Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bita and Bryan's Humanist Wedding at Solsgirth House


Who remembers foam parties? Everyone should. My sources tell me that the first one was in 1932, and featured Louis Armstrong dancing, singing, and of course playing his trumpet in the short film, "A Rhapsody In Black and Blue". Fast forward 80 years to Bryan and Bita's meet-cute at the legendary Revolution Nightclub where Brian said to Bita, "Oi, do you do Biology?" covered her in foam and then walked off. And they say romance is dead!

Many painful months of flirting and not so subtle attempts by friends to sit them together in lectures paid off. A working holiday in Canada introduced them to bears (scary) and poutine (scarier) and so began their four-year long-distance relationship. Their fun-filled story, and a beautiful Persian love poem by Hafiz led us to the big moment where Bita prepared to speak her vows to Bryan.

Bita's dark, lustrous eyes were welling up… and in the distance, I could just make out the unmistakeable sound of a helicopter. Where was it going? I couldn't be sure. But we were outside. A hundred guests were on the edge of their seats, and the videographer was zooming in for his big close-up, so I made an executive decision. "Cut!" I yelled.

It was the right call. About a minute later, the helicopter passed overhead. If we'd continued, nobody would have heard a word. As it was, much joy ensued. Here's what Bita said in the lovely card she and Bryan sent me the other day.


Bryan and I would like to thank you for making our wedding such a special experience. For many of our guests it was the first Humanist wedding they had attended, and so many of them approached us afterwards to say how much they had enjoyed it, particularly as it was both personal and humorous at the same time. We could never have achieved this without your expert guidance and your very personable character. I would also like to thank you personally for helping me out when my emotions began to get the better of me,  at the beginning of my vows. Your quick thinking, and the helicopter passing overhead were most welcome! 


Thank you, Bryan and Bita - your wedding is one that I will definitely remember for a long, long time!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Carol and George's Humanist Wedding in The John Muir Grove at The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

I love what I do, and never more than when I get emails like this one from the lovely Carol and George...



I don’t think we can put into words how thankful we are that a) we decided on a Humanist wedding and b) chose you as our celebrant.  From the first time we met with you we were very sure that we had made the right decision: the Humanist values and ethos spoke to us from the moment you started talking to us.  




We have to admit to being slightly daunted at the thought of the homework but once we both got started it was one of the most therapeutic and worthwhile things we have ever done and George tells everyone he can that he thinks every couple should do this whether they are getting married, already married or in a committed relationship, it’s definitely something we plan to re-visit annually!




It was from our homework notes that we sculpted our ceremony (with some helpful guidance and tips from you) and that was where the magic really happened, being able to write our own ceremony and stand up in front of our family and friends was an emotional, beautiful and meaningful experience and every single one of our guests said it was the best wedding they have ever been to and are still talking about it nearly 6 weeks later. 


We never imagined our day would be quite as perfect as it was.  The weather couldn’t have been better and our musician friends made it the relaxed fun filled day we had envisioned, even with a couple of funny moments - Mum forgetting to give anyone my words after being told it was the most important thing she had to do when she arrived - and me not knowing my left from my right! Your helpful, “his other left hand Carol” did the trick, not to mention the fact that you had a copy of the whole ceremony to hand – disaster averted!!




 We had an amazing day and loved every second of it and are now very much enjoying married life.   I have heard people say in the past that they think they won’t feel any different or it’s really just a piece of paper but we can, without question, say that we do feel different, it’s a wonderful feeling and I think writing our own ceremony definitely had a huge impact on not only us but also our guests so thank you very much from both George and I for making our day the very special occasion that it was.

So from now, if anyone asks me "What makes a humanist wedding so special?"  on I will just refer them to you, George and Carol - it was a lovely day, and I can't thank you enough for your kind words.

My thanks too, to ace lensman Rod Irvine, who managed to steal those magic shots of George and Carol wiping their eyes, and to the delightful Jed Milroy and Mike Kearney who put their two fabulous bands together to serenade Carol and George all the way back to the reception. 


Monday, 20 October 2014

Isla's Naming Day on Witchcraig Hill


Isla's very much an outdoor girl, which is why Sue and Simon decided to hold her Naming Ceremony on Witchcraig Hill, near Torphichen in West Lothian, which is where I met all of their friends and went for a little walk.

Over the past year Isla's climbed Schiehallion 


and gone to Orkney for a fortnight in a camper van.


She's been to a Burns Supper, 


stayed in a Youth Hostel, 


swum in the sea, 


skyped her Auntie in Australia, 


fed bread to peacocks, 


stared-down a cow, 


and regularly chased the cats around the house.


She’s even been mountain biking, 
and Sue and Simon are convinced she's itching to start rock climbing. 


It was a very natural, laid back kind of day.


My favourite bit was when Simon's dad David read Isla a poem by the late great Orcadian poet, George McKay Brown, called "New Child".


I wish I could have stayed longer: the view from Witchcraig down over the Forth was spectacular even on an overcast day.

Simon and Sue sent me all these photos and this lovely note


We wanted to say thanks very much for your lovely leading of Isla's naming cermony last weekend. 

We enjoyed the day, and it was great to drag everyone to the top of a hill and see what we like doing with ourselves. Even the folk who aren't that outdoors-orientated thought it was a lovely place to have the naming, and it suited us just perfectly. 

Thanks again... and for arranging for the day to stay dry! Simon, Sue and Isla. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Alex and Sandra's Humanist Wedding at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh

I don't know why the gorgeous Sandra apologised for the delay in sending me these photos from her wedding - it was less than a fortnight ago, and we were very lucky because the John Muir Grove at the Botanics was bathed in that amazing golden light that you only get on an autumn afternoon.


Sandra & Alex first met at the Cop Shop back in '97.  Romance blossomed, the relationship grew and as Alex describes it, "the holidays got more expensive". They created a very funny ceremony, that also had its moving moments. I hope they'll send me some more photos when the official ones turn up, but in the meantime these are lovely, and I am sure you'll agree that the new Mr and Mrs Tulloch look extremely happy together!



Sandra sent me this note along with the pics. "I have noticed previously on your website many of the couples you have married say that their guests comment on how they enjoyed the ceremony and really like the fact that it is so personal and that's exactly what our guests said.  Not many had been to a humanist ceremony before and all were very impressed. 
The ceremony had just the right amount of humour and seriousness for the occasion and although we wrote it, you helped us achieve that. 

The guests were also very complimentary about your sense of humour putting everyone at ease and your professionalism. If it wasn't for the fact that nearly all of our guests were already married I think you would have found yourself very busy over the next year or so!"

Tell them to do a Renewal of Vows ceremony, Sandra - have a look at this post to see what that's all about, and thanks again for your kind words and these great photos!

   

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Joanne and Mido's engagement in Princes Street Gardens

Lots of couples 'reverse into' marriage these days. They live together, have kids and then five or ten years later decide to make it legal: it's almost the new normal, and it made me wonder how many reverse into their engagements too? 


I'm looking forward to conducting the wedding of Joanne and Mido next April, so I was pleased to get an email just the other day keeping me up to speed with their busy lives. Joanne's started a new job; they've moved house, and they're off to Australia for her sister's wedding at the end of next month, so it's non stop! Joanne said, "As you know, when we came to see you in January, we'd already started to plan the wedding before Mido had actually officially proposed, because we needed to wait and get the ring"




"Mido officially proposed to me in Princes Street Gardens in April, so I've attached a few wee pics for you that I thought you'd like to see. 



He got a bagpiper to play as he took his shirt off  for me, got down on one knee to reveal a t-shirt that said 'Joanne will you marry me?'


How cute is that? And how happy they look!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Donna and Graham's Humanist wedding at Marlyn's Wynd

There's usually a good four month gap between the wedding and me blogging about it, but this has to be a record. I married Graham and Donna four YEARS ago! It was meeting them at Kevin and Lindsay's wedding at the Hub last Christmas that brought them right back to mind.


Marlyn's Wynd is one of the city's cutest wee venues. It "went dark"for several years after Donna and Graham's wedding, but it's now back and being run by the wonderful Rowan family who have made such a success of The Caves just down the road. It was the perfect place for an intimate, family wedding.


Graham and Donna met at work, and after Graham eventually summoned up the gumption to get the conversation started, they soon bonded over setting the world to rights over lunchtime. After a lightbulb moment on Graham's part, a trip to the many pubs in York that have both real ale and real fires, they finally became engaged on Lokrum, a little island in the Adriatic that looks over to a very different walled town altogether, Dubrovnik.


I particularly liked what they said about what marriage means to them. "Marriage is not something we would consider lightly but it has never has been something that we HAD to do before we died. Our view is that once you meet someone special, it’s important to create a history together before you can think about building a future. So, we're here today content in the knowledge that we have done that, and can look back on our shared past as a base on which to build a future that we hope will be every bit as good as – if not better than - the story so far". So it was a lovely surprise to bump into them at The Hub, where I grabbed this snap of how they look today.



I'm pleased to see that even though Graham is now going to my hairdresser,  Donna looks every bit as lovely now as then! This was the note they sent me all those years ago, which I'm humbled to share with you now.

We'd just like to thank you once again for the ceremony on Saturday.  It ended up being everything that we wanted and more, and the way you conducted things played a major part in that, which we really appreciate.

We had guys coming up to us afterwards saying they were moved to tears and let's face it, that doesn't really happen at many weddings - they're usually just wondering when they can start drinking!  We think that this is another example of the Humanist approach being able to strike chords that religious ceremonies simply cannot. So anyway, thanks again for everything and all the very best. Graham and Donna x

Not at all G&D - it was a pleasure, and I hope we meet again in less than another four years!

Things to think about if you don't want a rehearsal

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, rehearsals aren't mandatory, but they're a good chance to work out what happens when and who does what.



I first met Julie and Dougie at a wedding fair at The Corn Exchange last November, and I remember we got on like a house on fire. They're getting married at one of my favourite venues, Orocco Pier next month, and for various reasons they aren't able to have a rehearsal.

Instead they asked me a whole bunch of questions, which of course I was happy to answer, but as I thought the whole Q&A might be helpful, I asked them if I could share them with you here. They of course said yes, so there you go - please let me know if they help you too.

Just for clarity: my responses are IN CAPS, and Julie's answers to my responses are in red and in bold

We have opted not to have a rehearsal , only because trying to get everyone together the week of the wedding will be impossible.  I am sure between the 3 of us, we can make this look very professional !! J  We are not doing anything complicated. 

TRUE AND I WILL COME TO SEE YOU BEFORE YOU COME DOWN TO FUSCHIA JUST SO YOU AND THE BRIDESMAIDS KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING WHEN YOU COME IN AND WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BOUQUET, ETC. – GREAT – THANK YOU, LOOK FORWARD TO YOU CALMING ME DOWN!!! J

I will write up the cards with our declarations on them for Dougie to pass to  you at the wedding, so that you can hold them at our respective shoulders during that particular part of the ceremony. 

GOOD. 
TRY TO LAY THEM OUT LIKE A POEM, 
CENTRED, 
SO THAT THE LINE BREAKS 
WHERE THE SENSE BREAKS
AS YOU'VE GOT IT IN THE CEREMONY
WILL DO TIM - THANKS

Our plan is that as guests arrive in Fuchsia, Lewis (our Usher & Dougie’s son ) will hand out our Order of the Day’s to guests as they come in. OK

Is there a particular side family should sit on – or can they just sit wherever?? 
I SUGGEST YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY SITS ON THE LEFT AND DOUGIE'S ON THE RIGHT – NOTED, THANK YOU

Will/Should Dougie and his Best Man will be at the front standing with you when  guests arrive??   
NO - THAT'S THE LAST PLACE I WANT THEM TO BE, BECAUSE IT PUTS ADDITIONAL PRESSURE ON THEM AS THEY WAIT FOR YOU TO ARRIVE. THE GUESTS TEND TO START SITTING DOWN 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE OFFICIAL START TIME, SO MY ADVICE TO ALL GROOMS IS TO WAIT TILL FIVE MINUTES BEFORE KICK OFF, THEN WE CAN ALL GO IN, STAND AT THE FRONT AND WAIT FOR YOU TO TURN UP... – THAT’S GREAT THANK YOU FOR CONFIRMING – IT WILL BE DOUGIE, HIS BESTMAN & BROTHER, STUART AND OUR USHER AND DOUGIE’S SON, LEWIS

It is at this time he will pass to you the cards I have written up with our declarations (unless he speaks to you before this, then he can give it to you then along with the Marriage Schedule) – pink cards will be for me reading to Dougie and the blue cards are for Dougie reading to me.  
IF HE GIVES THEM TO ME WHEN I TURN UP I WILL MAKE SURE THEY ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACES – I WILL LEAVE THIS IN DOUGIE’S CAPABLE HANDS J

Once all the guests are in, then Lewis will join Dougie and Stuart at the front with you.  
Please advise – during our ceremony is it normal for the Best Man and Usher / Bridesmaids  to sit down in the front row or do they stand throughout the whole ceremony??? 

I'D HAVE THEM STANDING  BECAUSE - IF YOU CONSIDER THE INVESTMENT IN HAIR MAKEUP AND WARDROBE ALONE - THEY ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE SHOW. BUT IT'S YOUR CALL, AND DOUGIE CAN TELL ME WHAT YOU'VE DECIDED ON THE DAY – PERFECT  - THEY CAN ALL STAND DURING THE CEREMONY


Then once everyone is in and we are good to go, my Maid of Honour Tracey will come up the “aisle” first, followed then by Emma and then it will be myself with my Dad (Allan). Once we are at the top – do I pass my flowers to my Maid of Honour or do I hold on to these until we are exchanging our rings??  
HANG ONTO THEM TILL IT'S TIME TO SWAP RINGS – PERFECT , THEY CAN HIDE MY SHAKING HANDS!!!

We are really looking to be guided by you here – we weren’t sure if we were could/should be holding hands throughout the ceremony???  

AGAIN I WOULD SAY NOT. THERE'S AN ELEMENT OF RITUAL IN A MARRIAGE CEREMONY WHERE YOU START OFF SEPARATE BUT LOOKING AT EACH OTHER, THEN YOU GET TO HOLD HANDS AND SPEAK YOUR VOWS AND FINALLY YOU GET TO KISS. 

SO OF COURSE YOU CAN HOLD HANDS ALL THE WAY THROUGH, BUT YOU MIGHT THINK THAT HAVING THAT LITTLE SEPARATION AND EVENTUAL COMING TOGETHER IS MORE EXCITING. 

I DON'T KNOW, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, SO YOU DECIDE TOGETHER AND TELL ME!  HAPPY TO GO WITH THE TRADITIONAL – START OFF SEPARATE, THEN HOLDING HANDS FOR VOWS ETC

With regard to our wedding rings. We would like Dougie’s children to carry the rings for the ceremony (on small ring cushions).  When it comes to the giving of the rings, Lewis will have my ring to pass to his Dad or to yourself -  please confirm.  Then Emma will have her Dad’s ring to pass to me or yourself – again please confirm?

I'D SUGGEST THEY COME UP AND STAND BESIDE ME SO THAT YOU CAN EACH TAKE A RING ONE AT A TIME WHEN IT'S YOUR TURN TO PUT IT ON YOUR PARTNER'S FINGER – BOTH EMMA AND LEWIS ARE PART OF THE BRIDAL PARTY SO WILL BE STANDING UP AT THE FRONT WITH US ANYWAY DURING THE CEREMONY

We are going to check with Lynda and Jamie to see if they would be comfortable enough to come up to the front to make their readings – hopefully they will be.  Is this the norm, for people to come up to the front? 

YES, THEY SHOULD COME TO STAND WHERE I AM AND I WILL GET OUT OF THE WAY.

 TELL THEM THEY CAN USE THE VERSION OF THE READING THAT'S IN MY CEREMONY IF THEY LIKE BECAUSE IT'S EASIER TO HOLD SOMETHING QUITE SOLID WITH BOTH HANDS, THAN A SINGLE SHEET OF WHITE PAPER IN ONE TREMBLING ONE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN... WE WILL LET THEM KNOW THIS - THANKS

Apologies for all the questions, but not having been to many weddings of late, I am not sure what the best etiquette is?? 

IT'S GOOD OF YOU TO ASK, BECAUSE THESE ARE ALL THE ISSUES WE USUALLY DEAL WITH AT A REHEARSAL, SO IF IT'S OK WITH YOU, CAN I POST AN EDITED VERSION OF THE CONVERSATION ON MY BLOG? X YES OF COURSE!

Was that useful? I hope so. Please share it with your friends if it was.