Monday, 20 June 2016

Katie and Ross's Humanist Wedding at The Signet Library

I think you can guess which Edinburgh author
inspired the theme for Ross and Katie's wedding...

 It was an appropriately magical occasion, 
in the splendid surroundings of Edinburgh's historic Signet Library

Where even the railings seemed somehow to have been art directed to match.

I don't usually post quite so many photos of the build-up, but I think that Karolina did such a great job, you'll enjoy them as much as I did: you can check out more of her work here

Katie and Ross met at school - sixteen years before, when the new first year students of the Royal High School gathered in the assembly hall on their first day. Ross was struck by Katie's big beautiful eyes. 

Katie thought Ross was a prefect because he was so much taller than everyone else.
(He's not quite so tall now…)

But before I told their story, 
Katie’s bridesmaid Emma and Ross's groomsman Stephen gave us our first reading, 
“A Lovely Love Story, by Edward Monkton”

The story was a long one, but it was a good one, and it was very, very happy.

Their teenage romance sort of began at the age of 12, 
but it wasn't until they were 15 that Ross began his wooing 
in the way that only a teenage boy can: by breaking all of Katie's stuff. 

In one RE class Ross dismantled Katie's pen, 
and as its spring flew across the room, 
one of their exasperated classmates cried out, 
“will you two not just get together?”

From being teenagers just finishing school 
they became young adults with degrees and careers, 
and they moved in to their first flat together 
on the date of their 5th anniversary

After nine years Ross thought it was probably time he popped the question.
He did it with great panache. 

 He told Katie to come home from work early because he had a surprise for her, 

but when she got there, he was nowhere to be seen.

Instead, there was a card that had ‘Read Me’ written on it. 
 Katie found herself at the start of a treasure hunt 
that took her all around the house, 
where she found more and more cards, 
each with a picture on the front and some words written by Ross inside.

The last one told Katie to put something pretty on,
because a taxi would pick her up in an hour

Completely bemused, Katie complied. 
The taxi took her to Chambers Street, 
where she had been instructed to open the final clue.
It told her to head to the Tower Restaurant at the National Museum of Scotland.

When she got there, 
she was directed to the private roof terrace on top of the museum, 
overlooking the castle which was all lit up at night.
 Ross was waiting for her. 
He he asked her to marry him. 

Katie said yes! 
Cue tears of joy all round…

After Sally gave us a reading, 
from The Amber Spyglass, by Phillip Pullman

we had a pause for quiet contemplation and then it was vow time. 

I began by asking the guest to make some promises to Ross and Katie, 
which was a great idea.

Then Katie and Ross spoke their own personal vows to one another.

I pronounced them man and wife,
then I got out of the way 
so Karolina could get these great shots: 

you can see just how their families and friends felt at that moment too.

After signing the Marriage Schedule,
with Ross's brother Robert and Katie's Maid of Honour Sally, 

I asked the guests to join me in speaking a blessing to the happy couple.

It was a truly joyous start to their day. 

When they got back from their honeymoon, Ross & Katie kindly sent me this email, 
along with these wonderful photos by Karolina Kotkiewitz

Now that the dust has settled from our wedding, we have had time to process everything and reflect on what was such an amazing day for us.

You told us when we first met up that after the ceremony everyone will be saying how good it was, and how nice it was to have a ceremony that was all about the couple for a change - and you were right! The response was overwhelmingly positive with people loving how it was informal yet not silly, funny, poignant and even a bit romantic. And these comments came from a wide spectrum of people - religious, non-religious, old, young etc. They particularly liked hearing our story as only a few people knew our story from the very beginning - even family members had no idea about some parts of it.

We therefore want to extend our heartfelt thanks to you 
for how you presided over our ceremony. 
You gave us everything we wanted from a celebrant, 
and we loved every minute of it. 

Our wedding really was the best day of our lives,
 and a large part of that was due to the tone set from the ceremony. 
It went by in a blur, but luckily we have some brilliant photos from Karolina! 
The Harry Potter theme has gone down very well, 
with a wedding blog even making a feature of it. 

So my heartfelt thanks go to the new Mr and Mrs Whiteside, for letting me tell their story 
and of course to Karolina for her very atmospheric photographs. 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Carolyn and NIgel's Humanist Wedding at Seton Collegiate Church

I'm just going to let Carolyn write this post: you'll see why when you get to the end.

Two months have passed since our amazing wedding at Seton Collegiate and what an amazing 2 months we have had. First off, our wedding was perfect, in every way. The weather was fantastic, what a turn around from the days before and the days after. In the first photo I love how you had me standing in the only sunbeam coming into the church- very powerful. I didn't even notice this during the ceremony.

The way you delivered our ceremony was wonderful, I was laughing at some of the bits-and I was the one that had written it! That for me is the sign of a good orator. You were great in your delivery and your presence in the church.  I loved learning how you were telling everyone what humanism is not before I arrived, and I am glad to know that we didn't have to run around naked!. 

Feedback from people who had not experienced a humanist ceremony before was very positive as they could now understand that a humanist ceremony is all about the couple- its real and emotional.  In the second photo my face is one of emotion, and the way that we both delivered our vows was perfect. We both had practised after our attempts at the rehearsal and I am glad that we both managed them without much prompting, and we managed to say them with meaning.  I still find myself laughing when you said to me "the other left hand" when I took Nigel's hand, this must be something that happens a lot. 

The third photo is when we had left the church after we were married and the amazing feeling of being finally married after 16 years together. We had a lovely drinks reception at the church before heading off to the Marine hotel and our walk on the beach along with my lovely purple wellingtons. 

We has a fantastic reception at the Marine Hotel with a great band, although our ceilidh dancing didn't really work out. Feedback from the hotel staff was that our band were one of the best they had heard. The sunset that evening was perfect, such a lovely end to the day.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for marrying us, I am very happy that you were the one that we chose to be our celebrant. 

Kind regards

Carolyn and Nigel the Porty Pirate!

As I said to Carolyn, "You made me cry with your lovely letter: thank you so much! I am truly touched." Thank you also to Istvan Magyar for his photographs - and I look forward very much to hearing from Geoff of 'Watch The Birdie' when he's finished editing the movie!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Sarah & Jamie's Humanist wedding wedding at The George Hotel

Once upon a time, long, long ago, back at the dawn of time, before even the invention of Facebook, there was a website called ‘Newstudent’ where Glasgow University freshers jamiepw1 and misty651 exchanged messages… 

They were just looking to make friends, and that's what they remained for no fewer than eight years before a late night snuggle on a Megabus. Classy.

Within the first six months, they’d been on three holidays, and Jamie had moved in.

Fast-forward six months, and they found themselves moving to Jersey.

Fast forward another couple of years and here we all are at the George Hotel in Edinburgh, eleven years after they first met, surrounded by their family and friends. Jamie was supported by his best friends Chufty, Jordy, and his younger brother, Alexander the Swag King.

Sarah assembled no fewer than four bridesmaids: her sister Jennifer, her friend Emma the saxophone enthusiast, along with Jamie’s sisters Elizabeth and Arabella. 
Just out of shot is Sarah’s young cousin Rowan, who was her flower girl.

As you can see from these photos, 
the bride and groom are diagonally opposite their families, so they get the best view. 

We had readings from Fiona, Lorna and Dan before we got the vows and exchange of rings. 
We also got a very funny and moving 'thought on marriage' from Sarah's mother Pat who told us what she'd learned from her 34 years together with David. 
One of them was to remember that men and women are different. 
Women need to feel loved and cherished, but men need to feel needed and desired. 

Sarah and Jamie spoke their vows to each other in what I call the 'poker style' - 
that's where you do a series of vows back and forth between the two of you. 
It's kind of like, 'I see your vow and I'll raise you...'

After the ceremony, Sarah's mum left a lovely post on my Facebook page.

I had never been to a humanist wedding celebration before and I was delighted with the moving, personal ceremony that you orchestrated; a celebration in every way. 
I loved the relaxed, friendly atmosphere; the personal introductions of all the participants, the humour and the fact we clapped and laughed during the ceremony. 
I also greatly appreciated you coming to my rescue when I had no clue where to sit!

Sarah and Jamie posted this lovely message to my Facebook page too…
"Hi Tim, apologies for our delay in getting in touch - that's us just back from honeymoon! Jamie and I just wanted to say a massive thank you for being our celebrant. You were absolutely brilliant. You did a fantastic job of guiding us towards a personal, entertaining and memorable ceremony that truly reflected who we are as a couple, and also ensuring everyone knew exactly where they needed to be and what they needed to do - despite the fact that us living in Jersey meant we couldn't actually meet in person until the day itself!

You are such a character, you brought the ceremony to life, and we would not hesitate to recommend you to others. SO many of our guests commented on how wonderful our ceremony was and how much they enjoyed it. We do not have our official photos back yet, but we'll be sure to share some with you when we do  
Thanks again. Sarah and Jamie Wisbey xxx"

Well the photographs duly arrived and they're great as you can see so thank you again Sarah & Jamie and of course thanks to their photographer, Karol Makula

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Candace and Luis's Humanist Wedding at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow but they've got nothing on the Sequoiadendron giganteum or giant redwood.

This baby grew from a seed planted by Candace and Luis whose wedding I celebrated last year.

The John Muir Grove at the Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is a natural cathedral formed by six of these huge trees that were planted in the 1920's and are now more than 400 feet high. It's a staggering thought that they could live for more than three thousand years, and that one day they could stand more than twice as high. The grove made the perfect setting for the marriage of Candace and Luis.

A free-spirited pair, their ceremony was as radical and original as they are. Delivered by me in Spanish and English, with contributions from most of the guests, it was a suitably free-form celebration of love between 'a bleak poet and a gothic musician who create love poems on the fridge'. They even created a booklet that gave people all the text of the ceremony as well as some of their favourite poems, which was a beautiful idea.

Some of the text wasn't in the ceremony itself. I loved the way they talked in the introduction about what marriage means to them.

We imagine that marriage is a guarantor 
of the happiness we're enjoying with someone.
That it will make permanent what might otherwise be fleeting.
But in truth, our desperate urge to make things permanent 
will only lead to unhappiness,
because a marriage is a journey, not a pause button.
Happiness is transient.
Marriage should be permanent.
We have agreed never to divorce because we believe 
that going through the hard stuff
will add value to our experience in life, and with each other.
With all this in mind, cheers to you and to our happy day!

At the end of the ceremony, they planted several tiny seeds of giant redwoods that could live for more than three thousand years and sent me not just these lovely words, but my very own tiny tree.

Hopefully with the spring and summer sun the dear little sequoia will grow strong and lively. 
We hope that you are well: we speak about you so much, and we had such a great experience (plus we are the poster couple for happily married). Thank you - it was an amazing day. And it's a beautiful life.

My thanks to you too, Candace y Luis: I hope you remain very much in love!