the answers to these questions ultimately boiled down to was whether the writings were pertinent to and expressive of the occasion.

Of course, there exists a canon of classic romantic readings that are often anthologized for such occasions, and we wanted to represent those poems as well as some contemporary selections. There is certainly a reason these favorite writings are returned to again and again, and why shouldn't they be? At their best, poetry and prose transcend the historical moment of their creation and resonate with current and future generations: This quality of timelessness is the hallmark of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and a main consideration in the selection process for this new volume. A sonnet by Shakespeare or a poem by Sappho translated from a papyrus fragment still speaks to a reader in the twenty-first century. Part of our job as editors was to help further this lineage with modern additions, including translations and work by new writers. Each selection attempts to communicate, evoke, or capture ideas and emotions of such magnitude that they resist expression.

One aspect we were also concerned with was the flow of the selections. We organized this collection alphabetically by author to allow the reader freedom to move through the selections without any preconceived notions of categories, wandering from contemporary to ancient, romantic to sensual, traditional to fresh simply by turning a page. We hope that in addition to choosing words for their wedding, couples will immerse themselves in words about the nature of love and commitment, and in how those words reflect their own unique, personal relationships. While it is possible to search for a specific author or passage, there is special joy in perusing the collection to discover what is personally meaningful. The whimsy of Edward Lear's "Owl and the Pussy-Cat" may pay homage to a humorous courtship or sensibility, while the work of Ella Wheeler Wilcox infuses a ceremony with romance. We hope this anthology will offer couples some welcome respite from the demands of hiring caterers and planning rehearsal dinners, and serve as a reminder of what a wedding is truly about: love.

Excerpted from Bartlett's Words for the Wedding , by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley . Copyright (c) 2007 by Little, Brown and Company, Inc.
Introduction copyright (c) 2007 by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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