Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Joanne and Colin's Humanist wedding at Keavil House

Colin and Joanne tell me they're not long back from a long honeymoon away in California and Hawaii where they loved cycling over the Golden Gate bridge, clay pigeon shooting in Kauai, kayaking on Lake Tahoe and going around all the different wineries in Napa. It sounds amazing, and they deserved to enjoy every minute because they put a lot into creating a truly wonderful ceremony at Keavil House Hotel! Here are their top tips on how to design yours.

I guess the best tip is to be willing to invest time in making your ceremony. The most fun and probably the most difficult part of having a humanist ceremony is completing your "homework". It's not as scary as it sounds, but be willing to sit down away from your other half, and scribble down what you remember about when you first met, how you came to fall in love, and why you want to marry this person. It will seem silly at first but once you read back what you've written it will make you grin from ear to ear (well hopefully!) and also give you some content for your ceremony!

Tim suggested Colin and I sit down together once we had completed our homework, and read each others out to one another. It took us a while to get it completed but when we did eventually sit down, it was a lovely wee moment and we both got a little teary. 

With a humanist ceremony, don't expect your celebrant to write the whole ceremony for you (after all, YOU chose to have a humanist ceremony. So that means having to invest some time into making it into personal). Your celebrant will provide you with lots of helpful information, readings, and example ceremonies. 

Another tip would be to try and include family/friends in your ceremony. We had our mums as our witnesses, which was a nice touch (good suggestion Tim!). Colin's dad read some Burns, our Maid of Honour (the person who first introduced us) read the story of Joanne and Colin, and Colin's sister tied our hands together for our hand blessing. 

I guess our last tip would to be not to rush writing the ceremony and homework. If you are strapped for time then obviously don't take too long, but we booked Tim 2 years in advance of our wedding. We therefore had plenty of time to think about what and who we wanted in our ceremony. The result was an intimate and sincere ceremony full of love, the ceremony of our dreams. :)

We are so happy that you were the person to marry us. Thank you for all your support leading up to the wedding too. Everyone is still raving about how it was the most sincere ceremony they have ever attended and we couldn't have done it without your help. Keep up the great work Tim. You're obviously a natural at what you do :)

Can you see why I love my work? Thank you, Joanne and Colin. It was a privilege. And thanks to Photos by Zoe for these great shots too.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Fiona and Tom's Humanist wedding at Kirknewton Stables

My thanks to Offbeat Bridephotographer Ingrid Murs and of course to Fiona & Tom for making this post very easy…

Tom and Fiona chose to marry at Kirknewton Stables, a popular venue for people who like to do things their own way: and they really did, in every sense. The bridesmaids helped make all the pom-poms, and family and friends made yummy desserts.

Like most people, their ceremony wasn't high up on the list of priorities - until they met me!

As they wrote, "it was such a lovely thing to focus on during the planning of the whole day".

And I thought what they did with their rings was really clever too: "they have our fingerprints on the inside of them, his print on mine, mine on his. No one else can see them, but we know they are there."

I hadn't come across Offbeat Bride before, but I really like what they say about why they do what they do. You might like it too. You can read it if you click on the photo below, or see it properly here

Fiona sent me these links, saying, "Thanks again for being a fantastic celebrant and a great help to our day." All I can say is, no. Thank you and Tom for creating such an inspiring ceremony! 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Pat and Colin's Humanist wedding at Cringletie House

Looking for ways to make your wedding memorable? Pat and Colin came up with lots.

Telling the story. Rather than just rely on me, they broke it down into four sections, each of which they put into separate envelopes, and gave friends to read, with linking passages from me. A brilliant ice-breaker, that got everyone laughing (and occasionally wiping tears of joy from their eyes.)

The Vows. There were no fewer than eight of them in a Q&A format before their personal vows, and again they gave each one to a different guest. While the response was generally 'I do', or 'We do', there was one (read by Samantha on behalf of all their children) which went like this, "do you both promise to pay attention and listen to your children and respect their wishes at all times?" and which got a rather different reply!

The Exchange of Rings: rather than coming from best men or bridesmaids, Pat decided to ask their Boxer dog, Yoda, to bring them in, to Colin's surprise and delight.

A Song: In this Age of the iPod, it's so nice to hear a human voice. Pat's daughter Victoria gave us her version of Emelie Sande's Next To Me, and everyone joined in on the "Woo Hoos"!

I feel a bit hard done by if I ever leave a wedding reception without someone telling me, "That was the best wedding I've ever been to!" (to which my reply is always, "I know - because they wrote it"), but that evening, no fewer than three couples queued up to say precisely that. It was really touching, as in each case, it was their first experience of a Humanist wedding. As Pat wrote, when she sent me these photos, 

"Thank you for making our day so special for us.  You made us think out of the box and we ended up writing the whole ceremony, which we would never have considered doing or even imagined being possible.  The result was the most meaningful and happy wedding ceremony that Colin and I have ever known and certainly every one of our guests concurred.  

We also appreciated your suggestion that we could meet our guests for some champagne prior to the ceremony.  This certainly opened a few eyes in astonishment and served to get everyone over all the anticipation over what the bride would be wearing.  I'm sure some were still in shock as they entered the Conservatory!  And so the day continued to be full of surprises for everyone concerned.   We still laugh at the argument over who would read out Reading no 1!   And as for our boxer dog Yoda making his huge entrance with our rings - well Colin is still amazed he hadn't twigged to this little addition."

Thank you, Pat and Colin. I can assure you that your ceremony will be shared with lots of other couples over the coming months and years: as well as imagination, it was full of love and warmth, so it was an inspiration to me too: it certainly woke me up on the day!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Belinda and Brian's Humanist Wedding at Dalriada, Portobello

You don't need to be a writer to create a great ceremony, but it helps.

Belinda and Brian can certainly string a sentence together, and I remember how much I liked the laid-back, funny way they wrote their homework. It was a long, long story (because they've known one another for a long, long time) but it was a good one. Belinda even sent me a storyboard, which allowed her to illustrate her tale.

She also created a wonderful blog, as a quick way to answer all the people who repeatedly asked them how their wedding plans were going - it's a clever idea in itself, and one that might give you a few ideas for your own wedding.

Brian didn't send me any photos, but he did write this, "She was beautiful. She was smart. She was amazing. I had never,  ever gone out with someone who was so, easy to be with, who was so strong and capable and brave. And oh,  how I fell in love".

They'd originally planned to marry next year, but they brought the date forward to May 4th. They'd already told me they were Star Wars fans, so I should have realised why long before they sent me this picture…

There was quite a crowd at Dalriada, their favourite pub. 

Parents, siblings, children, even a grandchild. Didn't think Brian looked old enough, did you?

Being a child of the techno age, Belinda used her iPad to read us a poem by Rumi called “In The Arc Of Your Mallett”, while Brian gave us one of my favourite wedding poems, “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton.

His daughter Kessa and Belinda's brothers, Dodger and Jake all gave surprise readings, which were great, and then after a pause for contemplation, Brian and Belinda spoke their "super-secret vows" which they hadn't shared with each other before the day. Cue much emotion all round. Here they are, after the madness subsided a little, with Jorja.

And here is the card they sent me, along with these old-skool printed photos. Imaginative, original, touching and funny, just like their ceremony. Thank you, Mrs B and Mr B. xxx

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Kevin and Kellie's Humanist Wedding at Edinburgh Castle

I like to end the year on a high, and that's exactly what Kellie and Kevin's wedding delivered.

As it was just after the winter solstice, they very sensibly chose a late start, and I remember that Kellie entered the great hall of the Queen Anne Room "at 4.38 precisely!", a pre-scripted guesstimate of Kellie's arrival time from 'Team Milker' that got the first laugh of the day. 

I always encourage couples to really involve their guests in the ceremony: not just having one or two doing a reading or a song, but actually getting them to tell their stories, talk about why they love one another, and share what it is they want to achieve in their marriage. Kevin and Kellie embraced this approach with imagination and enthusiasm.

Kellie's school friend and one-time fellow cadet Carolyn, AKA Big Bird told the story of their courtship, and Kevin's friend and romantic adviser Ben gave us a great reading of Seamus Heaney's wonderful poem, Scaffolding, but the high point (for me at least) was the way they got their guests to make a commitment to support them in their marriage. Here's a wee taster from that section:

Tim: Do you commit to providing Kevin and Kellie counsel should they falter and to reminding them of the promises they made today with hearts full of love?
All: “We do”
Tim: Do you commit to occasionally telling Kellie and Kevin that they’re being idiots if they forget these promises and complain about the little things?
All: “We do”

Better still, before making their very personal, serious vows that they had kept a complete secret from one another, they got eight of their friends to ask them to make some very specific promises, of which the last two were my favourite:

Linda Milne
Kevin – do you promise to learn how to fold the towels properly?
Kevin: “I do”

Susan Walker
Kellie – do you promise to accept that you may need to refold all the towels for the rest of your life?
Kellie: “I do”

As you can well imagine, LOTS of people came up to me after the ceremony to say it was the best wedding they'd ever been to, and I said what I always say on these occasions, which is "That's because THEY wrote it!"

Kevin and Kellie's wedding is one I talk about a lot when I meet couples these days, and given that it took place in the last days of last year, I simply can't believe it's taken me until now to write about it. 

I was very pleased when they sent me this  - along with the excellent photos from Robbie at Duke Photography.

"Just a wee note to thank you for your part in making our wedding day such fun, and such a great memory to keep for all of our many years to come. We’re going to have our ceremony printed off and bound at some point, not just as a keepsake, but also because it’ll remind us of the fun we had putting it all together…. the ceremony only lasted 30 minutes, but that was just the top of a rather enjoyable hill!"

It was important for us that our friends and family who weren’t familiar with Humanism actually buy into it and not get put off by the fact it was a secular ceremony. We wanted you to be our celebrant because you bring an authority and legitimacy to the proceedings which really helped keep everybody engaged and comfortable. Plus, you delivered our ceremony superbly - I think most people even laughed at my jokes…it’s all in the execution!"

No, K and K - it's (almost) all in the writing - and you did an excellent job!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Marie & Keith's Humanist Wedding at Dundas Castle

People keep telling me they've seen me conducting weddings in videos all over the web, but I've never seen any: till now. Keith and Marie got married earlier this year, all the way up the ancient spiral stone staircase of the Old Keep at Dundas Castle, and it was a wonderful occasion, as you can see.

They sent me a lovely card, that said, "We honestly can't thank you enough. You helped us create a ceremony that was true to ourselves, which to us was most important.

"Although we did find writing it difficult (because there was so  much we wanted to say), you helped us every step of the way and it was worth every minute we spent on it. Writing it really made it clear what was important to us and it brought us even closer together (if that was even possible!)

"We have received an abundance of compliments for the ceremony. Many of our guests had never experienced a humanist ceremony before, and one of them (who is anti-marriage usually - except for us!) said that the ceremony was amazing and the best wedding he has been to - quite a compliment from him! In fact he's recommended you to his mum!

"Our wedding was all the better because of you. It really was the best day of our lives - thank you for being a part of it!"

It was a lovely ceremony and seeing it on film really brings it back: I especially enjoyed being upstaged with perfect timing by a young lad who'd got bored of being in the audience and who'd decided to come up and play with one of the flower girls instead - that's the kind of thing you can never predict, and it always makes the day even more enjoyable. So thank you Keith and Marie for allowing me to share your greatest day, and thanks also to Adam Troup of Inspire Video for the excellent clip.