Sunday, 9 June 2019

Katrina and Andrew's Humanist Wedding at Pratis Barns

I loved how Katrina and Andrew's 'unplugged wedding ceremony' began. I told the guests they wanted to see their faces not their phones, and then their friends Lizzie and Jamie gave us a lovely version of 'Can't Help Falling in Love' for Katrina's walk down the aisle.

They both came with a big team: Katrina had Jen, Amy, Natasha, not one but two Laurens and their adorable flower girl, Indie-Mae who stole the show as you can tell!

The defensive line on my left was composed of Andrew's friends Ryan, Jacob, Dave, CJ and Tane. Sadly another of Andrew's rugby-playing friends Steve wasn't able to join them, and I thought it was a nice touch to give him a name check in his absence.

Their story began ten years ago over questionable cocktails in Gusto on George Street before moving on to the Opal Lounge where Andrew sealed the deal with his legendary dance moves!

It was tough for them when, just as Andrew was retiring from professional rugby due to injury, Katrina was setting off on her international dancing career. 

FaceTime became their friend, and reunions aboard cruise ships mitigated the pain of separation until, on Katrina's last contract, Andrew flew over to Paris. He chose the Eiffel Tower as the place to get down on one knee, but not before Katrina's less than appropriate choice of footwear saw her taking a tumble on the slippery cobbles!

The guests were a very International bunch: Andrew's sister Jenni flew in from Australia to read a secret poem, and then I asked everyone to check under their seats and look for an envelope. 

There were six of them, all containing anonymised contributions that Katrina and Andrew had been sent by the guests themselves - another great idea for you to think about.

We then talked about the meaning of marriage and once again, I loved the thought they'd put into what they wanted me to say. 'Today, marriage is a choice: it's no longer an expectation and that makes it even more special to us.'

Katrina's cousin Leanne read 'a realistic wedding poem' by Mrs. Moem, before Andrew and Katrina spoke their very personal vows directly to one another.  

They asked Jen and Ryan to give them the rings as they made their Legal Declaration, and there was a bit of a fumble as Ryan - normally the safest pair of hands on the pitch - dropped the ring! 

I think it's safe to say, he'll be teased about that for the rest of his life...

This is 'The Year of the Byre' and Pratis Barns is a former cow shed, which has all the atmosphere that comes with that history. These happy snaps are from my Instagram feed: the good ones are from the lovely Anna Urban

 it's about half-way between Leven and Ceres, so if you're looking for a real 'country wedding' feel, it's definitely somewhere you should check out. 

I was so pleased to get this lovely message from the new Mr. and Mrs. Easson the other day.

Thank you for all of your guidance, professionalism, patience and warmth on the biggest day of our lives so far! 

One of our fondest moments of the lead up to the Wedding was the night you suggested we read our "homework" to one another, and hearing it all again during the ceremony being read by you was just amazing. 

Our guests loved the tone, the authenticity and how we had involved them in the ceremony.

The ring drop from our Best Man, Ryan was golden - a moment we won't let him forget that's for sure. 

The whole thing just went so fast, it's so hard to believe it wasn't a dream. 

We are so grateful to have had you marry us, thank you so much Tim. 

Warmest wishes, 
Katrina and Andrew

Thank you so much, K + A - it was a joy! 

You put so much thought and imagination into your script, and it really paid off on the day. Keep dancing and don't lose touch! 

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Jo and Andy's Humanist Wedding on The Cobbler

I absolutely LOVE mountain weddings, but they're not for the fainthearted. Even in good weather, getting up to the summit requires a lot of planning and preparation, but when it's absolutely tipping down as it was last Sunday, well, that's when you find out what people are made of.

Andy and Jo are climbers: 'craggers' in the private language of mountaineers, and they spend much of their year clinging to inaccessible pinnacles in the heat and dust of Spain. Jo hails from Scotland, so that was why they chose to come to the legendary 'Arrochar Alps' for their wedding on Beinn Arthur, as The Cobbler is properly known.

The Cobbler has a very dramatic skyline: it looks like the kind of place you might have to trek towards for months before throwing a golden ring into a pit of fire. It's only a Corbett, so it's not that high, even by Scottish standards, but as Wikipedia will tell you, 'it's "one of the most impressive summits, and the most important site for rock climbing in the Southern Highlands", so as a location, it was a shoo-in!

I was really looking forward to seeing how Jo and Andy's wedding would work out. They had said there might be a few people coming with them, but I had no idea that 'a few' would turn out to be thirty of all ages, plus a few dogs, notably their own indefatigable and very affectionate Bailey! 

Bailey is a Spanish rescue dog: if like me, you couldn't guess what he is, he's a Podenco cross and he's not usually a fan of the rain, but he obviously felt the sense of occasion!

Billy Connolly famously said, 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing' and thanks to Goretex™, (other waterproof membranes are available) everyone was properly kitted out and raring to go at half past nine in the morning.

A conventional wedding takes about half an hour, more or less, but a mountain one tends to be both shorter and longer at the same time.

Before we left the car park, I introduced myself, said a few words about humanism and what was going to make this ceremony different, and then up the long path we started.

The Cobbler isn't a hard walk, but it has a few steep sections, and because the burns running down it were in spate, we had a few hairy moments leaping from rock to rock above the raging torrent.

We stopped three times during the ascent for a moment's rest, and each time we did so, someone spoke.

Jo's brother Andy welcomed his namesake to the family: Andy's best man Alex read a very rain-tattered but still funny and moving speech and I said a few words too. The rain really was non-stop. 

There were lots of iPhones and small cameras among the guests, and that's where many of these photos have come from. 

Andy and Jo's friend, the award-winning adventure photographer John Thornton had brought his professional kit with him, but even he was defeated by the weather as the insidious Scottish rain found its way into the electrics, which is why this frame was the last he shot on the day.

It's easy to get lost in the hills. At one point, I found myself some distance ahead of the main body, approaching what looked like a ridge. Beyond it was a steep incline, beyond that an even steeper drop, so I thought I'd sit down for a while until everyone else caught up.

It turned out that was a good move, because the small plateau was the perfect spot to conduct the wedding. To our right, somewhere not far above us in the swirling mist was the true summit, a rock pinnacle that calls for Grade 5 skills in good weather, but it was completely invisible on the day.

Here, with their family and friends gathered around them, Jo and Andy spoke their vows and exchanged rings - surprisingly given the cold and wet, they actually managed to get them on - and then we had a small champagne reception, with cocktail sausages, thoughtfully pre-smothered with HP Sauce, provided by Jo's mum.

Everyone headed downhill at their own pace, and as luck would have it, more or less as we got back to the carpark, the sun came out.

Andy and Jo drank from a quaich, a surprise element set up by her dad, and then they had a hand fasting, using rope - there's no more symbolic material for mountaineers!

as Jo said when she sent me these photos, "Since Sunday, I have had so many happy messages from friends. I think the wedding really was a team event: we all helped each other make it to the top! A good base for our wettest, most fun mountain wedding!"

I don't think The Guinness Book of Records has a category for the Wettest Wedding Ever, but if it did, Jo and Andy's would win it hands down, but it would also be right up there in the entries for Most Fun, Most Inspiring, and Most Engaging: I'm just glad I got to be a part of it!

Katrina and Andrew's Humanist Wedding at Pratis Barns

I loved how Katrina and Andrew's  'unplugged  wedding c eremony'  began. I told the guests they wanted to see their faces...