Thursday, 24 May 2018

Danielle and Brian's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

Danielle and Brian knew their wedding was going to be emotional. As they wrote in the introduction to their ceremony, "Photos, laughter and lots of tears are allowed throughout the ceremony, and as you will already have discovered, there are in fact tissues on your seats if need be."

They came in very handy...

Brian and Danielle were 'reversing into marriage' as I like to call it, and they came with their beautiful children, Penelope and Oscar, who said, "Mummy and Daddy, we're so proud, and we love you both so much!"

Brian is a boxer. Not just any boxer, he's a 3 time WBO champion and one of the very few people who's retained the Lonsdale Belt

Which is why I warned him when we met that he might completely lose it on the day.

I wasn't wrong. And he wasn't alone in that...

I've now married two professional boxers, as well as a few other top sportsmen, and I've noticed that they tend to be much more emotional than you might expect.

It's an interesting paradox that the men who need to be as tough as nails in their professional life are the ones who are least prepared for the impact that love has on their wedding day, but I love that!

Their friend Daniel gave a great reading of 'Rain Sometimes', by Arthur Hamilton

then Danielle and Brian did a very brave thing: they chose to tell each other why they want to spend the rest of their lives together. 

That meant we needed to have a bit of a make-up repair session...

before Brian and Danielle spoke their vows, and Oscar gave them their rings.

Amarone Music gave us a few songs as we signed the Marriage Schedule

and Kirsty gave us our last reading: 'Look to this Day', a poem from the ancient Sanskrit.

I caught up with the happy couple after the ceremony, and Brian said a rather wonderful thing. 'You're the only man who's ever made me cry!'

He repeated it again on Twitter, which was really lovely.

I'll take that compliment any day, Champ!

Thanks again for choosing me to conduct your wedding, Danielle and Brian, and thanks too to Beth Alderson for these exceptional photos.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Royal Wedding Vows

Congratulations to Meghan Markle! As the first bride who isn't promising to 'obey' her royal husband, she's made headlines around the world, as in this story from The Guardian.

It's no small thing, in the context of a traditional Church of England wedding, but it did make me smile. Since 2005, I've conducted more than twelve hundred weddings and in none of them has a bride EVER promised to obey. 

I have no idea if either Harry or Meghan has ever been to a humanist wedding, but there are quite a few elements in today's biggest wedding that look familiar to me.

The bride is choosing to enter accompanied only by her bridesmaids; the groom will wear a wedding ring, and rather than a hymn before the vows, the congregation will sing the Ben E. King classic, Stand By Me.

Of course humanist marriage is not yet legal in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, but I am confident that it's only a matter of time before it is, so it will be interesting to see, in a generation's time, what form of marriage the next generation of royals will choose.

In the meantime, I'm off to conduct the wedding of Stacey and Phil so have a wonderful day, whatever you're doing!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Blue black permanent...

One of the first things that gets drummed into you when you're authorised to conduct legal marriages is that you must ensure that the Marriage Schedule is signed in 'permanent black liquid ink'.

Fair enough you might think, but what does that actually mean? Does it mean 'indelible' ink? Indelible means a mark that cannot be removed, something that is permanent and unfading. One thing it must surely mean is that you have to use black ink, but it seems not.

This slightly obscure topic came up at our Caledonian Humanist Association celebrant meeting yesterday, when Vicki Langridge brought in her extensive collection of inks.

As you can see, she's got a few, but her question is a serious one. There are quite a lot of 'permanent black liquid inks out there' so it's a bit confusing. It was Andy McSorley who provided the intriguing answer that is best illustrated by the birth certificate of a certain George Alexander Louis of Cambridge... but it looks blue, doesn't it?

That's because it's a real ink, made from oak galls, the kind of ink used by the monks who illustrated all those beautiful mediaeval manuscripts, and artists like Leonardo da Vinci.

It's dark blue when it goes on, but the colour changes over time to a very dark grey.

If you're getting married, then the person conducting your legal wedding will bring their own fountain pen, filled with 'permanent black liquid ink', so you probably don't need to worry about it, but it's worth asking them what kind of pen and ink they are using.

If you're conducting legal weddings, then you need the one called - perhaps unsurprisingly - Registrars Ink. The only place I have managed to find it is here, at The Writing Desk. It's the one on the left in the photo of Vicki.

It's made by a company in Liverpool called Diamine, and they've been going since the late 19th century when I suspect the market for ink was a bit bigger than it is today.

Thanks to Vicki and Andy, I feel I've learned something, and I know where I'll be getting my ink in future!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Allana and David's Humanist Wedding at The Vu

I had a lovely surprise when I bumped into David and Allana, whose wedding I conducted at The Vu back in November 2015. They were guests at Serena and Gary's wedding at Carlowrie Castle last weekend, and it turns out that it was their wedding that made Gary and Serena decide to work with me...

I remember Allana and David's ceremony well. Being November, the weather up on the Bathgate Hills was atrocious: foggy, rainy, you name it. Everything you'd think that would put a dampener on a wedding, but not this one...

You can actually see the rain on the windows in the background of this shot, by Roy Wilson, but David and Allana's cloud had a silver lining.

Later that evening, Roy persuaded them to brave the storm, and he got this truly stunning shot! It's such a cracker, the VU actually asked to use it for their promotional material!

After speaking their vows and signing the Marriage Schedule, Allana and David chose to have a hand fasting, using material from David's kilt and Allana's dress to symbolise the importance of the day, and they invited their mothers to use it to 'tie the knot'.

When they sent me these photos, they said, "The ceremony was so special to us as it was our own way of expressing our life together. A lot of our guests knew the basis to the story and it was lovely to share it and see their responses to the parts they were unfamiliar with. 

We had been together 10 years and had a lot of stories to tell, so who better to tell them than us!"

I think the phrase is "Nobody does it better", Allana and David. Thanks again for getting in touch and for sending me these sensational shots!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Emma and Daniel's Humanist Wedding at Inchcolm Abbey

I love this scene-setting shot of the three Forth Bridges, by Jonathon Fowler! When Daniel and Emma decided to get married on the Isle of Inchcolm, the new Forth Crossing bridge (far left) wasn't quite finished, and I think everyone was looking forward to seeing what it looked like from the deck of the Maid of the Forth.

Getting married on an island presents quite a few practical problems. Getting the bride there at the same time as the rest of the wedding party is the first of them, so Emma and her family went aboard a good half hour before everyone else just to make sure that nobody saw the dress.

The Maid has made that trip many times since she was built in Bristol in 1989. A deceptively small vessel, she can accommodate 225 passengers as well as her crew of five. 

Emma, like all brides, got to sit up in the wheelhouse with the captain. I don't think she really steered us over there, but I could be wrong!

 The guests were duly piped aboard and we made the short half-hour crossing to Inchcolm

By then the weather had changed for the better. That old line about Scotland having 'four seasons in one day' is only a cliche because it's true!

Inchcolm Abbey was founded in the early 13th century by King David I and it's still the best-preserved collection of monastic buildings in Scotland. If you think it looks a bit like the abbey on Iona, that's because it does. Its name in Gaelic means 'Columba's Island' which explains why it's often called the 'Iona of the East'.

Carved on the stonework at the entrance to the Abbey, if you look carefully, you may find this Latin inscription. "Stet domus haec donec fluctus formica marinos ebibat, et totum testudo perambulet orbem",  which means, "May this house stand until an ant drains the flowing sea, and a tortoise walks around the whole world".

The main body of the guests disembarked first, allowing Emma and her family to follow the piper from the pier to the kirk.

The wedding itself took place in what used to be the refectory, the room where the monks ate.

Daniel and Emma chose to marry on Inchcolm because they'd found their sea legs on the Firth of Forth, qualifying as Day Skippers at Port Edgar. As Daniel had also proposed to Emma on Sandray, another tiny Scottish Island, it made perfect sense to get married on another. 

Daniel's sister Catherine gave us our first reading, a passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin, (a story that is also set on a small island, Cephalonia, in the Ionian Sea).

I told the guests the story of Emma and Daniel which involved 'bimbling', Norwegian mountains, sheep and basking sharks.

Emma's mum Kathleen gave us a lovely rendition of the Robert Burns classic, A Red, Red, Rose and then after talking about what marriage means to them, Emma and Daniel spoke their vows and exchanged rings.

I had a lovely surprise that day when I met Effie and David White, whose wedding I'd conducted at the Roxburghe Hotel back in 2012.

This was taken on my iPhone, so don't blame Jonathon for the quality of this shot, (or the following images either!)

As you can see, by the time we had to head back to the pier, the sun had got his hat on.

On the return journey, Daniel and Emma had done a very clever thing, that I would recommend to any couple who choose to get married on Inchcolm. They asked everyone to bake something and bring it with them.

The cakes - and there were lots of them - were delicious, and most welcome. The round trip to the Abbey and back is about four hours, and while the Maid of the Forth does sell teas, coffees and snacks, they're very happy if you want to bring your own.

Suitably refreshed, the piper once again led the wedding party along the promenade at South Queensferry all the way to the reception at another of my favourite venues, Orocco Pier.

Emma and Daniel sent me a lovely card the other day, and Jonathon Fowler was kind enough to share these great shots that really capture the mood of the day.

Just a note to say thank you for conducting our wedding ceremony nearly a year ago today. Thank you for your professional and expert delivery of our ceremony. We received so many compliments from family and friends, many of whom had never attended a humanist ceremony before, and expressed their appreciation of the unique and personal nature of the ceremony.

 We are grateful for the support you gave us in the preparation of our vows, and for making us both feel at ease on the day. Your delivery and encouragement made our wedding a ceremony that we will continue to cherish and we wish you continued success!

It is now just over a year since we were all together on Inchcolm, Emma and Daniel, but seeing these photographs and your kind words makes it feel as though it was just yesterday.

Thanks for the happy memories: may you create many, many more!

Danielle and Brian's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

Danielle and Brian knew their wedding was going to be emotional. As they wrote in the introduction to their ceremony, "Photos, laugh...