Wedding- Sarah & John

Sarah and John were married just before Christmas in Glasgow, at the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket and I’m still talking about it.  I’d been looking forward to their wedding for ages- our meetings had been a lot of fun, they both really put the effort in with their homework, the ceremony was looking pretty fine and the Fruitmarket is a really cool city centre venue.  AND John’s from Sunderland so his accent is a little lush.  AND Sarah never. Stopped. Smiling.  I’ve looked through all their photos (repeatedly, stalker-like) and Sarah is grinning, all the way through.  It’s lovely to see and it’s just amazing to be part of it all.

Three things we covered in their ceremony:

  1. Tinder
  2. Beetroot makes your pee pink
  3. There’s a relatively new Aldi in Anwick.

Can you tell that this was a fun ceremony to write?  Foiled engagement plans, love at first sight, great guns; we had it all!

We also had a band warming, a handfasting (using some very precious Harris Tweed) and, unusually, a wee jumping of the broom at the end.  Sarah’s mum and John’s son did fab readings: The Union by Robert Fulghum, which Mum read beautifully during the handfast and an excerpt from Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, which was delivered word perfect and to enthusiastic applause,

“If my like for you was a football crowd, you’d be deaf ’cause of the roar.  And if my like for you was a boxer, there’d be a dead guy lying on the floor. And if my like for you was sugar, you’d lose your teeth before you were twenty. And if my like for you was money, let’s just say you’d be spending plenty.”

Back to the jumping of the broom.  I’ve maybe had it half a dozen times but it never fails to get your guests excited, especially in a kilted wedding ‘cos you never know what you might see, mid-leap.  Some say it’s a fertility rite, others reckon it’s more a way of marrying when there’s no one to marry you.  Whatever the reasons, it’s really good fun and a bit different.  You should try it!

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This was also my first wedding with ace photographer, the bold Neil Thomas Douglas, he of the beard.  There were lots of ginger beards there that day:  Neil, The Groom, Me……

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“Dear Claire, We wanted to thank you again for being so wonderful and making our wedding ceremony certainly one to remember!  We had such a wonderful day and a big part of that was down to your care, attention to detail and, of course, humour!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Lots of love, Sarah & John”

Readings: The Union by Robert Fulghum and an excerpt from Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Music: Rhys the Piper

Photographer: Neil Thomas Douglas (cheers for letting me use all your amazing photos and not running away when I started waving a fake beard about!)

A year of weddings- what have I learnt?

It’s been a full year since I married the delightful Diane and Thomas.  And what have I learnt? 

Loads, loads, loads.

Things I quickly confirmed: my admin skills are abysmal, I have a pathological fear of double booking (but have invented a 400 point strategy to avoid it) and sleep in July is for wimps.

Perhaps more importantly for you:

It’s never to early to book your celebrant.  Fact.  

If you are getting married between May- September, regardless of how far away your wedding is, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT!! Then sit back and peruse Pinterest with impunity, smug in the knowledge that you are sorted.

And, if you are getting married between October- April, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT!  Damn it, just do it!

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People confuse Humanists with Spiritualists all the time.

Let me be clear. Humanists are fantastic, genuine, considerate and compassionate folk who would never pray on the understandable desire of the bereaved and vulnerable to speak to their much loved deceased relatives.

Spiritualists, not so much.

Weddings get HOT.  Damn hot.  

Open ALL the windows. Now.

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Folk worry about being emotionally vulnerable in front of their guests.

Dinnae worry about it.  They LOVE it.  In my limited experience, grooms are more likely to cry than brides.  I put this down to the long wait with no dizzyingly chaotic bridal party to distract them.  Groomsmen- yo need to up yo game, bruh.

Most commonly asked question about ceremonies is ‘How long does it take?’

Answer: longer than the 20 minutes on offer by some wedding venues.  Yes, The Vu, I’m looking at you.

Bridezillas are a figment of TLC’s imagination.

Bridesmaids and Mums, on the other hand, are occasionally as crazy as a soup sandwich.

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The most important thing I have learnt this year is this:

Your ceremony sets the tone for your entire wedding day.

You heard me.

If you do your homework and spend some time thinking about who to involve in your ceremony, you will be amazed what happens.  A teensy bit of effort on your part and your wedding is elevated from something lovely to something extraordinary.  Don’t take my word for it, check out what Katie’s Dad had to say….

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You really set the tone for the whole day and it carried on through the meal and the dance at night – we had an absolutely fabulous day.

See?  If Mike said it, it must be true.

I know it’s been a good day when I have to wolf whistle to get everyone back to their seats after the ‘Signing the schedule’ photo break ‘cos they are all so hyper.  I know it’s been it a good day when I’m picked up and burled round by an excitable Scouser proclaiming it’s the ‘best fookin weddin’ he’s ever been to.

And I know it’s been a good day when I get a wee email afterwards that says this,

Everyone at the wedding said it was quite simply the best they had ever attended, Louise & Chris

We had a totally perfect day and the beautiful ceremony you conducted was exactly what we had hoped for, Ryan & Angela

Thank you so much for making our wedding ceremony so amazing, Derek & Lisa

Nailed it.

Thanks, Year One Wedding Couples, it’s been a blast…..bring it on, Year Two!

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Oh blog, how I have missed you!

Dear blog,

Sorry for the lack of communication recently.  It’s not you.  It’s definitely me.  I had NO IDEA that so many people wanted married in the summer.  I don’t actually know when I thought weddings took place but it’s been nuts……

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….and beyond awesome.  Best.  Fun.  Ever.

Soon, I shall write about it all and relive the heady summer of 2015 in all its flower-crowned glory but first, there’s Empire to watch paperwork to do.

Wedding- Hannah & Ross Pt 2

I arrived at The Highland Fling and there was a definite buzz in the air.  That would be because Hannah and Ross had just arrived too and were a leeeeeetle hyper.

Ross was already dressed for the occasion and Hannah looked like she was too until she disappeared and returned…..in her wedding dress!  And she wasn’t the only one to make the effort; the bungee fellas were all ready for a wedding, kilts and everything.  It was abundantly clear to see they weren’t intending on jumping, if you know what I’m sayin’.  <nudge nudge>

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Callum, Michelle, Hannah, Ross, Lizzie, Loz

We all filled in that waiver, the one that makes you nervous, had numbers written on our hand* were secured into our harnesses and off we went in the minibus to the big bridge that towers over the River Garry.  Lovely spot of the world to throw yourself into nothingness.

Once we’d all made our way up the leg (?) of the bridge, we followed the very narrow walkway along the underside until we reached the platform suspended from the middle.  Safety checks….done.  Not looking down…..absolutely.  Just looked down…..gulp.

And that’s when it became less about the crazy-assed surroundings and all about Hannah and Ross and their lovely wedding.  And it was lovely.  They had sent me their Suffolk ceremony and, as it was so beautifully crafted by their friend, Clive, we used a lot of it when we were creating this one.  Ross and Hannah had brought with them a plaited ribbon and, with the help of Michelle, they were handfasted before they read their vows.  They rewrote the ones they said on Saturday and they said them to each other with smiles on their faces as broad as the bridge.  As a wee surprise, prior to the ceremony, Loz and Callum, two of our kilted bungee dudes, chose a reading each, and they read them beautifully.

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It was a ceremony that, for all it was in an odd location, was genuine, romantic, touching, endearing and honest.  Perfect.

I declared them married and there were HUGE cheers from the busload of German tourists standing on the banks as they spotted Hannah and Ross locking lips for a great big smooch.  They signed their marriage schedule before it was safely tucked away again and, rather than walk up the aisle, they shuffled across the platform, like Siamese penguins.  Which is odd given penguins can’t fly…..

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Unlike Ross and Hannah!  Seconds before they jumped, Hannah realised that, whilst her concerns about folk seeing her pants were very real, she had failed to take into account the effect gravity might have on her strapless dress.  ‘If my boobs all out, you stop filming!’ she instructed Callum who was videoing their wedding.  Callum, a typical young man, replied, ‘Aye. So I will.’

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And, as they jumped, all the distractions that made me temporarily forget my own impending doom, well, they all disappeared and, in their place?  Fear.  Holy crap, it’s a scary thing to be standing on the edge of an actual abyss.  It’s scarier still to jump. But it was my turn and, once I’ve said I’m going to do something, I do it so, I jumped and I opened my mouth to scream…..

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….and instead, as I hurtled through the air, I made a sound like a large cow being thrown from a bridge, a sort of ‘Mooooawwwaaaarggggghhhhhhoooooooomph’.  The gentle tug of the bungee, the one that meant I was still alive, it was glorious and comforting and not at all retina-detaching.

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Looking like Andy Warhol and Boris Johnson’s bouncing love child, I was hoisted back up and, after watching Ross jump again- aye, nutter- and shaking uncontrollably for a little bit, we clambered up and down ladders and back to terra firma and an ever-so-slightly emotional Flora.  I think she was a little worried but disguised her fear by telling onlookers that she ‘hoped her Mummy didn’t have too much fun on the bungee jump or she might forget about the Ikea Crayfish party the next day’.  Priorities, kiddo.

Cuddles all round and, after wishing the happy couple well on their epic honeymoon, I treated Andy and Flora to lunch at the Blair Atholl Watermill.  Seriously, this is one of our favourite places in the world. Go.  Eat.  Marvel at the working watermill that grinds the flour that makes the bread that we don’t share.

Hannah and Ross’s wedding was extraordinary.  They are two of the nicest, most up-for-anything people I’ve ever met and, although it all went a little bonkers after (phonecalls from journalists, BBC, ITV, my pals), they were just genuinely thrilled that they were married and they’d been able to do it they way they really wanted to.  I don’t imagine I’ll have many requests like theirs but, do you know what? Bring ’em on!

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The ‘joke’ was the numbers made mortuary identification easier. Oh, ha. Ha. Ha.

 

 

Wedding- Hannah & Ross Pt 1

Ohhhhh yes. This has been a very exciting week.

Hannah and Ross contacted HQ last year- would anyone be interested in conducting a wedding on a bungee platform?? Hmmmmm. I remember saying to them that I had never done a bungee jump but I had once fallen off a set of step-ladders (not my real ladders heh heh heh). No difference, I reckoned.

I was a little wary that some would see this as a silly wedding, a bit of a joke, but, within a few minutes of talking with Ross and Hannah, it was obvious they were incredibly sincere and just keen to have a wedding that was fun, different and reflected them. It was also to be a proper ceremony, not just the declaration, which was good to hear. They weren’t interested in publicity and had no wish for any press or photographers- I couldn’t help but like them from the off!

Over the next few months, we planned their ceremony, talked about paperwork, got excited about bungee jumping (them), resolutely blanked the idea of a bungee jump (me). Did I mention I was going to jump too?

They had a non-legal ceremony in Suffolk, on the family farm, a great big celebration, surrounded by all their family and friends. Ross said it was a truly wonderful day and, when it was all tidied away, they jumped in Kim the Campervan and headed north to the Highland Fling in Killiekrankie.

Meanwhile, Andy, Flora and I also decided to make a wee road trip of it and we had booked a couple of nights in The Roost at the Mill of Logierait. We’re quite partial to a wigwam and this one was magic. Lovely owners, fabulous views and a roaring fire. Right up our street and exactly what we needed.

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The day before the wedding, I asked Hannah if she had flowers arranged and, when she didn’t, Flora suggested she collected some from the hedgerows surrounding the farm the next morning. Quick check with Fiona (lovely owner) and off we went, secateurs in hand. Not a bad job, all in all!

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I had given the logistics of the ceremony a fair bit of thought. Flat shoes, leggings and no jewellery. My fancy pen was attached to The Clipboard of Impossible Romance with a length of bungee elastic for fear it would fall through the grille platform. The plans were to sign the Marriage Schedule before they jumped but, if it was super windy, we would do it in the minivan. Lots of thinking.

On the day, no breakfast. No wish to see my porridge twice, thanks. A short drive to Killiekrankie and we were almost ready to go……

(Pt2 to follow)

Happy blogiversary to me!

True to form, I missed my blogiversary by a whole 18 minutes.  That’s because I was too busy watching Empire.  That show has THE best cameos.

A year since my first truly memorable/instantly forgettable blog post.  I remember being absolutely chuffed that I had just created a website.  In my head, I was Tron or Weird Science or, at a push, Sneakers.  I was ready to introduce myself to the world, one strangers’ ceremony at a time……

I have celebrated the 365 days with a piece and jam and a glass of milk.  Rock n roll!!

Here’s a pic of me acting like a goon.  Again.

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Ten Years of Legal Humanist Weddings in Scotland- Hurrah!

It’s only ten years since the Humanist Weddings were legally recognised in Scotland.  In the big wide world, that’s hardly any time at all but it’s a great big milestone in the history of the HSS.  To celebrate, we all crashed Karen and Martin‘s ten year anniversary at Edinburgh Zoo.  They didn’t seem to mind too much, the food was lovely and no animals were harmed in the celebrating of this awesomeness.

Find the tallest person in the world in this picture and I’m just in front of him.  I wore day-glo shoes and decided I was the designated safety marshall.  Damn you champagne giddiness!

 

Wedding- Scott & Paula

Scott and Paula have been meaning to get married for ages and yesterday, on the sunny banks of Loch Lomond, they finally did it!  Their wedding was on a shingle beach at Milarrochy Bay near Balamaha and, for the first time in forever, the sun shone, absolutely perfect for a very informal and fun wedding.

‘They chose to be married on a beach, surrounded by water and hills, the wind (and possibly rain!) whistling in our ears because this is where they are happiest. It’s also a pretty good metaphor for their relationship- nothing is forced, it’s all very natural and easy and, individually, every element is amazing but, together, it’s something unbelievably special, breathtaking at times.’

Scott and Paula have two girls, eight year old Robyn and Grace, who’s five, and they have been involved throughout the planning and during the ceremony too.  As well as being beautiful bridesmaids, they were happy to (very loudly) give their blessing to Mum and Dad, blew bubbles for the people who couldn’t be at the wedding, in particular Paula’s late father, and, right at the end, Robyn led the toast and introduced her Mum and Dad, for the very first time as, ‘Mr and Mrs MacDonald!’

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After Scott and Paula made their vows to each other, they both made a promise to their daughters,

‘Robyn and Grace, you have always been the most important part of mum and dad’s life and we are so proud of you both. Today we are making a promise to one another. It is a promise that whatever may happen, good or bad, that we will always be there for one another.

This promise is also a promise to you.

We love you with all our hearts, and no matter how big you get or where life takes you, we want you to know that that‘s forever.’

Scott and Paul painted their names and their wedding date onto a fairly substantial wee boulder (!) which was then passed round all their guests as the ceremony went on, much like a band warming. After the bride and groom had signed their Marriage Schedule, Scott, with the Grace’s help, launched the rock into Loch Lomond, a permanent reminder of their wedding day and a really fun thing to do.

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Paula and Scott’s wedding was really special as it was a proper reflection of them and their girls. It was relaxed and fun, their guests were happy and truly delighted that their twenty year wait was finally over!

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Congratulations, Mr and Mrs MacDonald!

Things to consider if you are thinking of a similar wedding:

Shingle beaches = knackered shoes.  Anyone wearing high heels was in trouble yesterday; trying to manoeuvre over the stones was extremely difficult and the pebbles weren’t kind to the shoes either. Lots of shredded heels.

Having the permission of the Loch Lomond Rangers is not sufficient.  You MUST have requested permission from the Duke of Montrose if you want to be married on his land.  Contact the National Park for more info.

You cannot release balloons.  They might kill ducks or cause the sea plane to crash. Yes, really.

You cannot drink alcohol on the east side of Loch Lomond, not even for a toast at a wedding.

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Scott and Paula brought several bottles of completely alcohol-free fizz for a toast to close the ceremony but it wasn’t long before the police rocked up to check we were following the rules.

There are always other people on the beach.  Some are content to stand and watch your wedding from a polite distance, others actively try to photo bomb it. People are walking their dogs, traffic trundles along in the background, kids are running around screaming, dogs charge through your guests, jet-skis roar past…….  It’s never as secluded as you would like but hopefully you will be so caught up in your own moment that you don’t even notice everyone else.

Shelter and seating- we were lucky as it stayed dry but you need to have a back up plan in case the weather turns.  Also, your guests are hanging about for an hour or so; a few folding chairs never go amiss.

Lastly, when your eldest bridesmaid steps on her dress and rips it from hip to hip along the waist, don’t panic!  Speak to your celebrant.  I carry a sewing kit (amongst other things) and I am pretty nifty at emergency lochside repairs.  Same goes for balloons that suddenly require a string…..

“We have just about come back down to earth after our big day. We absolutely cannot thank you enough. Your smiley face stood out to us on the HSS website and we immediately agreed we would try and tie you down to the date. Our first meet sealed the deal for us, you’re funny, witty and warm personality was exactly what we wanted for our ceremony. None of this, however, could have prepared us for the ceremony itself. You completely blew us (and our guests away) with the delivery of ‘our words’ which you gently coaxed from us.. Every single person commented on the stunning service. Your real genius came out when you sewed up my teary 8 year old daughters bridesmaid dress which she had torn climbing a fence (why did I let that happen!). Really there are no ends to your talents. Thank you so much for everything, you contributed in more ways than one to making our day blooming perfect!”

Readings: ‘I don’t believe in marriage’ (An excerpt from the wedding toast for Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego from the film, Frida) and Carrie’s Poem (from Sex and the City)

Wedding- Ann & Ged

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I’m a great one for thinking out loud.  As we went up to Ann’s room in the Glasgow Hilton Grosvenor before the wedding, I was chatting to Bea (Head of Housekeeping and Eucharistic Minister, no less!) about Humanist weddings and how much I enjoy what I do and I wondered, aloud, if I might ever tire of doing weddings, ever find them boring. At that moment, Ann came to her door, the two of us squealed with excitement, grabbed hands and started jumping up and down like a pair of weans.

‘I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about,’ said Bea.

Fair enough.

Ann and Ged are the first local couple that I’ve married and it’s been a treat being able to pop in and see them for a coffee and be home in time for The Walking Dead.  Freakin’ love those zombies…..

Ged surprised Ann by proposing in their living room, just at Christmas past.  I think Ann had been waiting all her life to be married to her man so she didn’t hesitate.  Proposal in December, wedding in April?  Eeek! They didn’t leave much time to plan but they were clever- they were offered help by their friends and family and they took it!

Table setting

 

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Ann’s amazing colleagues, girls who she sees as family, decorated the room, tables and made all the favours, name cards and the cake.  They were also super-keen to be part of the ceremony too and, between them, they wrote a heartfelt and funny tribute to Ann and Ged, and sang their hearts out, to the tune of Wonderwall by Oasis.  It was absolutely brilliant and, to a woman, they gave it their all.

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Ann couldn’t wait to be Ged’s wife and call herself Mrs Black but, on the day, she kept him waiting juuuuuuust long enough for him, and his best man, his cousin Derek, to start sweating!

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Ged’s eldest niece, Gemma, read The Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton, a reading I thoroughly recommend if it’s being read by a child, and she adapted it a little to suit her Auntie Ann and Uncle Ged.  Amy, the younger niece, helped with the handfasting and she did it so well- a wee practice in Ann’s room beforehand helped with the nerves.

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This was my favourite kind of wedding; one where it’s small enough to engage with all the guests, both with a bandwarming and some quality chat (turns out even folk from Greenock can be offended!) It was a fab wedding, exactly how they wanted it- relaxed, personal and fun.

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Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Black!

 

Just though I’d say hello and say thank you for the lovely words you wrote about our wedding on your website, the part about us jumping up and down when i opened the door to you made me smile so much and brought back the sheer happiness of our day. 
We will never forget the ceremony you gave us.

 

Readings: A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton and Today is the Day, Author unknown

Music: Processional: First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack

Signing the Schedule: I Will, The Beatles

Retiral Music: Happy, Pharrell Williams