Sunday, 23 October 2016

Are you a Humanist?

There are lots of definitions of what humanists believe.

The Amsterdam Declaration is the best known, but when we at the CHA decided to give free membership to anyone who wants it, we decided to give a simpler definition, and here it is.

Most humanist organisations define themselves by what they're not and what they don't  believe in.

We think it's better to stand for what we do believe in. It's pretty simple.

If you think it sounds like you, please join us

You can print your card out, frame it and hang it in your hall, or you can just upload it to your social media site of choice and hang it on your wall.

Have fun, and enjoy your life: it's the only one you have!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Holly and Craig's Humanist Wedding at The Signet Library

The Signet Library is one of Edinburgh's most elegant settings for a wedding, well worth travelling half the way around the world for, as Holly and Craig did: all the way from Brisbane in Western Australia.

They did a lot of things differently right from the get go when Craig came in with his parents, followed by their wedding party and finally Holly with her parents, all to the sound of Stand Up by The Prodigy - definitely not your run of the mill wedding tune!

They  both chose to speak: after I introduced the wedding party, Craig took a couple of minutes to tell their story, and Holly read "Once in a Lifetime". They wrote wonderfully personal and original vows too.

Along with these beautifully expressive photos by Orange Lemur, Holly sent me these thoughts.

 We absolutely loved our wedding and we both feel like the actual day went perfectly.  

As a child of divorced parents, my mum always said that marriage was ‘just a piece of paper', so when Craig proposed I was more excited at the commitment to be together, and wasn’t too fussed about the actual wedding day.  

However, the actual day was so much more than I could have ever anticipated.

All the old cliches were true - ‘it’s expensive’,  ’the day goes so fast’,  ‘you never get to speak to everyone’.

But, it was an utterly perfect way to honour the 6 years we have been together, and to celebrate committing to an eternity more!  

Making our own vows was essential to our ceremony.  We didn’t feel the need to stand on tradition and instead really wanted to focus on what ‘the marriage of Craig and Holly’ was going to be about.  It felt fantastic and liberating to say everything I did in front of all our friends and family. 

Looking back, I am glad that we stuck to our guns and did our wedding exactly how we wanted. We were true to who we are, and what our marriage means to us!”

Thank you very much for everything Tim.  It was definitely the hardest homework I have done! But a fantastic exercise to dig deep!

Thanks again Holly and Craig: your ceremony has already been sent to another couple who I think will be inspired by what you chose to say and do. That's another thing I love about this way of working. You draw from it, and you give back to it. So when your time comes, dig deep, and in turn you will inspire others by your example.

Thanks again to Joanna of Orange Lemur for the lovely pics: great work!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Jacqui & Rick's Humanist Wedding at The Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh

I get to tell some great stories, but very few can match this one!
Once upon as time, way back in 1979, a frisky eighteen year-old Rick was introduced to a cute 15 year-old schoolgirl called Jacqui by her then boyfriend- we’ll call him Boyfriend #1 for now - who was a golf buddy of Rick’s. 

Much to Rick’s despair he couldn’t make a move on Jacqui because of the “Friends Code of Conduct!” Jacqui then moved onto Boyfriend
#2 who unfortunately was another of Rick's golf buddies... Are you seeing a pattern here?
The packed house was enthralled: you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
Fast forward to 2012. Rick flies home to Scotland to attend the 50th Birthday party of Boyfriend #2.  Boyfriend #1 was there too.  Jacqui wasn't, but thanks to the wonder of Facebook, a new romance blossomed and a few weeks later she found herself flying 4,000 miles to spend three weeks with a man she hadn’t seen for over 30 years. Romantic? You bet!
Let's just say that Jacqui is a brave girl. And Rick is a big hearted man. Guess who his groom's men were? That's right.  Boyfriend #2 and Boyfriend #1. It was an extremely emotional ceremony. It was also an extremely funny one, overflowing with joy and laughter.

After the vows, we were blown away by the fabulous voice of Edinburgh's Got Talent Finalist Ciara Harvie, who looks and sounds like a young Maria Callas - you don't often get grand opera at a wedding, but this one deserved it and she really was outstanding.
It was the perfect music for such a dramatic and heartfelt ceremony.
From their Caribbean honeymoon, Jacqui and Rick sent me this note:
Rick and I would like to express our huge thanks to you for conducting such a wonderful ceremony for us. It really was something special and everyone could feel the emotion in the room.

We thoroughly enjoyed it despite all the tears and our guests all said its the best wedding ceremony they had ever been to!
We couldn't have done it without you and thank you for all your guidance in helping us put the ceremony together. We can't wait to see the video so we can relive the moment again!

With our best regards, Jacqui and Rick

It was a pleasure! And when you get the video, please let me see it too! My thanks also go to my old friend Mark Bryce for these stunning shots.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Nicola and Martin's Humanist Wedding wedding at the Marriott Country Club Dalmahoy

  Oh oh. Here comes trouble...

When someone as cute as Erin is the first to come down the white carpet, you know it's going to be a good day.

I had a great time when 'The Tesco Boy' and 'The Hot Girl That Comes Into Tesco' finally made it legal.

Nicola and Martin have a lot of shared interests, including football, which means that Martin is one lucky guy!

Their ceremony was as laid back and funny as they are, and you can see from these great shots by Ross Barber how happy they both were on the day.

Nicola's sister and Maid of Honour Lynsey gave us a reading, Nicola's wee niece Erin thoroughly stole the show and then Martin and Nicola both spelled out how they felt about each other, in suitably unromantic style. The guests loved it, and so did I!

Before Martin and Nicola spoke their own vows, I asked the guests to make a promise to them.

This is something of a new idea, and for want of a better name, I'm calling it The Guest Vow.

It's a great idea because a) it makes the guests feel involved and b) it gently reminds them why they're there. They're not here just for the party: you invited them because they're all going to be an important part of your future, and you know that at some time, you will need their support.

I'm going to write more about The Guest Vow in a separate post, but drop me a line if you want to know more.

Here's what Nicola and Martin said when they sent me these pictures.

The ceremony was fantastic, we were both delighted with it. 

 You made us feel so relaxed and comfortable with the process. 

 We have had so many people compliment the ceremony, commenting how your style was great.

A few even said it was the best wedding ceremony they have been at! So thank you once again for doing such a great job on our big day.

This is the shot I said they'd never use - but I'm glad they did.

Keep laughing, you two, and making each other laugh every day!

Thanks again to Ross Barber Photography: you can see more photos from the day on his blog here

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Nicola and Derek's Humanist Wedding at Melville Castle

Next time someone asks me "What's so special about a humanist wedding?", I'm just going to ask them to read these words, written by the new Mr. and Mrs. Bellany.

"I hope you like our photos -  we love them and think the mixture of smiles, laughing and tears sums up our cememony perfectly.

Now that 3 months has past since our big day we can truly reflect on our wedding day and what our ceremony has gone on to mean for us. 

We feel lucky that our wedding vows really reflected our relationship and in the weeks following our wedding, we have both said more than once, 'remember our wedding vows'. I'm still trying to be tidier and Derek is still trying to accept my mess! 

I have a feeling this is going to be a recurring theme for our marriage, but we knew what we were getting into and honestly wouldn't have it any other way. We are imperfect people, and the fact that our vows allowed us to be imperfect, accepting of each other and happy anyway was exactly what we needed.

Literally everyone who attended our wedding commented on how personal and sincere the ceremony was. Mostly people said that it felt 'real'. 

A lot of our family and friends had never been to a humanist wedding before and were moved by how personal it was. 

Although Derek and I both knew we wanted a humanist ceremony, neither of us really knew what that would look like. 

I suppose we were a bit shellshocked with the talk of 'homework' and writing our own ceremony - after all we wanted it to be good lol.

Thank you for inspiring us into saying the things to each other that really mattered and really thinking about the things that made us fall in love. 

We got a chance to tell our story to the people who matter most in the world to us and for that we truly thank you. 

We joked, laughed and cried while writing our ceremony - which I think is the whole point - and ultimately it helped bring us closer and really take ownership of our wedding day. 

Our ceremony helped set the tone for our entire day - and to us it was perfect. 

Mr and Mrs Bellany xx

Nuff said? I think so - other than to thank Ewa Labuda for her lovely photography and to thank Nicola and Derek once again for their kind and inspiring words xxx