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.

 

Soooo….where are we now?

Don’t know about you but I’m a wee bit fed up with old ‘Rona. As of today (August 27), weddings are taking place, with restrictions. You can read more about them on the Scottish Goverment Website but they include:

No more than 20 people in attendance. That number includes the couple getting married, guests, kids and babies, your photographer, musicians….if they’re at your wedding in any capacity, they count. Except me. I don’t count.

When it comes to numbers permitted, don’t confuse Scottish guidelines with English ones. Would you listen to anything Bawchops Johnston has to say anyway?

Outside is the new inside. If your wedding is outside, you can socially distance your guests in household clumps much much MUCH easier than you can indoors. There are fewer surfaces to touch, the air is free to circulate like air should and, if it’s outside, no masks are required. Which brings me on to…

Masks/Face coverings. If your wedding is inside, everyone in attendance must wear a face covering or mask, including the couple getting married. I know. Don’t blame me, blame that dodgy wee dreamcrushing virus. Due to conflicting advice given by some venues, Humanist Society Scotland sought clarification from Scottish Government and their reply was unequivocal- wear a mask indoors. It’s the law. Couples can remove their masks to allow identification to take place and to make their legal declarations. And to winch, presumably.

Nae trumpets. You heard me. No instruments which require blown into to create a noise. I feel bad for the romantic tuba lovers but dems the breaks.

Length of ceremony. No longer than 20 minutes. The way I see it, you’re going to get less content so the content you do get has to be extraordinary. All killer, nae pish chat.

Symbolic Gestures. There are some things that you associate with Humanist wedding ceremonies: handfasts, bandwarmings, drinking from a quaich etc. Some are no longer permitted, others have to be modified. I can talk you through what you can and can’t do.

I won’t start a wedding ceremony if the current rules aren’t being adhered to. I don’t like being the Bad Guy but I will (classic Mum line), not just for your safety, but for mine, my family, future weddings, funerals etc. I don’t want to be Typhoid Mary. Or Covid Claire.

It’s really important to remember that life is still not normal. Weddings at the moment definitely aren’t normal. They are short, simple and socially distanced and certainly not the precursor to any kind of party. In fact, when I leave your wedding, the rules regarding gatherings kick in again- no more than eight people from three different households are allowed indoors, fifteen folk from five households outdoors.

I love enabling you to have the best possible wedding ceremony but that is going to be challenging if your heart is set on a ‘normal’ wedding. No shade if it is, by the way, I’m all for Great Big Fat Weddings of Joy but if it is, now is not the time for you. Wait a bit. Get married when you can have what you want to celebrate your big day.

If, however, you are thinking of eloping or having a tiny wee wedding in a garden somewhere, and when you think about it, you get all giddy and giggly and reckon it might be the most perfect way to get married ever, give me a shout. Given we’re racing towards Autumn, it would help if you’re not made of sugar….

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 is based on a wedding within two hours of my house. It will change if your wedding involves an overnight stay, ferry, flight etc. If your wedding is over two hours travel, there will be an additional £50 per hour (or part thereof) travel time (charged one way only). That’s cos driving a long way by myself is boring and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to make it worth my while.

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.