Monday, 28 September 2009

Joanne & Alan's Humanist Wedding at The Caves in Edinburgh

Most people agree that marriage these days is an equal partnership between a woman and a man, but traditions die hard, and every so often a bride tells me that father wants to 'give her away' to her groom. This can be tricky, but Joanne came up with a clever solution that respected her dad, Padraic's wishes, as well as her own.

Rather than relinquish any form of 'ownership', she asked him instead to make a public affirmation of her choice, so when they made it to the end of the aisle, I asked Padraic, "Are you happy for Joanne to be married to Alan and content to wish them well on their journey through life?", to which he replied, "I am."

Joanne's a very cunning girl: she tricked Alan into going to the Caves the very first time by telling him he was going on a ghost tour; then she produced an engagement ring and asked if he would do her the honour of becoming her husband. I won't tell you Alan's initial response, but after he got over the shock, he did indeed say yes, and eleven months later, they came back to the Caves for their wedding.

Like many couples they wrote their own vows and spoke them directly to one another, which was very moving...

...and funny!

It was a very happy day, as you can see.

My belated thanks go to Joanne and Alan - and to Alan Thomson for the photographs.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Same Sex Partnerships - Sinead's Hand

One of the many things that's great about the laws of Scotland is that Humanist marriage is legal, but - and it's an important but - only between men and women.

Gay people are allowed to have a Civil Partnership, but they can't choose any other form of marriage, even though there are many in the churches and the humanist community who would love to celebrate them. You can support the campaign to change the law in Scotland here, at the Equal Marriage web site

I've conducted only two same sex ceremonies and you won't find any pictures of either of them on my blog: not because I don't want to show them, but because both couples work in the public sector and have to be discreet. Which makes me wonder why, if gay couples can now have a Civil Ceremony, is it NOT OK for them to be open about their relationship? The answer is that society is a great deal less tolerant towards gay people than it appears, so people in the armed forces, or in education, public health and so on still can't be open about their sexuality and their relationship status.

Anyway, if it's bad here, it's much worse in Ireland where Gay and Lesbian people can't even have a civil ceremony. If you'd like to support their campaign, watch this lovely little film, called 'Sinead's Hand', and then click here to support MarriagEquality's campaign for same-sex marriage in Ireland.

Ruari and Gill's Humanist Wedding at Aberdour Castle

As most people marry later in life these days, stories of star-crossed teenage sweethearts are hard to come by, but that was Gill & Ruari's story. From a glance across the floor at the school disco, via a Hogmanay snog, university separation, reconnection through a supermarket stalk all the way to a proposal on a sun-kissed beach in southern Skye, their story had their friends and families alternately in stitches and piping tears from their eyes.

Aberdour is a well-preserved castle, that still has a roof over much of it, so it's a lot warmer than many other Historic Scotland properties. I remember when I turned up for the rehearsal, Ruari's mum and her friends were putting finishing touches to the elaborate floral displays and when I got there on the day, I could smell the bouquet all the way down the stairs: it was a lovely touch.

Aberdour Castle has a great cafe and it's right next to the railway station, so it's well worth checking out if you're still looking for somewhere interesting to get married.

I got a lovely email from Gill & Ruari when they got back from honeymoon, saying, "Thanks again for everything, it was a fantastic ceremony. So many people have said to us how much they enjoyed it having never been to a humanist ceremony before. Great news and largely down to you so thanks again." While it's always nice to hear, I don't believe that it's true: I think it's all down to what the couple themselves choose to say; it's just my privilege to help them discover it and say it for them on the day.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Julia & Colin's Humanist Wedding at Tyninghame Village Hall

I knew it was only a matter of time before I married a couple who are more webbed up than I am.

Julia and Colin have already posted shots of their wedding last weekend to Facebook and to Colin's Blog. It really is a wired world.

OK, you two: move away from the keyboard, board the aircraft, go on honeymoon and leave the keyboard alone for a fortnight.... xxx

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Katy & Beej's Humanist Wedding at The Atrium Restaurant in Edinburgh

Everyone but everyone wants to get married at 2.30 pm on a Saturday afternoon, which means of course that the venues have you over a barrel and can charge a premium. I think more people should copy Katy and Beej's example and marry on a Monday, when even a top restaurant, like The Atrium will be delighted to see you and genuinely grateful for the business!

Beej and Katy had a wonderful story. They met entirely by accident when they were separately hitching to Glastonbury and both happened to get into the same rickety van.

They put a lot of thought and imagination into their ceremony and I particularly liked this phrase they chose to use

"The words we say today have no magic or prophetic powers. The power of the wedding vows is merely a reflection of a reality that already exists in the hearts and minds of these two people. Beej and Katy, nothing I can say, or nothing you can say to each other, will ensure a long and happy, satisfying and committed marriage. Only your love for one another, and your integrity to make your commitment real can do that. "

Katy wrote, "Beej and I would just like to say a big thank you to you for making our day so wonderfully special and personal. From the very beginning of the process when you filled our heads with ideas and questions and 'what ifs?', to the actual day when you simultaneously calmed the groom, entertained the guests and held court during the proceedings, it was a pleasure and an honour to work with you.

Every single one of our guests commented on the originality of the day, and we had so many lovely comments throughout the day about the ceremony we wrote - which we couldnt have done without your guidance and advice. It was lovely to be able to have a day that so actively involved our mothers and families in the way we did, and really truly made it an occasion about the joining of two families and not just the marriage of two individuals."

Thanks to Peter Rehal of Keystone Photography for the pics

Keri & Erik's Humanist Wedding at Harburn House

People are coming from all over the world to have a humanist wedding in Scotland and I've married Australians and Americans and Danes and Germans but Keri and Erik's Mexican wedding was a first. They had to change their plans at the last minute so it was all done in a bit of a rush, but thanks to Skype and email, we put everything together in under three months, despite all the panic at the time about swine flue pandemics.

One thing I really liked was the way Erik came in with his parents, kissed them both on the cheek and then came forward to the front of the room to await the bride. Another nice touch was getting their incredibly cute little boy, Eliot, to bring the ring to his mummy...

And the other nice thing was that Keri's sister Lianne translated and read the entire ceremony in Spanish, for the benefit of those guests whose first language wasn't English.

I got a lovely message from Keri once they'd gone back home.

"We had the most wonderful, wonderful day and without doubt the most special part was our ceremony, which we will never forget. Thank you so much for encouraging us to be original, thoughtful and most of all honest in writing our ceremony. Thank you also for helping us get all our family involved in the ceremony - one of our favourite parts was definitely Eliot giving me his dad's ring, and also coming to frighten us with the lion!!!"

My thanks to Keri and Erik and Eliot and to Duke Photography for some of these images.

Jill and Chris's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Just look at Mansfield Traquair . Could it be more calm and tranquil? Little did Jill and Chris know what was to come. If they h...