12/04/2013 16:52 BST | Updated 12/06/2013 06:12 BST

Death, Maggots and Other Suitable Wedding Readings.


"You should have some readings", said the wedding planner. "It'll give you a chance to take in your surroundings and enjoy the moment". 

"Sure!" We thought. "A reading! We're both journalists and we can read to an acceptable standard. How hard can this be?" 

Long, dark nights ensued, during which we both pored over the writings of Hunter S Thompson and back copies of Viz for a page, a paragraph, even a quote that adequately portrayed our relationship, our love or just a vague and meaningful sense of mutual attraction. 

With our literary reserves failing us, we turned instead to the internet - a worldwide highway of information. How could this possibly fail us? 

And that's where the realisation struck that wedding readings are undoubtedly the most heinous of all ceremonial speeches. No witty irony, no jokes, not even a personal nod-and-a wink to the married couple. Just an unapologetic slurry of schmaltzy cliches that wade knee-deep through a syrup of every single balk-inducing stereotype the English language has ever been able to muster.

Let me share with you a quick snippet of a lip-quiveringly long suggestion that comes near the top of Google's results for 'alternative wedding readings': 

"I love you

Not only for what you are,

But for what I am

When I am with you.

I love you,

Not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what

You are making of me.

I love you

For the part of me

That you bring out;

I love you

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart"

I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart? Is this really a wedding speech or a last, blood-splattered entry from Annie Chapman's diary as Jack The Ripper skipped off into the Whitechapel darkness with her internal organs draped over his shoulder? 

Perhaps that's a little too alternative, Google. Reel it in a bit, yeah? Let's try again. 

"You and I

Have so much love

It burns like a fire

In which we bake a lump of clay

Moulded into a figure of you

And a figure of me

Then we take both of them

And break them into pieces

And mix the pieces with water

And mould again a figure of you

And a figure of me

I am in your clay 

You are in my clay

In life we share a single quilt 

In death we share one coffin."

Wait a minute... how did things descend from a late night, triple-X episode of Morph until we suddenly find ourselves promising to squeeze into a single coffin when we both pop our clogs - presumably simultaneously - as the weight of our clay-filled love becomes too much for a human couple to endure? 

Is there a bleaker wedding day thought than slowly rotting together in a single coffin? We're living in times of austerity, but we all know that spending too much time together can be bad for even the strongest of relationships and chucking maggots into the mix only serves to heighten the tension. 

Weddings are a time of happiness and honesty, so let's be really honest here: If your fiancee woke one morning and, over breakfast, uttered either one of the above poems to you, there'd be no more suitable course of action than to hurl a throat-full of vomit into her cornflake packet before closing the lid and hoping the contents cause her the kind of daily discomfort you'll feel every time you remember the whole, ugly affair. 

On our one special day, couples who struggle to whisper "I love you" in a public setting turn to strangers from the internet to express their undying love on our behalf, chiseling away at the British Stiff Upper Lip by reciting poems or recruiting a snotty two-year-old to wear a bow-tie and sing Ave Maria in front of an assembled mob of family and friends. 

Of course, it's all in the name of tradition. It's what we do on wedding days. While the best man is raiding his memory bank for the most embarrassing moments of a groom's lifetime, the bride and groom are also desperately searching for the kind of words that will make hearts melt with their tenderness. 

But it seems "I love you" isn't enough these days. Instead we have to find 'creative' ways to convey  our feelings, and if melting our bodies until they merge into a horrific and presumably transgender Frankenstein's monster of watery clay isn't up our alley, we find ourselves desperately typing 'love' into our iTunes library and jotting down the lyrics of any song that might represent the tale of two intertwined hearts.


Of course, the best outcome is that you rope a family member in to nervously recite the lyrics like a sniveling William Shatner, while your guests intensely study their shoes and pray for forgiveness. 

The worst, as a good friend of mine found out to his detriment, is learning afterwards that the wistfully romantic ballad you chose to symbolise the rest of your life together, was actually a song recounting the warm, comforting embrace of heroin. 

Believe me, after 10 minutes of trying to choose a wedding reading, heroin seems a tempting option. I might even use my wedding band as a tourniquet.