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".

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sally and Iain's Humanist Wedding at Prestonfield House

Not every couple really gets the way I work, but Sally and Iain did from the word go.


I remember getting this email from Sally when they'd done their homework.

I can’t wait to read through these ceremonies!  I’ve been reading your blog in every spare moment today and gathering up all the ideas I like.  Iain flies back from Ireland tonight so I’ve got everything written down to share with him when he comes in. 

At the beginning it felt really daunting to write our vows and our own ceremony, now I feel really excited that we get to say all the thing we want to say and believe in without any constraints or traditions that don’t reflect us. 


That of course was music to my ears, so I wasn't at all surprised, just delighted when they created a really moving and intimate ceremony which took place in the dramatic setting of The Stuart Room at Prestonfield House. The fabulous flowers you can see at the edge of the shot were from the doyen of florists, Thomas Maxwell.


Iain and Sally sent me these great shots by Robbie at Duke Studios, along with this lovely card.


We wanted to say a really big thank you for doing such an amazing job as our celebrant. You made our ceremony so special, personal and intimate: it was truly perfect. All our guests commented that you were so good at presenting our story, and they were so impressed by what a humanist ceremony can be like. We are so glad we picked you, and we can't thank you enough!

It was a beautiful evening wasn't it, Sally? I'm still smiling and I hope you both are too.