Friday, 3 February 2017

Carrie and Ross's Humanist wedding at The Swanston Brasserie

Carrie and Ross got married on one of those July days that feel like November: it was absolutely chucking it down as Carrie and her bridesmaids arrived at Swanston, but we didn't let it dampen our spirits one bit!

Carrie had three gorgeous bridesmaids, Alison, Emma and Angela, and Ross had a matching set of groomsmen: Ryan, Greg and Ross Two! This was almost a story of playground sweethearts. Ross had the Kangol jacket, Carrie had the blue mascara, but they didn't click until they met up at a friend's 18th birthday when they exchanged a quick kiss and their phone numbers.

Carrie was soon forced to admit that she 'quite liked' Ross, even though his car was a Corsa...

They had a long engagement by today's standards: seven years went by, during which they moved house far too often, got two crazy labradors and realised that they'd grown so close that they often finished each others... sandwiches.

Before they exchanged their own very personal vows, I asked the guests to make a 'group vow' - a promise to Ross and Carrie that they would support them in their marriage. The guests also promised to tell them that they're being eejits if they ever forget their promises and start to moan about each other!

In another original twist, they asked several of their friends to ask them questions to which they could reply, 'I do'.

Among other things, Ross promised to stop making up his own lyrics to songs, as he'd done to Adele's 'Chasing Penguins'... I can't hear that song now without thinking of it

Then and only then did they speak their vows, exchange rings, and make their legal declaration.

By that point, there wasn't a dry eye in the house!

Alison and Ryan joined us as we signed The Marriage Schedule

And then all the guests joined me in an old Celtic Blessing before they went on their way.

Carrie and Ross sent me a lovely email along with these photographs by Joanna of Orange Lemur

Thanks again for marrying us - you really did help to make the day feel special.   Loads of our guests had commented they had not been to a humanist wedding before and really enjoyed it and thought you were brilliant - so hopefully you get asked to do a few weddings as a result!  

Your ideas on what to include in the ceremony definitely made it feel so personal and special - a lot of guests really liked learning about our story and it seemed to get a good few laughs (luckily!) Also the idea of our friends asking us questions was brilliant - the guests liked this as they had never seen anything like that before.

You really helped to settle me and Ross' nerves on the big day.  I was so glad to see you when I arrived that soggy evening at Swanston!  Also Ross was really impressed with how you kept him calm and took control on the day.  Guests also commented on how they liked being able to see us during the ceremony and we also liked being able to see our own family and friends during it, rather than having our backs to them.  Your joke before the ceremony went down well and apparently had so many guests fooled into looking under their chairs!  

It is clear you love your job and you are brilliant at what you do!  We won't think twice about recommending your services. Thanks again! Lots of love,

Carrie & Ross Finn x

Mr and Mrs. Finn, it was an absolute joy! Thank you for sharing your story and these photos with us, and Carrie don't forget that sometimes you have let Ross think he can go faster than you on his bike! 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Carley and Fraser's Humanist Wedding at Kirknewton Stables

My reputation depends entirely on word of mouth, and there are two groups of people whose good word I particularly treasure: wedding planners and photographers.

It's obvious really: they see lots and lots and lots of registrars, ministers, priests and celebrants, so if they like me, I know I must be doing something right!

Carley Buick is a talented hard working designer and photographer: I've worked with her a lot, both as a second shooter for Julie Tinton and Marc Millar, but increasingly in her own right, so when I heard that she wanted me to marry her, I was dead chuffed. 

That was back in November last year. Now, returned from a honeymoon in Venice, I thought it would be a good time to get her and Fraser to do a little Q and A

Why did you choose Kirknewton Stables?

We wanted somewhere not too far from Edinburgh where we could do our own thing - decor, food and drink wise and also have the whole day there as we didn’t want to be moving around between venues... theres not many places that tick all those boxes!

 Kirknewton is a gorgeous blank canvas. I first saw it about 10 years ago when I worked there with Mackenzie's catering and loved it then and had always kept it in mind for my own wedding. Fraser and I went to see it shortly after we got engaged and luckily he loved it too!

Why did you choose a humanist wedding?

I have never been religious so for me it felt wrong to have a religious ceremony, and I always felt that registrar services were quite impersonal and mostly about the legalities! 

It’s through being a photographer that I first was introduced to humanist ceremonies and I alway love the ethos behind them and of humanism in general, it really sums up how I feel. 

The ceremonies are so personal to the couple and always invoke a lot of smiles and laughter! I also think its lovely how your ceremonies always acknowledge those who are religious and offers them a moment for silent prayer - it's lovely to allow everyone to enjoy the ceremony in their own way. 

Fraser didn’t have much experience of humanist ceremonies, but he looked into it and agreed it seemed the perfect way for us to get married.  He loved how personal the services are, and how involved we would be in writing it.

You both looked amazing! Where did you find your outfits?

 Carley: Dress was from Rachel Scott Couture with the gold top made by my clever Mum. 

 Fraser: Custom made suit from Kinloch Anderson, tie made by Carley's clever Mum!

Given that you are a photographer, was it tough deciding who would shoot your wedding?

Not at all! I'm so lucky that I’ve worked along side Julie and Marc for a few years now and they have become good friends as well as being amazing photographers! I really couldn’t have thought of anyone else photograph our day and I loved that they both have such different styles and captured it in their own way.

The same goes for Barry Best, who did our video and who I met though working alongside at other weddings too. I thought it might have been weird being on the other side of the camera but Fraser and I actually really enjoyed going away with them for our pictures as we all just had a bit of a laugh in the process! 

It was great fun and the photos and video all turned out stunning, we are so delighted with them.

 How did your guests feel about the ceremony?

So may people commented on how they loved the ceremony, how it was personal to us, wasn’t too short or too long and told our story… and was so well told by you too! 

There were two guests at Carley and Fraser's wedding that I know really well because they were both at my own wedding a couple of years ago. One of them was my stepdaughter, Claire, and the other was her boyfriend Craig, so I thought I'd ask them what they thought about it. 

Craig said "I've been to lots of humanist weddings over the last couple of years, but Fraser &Carley's was the best because it seemed fully personalised. You didn't stand and read from a book or an iPad. It felt like you were part of the celebration rather than an outsider stepping in for the day."

And Claire said, "Everything was sincere, the crowd laughed and the ceremony was all about Carley and Fraser and their friends and family. Not just about their story but about all their their personal and light-hearted quirks like Fraser's new TV (which he got!)"

As a totally professional and invariably punctual photographer, tell me how you felt when you realised you were going to be late for your own wedding…

This still upsets me! It’s one of my biggest regrets of the day. I started to get really anxious about an hour and bit before we had to leave and I realised my makeup hadn’t been started yet, I think maybe because I knew the girls I had been too polite about hurrying up and I’m not entirely sure why we seemed to run over so much! 

So when my parents arrived at 12.15 I was nowhere near ready and the process of getting my dress and all the finishing details on was rushed and stressful! I really wish we had time to all stand and have a glass of bubbles together and just enjoy a moment before leaving but that went right out the window! All I can remember is running round in my dress stressed because I couldn’t find my house keys!

It also meant the trip in the van to the ceremony with my dad which I was so looking forward to was’t as enjoyable as I was just worrying about being late! My Dad (who’s usually very calm!) was also getting anxious which in turn made me feel worse! Doing what I do I know how important it is to be on time and I was gutted that I wasn’t.

 I was SO thankful the guitar player was late and only got there a minute before me also!

As I said to Carley, it really didn't matter to me, but the lesson for any bride to be is obvious: build in more prep time, and stay chilled!

What’s your one truly unforgettable memory of the day?

Carley: I’m not sure I can pick just one, there’s so many and yet it’s all such a blur at the same time! I’ll always remember saying my vows and looking right at Fraser. 

I loved the time we had just the two of us getting our photos taken too, it was a little slice of time away from all the madness!

Fraser said he has lots of different memories of all the different parts of the day… seeing all his family i the morning at The Raeburn, me coming up the aisle, getting our pictures taken in the grounds of Kirknewton and hearing the speeches during dinner are all his key moments.

Finally, do you have any advice for other couples getting married?

Don’t do things because you think :that's the way it should be done" or because other people expect you to.

 Do it your way and enjoy the process! Fraser says"enjoy your engagement - and the planning!"

I absolutely LOVED conducting Fraser and Carley's wedding, and you can see from these great photos from Marc Millar and Julie Tinton that they loved it too. 

I'm sure that Carley and I will work together again soon, but it was lovely to see her looking so beautiful on the other side of the footlights for once!

So, thanks again you two, and of course thanks to those top shooters, Julie Tinton and Marc Millar for their great pics!

Jenni and Rich's Humanist Wedding at Edinburgh Zoo

Some weddings were just meant to happen. How could a Birrell meet a Burrell and not fall in love? 

Jenni and Rich wrote a wonderful ceremony. It was short on story but big on meaning. As they said, "We have put a lot of thought into what marriage means to thus and we've had many a long evening discussing why we have chosen to marry each other.The primary reason is teamwork!"

When they came to see me for the rehearsal, Jenni was really nervous about speaking her vows directly to Rich. And no wonder - that is the most challenging of the many different ways you can do this (and most people don't).  But Jenni was determined to crack it, so  we spent a fair bit of time that afternoon just getting her to...




It worked. The Birrell Burrell Wedding was great fun and very moving. Here's what they said when they sent me these great photographs.

"We've been enjoying reliving the day, seeing things we may have missed, shed many a tear over the emotion of the day and laughed at the funny moments. 

We would just like to say thank you. Thank you for all you did for us on our wedding day, and the build up to it. The support and guidance you provided was invaluable, and to have you there on the day was a great comfort to us. The ceremony was truly magical, and even though we wrote it, it couldn't have happened the way it did without you. To have such a kind, supportive and professional celebrant really made our day, and we cannot express just how grateful we are. 

I must say thank you especially for helping me get through the wobbly moment with the vows in the rehearsal. Taking on board what happened and your advice meant reading them on the day was much easier and that it was ok to "take my time".

We wish you all the best, and thank you so much for marrying us. Jenni & Rich Burrell 

It was an honour, Jenni and Rich: thank you for asking me in the first place! And thanks too to Fraser Cameron whose reportage style images illustrate this story.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sarah and Fraser's Guide to Creating Your Perfect Wedding

Fraser and Sarah got married at The Balmoral Hotel last November. They thought it would be a good way to end a long week at work by sitting down together and having a chat about their ceremony and how they feel now. I am delighted they want me to share their thoughts with you, so I thought I'd begin by showing you the photo they sent me before they got married.

  Humanism was new to us when we got engaged back in October 2015. Living in England, it is not a type of wedding ceremony that we had ever came across before but when Fraser’s sister mentioned how personal and touching the Humanist ceremonies were that she had been to, we knew we had to investigate it further. Upon hearing of our interest in a Humanist ceremony, our wedding planner at The Balmoral personally recommended Tim Maguire from her previous experience of his weddings. 

Following a quick exchange of mails, we had our first meeting with Tim over Skype during which he introduced the homework element of planning a Humanist ceremony. We did not know at the time, but this homework exercise would form the bedrock of our ceremony and would also be a constant source of joy, laughter and tears (happy ones of course). 

How did we meet? Why did we love each other? Why did we want to get married? All questions that we had to answer as part of the homework, some easier than others. It’s not often that couples sit down on their own and really think about the reasons why they love their partner, however the process of doing this is an important one as part of the Humanist experience as it allows a person to explore their deepest feelings about their relationship. 

Documenting the reasons why you want to be married to someone, to make such a huge commitment, is challenging but also unbelievably uplifting as it reasserts the strength of feeling for your soon to be spouse. Take all this emotion, feeling, and history, as seen from each others point of view, throw in a bottle of red wine in a local pub and before you know it you have a boozy and highly emotional afternoon that leaves you over the moon to be in love and getting married to the most special person in your life!

Even after all the planning and practising; I (Sarah) felt butterflies as it got closer to 2pm, our ceremony time. Public speaking really isn’t in my comfort zone!  I was worried that I would be emotional, we had practised the ceremony and quite often there were tears even when reading through the words, they really do mean so much but as soon as I walked into the room and saw all of the people I care for looking at me I felt calm.  Seeing Fraser at the end of the aisle turned those nerves into a feeling of excitement and I knew that we were ready to share the story of us.  After the ceremony, so many of our guests came to us to say that they had never been to a wedding where the ceremony was so personal and touching, and that we were very brave to stand in front of everybody and just share our thoughts and feelings.

When planning your wedding, you will put so much thought into how to make your wedding personal and quite often the focus is on things that people see like colour themes, flowers and favours.   For us, the ceremony was the perfect way to make our ceremony unique to us as a couple, a reflection of two individuals coming together to start an exciting journey. 

The freedom to design it as we saw fit allowed us to include some of the people who are special to us by using them as the storytellers of our lives apart and together. Friends and family told stories of our lives while we explained to the audience all the reasons why we loved each other and why we had decided to get married. This last part was one that we were sure would make us both teary eyed however we did not anticipate the impact on our guests, of whom there was barely a dry eye in the room!

So, if you are thinking about having a humanist ceremony we would say go for it!  There’s no need to worry about where to start as Tim is there to guide and support with the writing process as much or as little as you need!

Fraser and Sarah x 

I've posted this story exactly as Sarah wrote it, because it's just a perfect example of why I choose to work the way I do. Ultimately it's about giving you total control over what you say, how you say it, and who you involve, and the reward is plain to see. 

I'm very touched that Sarah took the trouble to write at such length (and to send me some amazing honeymoon photos too!) and I just wanted to acknowledge photographer Lauren McGlynn who took these lovely photos of Sarah and Fraser's big day.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

What's the one truly unforgettable thing about your wedding?


The humanist ceremony by Tim Maguire. Often the wedding ceremony is overlooked at weddings but for us personally this was the most important bit. A time for us to take a step back and really express our feelings for one another. 

When you have been together for so long sometimes this is the aspect of the relationship that is just presumed. We (Rebecca) really had a great time writing the ceremony. The homework that Tim made us complete really made us think, it gave us chance to reflect and make absolutely certain that this is what we wanted. 

The ceremony is one of the things that our guests still talk about now, with such fondness. They say it gave them a real sense of who we are as a couple and loved the fact that the ceremony made them feel involved.

 I just remember feeling a happiness, a euphoria that I had never experienced before (as cheesy as that sounds) during the ceremony. Looking across to Gary and seeing him cry was just beautiful, to see him overwhelmed with emotion – wow. 

The whole thing was personal to us, it was what we believed and how we felt about each other and everyone of our guests.

I don't think I've really got much to add to this other than to thank Rebecca and Gary for giving me this wonderful Christmas present!

And thank you of course to Allie & Niels of Blue Sky Photography whose blog of this glamorous wedding can be found here, and will tell you everything you need to know: they really know how to interview, and they've done a great job.

Here are a few more photos of Gary and Rebecca's Hollywood themed wedding at the fabulous Balmoral Hotel

See many more, and read all about it here:

Friday, 9 December 2016

Promises, Promises...

The vows are the climax of every wedding, and there are lots of ways to speak them, but over the last few years, more and more couples have chosen to ask their guests to make some promises to them before they exchange their own.

I think it's a great idea. After all, the reason you invited them was because you want them to be part of your future as well as your past, and because, when the going gets tough, they're the people you're going to rely on to help you through.

So here are some things to think about, and ways of doing that. Almost three years ago, Kevin and Kellie were the first to venture down that path. Just before they spoke their own vows to one another, I said,

In a moment, Kellie and Kevin will utter those immortal words “I do”,  but theirs will be a response in the singular: a one to one commitment. 

Before they do that, as their families and closest friends, I'm going to ask you to agree to a number of requests. 

I will ask you a series of questions on their behalf, and you will answer each one with the words “we do”.

Don’t worry - this is not a group marriage!

Get the idea? You can take it a bit further too.

It can be great fun to choose guests to ask each of you specific questions that really put you on the spot. That's what Colin and Pat did.

Guest 5: Colin – do you promise not to comment on Pat’s baking or cooking with the irritating words ‘Sweetheart,  I wouldn’t do it that way’? 
Colin to respond!! 
Guest 6: Pat – do you promise not to hit every key on you computer just because it will not work as fast as you want it to? 
Pat to respond!!

Now as you can see, in both those cases, the couples themselves decided what the questions should be, but Ewan and Stewart took it on stage further. They asked four very good friends, Denise, Pete, Carole and Martin to make up their own questions and keep them a secret so that Stewart and Ewan only heard them for the first time on the day. It worked brilliantly, BUT, it's what we call a 'high risk strategy', and if you want to do it, I insist that your friends send what they propose to say to me first of all just in case they stray too far off brief, if you know what I mean...

So here are a few ideas for Guest Vows to get you started.

Celebrant: Will you support this couple and celebrate their happiness as they embark on this great adventure?
All: “We do”
Celebrant: Will you shore up their defences when life gets tough?
All: “We do”
Celebrant: Will you offer counsel should they falter, and remind them of the promises they made today?
All: “We do”
Celebrant: If they forget these promises and start to moan about the little things, do you promise to take them aside and give them a serious talking to?  
All: “We do”
Let me know if this appeals to you, and send me some suggestions for what you'd like to say when your time comes!