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!)

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.

resized flowers

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….

k & p1

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!

resized PicMonkey Collage

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)

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?

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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.

Wedding- Lizzy & Fee

Largs is (normally) a sunny little place, home to legendary ice-cream, fish and chips and, erm, Vikings. Today it was host to Lizzy & Fee and their extremely excited guests- these girls are just ADORED by all their pals. Everyone was in such a good mood for their wedding and the room was buzzing as they waited for the brides to arrive.

Marion at the Brisbane House Hotel was totally in charge, which was just as well because I was too busy being a goon.

me being a goon (2)

Fee and Lizzy’s ceremony was full of funny moments, honesty and shared dreams. They asked their friends Fraz and Barbara to choose readings, one they knew about and one that Barbara kept secret ’til the day.

Fraz (2)

Fee and Lizzy were a lot of fun, and they entertained their guests with the story of how they met (in in the toilets of Polo), how they went on a date to play pool and it all went a little weird (Lizzy’s nerves) but how everything came right on the next date, a day (and night) of singing and laughing and chasing after a rapidly shrinking train.

the vows (2)

 “Fee and Lizzy could have continued to just live together but, for both of them, marriage is about making that commitment to each other and being with the person who they can’t live without, not just as their partner but as their wife.  Marriage is about building a family and a life with their best friend, about knowing that they are meant for each other and that they won’t give up when times are hard, they will always get through it, together.”

The importance of family, present and passed, was a strong theme for both girls. The candle in the background was lit in remembrance of those who were sorely missed from the wedding and the rings they exchanged held very special significance too.  In addition, Lizzy’s bridesmaid, Mandy, had given her the most thoughtful gift- three framed photos to hang from her bouquet so Lizzy could have everyone near her.

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I’m afraid I played a mean trick on Fee and Lizzy.  Throughout their story, there was a recurring phrase, ‘Go on, you know you want to!’.  It led to their first proper kiss and then, a few years later, to their engagement.  It was also shouted out loud by all their guests immediately after I declared them married and asked if they would like to share their first kiss as a married couple!  Brilliant!

the kiss (2)

“When I asked you what you hoped for your future together, you both said the same thing- to continue to be surrounded by friends and family and in the future, to one day have a family of your own, to have a lifetime of love.  Most importantly, you just want each other to be happy.”

There was such a sense of anticipation for the Wedding of the Year and, although they were both nervous, Lizzy and Fee radiated happiness and love and everyone was right there with them.  It was obvious that this was just the beginning of a tremendous day for them all and, if the wickedly blue cocktails that were waiting as they left were anything to go by, the night time was going to be an absolute blast!

brides & bridesmaids c

Last October, I met Lizzy and Fee for our first meeting. I remember Fee had the worst cold, they had nearly been in a terrible accident on the way there and the weather was dreadful but, above that, when I got home, I remember telling Andy that I had just met the loveliest couple, not just because they were very much in love but because they were so excited about being married. What made their excitement extra-special was that our meeting took place just a few days after the Scottish Government had announced that the marriage law was changing in the new year. Lizzy and Fee were absolutely delighted, and a little overwhelmed, that they were able to be legally married, to properly call each other ‘wife’.

You can tell they are pretty pleased about it, can’t you?

Lizzy & Fee (2)

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls x

Readings: Love is….., poet unknown and I will be here, Steven Curtis Chapman

Music:  Stop and Stare, One Republic

Photos: c/o John

 

 

Are you getting married in Scotland this year? Read on….

From today (1st March 2014) the very latest you can submit your Marriage Notice forms, also known as the M10 forms, is 29 days before your wedding date. It used to be 15 days but no more.

Every person marrying in Scotland is legally required to submit these forms to the Registrar of the district in which they are marrying.

If you don’t submit your M10 forms on time, you will not be issued with a Marriage Schedule.

No Marriage Schedule = no wedding = a very expensive hangover.

In addition, if you, or your intended, is not a British, Swiss or EEA citizen, you must now complete a Declaration of Immigration Status form and submit it with your M10 forms. Your M10 forms will not be accepted if you don’t.

So here’s my suggestion to all couples who are looking to marry in Scotland:

Make a note in your diary, three months before your wedding, that your M10 forms are now able to be submitted. Then make an appointment at the Registrar and hand in your forms.

Job done, breathe easy and back to planning the fun stuff.

Please see the National Records of Scotland website for more details