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!’

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist

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!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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!

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Fee and Lizzy were a lot of fun, and they entertained their guests with the story of how they met (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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

 “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.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

“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!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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?

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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

Naming- Mirryn

Kip Marina was a little grey and damp last Saturday but the Chartroom looked lovely: lots of pink and white balloons, a beautiful cake and, most importantly, a well-stocked candy cart.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Mirryn waited until her ceremony started and promptly fell asleep! My run of non-criers continues unbroken…..

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Mum and Dad were keen to include both their children but to keep the focus on Mirryn and there was no doubt that she was was centre of attention. Brodie was delighted there was a party, a bit over-keen on the cake and, for one day only, he was my boss, making sure that I was doing my job to his satisfaction. So, when he fancied raiding the candy cart mid-ceremony, who was I to object to a short sweetie break?

Claire | Claire the Humanist

The ceremony itself was a light mix of a few words about Mirryn’s little life so far and how important she is to her family, some beautiful and touching promises (from her mum and dad, guide parents and everyone else in the room!), her parent’s hopes and dreams for Mirryn’s future. We also heard a spirited reading from Grampa Mo and braved the cold for a very successful balloon release.  Mirryn’s Guide Parent, her Auntie Emma, read ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss and, right on cue, Brodie let go of the first balloon, a signal to all his little (and big) pals to release theirs too, sending them rushing into the sky with all the dreams and wishes they have for wee Mirryn.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Every guest was invited to write some words of wisdom in Mirryn’s guest book and also to pop their thumb print on a print for her nursery. All the small people left with a pretty bag of sweets and some seeds to sow in their gardens in the warmer weather.

It was the usual slight chaos that I have come to expect (and love) about Naming Ceremonies but, to be honest, they would be rubbish (and very dull) if children were hushed or banished. It’s much better to accept the mayhem and to celebrate the inevitable madness when a dozen small people hoover up fizzy juice and haribo and then spy a shiny wooden dance floor to slide on!

I really fell for Mirryn and her big brother, Brodie. How can you not be smitten with a teeny baby with mad, black hair who falls asleep in your arms, or fall for the charms of a bold boy with a sweet tooth and a cheeky grin?

Claire | Claire the Humanist

I left with a high five from Brodie, a substantial bag of sweeties from the candy cart and a big smile on my face when I saw this boat as I was leaving. Result!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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

Wedding – Louise & Chris

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Christmas? Done.  Hogmanay? O-ver.

Bored now.

Thank goodness for Louise & Chris and their post-New Year nuptials, possibly the most tasteful wedding in the world and definitely one of the most anticipated by their family and amazingly stylish pals.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Cameron House Hotel has a reputation for being a bit special, regardless of the season and, in the glare of the winter sun glinting off Loch Lomond, there was no finer place.

And inside, just as gorgeous: the Christmas lights were still twinkling, the fires roaring and the mahoozive gingerbread house proving *just* too large to hide in my handbag.

Louise and Chris achieved the impossible, planning their wedding in a month. That would be hard enough for most normals but this couple are the actual hardest working people on the planet and, as they work together running a fab restaurant and bar, their wedding planning had to be slotted in amongst a full month of Christmas bookings and parties and running a stall in the Glasgow outdoor market.

Their wedding day was a day off.

Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist

A more welcoming and generous couple would be hard to find and there was such warmth emanating from their friends, everyone very excited and delighted to be included.

Not known for soppiness, Louise (and the rest of the room) was floored when Chris summed up his feelings about her with, ‘She’s my girl!’ And there was a wee wobble when Louise said that Chris that ‘she didn’t know who she would be without him.’ Is it wrong to admit that the wobble came from me?

One of the many highlights was Louise’s sister’s reading of Huey Lewis and the News’ The Power of Love, complete with audience participation. What made the reading so fantastic was Caroline completely got that the key to success is to give it laldy! The impromptu singing also helped….

Beautiful people, beautiful words and, when I introduced ‘the married couple’, the loudest cheer I have ever heard. Magic!

Readings: The Power of Love,  Huey Lewis & The News

Music: Bridal Lullaby by Percy Grainger, Do I Love You by Frank Wilson, Can’t Hurry Love by The Supremes

“I cannot thank you enough for your incredibly professional, bespoke and touching ceremony for our amazing wedding at Cameron House.

You made Chris and I feel so at ease, and everyone at the wedding said it was quite simply the best they had ever attended.
I was so nervous before I walked down th aisle, but seeing all of my friends, you and, of course, Chris, I was put at immediate ease.

Chris’ parents and my Dad said that they were so overwhelmed by how personal and warming your words were and hilariously funny too.

You have found your calling, you are absolutely brilliant at it and I will be advising everyone who is planning to get married (our clients included) to give you a call.

I wish we could do it all again and we are both still on cloud 9…”

Cheers pals! Oh and this wasnae me, by the way….

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Wedding- Ian & Liz

Claire | Claire the Humanist

I’m just gonna say it…..I love a winter wedding. Ten years ago, I was married in November and one of the nicest things was being able to shrug when people said, ‘But the weather! What if it rains?’ So what? It’s Scotland! It could rain anytime! One less thing to worry about, to be honest (although it was a nice surprise when I awoke to the first frost, clear blue skies and a good excuse for a furry coat).

Ian and Liz booked their wedding for that wee lull between Christmas and New Year, and invited their family and best pals to join them for the weekend, and a party, at the stunning Lodge on the Loch Lomond.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

When I first met Liz and Ian, they booked me with the phrase, ‘….and you seem like the right kind of nutter to marry us!’ Takes one to know one, that’s all I’ll say…

Ian & Liz’s ceremony was a belter! They have a great life together, full of laughs and adventures and their hopes for their future together were simple…..more of the same.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Liz was accompanied by her daughter, Lauren who later read a poem with her sister Pamela and Ian’s son, Neil. When the poem finished, Ian and Liz ‘tied the knot’ with Marshall and McKenzie tartan ribbons, and I don’t know who was more delighted by the knot, me or Liz, who loudly exclaimed, ‘Oh well done, Claire!’ much to everyone’s amusement.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Ian’s grandsons, Aly and Harry were there to spontaneously lend a hand with the rings and, promises made, vows said and declarations announced, Ian and Liz had a great big kiss to enthusiastic cheering from their guests. And then they had another one when I said, ‘You may now kiss!’ Just couldn’t wait, apparently!

After signing the schedule, Liz and Ian enjoyed a succession of drinks from their quaich, an apt ceremony to celebrate their union and one particularly appreciated by Ian, I think.

And the weather was beautiful.

I did that 😉

Funerals

A lot of us celebrants have blogs but we rarely write about funerals. I think the assumption is that most people who are casually browsing for happy wedding inspiration have no wish to suddenly be confronted with a ‘Hellooooo! Everyone dies!’ post!

But, in real life, it’s Humanist funerals that seem to resonate with people the most. ‘They’re just so personal’ is the most common compliment but my favourite is the ‘I really enjoyed it…well, as much as you can enjoy a funeral…..I mean, it was really good fun……God….well, not God…..oh crap. I’ve totally myself in a hole I can’t get out of….a lot like Auntie Morag….HELP….ME.’

I conducted a funeral this morning for a lady with a lot of best friends and a very talented sister and, between them all, they created a ceremony that could only have been for Joan. The hall was dressed with candlabra and rose petals, all Joan’s friends wore leopard print and red ribbons and, rather than bring in the flower-covered wicker coffin, each ‘pallbearer’ carried in a photograph of Joan looking gorgeous with the broadest, most generous smile in each one, and they placed them on a display at the front. It was beautiful.

I led the tributes from her friends, another friend spoke of their good times together and between the stories, the projected images and the music, it was gloriously ‘all about Joan’.

Isn’t that how funerals should be? All about the person who died, their good points and their bad taste? Admittedly, sometimes, it’s not so straightforward- there’s been a few family visits where there’s been a reluctance to explain a substantial gap, maybe 3-5 years, in their dear brother’s life. My advice? Don’t worry about it, EVERYONE KNOWS ALREADY!!

We left the Crematorium today to the strains of the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t ‘energise’ but you can’t have everything. A nice man told me it was his first time at one of these funerals and he’d thoroughly enjoyed himself…well, not enjoyed himself…oh crap.

Ellie’s Naming Ceremony

And the unbroken run of Naming Ceremonies with happy babies continues!

Gorgeous Ellie shone at her Naming Ceremony, blowing raspberries throughout, much to the amusement of everyone who’d come along to the Sky Suite of the Cyan Restaurant in Milngavie.

Ellie Selfie

All my photos of Ellie were rubbish but she took her own picture, her first selfie!

It was a really lovely family occasion- the restaurant belongs to Uncle David, Aunt Lesley did a reading and the Grannies and Papas read a poem between them, which worked really well. Ellie’s big brother, Jack, gave her a wee gift and she gave one to him and everyone was invited to add their fingerprints to a tree for Ellie’s wall, a beautiful idea, and nowhere near completion in the picture below!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Claire | Claire the Humanist
Ellie’s parents and guide parents wrote their own promises and they were all very personal and touching but I was particularly struck by Mum’s promise, which began,

To my Ellie-Belle,
I will never forget the moment you entered our life…..I was in awe that we had created something so beautiful, and I couldn’t stop staring at your wonderful little face for hours.
I knew in the very first moment I met you that I was going to love you unconditionally, and forever. It was a feeling I have carried with me every day since.

*Gulp*

There was a lot of warmth and enthusiasm from Ellie’s guests, everyone delighted to see such a very happy baby. And it’s the first time I’ve done a naming ceremony to the strains of The Theme from the Godfather being played (badly!) by a busker outside. Brilliant!