Thursday, 30 April 2009

Louise & Gary's Humanist Wedding Ceremony in Penicuik Town Hall

Wedding rehearsals - do you really need them? I think so, especially if the wedding is taking place somewhere none of us know very well and which is going to be completely transformed for the big day. I had a lot of fun working with Gary & Lou on their ceremony, not least because it began with a Skype call to Japan, where Gary works as a producer in the music industry.

We talked through the various different ways in which their wedding ceremony could be made very personal and then when they were both back here in Scotland, we met and talked further and Gary unfurled his plans for transforming Penicuik Town Hall into a scale replica of a Kiss concert at the Budokan. Which I had to say didn't look remotely possible on the day of the rehearsal...

Their friend Michael Macari is a very good documentary photographer, who never stopped looking for shots and caught me en route to the front door...

Where I was astonished to see the transformation that had taken place overnight! One element that wasn't there for the rehearsal was "the riser" on which Lou, Gary and I stood, just in front of the stage.

It was very narrow and there really wasn't room enough for all three of us, so at one point I found myself up on the stage and down on one knee: it looks as though I'm proposing, but in fact I was pronouncing them husband and wife! It was a great ceremony and I'm just sorry that I wasn't able to stay for their fancy dress ceilidh in the evening.

Elizabeth & Bengtis's Humanist Wedding at Greywalls in East Lothian

One of the particular joys of being a Humanist celebrant is making new friends. Elizabeth and I had briefly met, but never really got to know one another. That all changed when she and Bengtis, her partner of 21 years, decided it was time to get married.

Elizabeth is extremely organised and in another life would have had a successful career in the Diplomatic Service, so she managed the whole process really well, even going so far as to invite me down to their house for 'a rehearsal and a bite of supper'. When I got there, I was treated to champagne, a five course, Michelin Star quality dinner and the company of two of their oldest and best friends, Annie and Alex. Needless to say, there was no rehearsal.

As it turned out, we didn't need one. it was a very intimate ceremony at a beautiful Lutyens house in Gullane with only twenty one guests, including Chris, the boyfriend of Elizabeth's lovely daughter Jennifer, who played the fiendishly difficult, but very beautiful "Cavatina" by Stanley Myers, (better known as the theme from the movie "The Deer Hunter")

The best moment, brilliantly caught here by their photographer, Elaine Dempsey, was when they both spoke their vows. Recently I've been encouraging couples to keep one or two of their vows to one another a secret, so that they've both got a very special surprise on the day. As it turned out, both Bengtis and Elizabeth had unknowingly chosen to say precisely the same thing, provoking this wonderful response.

Not only does Elaine take a good picture, she makes one too: she's on the left in this photo. So if you're looking for a photographer who brings a touch of glamour to the ceremony, look no further. Her company, Premier Photography is a Vows Award winner and they're based in Hamilton: to see some of their work, please click here

Monday, 13 April 2009

Chiara & Tim's Humanist Wedding at the National Trust for Scotland's House in Charlotte Square

Tim & Chiara's ceremony was great fun, not just because it was so well-written and moving but because at least half the guests were Italian and in the way that only Italians can, they wore their most glamourous fur coats and smoked with impunity!

They sent me this lovely card, (Made on a Mac) with a note to say "It truly was a fantastic day and the ceremony was exactly as we wanted - personal, funny and very loving. We really can't thank you enough for your contribution in making that happen."

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Charlotte & Graeme's Humanist Wedding at The Royal College of Physicians

It's taken me far too long to realise that there was a very important element missing from this blog - the voices of the couples themselves. Graeme and Charlotte's was the very first wedding I conducted this year, in the mists and fogs of January and it was a lovely tale of two kids who'd gone to the same school but never met until they were introduced years later by a mutual friend. They not only sent me these great photos, but they were kind enough to look back on the whole process and allow me to share their story here.

"Graeme and I knew we wanted our wedding to be both personal, and enjoyable for our guests. We have both been to a Humanist wedding before and knew that it was what we wanted for our wedding. We just had to find a celebrant! I saw Tim on the website and we arranged to meet him one Saturday morning. We felt comfortable with him straight away. We came away with ‘homework’ from our first meeting. The task was to write down 10 reasons why we wanted to marry each other, which brought out our (usually deeply hidden) soppy sides, and it was actually a fun thing to do after a glass of wine one night."

"I then sent Tim a very long email telling him mine and Graeme’s life stories and we were able to create the ceremony together. Tim suggested lots of poem, readings and vows and we cherry picked our favourite bits and pieces. Tim incorporated a shortened version of our life stories into the introduction of the ceremony."

"When at last the big day came, I felt happy knowing that we had created our own vows and ceremony and it eased my nerves a little knowing what we were going to say and how much the words meant to us both. During the ceremony it was lovely to be facing our guests, as we could see their reactions and also have a peek at their wedding outfits! Tim had a lovely, calm manner throughout the service and even kept our guests entertained beforehand whilst I was stuck in heavy traffic!"

"Before the wedding a lot of our friends and families thought that Humanism was all about tree hugging hippies, but afterwards many said was what a great ceremony it was, as it was so personal. We also appreciated being able to acknowledge our friends and family during the service and having them contribute by reciting a blessing to us."

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mavis Hall Park - The Secret Wedding Location

I first went to Mavis Hall Park last December, for the wedding of Dan & Amani and I remember that when I finally got there, I seriously thought I'd come to the wrong place. There were no cars, no human beings and no sign of life anywhere, let alone bunting, balloons, a marquee or any of the usual paraphernalia - just the odd chicken scratching around in the freezing dirt.

I was there yesterday for the marriage of Martin & Stacey (of which more another time) and I thought I should just post a reference shot, in case you ever have to go there and like me, wonder if you've come to the right place.

Yes, it really does look like a farm and no, they don't want any more publicity thank you, or so said the MD, Fiona Elworthy to me yesterday, but it's quite unique, and well worth checking out.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

"What does a Humanist Wedding cost?"

"What does a Humanist Wedding cost?" Is one of the questions that people seem to be asking search engines. My answer used to be "a lot less than the bride will spend on the shoes", which was just a wild surmise for which I had no hard evidence - until now.

This is one of a rose and shell-covered pair that belong to a lovely bride to be who came to see me the other day, who brought her shopping as well as her fiance. Looking at all the work that's gone into them, I'm happy to concede that they more than justify the investment - she's worth it!

Abigail and Ryan's Humanist Wedding at The Signet Library

 I don't usually post photos from the prep, but these candid snaps by Ricky Baillie are too good not to share! David (above) i...