Wee weddings are GO!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

To some couples, not having hundreds of guests at their wedding is unthinkable. No shade, lovely people, but off you pop. This post is not for you. I’ll see you in 2056 or whenever we can all gather in overly hot function suites and breathe in other people’s sweatiness again.

I’m talking to the elopers, the ‘f*ck it, let’s just get married’ people, the ones who never really wanted a big wedding in the first place but were carried along on a wave of familial enthusiasm/bullying. I’m talking to the introverted, the people on a deadline, the traditionalists who want to get married before they have babies. The long termers, the second-weddingers, the romantics who want to run away and the ones who just thought they would be married by now and can’t quite get their heads round the fact that they’re not.

Those last ones, the ones who should be married by now. You’re the ones who are really pissed off that Covid ruined your plans. You’ve rebooked your wedding but it seems so far away, I mean, you’ll have been planning the damn thing for nearly FOUR YEARS by the time you get married. It’s rubbish, it’s not fair and the more you think about it, the less you want to put your life on hold for the sake of paying for a hundred dinners in two years time. 

Get married now. Wee weddings, micro weddings, you might even call them mini-monies but I wouldn’t. Whatever you want to call them, little weddings are the way forward. 

Just ask Rowan and Jason. They had a big wedding planned in May and it didn’t happen. It was rescheduled for a date later in the year and then things didn’t get any better and it was devastating.

So they took back control. They asked themselves why they were getting married and they both agreed it wasn’t for the party or the fancy hotel. They were getting married because they love each other and wanted to make a lifelong commitment to one another.

This realisation is what gave us the courage to scale our big day back and to have a ‘wee wedding’ with the focus being on our marriage and not all the bells and whistles. Dont get me wrong we still had a few bells but nothing in comparison to the ginormous day we had previously planned.

They planned a wee wedding that was hugely different to their original wedding. They changed venue to somewhere more meaningful and intimate, Glengoyne Distillery aka Jason’s work. 150 guests became 17.  They moved to a slightly later start time to prevent too much hanging around post-ceremony before they headed to their reception at The Bothy, the perfect space for their teeny guest list, even if the rules changed that weekend which meant it had to close at 10pm. 

On the day, everyone was super-chill. Jason ordered sushi for his groomsmen and Rowan didnae.

Parris Photography

Our day went at our pace, no early morning starts, no running about like crazy people, just a chilled day unlike most wedding days. What we loved so much about having such a small day was being able to actually spend some quality time with our nearest and dearest family and friends. It felt so much more special than the ‘wedding factory’ wedding we had originally planned. We broke the wedding mould and it made our day so much more enjoyable.

 

It was so exciting but it became apparent Covid was still very much a part of our day. From staff in masks and our guests sitting socially distant it hit home… we were getting married in the middle of a pandemic. But it didn’t take the shine off of our special day. Our ceremony was so special not only because it was finally happening after so much anticipation but because we were surrounded by loved ones and all of our guests who couldn’t be with us in person were able to join us via a live stream.

Parris Photograpy

 

Getting married was the best day of our lives. It marked the end of one chapter of our lives and the start of a very special new one. We couldn’t have had the day we had without the support of everyone who had been involved in our wee big day. From family and friends to suppliers, each person played such a special role in making our day happen.

 

Marriage is such a special thing and hard times like these shouldn’t rain on your wedding parade. I’m a big believer in what’s for you won’t go by you and I feel that if it wasn’t for Covid we wouldn’t have had the same day. We will never forget our wedding day. It was the most incredibly happy day of our lives so far and we will forever cherish the memories.

It was a beautiful day. The Distillery was glorious and everyone bent over backwards to make the day run smoothly and as normally as possible. Jason and Rowan’s ceremony was relaxed and funny and as if that wasn’t good enough, they got married. Imagine how that felt after months of uncertainty! They got married and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and then Rowan got papped on Byres Road as she ran for a taxi and next thing, Nicola Sturgeon’s tweeting about her and the BBC want to talk to her. Honestly, you cannae take her anywhere.

Parris Photography

If you fancy a wee wedding, let me know. You need to submit marriage notice paperwork to the Registrar closest to your venue 29 clear days in advance so you can’t get married next week but you could be married before the end of the year. You could even, if you were feeling wild, phone me from outside the Registrar and tell me you’ve put my name on your paperwork and you’re just checking that’s okay? Turns out it was and they’re getting married next month but shhhhh. It’s a secret…

Parris Photography
Claire | Claire the Humanist

Thanks to Rowan and Jason for their help with this post. They were very nice about their ceremony (best humanist around, laughed til our bellies ached, nothing but praise etc) but I was feeling modest so didn’t include that bit. Oh wait… 

Parris Photography

 

Covid 19 update

The Scottish Government website is the best resource for up to date guidance. There may be additional hospitality and general public health rules that also need to be taken into consideration, along with the Tier level of the Registration District for your ceremony.

If you want to get married in Scotland any time soon, here’s the key points:

Where: anywhere except inside a private dwelling (this includes airbnb, self-catering etc. Ask your venue if you are unsure).

Numbers: 20 unless you are in Tier 4 in which case it’s 15. That number includes guests, couple, suppliers etc but not people employed by your venue or me.

Face Coverings: During an indoor ceremony, as long as we can all socially distance, everyone must wear a face covering except the couple getting married and the person conducting the ceremony. Face coverings are not required outside.

Content: Wedding ceremonies are still shorter that normal, around twenty minutes, and some of the symbolic gestures are not permitted, others have to be adapted. I can talk you through the changes.

Travel: travel to weddings is permitted from any Tier level.

Receptions: 20 people in a Covid secure venue. Receptions not permitted in private dwellings. Normal hospitality rules apply re face coverings, closure times and music. Your venue will keep you right as they are ressponsible for ensuring guidance is followed and Track and Trace is in place.

Any questions, send me an email.

 

Celebrate your un-wedding date

How are you doing, pals? Are you alright? Are you struggling with lockdown or are you revelling in the fact that staying at home and not having to see Other People is actually your Best Life? We’ve spent a lot of time playing cards (I recommend Spite and Malice if you want a game that passes a bit of time), found a new love for jigsaws (although I will kill the person who put one into the charity shop with two pieces missing) and I learnt how to solve a Rubiks cube. What an overachieving day that was.

Oh aye, and my daughter discovered TikTok. 

I’ve also been attempting to move an entire wedding season into a new month I’ve created in 2021, Clairpril. Or Diganuary if you prefer. It’s been a testing few weeks for all my wedding supplier colleagues and if you’re a couple who have had to move your wedding date, well done if you kept the heid. It was a bit stressy, wasn’t it?

If you have changed wedding dates, what are you doing to mark your OG date? Are you going to celebrate it somehow? You definitely should. You’ve got the day off anyway. Take some time to celebrate what was going to be a brilliant day, drink some booze, call your pals, one of you should absolutely dance around your kitchen in a wedding dress (bonus points if neither of you were intending on wearing one) and then, when you wake up the next day, you might have a raging hangover but you also have a wedding to look forward to, not one to miss.

Scottish Wedding featured the loveliest article about a couple who got ’emotionally married’ on what should’ve been their wedding date. It’s an absolute treat of a read and might inspire you to think a little differently about your own un-wedding day.

You might want to create a tradition of your own. You could drink from your quaich with the wrong date engraved on the bottom, dance your first dance together to the song you really wanted, not the one you felt you should have, create your own wedding feast (as long as it doesn’t involve flour) or have an all-in-one hen/stag Zoom party with the people you’d most want to spend your day with if you were allowed out the house.

I immediately thought about a handfast. Handfasting is a traditional ceremony that signified an intent to marry. Imagine it’s five hundred years ago, there were all manner of plagues ravaging the land and people who could conduct legal weddings were few and far between. This was very inconvenient if you were young and in love and impatient so you could be bound together by family, using tartan or cloth, a symbol to everyone that you had made a commitment to be together, to live as family and be legally married within the year. Life was much simpler in Ye Olde Times.

Usually, you need a third person to handfast you. That might prove a little tricky so I’ve written a Useful Guide to DIY Handfasts. Exciting, huh?

I also recorded a video of Flora and Andy attempting to demonstrate it. Honestly, if that pair of clowns can do it, anyone can.

 

I’m sure you’ll come up with some really lovely ways to celebrate your un-wedding day. These are extraordinary times and you need light in your lives. Celebrate your relationship so far, embrace the love of your socially distant family and take time to make the most of a day off together in the madness. Whatver you do, have fun and if you choose to celebrate your wedding day, email pics of your happiness (I said happiness) to hello@clairethehumanist.com and cheer me right up!

COVID 19 – MARCH 23rd 2020 UPDATE

As of March 23rd 2020, weddings are not permitted to go ahead in the UK.

There has been an initial suggestion that this (and other restrictions) will be reviewed in three weeks.  DO NOT RELY ON THIS WHEN CONSIDERING WHAT TO DO NEXT.

I’ll update this and my social media as I know more. 

Stay safe, humans, and if you have any questions, give me a shout.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 affected weddings- what can we do?

First off, I’m really sorry your wedding has been affected by this wee bastard of a bug, I really am. 

If your venue has cancelled or you feel it’s the only option available and you’re sitting in a whirlwind of panic and emotion, take a breath. Talk to someone. Cuddle your partner, have a cup of tea and get yourself in the right frame of mind to take action. This doesn’t have to be sorted right away. The situation isn’t changing so get some sleep and face it afresh with a clear head.

Here’s what I can do to help:

Marry you as planned.

I can marry you on the date you booked me for. You can still be married on that date in a different location (or the same one if they are partially open), with fewer guests. Remember, all you need is you, me, two witnesses and a marriage schedule. Get married and then have a big party to celebrate at a later date when everything is back to normal. You don’t need me for the big party so that increases your flexibility, especially for future weekend dates.

You might need to transfer your marriage notice paperwork to a different council office or, if you choose to be married somewhere in the same local authority, the location on your paperwork can be changed. If they are unable to make it, witnesses can be changed too. It’s just admin and I am sure the registrars will be sympathetic to everything going on. 

When it comes to choosing somewhere to have a wedding, you can be married outside, in your house, in your parents’ garden, pretty much anywhere that’s open as long as there are no additional restrictions in place from the Government. Maybe consider having your ceremony filmed or live streamed for people who can’t be there or include them in someway by getting them to write some advice or choose some words or read something out over Facetime/Skype.

If you choose a smaller wedding, it will be beautiful. Just as much care goes into writing a ceremony for a wee wedding and it will be as warm and funny and full of love as you hoped AND you’ll get married, which is the very best.

Postpone your wedding

I imagine the thought of rebooking all your wedding suppliers is filling you with The Fear. You remember it the first time round, don’t you? You’ll get there. There may be tears but you’ll get there.

I’m going to be blunt. I don’t have many Saturdays available this year or next. Thing is, if you’ve booked other stellar suppliers and an awesome venue, they probably won’t either. Consider rebooking a weekday and you’ll have a much better chance of everyone being free.

Alternatively, remember you can be married at any time of day or night. If your venue and photographer are available, consider starting your day by having pictures taken, then come back for a drinks reception and dinner and then get married in front of everyone just before your evening reception kicks off. I think this pandemic will encourage everyone to think a little differently and guests are going to be super-understanding if you’ve had to postpone your big day.

If you’ve exhausted every option and you can’t get everyone available on the same day and I am the sacrifical link, fair enough. I’ll get over it eventually. I’ll also help you find another Humanist Society Scotland celebrant to marry you (even though I am dying inside…)

Cancel your wedding

Don’t do it. I couldn’t bear it. You want to get married so lets do our very best to get you married. It might not be how you imagined it, it might be in a different place or on a different day but you started this journey because you wanted to marry each other and we can make that happen. 

Talk to me if you’re worried. I like chatting to people and just saying stuff out loud always makes you feel better. Anyway, you’re saving me from myself. I’m sat here, contemplating day drinking and wondering if there’s a market for a middle-aged, grey-rooted celebrant on Just For Fans….

Most importantly, keep the heid, pals. We’re all humans and all going through the same shit, we’re all worried about diffferent things and we are all, as a world-wide community, uttterly overwhelmed. Keep the heid and don’t lick people’s faces.

NOTE: I’ve written this with the info I have available today. Things are changing quickly so check the facts (in particular those relating to third parties, especially the registrars/paperwork) before you wire in.

Vows

My husband’s heart Claire | Claire the Humanist
One of the best thing about Humanist weddings is that they are so personal.

Yada yada yada.

You know that already though, right? You know you can include readings and poetry, music and symbolic gestures. You guys are on it. You know what you like and you know what you don’t (dove release, talking about you).

So why are vows so difficult? Why do I get more panicky emails about vows than any other part of your ceremony?

Silver photography
Because vows are the most flexible part of your ceremony. You can say whatever you like, in whatever form you like and they aren’t even legally binding. I know! There are words we include in your ceremony that are very definitely legally binding but if you promise to always put the bins out or make a cup of tea every morning, no one is going to sue you if you don’t. Your conscience though, that’s another story. The reproachful looks, the ‘but you promised….’

This I’ll defend.

This is the motto of my clan and my promise to you.

It is these words I will always remember

It is you I will forever cherish.

It is this I will defend.

The best vows I’ve heard are genuine, honest and kind. They are full of love and warmth and gentle humour. They aren’t overly Shakespearey or flowery and, if all else fails, tell ’em you love them and they’re your best person, the Pumpkin to your Honey Bunny, your lobster…

I hope to support and encourage you as much as you do for me

Because you make me a better person and now I see,

That facial hair isn’t everything and we are meant to be.

Winner.

Or don’t. Because it’s your wedding and if you don’t want to write your own vows, don’t. Choose from the examples I send you or get married the Ronseal way; accept each other in marriage, by name, in front of your witnesses and me and that’s you. Job done.

Best seven words you’ll ever say.

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!

Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images

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

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

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.

 

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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.

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

Venue:Loch Lomond Arms Hotel

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!

“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”

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……


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!