Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Janice and Billy's Humanist Wedding at the Open Arms in Dirleton

Billy and Janice got in touch with me in June to ask if I could conduct their wedding in August. They don't hang about, this pair! 

As Billy wrote in his homework, "Janice and I met on a cruise to Svalbard.  We would meet on deck and talk.  I remember at times thinking I wish she would give me peace so I could get on with trying to watch wildlife. Then I realised she had eyes like a hawk. A memorable time was had as we sailed towards Norway coming out of thick fog like coming out of a curtain into clear blue skies at midnight. Looking back north into the sun, we could see whales breaching out of the water and splashing back into the sea."

About a week before the wedding, I got a bit of a shock when Janice contacted me to say that Billy had broken his knee, but that she fully expected him to get to the wedding - "splint, stookie, wheelchair, whatever it takes!"

Of course, Billy did make it to The Open Arms, and it was a deeply emotional day for everyone. Janice sent me these photos, with a wee note of thanks to say, "Billy and I have headed off to Arran on honeymoon, and to relax. The event really can be exhausting - even when your mantra is - we are keeping things simple!"

Monday, 27 August 2012

Hayley and Rik's Humanist Wedding at Dunglass Estate

Hayley and Rik's story was dramatic and romantic, a nine year journey from teenage flirtation through separation, reconcilation, and family losses that culminated in the giving of a ring in the very bar where they had first met.

It had its comic moments too. The engagement ring was too small, but Rik was determined to make it fit and with the aid of some lip balm it eventually did. Not long afterwards, Hayley's finger turned a deep shade of purple and she had to go to hospital to have the ring removed...

But all's well that ends well, and in October 2010, they decided that in July 2012, they would come up to Scotland and marry in a humanist ceremony at the lovely Dunglass Estate at Cockburnspath just below The Southern Upland Way. That was when we first spoke, and over the intervening months, we met and talked and emailed until they'd created the perfect ceremony.

The weather was kind, so they married by the loch, and there were lots of readings and songs, including the Edwin Muir poem, "The Confirmation" read by Rik's sister Abi, and a wonderful song called 'Blue Skies' from Hayley's dad, who strums a mean guitar.

It was a lovely, heart-felt wedding. When they sent me these photos, Hayley and Rik wrote
Thank you so much for marrying us and making our ceremony so humorous, yet solemn and honest. Your help and advice since we first met you over two years ago has been invaluable, and you really instilled in us the importance of the words and that the sentiments of ceremony should reflect us and no one else. Everyone thought you were an excellent celebrant and read our words so beautifully. 

I always suggest to couples that immediately after the ceremony, they should go off and have five minutes together as husband and wife before they rejoin the wedding party; no photographers, no parents, just them.

Rik and Hayley took my advice, and when they walked away from the loch, they just kept walking, across the lawn, up a hill, and vanished into the distance. As they wrote, "We're sorry we didn't say goodbye properly. The day before and the morning itself had been really overwhelming and that moment together was much needed!"

No apologies required - it was a pleasure xxx

Artistic Homework

As part of the homework I give couples as part of the process of creating their ceremony, I ask them to write down 10 things about one another that made them not just fall in love, but want to marry, and spend the rest of their lives together.

Over the years, I've had lots of wonderful answers, but Nikki was the first person to send me not a type-written list, but a diagram! Actually, she sent me two, and below you can see 10 things that marriage means to her. 

Thanks for the inspiration, Nikki - I look forward to many more artistic responses to these questions from now on!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fizzing at The Signet Library

The Signet Library is one of Edinburgh's most elegant wedding venues. Like the library in the Old Quad of the University of Edinburgh, it was partly designed by William Playfair, and its upstairs gallery was described by George IV as the most beautiful room he'd ever seen.

I've only once conducted a wedding there, so I was delighted to be invited by Heritage Portfolio to join them at one of their 'Afficionados' events, a tutored tasting of Pommery Champagne.

I conduct weddings at venues all over the country, and it hasn't escaped my notice that Heritage Portfolio are the caterers to some of the most beautiful. Ian D'Annunzio-Green is one of the founding directors of the company, and I've been very impressed by the passion and dedication he and his staff  obviously feel about food and bring to their work.

Earlier this year, I was at another 'Afficionados' event where one of their chefs did a presentation about what he'd learned on a month-long stage at Noma, currently the hottest restaurant in the world. We spent a happy afternoon trying - and failing - to copy the skills he'd picked up, and the attention to detail he'd learned, and with luck I'll get some photos of that too.

As you know if you've visited my blog before, I often blow my trumpet on behalf of photographers and musicians whose work I admire, but as I never stay for the meal, I've never been able to give my compliments to the chef.

Now having had two bites of their cherry, I'm happy to give Heritage Portfolio a full-blown trumpet voluntary - they really are in a class of their own.

The Pommery Champagne Bar is open throughout the festival. You can have anything from a cup of tea and a scone to a delicious, locally caught lobster and chips with of course, a glass of champagne. It's just off Parliament Square, behind St Giles's Kirk, so it's well worth the detour, as the Guide Michelin would say. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Liza and Paul's Humanist Wedding at New Lanark Mills

Do you remember the film, 'Cabaret?' That was when Liza Minelli first etched herself onto my consciousness, in her bowler hat and fishnet tights. And I've never forgotten her clever mnemonic of the correct way to pronounce her name. 

‘It’s Liza with a ‘zee’, not Lisa with an ‘s’
Cos Liza with a ‘zee’ goes ‘zzz’, not ‘sss’

Liza told me that's how she pronounced her name too, when we first met in July 2011, and I knew I'd remember, so I didn't make a note to remind myself. 

Fast forward a year, and I wonder if you can imagine how big a fool I felt when - right at the start of her marriage to Paul at the converted Mill at the heart of the historic conservation village of New LanarkI called her Lisa 

Yes, that big. 

Luckily for me, she and Paul took it in their stride, as you can see from the lovely letter they sent me today.

Both Liza and myself would like to give you our warmest thanks for marrying us.  When we met with you in Edinburgh, we were immediately drawn to your warmth and humour and we both got in the car to drive home knowing that you were the man we wanted to perform our wedding ceremony.  It was a decision well made, as the ceremony went perfectly and we were both very happy with it.

I said to Liza that I wished she could have seen just prior to when she entered the room as you advised our guests that this was a humanist wedding and so if they looked under their seats, they would find their hoods and robes.  I swear the 90% of our guests were under the seats!  I know that my 2 oldest friends were definitely caught out.  It was a brilliantly funny moment that Liza would have loved.  

The way in which you got us to write our ceremony was also fantastic.  At first it seems quite daunting, however it is actually a great deal of fun and I lost count at the wedding of how many people who said how wonderful the ceremony was.  A part of this was down to yourself and we can only thank you for it.  Your advice in your blogs and your method of helping us build our ceremony is what made it what it was.  Perfect.  You may be pleased to know that many of our guests also complimented your good self and the way you presented the ceremony.

I have attached a few of our pictures from the wedding day as a small reminder.  We had an absolutely fabulous day and I would have absolutely no hesitation is recommending you to other couples looking for the perfect wedding ceremony.  In fact, I would insist on recommending you.

Best Wishes,

Paul and Liza Cairney

So what have I learned from Paul and Liza's ceremony? One - make notes during the first meeting. Two - read them before setting off to the wedding! 

Seriously, though, thank you so much, Liza with a zee and Paul with a no, let's not go there... You've made my day! 

It's time to celebrate, people!

I'm delighted to announce that from now on, I will be a celebrant with Celebrate People , a new Humanist organisation led by two of Scot...