Mountain wedding

This video may not be terribly interesting if you’re not friends or family of me or Rachel… unless you like porcupines, which were so much in evidence before, during and after our wedding, I thought I had to include one in the video as well. I also think our home-spun, self-uniting ceremony says something about the use of poetry in these kinds of major life events.

It may seem odd, me being a poet and all, that I hadn’t really given much thought to reading poetry at our wedding, but we were focused on getting our documents in order and writing our vows. So it was only on the day of our wedding that I mentioned to Rachel that I had a poem in mind to read, and it seemed that she did, too.

Interestingly, we both chose well-known poems from the canon (though the e.e. cummings one isn’t as well known in Britain, Rachel tells me). The trick as I saw it was to pick something that was simultaneously meaningful to me, relevant to the occasion, appropriate to the natural setting, and accessible to the audience. I love the Bible, and part of me wishes we still lived in a society that had such a powerful, ancient text in common to help unite us on ceremonial occasions or in times of crisis, but let’s face it: the poetic texts that unite us as a society these days are the pop, rock and rap songs we grew up with… the secular “high church” counterpart of which are certain poems such as Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” and yes, e.e. cumming’s “I carry your heart with me.”

As for the video, I used mobile phone video footage by Rachel (via tripod) and my cousin Heidi Suydam, with additional photographs by Heidi and her daughter Morgan. I couldn’t resist including some snippets from Aaron Copland’s ballet about a newly married couple in the wilds of western Pennsylvania, Appalachian Spring. Credit is also due to Joseph Brackett, composer of the Shaker song “Simple Gifts” that Copland drew upon in the most famous portion of the suite. Since many people unfortunately know this tune only in its bastardized form (as the faux-Celtic “Lord of the Dance”), I want to quote the original lyrics:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Amen to that.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

18 Comments


  1. This is a wonderful wedding video. I’ve been reading your blog for so many years, and it is truly lovely to see this and celebrate the joy of this moment with you and Rachel. Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Robin. This post would’ve been such a good fit for the old Festival of the Trees blog carnival, eh?

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  2. Tears were shed. Very happy tears! Thank you for making this video, Dave and Rachel.

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    1. Wish you could’ve been there, Beth! But sharing it on video seemed like the next best thing.

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  3. I couldn’t love everything about this more. It kind of overrides every despairing qualm about technology. Thank you both for sharing. xx

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    1. Glad you liked it, Jean! There are a few things about it I might’ve tweaked, but I was in a hurry to finish the thing before Rachel left so she could upload it from London, on 50x faster internet.

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  4. Wonderful. Thank you for letting us share virtually in your wedding. xxo

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    1. You bet. It was really important to us to share the day with the blogging friends in whose company Rachel and I first met.

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  5. Thanks for sharing. It was beautiful – the music, the wildlife, and the ceremony were unique. Best wishes for many years of wedded bliss.

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    1. Thanks, Laura. It was a cold, windy and overcast afternoon, but it least it wasn’t raining! And if the sun had been out, it would’ve been much more challenging to get the light levels right on our cameras.

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  6. Absolutely wonderful and original, as befits the two of you. I love the mix of tradition and improvisation in the woodland setting and the porcupine guest surely brought tidings of good fortune and love forever. Many thanks for sharing and warmest congratulations Rachel and Dave. See you soon.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie. A “mix of tradition and improvisation” — exactly. Either one without the other rarely feels right to me. Had I fallen in love with someone deeply rooted in a particular faith tradition, I probably would’ve consented to a religious ceremony without much fuss, but my inner cynic would’ve been making silent wise-cracks throughout. Celebrating the way Rachel and I did, though, the little bastard didn’t speak up once.

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