Can’t sleep

Needs to be a good reason for me not to be sleeping. It takes a lot stop me boarding the train to Bedfordshire or whatever people who like cricket would say. Tonight’s reason is September. It’s giving me The Fear.

Can you not sleep either? Don’t let my September trouble you. It won’t keep me awake much longer and anyway, September will be here whether I’m ready or not* and it will happen and it will be feckin’ marvellous.

Just like your wedding. And if your wedding is in September, even better.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of me, taken a hundred years ago when I was about four. If you look closely, there are biscuit crumbs on my jumper, a statement that has been true every day of my life since.

G’night!

*Always ready. Born ready. Biscuits help.

Wedding – Claire & Stephen

I like to blog in a timely manner.  It’s important to be relevant.  That’s why I’ve waited a WHOLE YEAR to blog about Claire and Steve and their tremendous winter wedding at The Lodge on the Loch on the 21st November last year.  Great at weddings, useless at blogging.

Steve spent their first date grinning goofily and not really understanding what Claire was saying.  Claire just kept talking regardless and time passed and lo, they got married!  It was a great big, everyone’s invited kinda wedding- Steve and Claire booked out the entire hotel, filled it with their very excited pals and, as parties go, this one was tough one to leave.  Nearly didn’t.  Nearly went home with them to London.

Their ceremony was full of lovely moments including a band warming that started with Steve’s Dad, Richard, and ended with Sebastian and Ethan (super-nephews) polishing the rings on their kilts to make them shiny again.  Then Claire and Steve’s mums lit the first two candles on a Unity candle, a nice touch and a great way to include two very important women.  As for their handfasting, aaaaw man!  This pair chose to use one of Steve’s ties and a piece from Claire’s dress but not just any old tie or dress, oh no.  They used the dress and tie that they wore on their first date.  All.  The.  Heart.  Eyes.

I wasn’t sure I would ever find someone as caring, wonderful and inherently good to share my life with, who understands my quirks, calms me when I need it, and supports me in all I do.

I’ll be eternally grateful that we found one another.

Something that was obvious was how relaxed their guests were.  This was a three day party and the wedding fell right in the middle so everyone had been hanging out together and, by the time I arrived, they were all pals.  Cue the tall humanist woman trying to be part of the gang.  As atmospheres go, this one was buzzing even before the Bold Colin Lawrie started blawin’ all that hot air.

Add to the mix an usher called Tudo-rhymes-with-Judo, some lovely readings read by lovely voices (sucker for an Irish reader) and the best vows and it was a spectacular wedding.

I will always be your safe place and I love you more and more as every day passes.

I spent much more time than I should have having a good nosey at all the gorgeous photos courtesy of Paul Walker Images but just look how much Claire and Steve love each other!  Absolutely brilliant day and happy anniversary, Mr and Mrs Aldous!

Colin Lawriering-polishinglaughing-c-sdelightedguestsunity-candle-c-sfireworks

 

Music- Colin Lawrie making a tuneful racket and Pharrell’s Happy for skipping back up the aisle

Readings – The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach, The Union by Robert Fulghum and The One (Poet unknown)

 

VIP (Very Important Paperwork)

Here’s a thing.  I thought it might be useful if you knew what happened on your wedding day, prior to your ceremony starting and guess what?  There’s no one way.  You’re all very different.  You are all individuals <insert Life of Brian quote here>.

One thing that never changes- your Marriage Schedule.  You’ve submitted your M10 forms and supporting paperwork, one (or both) of you has collected the Schedule from the Registrar local to your venue a couple of days before your wedding and it’s barely been out of your sweaty hands since.

When I arrive at your wedding, I have a good scout* around for someone clutching a very official-looking envelope and I take it from them and I check it and I tuck it away in my folder and I smile and say, ‘There SHALL be a wedding today!’ and choirs sing and bells ring in glorious chorus and folk drop to their knees in elation.  Or something like that.

or

When I arrive at your wedding, I have a good scout* around for someone clutching a very official-looking envelope and, instead, I see queasy, grey-faced blank stares.  No marriage schedule.  It’s lost, forgotten, a dog ate it, it spontaneously combusted, it Evanesco’d, it’s an ex-schedule (what’s with the Python references tonight?).

Whatever.  Find it.  If you don’t find it, yo wedding is a bust.  It’s a very expensive party for some very grumpy people and the only saving grace is that your Mother-in-law, the one giving you the hardest, longest I’m-going-to-kill-you stare, isn’t actually your Mother-in-law BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MARRIED.

So, for the love of All Things Dull and Ugly, remember your effing Marriage Schedule.

 

* Here’s a good scout, my friend and colleague, Jennifer.  With a owl.  Not a parrot.

good scout

Wedding- Ryan & Angela

I’m sure you’ve realised by now that a Humanist wedding is an opportunity for you to have the wedding of your dreams. Some people’s dreams are traditional, others less so and the wonder of our ceremonies is that that’s fine, in fact, it’s encouraged. You choose. It’s your wedding.

Themes for weddings are common, THEMED weddings less so.

On my first meeting with Angela and Ryan, we gently chatted awhile until Angela paused, leaned forward and said, ‘How do you feel about a Doctor Who themed wedding?’

Well!!

Naturally I felt just fine, especially when they told me that Dr Who brought them together. Not in an ‘actual time travel’ kind of way but in a ‘both mad Whovians and met at a Convention’ turn of events.  They knew what they wanted and that was a wedding that was elegantly geeky and truly reflected who they were.  I think you’ll find that’s what we HSS celebrants do…..

In their wedding we covered how they got together with expedience and urgency took a hundred years to stop man-flirting and start snogging, how the proposal ended with “[sitting] under the stars, on a bench in the car park, drinking alcohol that neither of them particularly liked, listening to the sounds of the neds leaping off the pier” and how special the wedding rings were.  Yes, I know, all wedding rings are special but these ones were handcrafted by Angela and Ryan (and Angela’s son) from bits of jewellery donated by their mums.  And they were “currently resting on your ring bearer’s plunger”. I kid you not.  Best line in a wedding ever.

Witnesses?  An actual doctor and a (sometimes) pretend Doctor’s assistant.

Vows?  Oh yes.  Written by themselves and including the line “Your reliable, confident, constant friend and favourite Companion”  

Symbolic gestures?  A dinky wee handfasting with a dinky wee tardis charm to bring us luck.

handfasting ribboncranes2 cardiscranes shoes plunger

When it comes to themes, you can go all out and that works….as long as you commit. Don’t be half arsed- do it like these super-cool Biffy Clyro fans. Share the love.

Alternatively, reflect your passion with subtlety and clever touches* (and a few props that even normals will recognise) and enjoy your day being a little different and very much all about you.

“Thank you so much for the work you did on conducting our ceremony at the end of August. We had a totally perfect day and the beautiful ceremony you conducted was exactly what we had hoped for. We knew the first time we met you that you were the one for us and you didn’t disappoint!

My father was pretty upset that you seemed to have stolen his ENTIRE speech. He really did explain this when it came to his turn to speak and just said “ditto”. It is good to know that our ceremony reflected us so well that it echoed the words used by someone that has loved me for my entire life (& for months before).

As a lovely story to come from the day, some relatives decided it was innappropriate for them to attend a Humanist ceremony and declined our invitation. Ryan’s Godfather was concerned that maybe he should not attend and consulted 4 Catholic priests and a BISHOP! He was told that he was ORDERED to go – “love is love and should always be celebrated in all of its forms.” (as long as he didn’t participate in any rituals)

I would not hesitate to reccomend a Humanist ceremony to everyone I know and a few people have even been asking questions about Humanism in general which can only be a good thing! We will also continue to sing your praises every time we remember our most special day.

Thank you again.

Mr & Mrs H”

Readings:  Excerpt from Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Music: Their friend, Zoe, played the flute and it was lovely
* Angela folded a thousand cranes to bring them luck. The patterned paper she used was the Exploding TARDIS.  When she wasn’t folding cranes, she stuck a squillion TARDIS coloured crystals on to her shoes.

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!

HandfastLaughing Sarah&John swoon 584 laughing againlushSarah&John happy happySarah&John broom jumping (edit)

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……

Beards

“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!)

Symbolic Gestures- Band Warming

A nice way to involve your guests, particularly with a small to medium sized wedding, is to have a Band Warming at the beginning of your ceremony. I like to suggest the oldest or youngest person in the room starts it, especially if the couple have children or grannies, but it can start with anyone.

Whoever has the wedding rings holds them in their hands for a few moments, just long enough to warm them a little and, as they do so, think of all the hopes and dreams they have for the couple. Once they’ve finished, they pass them on to the next person and so on. Eventually, the rings make their way all the way round the room, back to the best man in time for the vows and declarations.

It’s an easy inclusion in your wedding and needs very little more than the rings you already have. I always suggest that you put the bands in a wee bag rather than leave them loose. If they are enclosed in a bag and the bag is dropped, no harm done. If the rings are loose and they are dropped, that could be a disaster, especially if you are outside.

It also prevents people putting them on their own fingers and then discovering they can’t get them off! I don’t mind telling people I used to be a funeral director and I can remove ALL jewellery with ease. That normally gets them trying a little harder…..

 

Clementine Weddings c/o Etsy

E & A Heritage c/o Etsy

PieceLovePaper c/o Etsy

 

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, the key to a successful wedding is involving other people. Perhaps you know a talented cross-stitcher who could work with your pal who is good at drawing, between them creating something very special? The knowledge that someone took the time and effort to make this for your wedding day is just priceless. It’s a little like when you see a new baby in a hand-knitted cardigan; you know that wee baby is loved, don’t you? Just like that.

You don’t have to use a bag. Ring cushions are a more traditional option but there is the risk that, for fear the rings work their way loose, they are tied too tight. I always carry scissors for that very emergency but I’m not mad keen on ring cushions. It would be alright if it was frog-shaped though, even if that frog did look a little, erm, peeved.

 

brideandgroomdirect.co.uk

 

You can also use ribbon to tie them together, perhaps adding a label with some short instructions or, if you are a keen climber, what about a carabiner?

rings

www.raynamcginnisphotography.com

 

Or maybe you could make a tassel keyring using material with meaning- the t shirt worn when you first met, a tie from the university you both attended, a piece of mum’s wedding dress……

 

mypoppet.com.au

 

Or you could tie them to an appropriate book….

 

burnettsboard.com

 

Or, for something a little different……

 

besenseless.blogspot.com

 

….or forego handing them round and catch your guests on the way in.

 

Kelly & Justin c/o Offbeat Bride

For other suggestions have a look at here or here.