Friday, 29 April 2011

Met in a Palace, Live in a Castle and Married in an Abbey...

As Kate and William's celebrations were coming to a climax at Westminster this morning, I was en route to Dumfries and Galloway to conduct a wedding for another couple, who as one of their guests told me, had "met in a palace, live in a castle and were now about to get married in an abbey".

It was a long drive so I tuned into Radio 4 which allowed me to hear the cheering crowds in the Mall, the excitement about the dress, the beautiful choral singing and the sonorous voice of the Archbishop of Canterbury pronouncing the happy couple husband and wife, and it gave me time to think about the similarities and the differences between the two ceremonies.

Some of the differences were obvious. Mari and Gareth don't own their castle, but work for the National Trust for Scotland and they entered Sweetheart Abbey as commoners. In place of the million spectators along the royal route, they had a happy crowd of onlookers leaning over the fence. Not only were there no hymns or prayers, and no ambassadors from Middle Eastern regimes of dubious reputation, but the abbey had no roof, so there were lots of brollies in case the weather did its worst. (It didn't).

But there were more important differences. Although the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had written a prayer for their ceremony, Gareth and Mari had written all of theirs; not just the vows, which they spoke from memory, but their reasons for marrying and their thoughts about what marriage means to them.

And while Rowan Williams was speaking on behalf of God, I was speaking on behalf of Mari and Gareth. So I could tell that their family and friends recognised their words and thoughts as they listened to me, and to their various friends who were also involved in delivering the ceremony.

But there was undoubtedly some big similarities as well. We all feel uplifted when two people declare their love for one another in public. And when I stopped off for a cup of tea at the cafe across the road, I heard the waitresses coming back in saying, "Wasn't that a lovely dress!"

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Allyson & Martyn's Humanist Wedding in The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh


Meet Martyn and Allyson! From Leicestershire and the Eastern Seaboard of the USA respectively, they're a pair of seasoned world travellers who as they put it in their ceremony, 'cancelled out each other's effect on the planet', before discovering and deciding to live in Edinburgh, where one of the places they grew to love was the Royal Botanic Garden at Inverleith.



That was why they chose it as the venue for their open-air wedding ceremony. Outdoor weddings are very romantic, but it takes a very special kind of romantic to have one in Scotland in early March!

Their ceremony was different in a lot of other ways too. Although Allyson arrived in a car with her father...



She and Martyn wanted to arrive at the Redwood Grove together, as a couple.


On the right hand side of frame, you can just see the Cairn String Quartet, who played them in with the Pachelbel Canon in D Major, and as they signed the marriage schedule, gave us an arrangement of the George Harrison classic, "Here Comes The Sun". Which was a bit ironic because the temperature at the time was hovering only slightly above zero!



Allyson sent me this note, along with these great shots from Ace Lensman, Trevor Wilson of Silver Photography

Martyn and I would like to thank you for conducting our wedding ceremony last week. The day exceeded our expectations, in large part because the ceremony set a personal and easygoing tone that carried throughout the reception.  



Several guests commented on how good you were at easing people's apprehensions about a humanist wedding and keeping everyone occupied before I arrived (fashionably late, of course - turns out corset dresses take a long time to lace!). 


Thank you also for holding up against the weather; we knew it would be chilly but hadn't expected it to be quite that cold!



We haven't stopped talking about how wonderfully unique the ceremony was, and we'd like to thank you for playing such a large role in making the day special. 

Thanks Allyson and Martyn and thanks as always to Trevor Wilson who's posted a nice story about the ceremony on his blog too - you can read it here. Or read this piece with lots more photos, from Whimsical Wonderland Weddings.



Jennifer & Mo's Humanist Wedding at The Vu






I was really pleased that Jennifer & Mo sent me a link to this video of their wedding this morning. Not because it shows my best feature - the back of my head - but because it reminded me how moving it was to see and hear them speaking their vows to one another. 


The short dialogue section in the film is at the 'exchange of rings' and if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, try sticking a pin in your thigh to check you're alive!






As Jennifer said,  It was a very emotional day and we can't thank you enough.  Everyone has been commenting on how moving and personal the whole ceremony was - even the staff at The Vu said it was the nicest ceremony they had seen. Thanks again for making our ceremony so special and memorable.  




One thing that I think really helped was that we had a quick rehearsal at Jen & Mo's house the evening before. I knew that they wanted to speak their vows directly to one another, and they'd made up cards, but they'd forgotten that they were going to be looking at them from a distance of about 6 feet, so it gave them time to print them out onto cards with MUCH BIGGER TEXT so they were able to read them much more easily.


Just a little thing, but I know it made a big difference. Thanks as always to Mo and Jennifer for choosing me as their celebrant, and to LB Photovid for allowing me to use this clip.

Zoë and Scott's Humanist Wedding at The Balmoral Hotel

It's not often I marry a teacher to a pupil, but that was how Zoë and Scott met, when Zoë was a final year medical student and Scott...