Thursday, 8 February 2018

Sarah and Gavin's Humanist Wedding at Carberry Tower

Gavin and Sarah are VERY fit!

They've done the New York half-marathon and followed the Tour de France. They run, they swim, and they climb hills, so it made sense that Gavin proposed to Sarah by the side of the banks of the Union Canal where they first walked, ran, cycled, and fell in love.

They first got in touch with me in January of last year, and I was delighted when they asked me to conduct their wedding at Carberry Tower in October.

The 16th century Carberry Tower has been many things in its long existence, but it's now a 4 star hotel set in 35 acres of parkland, with its very own chapel, and that was where Gavin and Sarah chose to get married.

We had readings from Sarah's brother Ross and Gavin's sister Carol before we got to the climax of the ceremony and were joined by a surprise guest - Bella, a young, female barn owl, who brought in the rings!

I was very touched that Sarah and Gavin were among the first people to sponsor me when I spent a night in sub-zero temperatures to help end homelessness in Scotland, and along with these photos, they sent a lovely card.

We really enjoyed having the freedom to write the ceremony ourselves and tell the guests a bit more about our story and show why we are matched.

The guests were all impressed with the ceremony and thought it was unique.

We really appreciated your help in the run up with all the pointers, like when to get our certificates in motion and also your tips when we were not able to arrange a rehearsal.  On the day your guidance was invaluable: the ceremony was good fun and it went very quickly!

Your support helped us to relax on the day and take the worry out of things, so we could just focus on enjoying it!

That was my plan, Sarah and Gavin, and I am so glad it worked! Thanks again for choosing me as your celebrant, and thanks to your photographer, Martin Mclelland, for these lovely photographs.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Ashley and Jamie's Humanist Wedding at Balbirnie House

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Storytelling lies at the heart of my approach to weddings, and I love it when couples take up my suggestion that they invite their friends and family to help deliver their story. 

Jamie and Ashley did that brilliantly. Every single member of their Wedding Party spoke, and as you will see, they had a lot of fun! Chloe, 'The Bairn', kicked off the tale. 

David told us about Ash and Jamie's first meeting at The Civil Service Club...

It didn't go well, as Lauren revealed!

Michael confirmed that Jamie did indeed crash and burn....

But then Jade told us what transpired two years later, when Jamie had grown both his hair and a beard... 

Let's just say the disguise worked! She handed over to Nick, who talked about Jamie's missing years

Kristi dealt with the emotional bit really well

And Sean wrapped it all perfectly in Jamie's words as he said, "We started at the bottom and we worked our way up. I love our story. I love us!"

I was so pleased when Ashley sent me these great photos by Suzanne Li and these words.

Both of us looking back now, just remember what an amazing day it was from start to finish and we couldn't have asked for better. 

I remember as I walked up the aisle there was just this amazing atmosphere and everyone just looking super happy. Apart from Jamie who looked extremely pale and ready to pass out. 

Afterwards, most of the guests said he didn't really speak before the ceremony which just shows how nervous he was! 

We both agreed that the ceremony was our favourite part of the day. We are so glad that we made it personal to us and got to share our story with our family and friends from the very beginning. 

Also having our families involved in the ceremony was extra special for us - even though a few at first weren't too sure about speaking in front of everyone; we are both so happy they agreed in the end.

Most of our guests commented on the ceremony, saying that they had never been to a wedding like this. It's nice to know that we told our story in our own individual way as each story is unique! 

We just loved everything about it and feel I could go on for hours about the day but I feel I'd best leave it there.

I'm sure we could talk about your ceremony all day, Ashley and Jamie - my hope is that your family and friends will still be talking about it in 50 years time!

Thanks again for the kind words, and these great shots by the talented Suzanne Li

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Symbolic Gestures: The Quaich Ceremony

A Quaich (pronounced kwaich) is the old Scots word for a loving cup, and the giving of a quaich was a way of welcoming guests. 

Sharing a quaich was a sign of trust: because it was offered and taken with both hands, neither host nor guest could hold a weapon at the same time. Sharing the drink was also a guarantee the contents hadn't been poisoned! 

In today’s slightly less suspicious world, drinking from the same cup is a still a symbol of trust, and because the quaich is still 'the cup of welcome', drinking from it can also be seen as a way of welcoming the bride and groom into each other’s family too.

Traditionally made of wood, today quaichs are more usually made from silver, and they've been part of Scottish weddings since the late 16th century, when King James VI of Scotland gave his bride, Princess Anne of Denmark, a quaich as a wedding present.

You might want to commission one, and have it engraved, as Glenn and Freddie did for their wedding at Dundas Castle last December.

Symbolic Gestures: The Candle Ceremony

The lighting of candles can convey more than one kind of meaning. It can be a way of symbolising the coming together of two individuals in the unity of marriage, and it can also be a way to remember the people we love who cannot be with us at this important moment.

There are three candles in the ‘Unity Candle’ ritual. The first two are usually tall and slim, while the third is normally a larger and thicker candle, symbolizing the marriage. 

Each partner lights a single candle at the start of the ceremony, and then when they have been pronounced husband and wife, they use those two candles to jointly light the third.

The most usual other form of candle ritual is when a candle or candles are lit in memory of departed family or friends. This is usually followed by a short period of quiet contemplation.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Let's do lunch...

I missed the official Chaplaincy lunch this Christmas, but to make up for it, Bulletin, the University's Staff Magazine, treated me to lunch with one of my chaplaincy colleagues, Irene Cotugno, who is the Baha'i Belief Contact.

The Baha'i faith originated in Persia at the end of the 19th century, and it has three core beliefs: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. Ever since it began, it's been persecuted, and today being a Baha'i in Iran is likely to land you in prison.

Despite that, as the BBC will tell youBaha'i is the most widespread world faith after Christianity. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Baha'i faith first came to Scotland at the invitation of Mrs. Jane Whyte, who was the wife of the then Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. 

Mrs. Whyte actually became the first Scottish Bahá’í - quite how that was viewed by her husband and his co-religionists history does not record, but it should be a lesson in tolerance of diversity to us all.

As you might guess from her name, Irene is not from Scotland, but you can learn a bit more about her in the Bulletin article which you can find (with a bit of scrolling) here.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Chloë and Tim's Humanist Wedding in Dunbar's Close Garden

Dragi svatje, dobrodošli na škotsko isn't a phrase I've ever used before, but that's because Tim is the first person from Slovenia I've ever married! 

He and Chloë had a very international guest list, with no fewer than six different languages between them, so they created an Order of Ceremony that allowed the non-English speakers to follow what was being said.

The 17th century Dunbar's Close Garden is one of the Old Town's best kept secrets. It was amazing that we were able to have such an intimate, personal ceremony literally yards away from the bustling Royal Mile.

"Happy Holidays, and thank you so much for helping us make this year the most special year in our lives!" said Chloë and Tim in their email today.

"You have been absolutely incredible at helping us prepare and conduct the wedding.

We got our (Christmas) gift exactly 7 weeks early so please see the attached photo :) 

We are sending you so much love,

Tim, Chloë and Calian"

What a lovely surprise - thanks again for asking me to be a part of your lives. I wish all three of you much love and great happiness in the years to come.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Kirsty and Dean's Humanist Wedding at The Strawberry Barn, Dunbar

Kirsty and Dean were very nearly childhood sweethearts. They went to the same primary and secondary schools, but it wasn't until 5th year that Dean finally made it onto Kirsty's radar when they bonded over their shared love of music. 

Dean was always buying the latest CDs from bands like the View, Pigeon Detectives, and Maximo Park, and he would always make a copy for Kirsty (who was far too busy spending her money on new outfits for parties!)

Once they met in 'the Doctor’s Lane” behind her house where Dean gave her no fewer than five different CDs: it must have taken him ages to copy them. Kirsty thanked him with a Toffee Crisp...

Their paths diverged for a while. Kirsty moved to Stirling to study Criminology and Law, while Dean stayed at home watching the OC and “helping his Gran”.  

Then Dean got accepted onto the Nursing course at the same University, so they saw a lot of each other. They even bought a car together, Clint the Clio, which Kirsty spectacularly wrote off one misty morning. 

Their story encompassed many more quirky details: going to Rockness and back on the same day; the institution that has become  Matthew McConaughey Thursdays, and perhaps best of all, Kirsty's reaction to becoming engaged, when she involuntarily threw the ring across the room!

I think that every one of their guests could tell that Kirsty and Dean are made for each other, and the ceremony was both very touching and great fun.

Their friend Robyn read some of their favourite song lyrics

And then, after some Guest Vows, Dean and Kirsty made their own promises to one another.

These really are great photos by Derek Christie. Not only do they capture the mood of the day, but Derek has done something very clever by opening up the aperture of his camera as wide as it could go.

The Strawberry Barn is exactly what it says on the tin: it's a big empty space, just perfect for a party, but it's a lot darker than these photographs suggest, so bear that in mind if you're thinking of holding your wedding there. Mind you, if you can book Derek, it won't matter!

Kirsty sent me these words along with the photos. "We just wanted to thank you again for your part in the day. So many people commented what a wonderful ceremony we had. We were very proud to have been able to bring together something so special and personal (with your help!)"

It was a pleasure, Kirsty. I hope you and Dean enjoy many more Matthew McConaughey Thursdays, and that you never stop entertaining each other by quoting lines from the US version of The Office!

Sarah and Gavin's Humanist Wedding at Carberry Tower

Gavin and Sarah are VERY fit! They've done the New York half-marathon and followed the Tour de France. They run, they swim, an...