Friday, 19 June 2009
Kathryn & Richard first talked to me about their wedding plans over Skype from Australia where they live and it wasn't until a few days before the ceremony that we finally met for the first time. Their wedding, on a glorious spring day in April, was a very relaxed and yet quite traditional one, with morning suits far outnumbering the kilts, which is rare in this part of the world. Kathryn is a fashion designer so of course her dress is her own creation and very lovely it is too.
I was surprised to discover that their friend Sandy lives a few doors away from me and he attracted quite a following, as all good pipers do!
Seton Collegiate Church is what guidebooks like to call "a hidden gem".
Only 13 miles from the centre of Edinburgh, parts of it date from 1242 and although it endured various indignities at the hands of both the English and the Covenanters it survives as "a very impressive building with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere".
At least part of that is down to the wonderful team from Historic Scotland who look after the building and its wonderful gardens, filled with the scent of magnolia and quite alive with goldfinches. Lesley Brown is the smiling lady who seems to run the show and does it so well, she even managed to find the time to take these photos of the wedding herself - who needs an official photographer?
I was conducting a wedding rehearsal there yesterday and was astonished to learn from Lesley that there will be only 13 weddings at Seton this year; it deserves to be much better known and much more visited. Click here to find out more. Thanks again Lesley for the photos!
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
This was an extraordinary ceremony, in every possible way. Eric and Liz had been planning a humanist wedding for ages but only a month before their wedding, they discovered that the person who was supposed to be conducting their marriage wasn't actually legally authorised to do so*: major panic! Luckily they got in touch with the Humanist Society of Scotland and within a matter of hours we'd met and they decided they wanted to work with me. Their excitement that evening was almost palpable, and I had a feeling that this would be a particularly romantic ceremony.
I wasn't wrong. Ardanaseig is a small, luxurious and wildly romantic country house hotel on the misty shores of Loch Awe and it was the perfect setting for a wedding full of Irish people: all that rain must have made them feel right at home.
I love it when couples have the courage to speak during their ceremony, and Liz and Eric decided that they'd tell everyone the reasons why they didn't just fall in love with one another, but decided that this was the person without whom they couldn't live. It was incredibly moving and even the photographer, the ubiquitous Trevor Wilson, said he thought it was one of the loveliest weddings he'd ever been to.
When they came back from their honeymoon, Liz wrote me a wee note saying, "Without exception, everyone who was there on the day has commented about what a wonderful, personal and moving ceremony it was that you performed for us. Many of our friends who are married have said they wished they had had a ceremony like ours, as it was so emotional, and so uniquely 'us'. It is a source of great pride for us that people have said this, and we feel it should be for you too! And in terms of our feelings about it, we don't think that anyone else could have given us a ceremony like you did, we feel it was an absolute blessing to us that you got in touch and offered to help us in our hour of need, and we will always be grateful that things didn't turn out as we had first planned, as you really did make our day perfect! Just to say again the biggest thankyou I could for making our ceremony everything we could have wished for and more!"
It was and it is, Liz!
*No-one other than an authorised celebrant of the Humanist Society of Scotland can conduct legally binding ceremonies. There are now (June 2009) 51 celebrants authorised by The Registrar General of Scotland to conduct legal weddings. All of us are members of the Humanist Society of Scotland, and all our names and contact details can be found here. Accept no substitute.
Some couples are really well organised. I just got an email from Clare, sent from the airport in Osaka where she and Ross are just about to board the plane for the second leg of their honeymoon in Dubai, inviting me to check out their wedding photos online: their photographer is the very popular Glasgow based Trevor Wilson.
When I meet couples, it's always the girls who say they're worried that they might cry during the ceremony, and the guy always gives me that look that says, "Women, eh?" But guess what? During the ceremony, it's always the man who has the tear in his eye. And even though Ross is built like the proverbial brick outdoor convenience, he was no exception. It always warms my heart to see a big man cry. (And I hope he doesn't come over and batter me when he gets back from his honeymoon!)
Another thing that warms my heart is the end of the ceremony, when I usually ask the guests to join me in reading a well-wishing, or blessing, to the newly-married couple. It's a very important moment, because it's the first time the couple have really looked outwards at their guests, and it's extremely moving to see all these people looking at them with love in their eyes. I hope you get to experience it yourself some day.
A little while ago, the lovely Katie Fewings asked me to write an article on Humanist Weddings for her online magazine, Ethical Weddings, (a site that does what it says on the tin). If you're interested, you can read it here.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Humanist wedding ceremonies have only been legal in Scotland since June 2005, but they've become so popular that people are often unaware of the long campaign conducted by the Humanist Society of Scotland to make them available.
I wrote an article about this for the International Humanist & Ethical Union's magazine which has just been published as their cover story. If you're interested, You can read it here as a PDF file, or here as a web page which is quicker.
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