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.
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
As as wee note, when we met in the Clachaig Inn, in the heart of Glencoe, there’s a sign on the front desk.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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>.
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.
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.
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?’
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.
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.
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:
Beetroot makes your pee pink
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!
It’s been a full year since I married the delightful Diane and Thomas. And what have I learnt?
Loads, loads, loads.
Things I quickly confirmed: my admin skills are abysmal, I have a pathological fear of double booking (but have invented a 400 point strategy to avoid it) and sleep in July is for wimps.
Perhaps more importantly for you:
It’s never to early to book your celebrant. Fact.
If you are getting married between May- September, regardless of how far away your wedding is, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT!! Then sit back and peruse Pinterest with impunity, smug in the knowledge that you are sorted.
And, if you are getting married between October- April, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT! Damn it, just do it!
People confuse Humanists with Spiritualists all the time.
Let me be clear. Humanists are fantastic, genuine, considerate and compassionate folk who would never pray on the understandable desire of the bereaved and vulnerable to speak to their much loved deceased relatives.
Spiritualists, not so much.
Weddings get HOT. Damn hot.
Open ALL the windows. Now.
Folk worry about being emotionally vulnerable in front of their guests.
Dinnae worry about it. They LOVE it. In my limited experience, grooms are more likely to cry than brides. I put this down to the long wait with no dizzyingly chaotic bridal party to distract them. Groomsmen- yo need to up yo game, bruh.
Most commonly asked question about ceremonies is ‘How long does it take?’
Answer: longer than the 20 minutes on offer by some wedding venues. Yes, The Vu, I’m looking at you.
Bridezillas are a figment of TLC’s imagination.
Bridesmaids and Mums, on the other hand, are occasionally as crazy as a soup sandwich.
The most important thing I have learnt this year is this:
Your ceremony sets the tone for your entire wedding day.
You heard me.
If you do your homework and spend some time thinking about who to involve in your ceremony, you will be amazed what happens. A teensy bit of effort on your part and your wedding is elevated from something lovely to something extraordinary. Don’t take my word for it, check out what Katie’s Dad had to say….
You really set the tone for the whole day and it carried on through the meal and the dance at night – we had an absolutely fabulous day.
See? If Mike said it, it must be true.
I know it’s been a good day when I have to wolf whistle to get everyone back to their seats after the ‘Signing the schedule’ photo break ‘cos they are all so hyper. I know it’s been it a good day when I’m picked up and burled round by an excitable Scouser proclaiming it’s the ‘best fookin weddin’ he’s ever been to.
And I know it’s been a good day when I get a wee email afterwards that says this,
Everyone at the wedding said it was quite simply the best they had ever attended, Louise & Chris
We had a totally perfect day and the beautiful ceremony you conducted was exactly what we had hoped for, Ryan & Angela
Thank you so much for making our wedding ceremony so amazing, Derek & Lisa
Thanks, Year One Wedding Couples, it’s been a blast…..bring it on, Year Two!