What is a prothalamion?

I just learned that a “prothalamion” is a poem written specifically to celebrate a wedding. The term was coined by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), who is best known for his epic poem The Faerie Queen.

Spenser wrote the first prothalamion to celebrate the double marriage of the two daughters of Edward Somerset, Earl of Worcester; Elizabeth Somerset and Katherine Somerset. Most evidence suggests that this was a “poem for hire”.

Being a longtime poet as well as a wedding officiant, I immediately thought of offering to write prothalamions (prothalamia?) for couples.

A writer friend of mine, a fine poet himself, pointed out some of the challenges inherent in doing this. He wrote, “Appreciation of poetry is so subjective: one person likes regular rhyme and meter, another prefers free verse, one loves metaphor while the other prefers plain, direct language. And for it to have any real meaning, you would need to know the couple well…”

All good points. Nonetheless, I still like the idea. A poem can be moving and inspiring, and a later reminder to you why you chose to get married in the first place. It’s also cool, I think, to have a poem that is unique to you. So, for those of you about to be married, whether I’m officiating at your wedding or not, let me know if you’d like to explore me writing your own personal, unique prothalamion for your wedding ceremony.

For the first three couples who try this, I’ll offer a 100% refund if you genuinely don’t like your poem. That way, there’s no risk for you, and I’ll be able to see if the process is as enjoyable for everyone as I think it might be…

The only thing I’m unsure of at this point is what to charge for these poems. They will be time-consuming to craft, since (a) I’d need to get to know each couple really well, and (b) good poems just take time.

by Anthony Flesch, founder of SedonaMinister.org