Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I know where I'm going... Part 1

The School of Medicine at The University of Edinburgh. Not as a student, but as an object of study...

Read this article by Peter Ross that first appeared in Scotland on Sunday

The BBC obviously read it, because they asked me not just to go on the radio and talk about it, but to go to the Anatomy Lab and see what will happen to me if my body is accepted (gulp!): I've written about that experience in I know where I'm going... Part 2.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Humanist Weddings - They're a Guy Thing...

OK I lied. Weddings really aren't a guy thing.
Men don't grow up in The Cinderella Complex.
We don't lie in bed at the age of nine thinking, "One day, when I get married, I'm going to wear..."
Or even, "One day, when I get married, all the table favours are going to match my team's football strip."

Men think that Weddings Are For Girls.

Don't get me wrong; a lot of men want to be married.
But most men, (and I'm aware that this is a sweeping statement, but bear with me), think that weddings are mostly about shopping - and what that means is being dragged on on endless visits to choose the photographer and the venue and the caterer and the flowers and so on and so forth, where their only role is to say, "Yes, dear, whatever you say."

When couples come to see me, I always ask if they've read this blog, and 8 times out of 10 it's the bride to be who says, "Yes, and it's been really helpful!" And the groom to be sits there looking slightly sheepish, hoping I don't notice. Well this post is for him. (So get him to come over to the screen and read this next bit over your shoulder...)

Your wedding ceremony is the one part of the day that isn't about shopping. It's all about using your imagination and speaking your mind. And if there's one thing you like to do, it's speak your mind.

A Humanist wedding is the only form of marriage where a couple are free to talk about the reasons they love one another and speak about their hopes and promises in their own words. That means both of you.

It's a unique privilege that took twenty years of campaigning to achieve.

Here's the difference.

In an old-fashioned wedding ceremony, the person conducting the ceremony tells the bride and groom and their friends and family what marriage means, and what they are promising one another. 

In a Humanist wedding, it's the other way round.

When we meet, I won't tell you what marriage means.
I will ask you what marriage means to you.

I want you to think about why you're doing this, what your hopes and intentions are, and then - on the day - I (and anybody else you want to involve in delivering parts of the ceremony) will tell your friends and family.

So that's why a humanist wedding IS a guy thing.
Because it's about your thoughts, your feelings, your reasons, your hopes and your promises.
And it doesn't work without your input.
And just think - whatever you choose to say, she has to go, "Yes, dear, whatever you say."


Friday, 15 October 2010

Becky & Adam's Humanist Wedding on Inchcolm Island

I had a nice surprise at the Edinburgh Volunteer Fair yesterday where I bumped into Adam who's now working with a local charity and he reminded me that he and Becky had sent me some pics from their wedding last year that I had completely forgotten to post - which is a shame because it was a wonderful day and I remember it well, not least because of the story of how they met.

Entirely separately, they were both hitching to Glastonbury when they managed to get a lift in the back of a a rusty blue transit van with a large hole in the bottom, through which an abundance of exhaust fumes poured in, making them Becky lose the will to live, and Adam lose the contents of his stomach! 

They survived the journey, and the mud, and the trench foot, and going to Art College together, before moving to South Queensferry, from which the wonderfully atmospheric Isle of Inchcolm is only a short boat trip away.

It was a wild and windy day, but if anything it made it all the more romantic. 

And I'm glad that even if my memory is deficient,  Adam's isn't!

He mailed me saying, "We just wanted to say a great big THANK YOU for making our day such a special one, on the eve of our anniversary. We are going over to inchcolm tomorrow as part of our celebrations. It was truely a wonderful day enjoyed by all, so thank you for all your work and guidance."

As ever, it was my pleasure!

Katy & Jerome's Humanist wedding at Gorton House in Midlothian

Katy & Jerome met four years ago in Canada when they were both on an exchange - Katy from Scotland and Jerome from Australia, and as they said in their ceremony, they were both expecting to meet new people have fun and see another part of the world, but not to fall in love, so it was no surprise that they were joined by friends and family who'd travelled from North America, France, Norway, Australia, and all over the UK to be with them for their special day.

It was a glorious autumn afternoon and they wrote a very touching ceremony, so I asked Katy for her thoughts about it and what it meant. This is what she wrote.

Although we might like to think we know each others thoughts, Jerome actually came up with some lovely things that I wasn't so aware of, and hopefully I also did the same to him, and it was also nice just to hear it said out loud.  

The thing I liked most about the ceremony was that it was actually about us and it was unique - I was quite against a religious or civil ceremony not just because they didn't reflect my beliefs, but also because they tend to be much more generic.  

I think the fact that we were able to describe our own thoughts on marriage in our own words, rather than just having someone else describe what they think marriage means, made it even more personal and special.  

I think it will be a great think to have to look back on in the years to come, especially if we go through any tough times, to remind us why we fell in love and what we committed to.  

In terms of the ceremony itself on the day, I'd like to think it had just the right balance between being informal but also being special and meaningful.  It is certainly something I will never forget and will have much pleasure looking back on.  

We have had lots of good feedback so hopefully something went right!

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...