Friday, 23 June 2017

Jaclyn and Stuart's Humanist Wedding at The Vu

Stuart and Jaclyn first met at an NME Nominees gig in Glasgow, but it took Stuart a while to win Jaclyn's heart because she thought he was 'too sensible'! She also had to get over his fondness for Take That, but he got there in the end... via the university email system!

Their first date was to see Madagascar 2... despite the movie choice, Jaclyn had butterflies in her tummy all night. Over the next few years their relationship developed to the point that Jaclyn moved in on Stuart by stealth, one possession at a time! 

After their big holiday to Florida, they bought a house, but it was a complete wreck, and they were so hopeless at DIY all Stuart's dad Alex would let them do was mop the floor. 

Stuart's proposal was one of the most original I've heard in a while. The ring arrived at breakfast time, along with two apple turnovers. Jaclyn said, “I enjoy every moment I spend with Stuart, and can't wait to make more memories with him in the future!”

The day before the wedding, Jaclyn sent me this message. "I am a bit worried about getting so nervous talking in front of so many people that I tongue twisted in my vows - is there anything you can recommend so I don't?"

I said, "just breathe deeply and enjoy the excitement!" It must have worked because along with these photos, Jaclyn said, "We would just like to thank you for all your help in preparing our wedding and conducting our ceremony.  It was absolutely perfect - so many people have told us how lovely it was and so personal to us." 

"It was definitely my favourite part of the day -  and I am so glad I never cried haha!"

"We have just watched the DVD that Billy Graham filmed for us and it was so nice to relive the moment again!"

"We are so glad we had you as our celebrant and will be recommending you to all of our friends and family that get engaged! Thanks again for everything, hopefully we get to meet you again soon!"

I hope so too, Jaclyn! Many thanks to Mark Timm for his photos - you can see more on his blog here

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Rosa and David's Humanist Wedding at Seton Collegiate Church

Seton Collegiate Church is one of my favourite places to conduct a wedding, not least because Lesley Peebles-Brown who looks after it for Historic Scotland is such a calming and reassuring presence. David and Rosa chose it because it's not far from Edinburgh where they live and it's also close to North Berwick, one of their favourite getaways, where David had proposed on a starlit beach the year before.

I loved the musical intro to the ceremony: it was Pachelbel's Canon, which is a very familiar tune, but one I'd never heard played by a brass band! David plays with the wonderful Dalkeith & Monktonhall Band, who played them into the church.

Being geologists by training, they love the great outdoors, so they asked Rosa's sister Annie to read this beautiful poem by Ann MacLeod: it's called 'There Will Be No End'

There will be no end to the joy, my love. 
We will stand together as the stars 
sweep the Cuillin rounding into morning 
the bright new morning of the tender heart. 

And where we sing the song will be a fine one 
and where we dance our steps will never fail 
to tap the springs of life of love and laughter 
timeless as stars the wheeling circling stars 
that dance and sing and sing and dance again 
and there will be no end to the joy

When they spoke their vows, they chose my preferred route, which is to say that they spoke directly to each other: it's always a powerful moment.

And as well as these pics from the lovely Caro Weiss, they sent me these words.

Thank you once again for conducting our ceremony.  It was perfect! 

We've had so many guests say how much they enjoyed the ceremony and that they felt a much greater connection to it because it was so personal and heartfelt.  

Thank you for all your help and guidance in preparing for the ceremony, and of course for delivering it so wonderfully.  

The process of doing the homework and then writing the ceremony was really a fantastic way to reflect upon our relationship and take stock of where we were and where we wanted to go, and both of us really took a lot away from that experience, so thank you again.

It was a very moving ceremony - as you can see from the many many photos on Caro's blog here - and the guests loved it: she's got a lot of really good shots of their reactions and I've rarely seen a happier crowd.

Thanks for sharing this with me, David and Rosa: I hope life continues to be wonderful and that you'll continue to enjoy cycling and walking through Scotland together for many years to come.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Lisa and Austin's Humanist Wedding at Houstoun House

It's always a joy when teenage sweethearts tie the knot, but Lisa and Austin had more reason to celebrate than most. Their story started at school where, in an area of the playground populated by the ‘Goths’, Lisa spotted Austin through a sea of dyed black hair.

His opening words, 'Hola señorita' reduced her to a giggling mess, while his email asking,‘will you be my girlfriend… or whatever’ was the answer to her dreams. For five years, everything seemed to be going fine, but then they came crashing down from Cloud 9 when Lisa was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer. 

She found herself in hospital through the worst weather of the winter. Austin visited her every day. One day the snow was so deep, the official advice was not to travel unless absolutely necessary, but Austin was determined to see her. He abandoned his car, walked through the snow and waited hours for a train. Amazingly one showed up and he made it to Lisa's bedside. 

When he walked in, Lisa just glowed with happiness. As they said in their ceremony, "In this moment they both realised how much they needed each other for strength and happiness. Austin was inspired by her strength through the chemotherapy and Lisa fell in love with him all over again, as he made her smile laugh and feel beautiful everyday."

As Lisa said in her message to me, "It really was the most perfect ceremony. I still feel like it was a bit of a dream! We were so lucky with everything, from finding you as our humanist, to how brightly the sun was shining for us on a spring day." 

"I'll never forget seeing Austin's face, all blotchy and red from crying the moment we saw each other."  

"How proud I was to have my dad walking beside me, despite his recent diagnosis of MS, and looking at all the happy faces of our friends and family as you read our story of how Austin and I fell in love." 

It was an exceptionally smiley, happy day! I loved the way Austin came down the aisle with his mum and dad. I loved how he and Lisa involved their friends, Claire, Gavin, Robert and Rachael, who all wrote their own secret contributions, and I loved Lisa's brother Danny's reading of an excerpt from their favourite book, The Hobbit.

In their vows, both Austin and Lisa said, "I promise to work with you to make the best of whatever life throws at us." It's a phrase many couples say, but that day, it had more meaning than most.

As Lisa also said,"It was everything I could have hoped for. We've been through a lot as a young couple, so to have a perfect day like that was the best gift we could ever get." 

Thank you again for keeping me calm and making us smile so much on our wedding day." 

It's just over a year since their marriage at Houstoun House, but what I remember more than anything else is just how happy Austin and Lisa were, and how that made their guests enjoy it even more.

Lisa said, "Our family and friends are still telling us it's the best ceremony they have been to, so personal emotional loving funny and relaxed. You read our words beautifully, understanding our humour and love for each other in the most respectful way. 

We may be a young couple but have been through a lot so after everything giving us this dream ceremony to celebrate our love for each other was the greatest gift! 

So thank you Tim you will always be a part of our most special day and we thank you for making it everything we wanted."

I'm just glad you chose to make me a part of it, Lisa! Thank you again for your very kind words, and thanks to Dan and Matt of Fern Photography for these photos. You can see more of them on their blog here 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Do you sleep next to your promises?

Jeanette Winterson is a writer whose work I've long admired. She's gay, and she was always against the idea of getting married because, as the sub-headline in her Guardian article says," Why conform to patriarchal ideas of monogamy?"

She's clearly changed her mind, because she has just got married, and I really liked her vows. 

I promise to look at you and always see you.
I promise to listen to you, 

even when you say things I don’t want to hear.
I promise to respect you: the you that is you; 

the you that is not me; the you that is not us.
I promise to stand by you in the world.
I promise to delight in you.
I promise to treat you like a Jewish princess.
With my body, with my mind, 
with my heart, with my imagination, 

I promise to love you for as long as I live.

As she says, "These were my promises, not someone else’s idea of what I should promise, and so they have real meaning for us both. 

Later I had the calligrapher Stephen Raw write them out. They hang on our bedroom wall. When I am in a good mood, or a bad mood, I read them out loud, and, for different reasons, depending on my mood, they steady me". 

I was very touched by this, not least because our vows hang on our bedroom wall too, and like Jeanette, I sometimes read them out loud, for the same reason. 

When you get married, especially if you are speaking your own vows from cardsdon't just shove them into a keepsake box - use them in some way. 

What have you done with yours?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Distinguished Guests...

We all like to get dressed up for a wedding, and I was really impressed when I saw these gentlemen at Edinburgh Castle, where I was conducting the wedding of Mati and Kenny the other day.

Mati hails from Spain, and her father is a member of La Fundación de la Orden de la Bienaventurada Virgen María de la Merced - or in English, the Order of Our Lady of Mercy - as are many of his friends.

They don't do things by halves there, and all the men were wearing full evening dress, white tie, and medals: I felt distinctly underdressed by comparison!

This photo was taken and sent to me by Clarissa Reyes, who thanked me for  'a memorable ceremony'. I think that's diplomatic language for 'I liked it'  - ciertamente, lo espero, Clarissa!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Can you spare 15 minutes?

The lovely people at the Scottish Wedding Directory came round this morning to do a Live Facebook Chat: as a former producer and director, it was fascinating to see what you can do with just an iPhone,  a tripod and a microphone.

Whether what I had to say about what makes humanist weddings so special is equally fascinating, I'll leave you to judge. But do let me know.

You can join in the Facebook chat on the SWD page here: feel free to ask a question!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Speaking from the Heart

What language does your heart speak? 

More and more I find it's not English.
But that's not a problem.

One of the good things about getting married in Scotland is that the ceremony can be conducted in any language, as long as all parties (including the celebrant) understand what's being said. 

You can read more about that on the Registrar General of Scotland's site here.

That's why I was very pleased last week to see these 'Vow Cards' from my bride and groom in Spanish and English: it meant they could both say exactly what they wanted to each other in the language where they felt most at home.

I'm looking forward to writing more about this ceremony in the future, but in the mean time, thanks to Mati and Kenny for letting me use this photo.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Anne and Wullie's Humanist Wedding at Eskmills Venue

Anne and Wullie's wedding was memorable for lots of reasons, and not just because they were my FIRST EVER Tinder wedding! 

Wullie chose a perfect place for their first date: the fabulous Cocoablack in Peebles, recently named UK Confectioner of the Year. He's still convinced that Anne drove past a few times to check him out before checking in!

They had what the French call 'un coup de foudre' - a real whirlwind romance.

It was just six weeks after their first hot chocolate that Wullie got down on one knee at The Scott Monument, and Anne said yes!

Wullie's 91 year old mum, Olive, was delighted (but she told Anne not to pay Wullie too many compliments in case he got a big head!) 

Anne's niece Nicola spoke, as did Wullie's older sister Mary, and his pal Kenny, and Anne's friend Jennifer gave the final reading. 

Before Wullie and Anne exchanged their vows, I asked their guests to make some collective promises to them - not least to tell them that if they forget their promises and start to complain about the wee things, they're eejits!

It was a very heart-warming ceremony, and I think these photos show just how much Anne and Wullie enjoyed it.

Anne wrote me a lovely review on the Scottish Wedding Directory site, saying, 

"Just wanted to say... on behalf of my husband and I !!! Saturday was the best day!

The ceremony was so good, and we loved every minute. You were fantastic and everyone commented on how great it was and that they'd never been to a wedding like it. Thank you for making it special."

Well what really made it special Anne was that you and Wullie wrote it: that was what made it so special for you, and for your guests and for me too. 

Thank you so much for sharing these lovely photos by Cliff and Gordon, and I hope you and Wullie have a great time racing around on his motorbike!

Jaclyn and Stuart's Humanist Wedding at The Vu

Stuart and Jaclyn first met at an NME Nominees gig in Glasgow, but it took Stuart a while to win Jaclyn's heart because she thought...