Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Jools and Iain's surprise wedding at St Columba's by the Castle

It was at the beginning of July that Jools and Iain got in touch about their surprise wedding this August.  That's right - less than two months later!

They've been together for almost eleven years, having come up here (separately) from Brighton. Since then they've had two wonderful children and "built their fortress" as they describe their relationship. Sadly they have to leave town for prospects new, and they decided it would be a great idea to get married as part of their farewell party.

Their eventful story began in 1997 when they both knew the same pod of divers for three years - but never met. I loved the way they made their children Tommy and Indy the centre of their tale, and even included a reading especially for them from Julie Myerson's much loved column, Living with Teenagers 

The next especially lovely moment was when they passed their wedding rings around the huge gathering of their friends and kids. As they wrote, "Their rings have been worn already through two whole lifetimes by two family members, Iain’s father, and Jools’s grandmother. Iain’s ring was first exchanged on June 21st 1969 and Jools’s ring on Christmas Day 1936. This makes their rings extra special but today they’d also like to make those rings become their own."

Emma and Michelle gave us two very original readings: of song lyrics rather than poetry or prose. The first was from Nick Drake, but the second was was written in 1988. Iain said "if you don’t know who it’s by, you’re living in the wrong city and should probably leave the hall", and the opening lines were these…
My heart was broken.
My heart was broken. 

Sorrow and Sorrow. Sorrow and Sorrow.
Yes, of course it was the wonderful 'Sunshine on Leith' by The Proclaimers! 

I was very surprised to get these great photos from Jools so soon after the event. She very kindly said, "We just wanted to say again thanks so much for your part in our surprise wedding a few weekends ago at St Columba's by the Castle.  It was just a fabulous day and it ended up being everything we hoped it might be. I was especially grateful that all my nerves fell away when I saw you arrive... we felt safe in your hands :-) A million thanks again, Jools and Iain (Mrs & Mr)

It was a real pleasure Jools - handcrafted, meaningful, original, heartfelt. Perfect x

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Keren and Stephen's Humanist Wedding at Linlithgow Burgh Halls

It was back in November 2012 that Keren decided that the Linlithgow Burgh Halls were the perfect place to get married, and she and Stephen first came to see me. They'd chosen the date because it was going to be her dad's birthday, and I loved their story which was very romantic, and involved a proposal in Gaelic on Kilchoman beach on Islay.

One of the best bits though was the way they were brought together. 

Keren and Stephen’s good friends Paul and Fiona had once tried to set Stephen up on a blind date that hadn't gone too well (not long afterwards the girl in question had emigrated to New Zealand to put the memory behind her!) so with some trepidation, they engineered an introduction to Keren. It went OK but it wasn't love at first sight, so Paul and Fiona got Keren and Stephen together for a second date, and this time it worked! It was lovely to hear Fiona and Paul's own version of that story as part of the ceremony.

After that, everyone joined in a rousing rendition of Mairi's Wedding, led on the harp by the wonderful Margaret Knight,

before we had a short pause for contemplation after which Stephen and Keren spoke their own very personal vows to one another, as you can hear in this trailer for their wedding movie by Strangeworx

Even though the marriage schedule only arrived by courier just before kick-off (someone had left it at the hotel), it was such a joyous, relaxed wedding.

I particularly enjoyed being upstaged  by Poppy, one of the charming little flower girls, 

and it was lovely to get this note (and the above photo) a few days later from Keren's mum Jackie, who along with Stephen's mother Barbara, was one of the witnesses.

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful ceremony for Keren and Stephen on Saturday. You made it so special, and so many people told me how much they preferred it to a stiff church ceremony !!  I knew when I heard you speak at Syl's funeral that if my daughter ever got married, I would love you to officiate. It was a wonderful day. 

A wee while later, I got this lovely card from Keren (you can just see me trying to get out of shot behind the bridesmaids as Stephen and Keren had their first kiss).

I'd just like to thank you so very much for making our ceremony so wonderful. I loved every minute of it. I was so nervous about it, but it ended up being my favourite part of the day. I thought it suited Stephen and I perfectly and I thought you told our story so well and kept me calm. So many people commented on how fantastic the ceremony was and how they had never seen anything like it before. Nice to know our wedding will be remembered for many reasons.

I truly had the best day of my life and could not stop smiling and laughing from beginning to end. I'm looking forward to seeing the video so I can replay the important bits and fast forward the bits that make me cringe. Thank you for helping us create the best wedding ceremony I have ever been to :)

It was a pleasure Keren! And my thanks also go of course to Sylwia and Simon of Crofts & Kowalczyk Photography for these lovely photographs.

PS I didn't realise until today that the Burgh Halls were redesigned some time ago by my old friend Malcolm Fraser which probably explains why the elegant penthouse room where the wedding took place feels so welcoming. 

The staff are lovely too, so add it to your checklist if you're looking for somewhere a bit different.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Claire & Gareth's Humanist Wedding at The Thomas Morton Hall in Leith

People find all sorts of ways to fall in love, but Gareth and Claire were the first couple I've married who got together while running. Along with Gareth's dad and other friends from Inverness, they were part of the infamous “Tuesday Night Running Club” where Claire got her nickname ‘Coach McGeary'.

Their wedding was a total hoot, in so many ways. Like the story of the proposal which almost took place in a Gay Bar in Copenhagen (for details, apply to couple), but eventually took place in the funfair in Tivoli Gardens. 

Now Gareth doesn't like funfairs, so after going on all the rides, he felt really queasy, but he  grabbed Claire’s hand, pulled out the ring, and said “How would you like to join me on the ride of your life?”Yes, Gareth admits it was very cheesy. 

Claire’s expression was one of complete & utter confusion, but it was followed by the line that every young gentleman hopes to hear at least once in his life: “Are you shitting me?”

The other particularly memorable moment was when I had to get everyone to join in and sing the Proclaimers best known song, "I Wanna Be (500 Miles)" which was great except there was no backing track: apart from me…

We had a lot of fun! 

Claire sent me these photos and a note about how much she and Gareth had enjoyed the whole  process. "It was lovely thinking back to how we met,  the proposal etc. Having now lived it & watched it back, it was just so personal. It was all about us, our story & it means so much to us. Thanks again for everything & your singing 500 miles - it saved the day!"

Not at all - thank you, Coach McGeary!

Fran and Bobby's Humanist Wedding on Calton Hill

Flaming June days are rare in Edinburgh, but Fran and Bobby are a lucky couple. That's not me in the pic btw: Bobby and I just go to the same hairdresser. 

Their ceremony was simple, direct, and full of fun. When they met, Fran was living in her girly palace with her daughter while Bobby lived in his football mad house with his four boys, so joining their  families was a challenge. Fran had to adapt to a life of football, mopeds and Xbox, while Bobby had to make allowances for Fran’s shoes, Sarah’s Brat dolls and their love of all things Disney.

Fran said, "I love Bobby for all the little things he does, like getting me the matching knife and fork that I like for my dinner, helping me finish my food when I’m full, eating the mushrooms off my cooked breakfasts and buying me Lucozade for my hangovers". Bobby said, "Fran is my soul mate. It took what seemed like an eternity to find her,  and I now want to spend eternity with her".

Fran's sister Mairi read to us from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin...

Best Man Davey and Bridesmaid Sarah did a hand fasting...

And everyone joined in speaking a blessing to the happy couple

I can't remember the last time I saw Calton Hill looking this good. Their marquee was really cool,

and just the other day, Fran sent me this lovely note, saying, "I can't help smile when I think back to the day. It was such a beautiful experience for Bobby and me, and the icing on the cake was seeing how happy all our friends and family were too.

Everyone complimented us on the ceremony, how personal and heart warming the contents were and how wonderful you were in making everyone feel part of it. Thanks again Tim for making our day just that, ours in every way".

The pleasure was entirely mine, Mr & Mrs Richardson. Thank you for choosing me to help create your perfect day!

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!