Friday, 22 May 2015

Daisy & David's Humanist Wedding at The Loch Fyne Restaurant, Newhaven Harbour

if you recognise either of these gorgeous newly-weds, chances are that you hail from the world of sport or film. Daisy works with my old friend Simon Mallinson at one of Scotland's leading production companies. MTP. David, like his best man brother James is a Judo player who's had a distinguished career at international level, which explained why there was more than the usual compliment of cauliflower ears in the crowd that came to watch them get hitched on a glorious May afternoon down at Newhaven Harbour.

They took a lot of care and imagination to craft a wonderful ceremony, which incorporated inspiring and moving speeches from both their parents and grandparents. A particular highlight for me was the reading by Daisy's friend Norman of a beautiful piece I'd never heard before, called The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

“Ultimately there comes a time when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person.

When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling.”

L’Engle was an American author and a devout Episcopalian who died in 2007. She believed in universal salvation, which meant that not only were her books banned from Christian schools and libraries, but that secular critics found her work too religious: poor woman! She deserved better. 

It was just a shame I had to rush off afterwards, because there were some old friends in the crowd I'd have loved to caught up with, and I could tell it was going to be a wonderful day. I was really touched to get these photos just last night from D&D, along with this note.

Hi Tim, We are back from honeymoon and finally have the chance to write and say a huge thank you for conducting our wedding ceremony. You were a brilliant presence of calm on the day and we have had so many comments about your smooth delivery and wonderful manner. You made our day.

We were really pleased that you were able to help us introduce our own humanist perspective on marriage to our friends and family. For many there, humanism was a familiar concept and for others it was all very new. Despite this, you must have gathered from the number of teary-eyed guests we had at the wedding, just how much of an impact the ceremony had on so many of them. There were plenty of big, gruff blokes whose wives had never seen them cry before, even when the kids were born!! 

Our parents and grandparents are still high as kites from the day and we feel incredibly lucky to have had a wedding that went so smoothly. Even the sun shone on Leith that day :) There is not one thing we would want to change about it and you were a big part of the reason we have such wonderful memories of the occasion. Many thanks once again for everything. Best wishes, David & Daisy xxx

It was a privilege and a pleasure D&D. May you enjoy long life, and great happiness! xxx

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ramona's Naming Ceremony

A naming ceremony is very like a wedding but much more relaxed, and Ramona's welcome to the world was very laid back indeed. The house was packed with friends and their children as Claire, Bob and I talked about her journey into existence and the way her character has developed over the year she's been in the world.

It was a great story that began with Bob asking Scott the tiler if he wouldn't mind finishing the bathroom despite the sounds of an expectant mother. What came next was perhaps the most terrifying, exhilarating and beautiful experiences of Claire and Bob’s life, as they were able to deliver Ramona together, with no complications and without anyone else present - just mother, father and baby. (By then, Scott had made his excuses and left…)

Ramona is Bob and Claire's second daughter, and as they said, 'Becoming parents of two children has certainly been an education, but it has been a beautiful year, full of delights, and the challenges are well worth it.  To quote David Frost, “Having one child makes you a parent; having two makes you a referee!”

'Ramona loves spending time with all of her family and friends, but no-one more so than Scarlett.  When Ramona watches her big sister, it is obviously with admiration and love.  On any given day, you may find the two of them chasing each other around the house; playing tea parties; or just enjoying a bedtime story together.  Their absolute favourite games however are making castles out of all the living room furniture.'

One idea I gave them as a way of literally marking the day was of creating a Handbook for Life. You can probably buy them somewhere but The Blue Peter way it is to get a set of A4 sheets of cartridge paper, and some poster paints. Everyone gets their own page where they can make a print of their hand, and write something inspiring or thoughtful.  

Kids love it, and the paint washes off easily so it's not too messy. You then bind the pages together between hard covers and keep the book safe for a couple of decades until Junior is old enough to read it, which could be any time between the ages of 18 and 80, depending on the child... 

Along with these photos, Claire sent me this note. "Thank you again for delivering the ceremony for us. We both had a really wonderful day and hope that everyone enjoyed the ceremony as much as we did. The Handbook for Life was a beautiful idea and we plan to continue adding to it so that we can give Ramona a wonderful gift once she is a young woman".

Sunday, 19 April 2015

My New Portrait

Rhona and Paul are getting married at the beautiful Amisfield Walled Garden in Haddington this August in August, and they kindly sent me a snap of their wedding cake topper: an uncanny resemblance wouldn't you say?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Same Sex Marriage

Last weekend I conducted my second legal same sex marriage since the introduction of new legislation at the end of 2014, and it was a hoot: fantastic music, wonderful ceremony, heightened emotion: everything I've come to associate with same sex ceremonies since I first started to conduct them almost ten years ago now.

In all that time, I've probably conducted about a dozen celebrations, but if you looked through this blog, you won't find a single picture, which is a shame. Gay rights have come a long way over the last 20 years, but there are still professions where people have to conceal their sexual identity for one reason or another, and it seems that every single wedding blessing I've done has fallen into that category.

Until now that is! I'm really delighted to have met Eli and Kate, who've asked me to conduct their wedding in their garden later this year, and they will be sending me some photos of that after the event, which I am really looking forward to, because I like the way they think.

We first met yesterday evening and we had a great chat and I was really pleased when we were talking about where they might stand and Eli came out with this phrase that they're going to have printed up to help the guests to know where to go.

Pick a seat

Not a side
Either way
It's for a bride

Pure dead brilliant, as we used to say: thanks Eli!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

How does the word homework make you feel?

I often wonder how people choose to share their homework with one another so it was lovely to get this message and photo from Amanda and Stuart.

While Wee Molly the Westie was away at my mum's for the weekend, we decided to share some alone time with some lovely red wine and read each other's homework with light music on in the background. 

After reading we were both amazed and how alike the stories were and how what I had wrote reflected what Stuart wrote. Once you see them you will understand. It brought back so many memories: we laughed so much while remembering all the great times we have shared until now and how much Stuart pinned my character to a t! As embarrassing as some of it was lol!

Our families are also writing some things up so will get them all sent to you soon :)

Thank you for the homework, we are now so excited for our ceremony and sharing the story of 'us' with you and our friends and family :)  x

Can't wait to read it, Amanda, thank you so much! 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Take, choose, accept: what do you want to promise?

A couple I will be marrying shortly got in touch today to ask if they could use the word 'take' rather than 'accept' when they make the legal declaration at the climax of their wedding ceremony. It's a good question.

The Registrar General of Scotland's web site says "There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to 'marriage vows' in Scotland", but it also says that the parties must make a declaration, "in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they either accept each other as husband and wife or accept each other in marriage or make both declarations".

You might read that and think it means that the words used by the couple have to indicate acceptance, or you might read that and think it means that you have to use the word accept. Does it matter? Perhaps not.

For some years now, HSS celebrants have been instructed to ensure that our clients say "I accept you as my husband/wife", but informal conversations with men and women of the cloth suggest that they feel able to use other words like "choose" or "take".

For me choosing or taking are stronger words than accepting: if I were having dinner in a restaurant, I would prefer to choose the venison, rather than merely accept the salmon… Do you see what I mean? 

One of these days I will ask one of my learned friends to take a view, but until then, should you wish to choose your husband or wife, here is a formula that will allow you to do that and remain within a narrow interpretation of the law.

Celebrant asks the bride: "Do you, Janet, take John as your husband? Will you love, comfort and support him in health and in sickness, in prosperity and in adversity, so long as you both shall live?"
The bride answers "Yes I do."  
She then addresses the groom and says, "I, Janet, accept you, John, as my husband".

Celebrant asks the groom: "Do you, John, take Janet as your wife? Will you love, comfort and support her in health and in sickness, in prosperity and in adversity, so long as you both shall live?"
The groom answers "Yes I do." 
He then addresses the bride and says, "I, John, accept you, Janet, as my wife".