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.

Money

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Sooooooo, money huh?

Awkward.

Let’s make it less awkward. How much does it cost to be legally married by me?

I charge a basic fee of £370.

I add on a flat expenses rate of £30. This might change if your wedding involves an overnight stay, ferry, flight etc.

Every couple who gets married in Scotland must pay £70 to the Registrar closest to their venue when they lodge their Marriage Notice paperwork.

In order to confirm your booking, you join Humanist Society Scotland. You can do this here. It will cost you £85 (£80 for a two year wedding couple’s membership + £5 admin fee)

Altogether?  £555. That’s right, isn’t it?  It’s right of today, anyway. All these fees are subject to change but that’s standard.

Awkward questions answered…..one.

Awkward IRL conversations…nil. Result.

 

****EDITED 5 NOV 2019 TO REFLECT CHANGE IN BOOKING PROCESS******

Wedding – Robyn & Adam

You know me by now.  You get that I love weddings, don’t you?  I love great big crazy noise-filled ones, wee teeny downing-shots-in-rock-bars ones, ones that go a bit off piste, ones that are your fairytale dream, I love ’em all.  But I have a favourite.

Elopements.

Man, it melts my heart when people take their wedding and make it their greatest adventure.  Robyn and Adam did it and they took the people they love with them too.

Glencoe is a one of the most beautiful places on the planet and, if you drive through it, and come out the other side, you find yourself in Ballachulish (pron: Ball-a-hoo-lish.  You’re welcome).  Robyn, Adam, their kids, a smattering of family and friends, their extraordinary photographer, Carole-Ann of Harper Scott Photography and me, we all rocked up to a wee spit of land on the edge of the village, just over a year ago, and we had a wedding….

….but not before we had climbed a gate, lugged giant wooden poles through the mud and helped a man who was previously lost in the wilderness (and possibly raised by wolves) build a teepee.  Two hours later than planned, under a well-constructed, sturdy wooden structure and surrounded by big country, the marrying began.

The big kids promised to look after Mum and Adam just like they look after them and the same big kids were in charge of the rings. I’d love to say they were in safe hands but that would be a fib.  The main thing is those rings went on the right fingers and that’s all that matters.   There was a handfasting with silver cord.  Most times, the material you use for a handfast has sentimental value or it’s something precious and relevant to the day.  And sometimes the material is hastily bought from a curtain makers in Fort William because you’ve left your actual material in the hoose.

You know what though?  This is Adam and Robyn.  Their life is a constant juggle of kids and work, craziness and laughter and they took that with them to the peaceful waters of Loch Leven, in the shadows of Beinn Sgulaird (pron: you’re on your own with that one).  It was their wedding, their way and it was absolutely brilliant.

So are Carole-Ann’s photos.  I’ve only included a few here but head to her page for more.  Rock n Roll Bride magazine featured this wedding later last year and no wonder.  Glorious!  Happy belated anniversary, lovely people x

Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography

As as wee note, when we met in the Clachaig Inn, in the heart of Glencoe, there’s a sign on the front desk.

Let’s never tell them Robyn’s maiden name…….

Wedding- Chris and Victoria

Victoria : Christopher || When Mountains Move, Scottish elopement from Cinemate Films on Vimeo.

Oh. My. Word.

Chris and Victoria are wedding photographers.  They had a vision. They wanted to elope to Glencoe, so they did.   There were wild plans to get married on the 2nd January (and I’m still laughing about that one) but once the real date was set and the paperwork lodged in Fort William, the big day came and….. actually?  Do you know what?  Cinemate’s video tells their story so much better than I can.

Watch it.

Recognise the scenery from a big ol’ Bond film.

Elope, take me with you and get these guys to film it.

Also present that day were the rather fabulous Neil Thomas Douglas and Fiona Higgins: top photographers, semi-professional witnesses and purveyors of shockingly bad chat.  If the video hasn’t persuaded you that Scotland is the very best place to get married, have a look at Neil’s photo.  Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Neil Thomas Douglas

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.

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.

 

Claire | Claire the Humanist

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