Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Joanne and Mido's engagement in Princes Street Gardens

Lots of couples 'reverse into' marriage these days. They live together, have kids and then five or ten years later decide to make it legal: it's almost the new normal, and it made me wonder how many reverse into their engagements too? 


I'm looking forward to conducting the wedding of Joanne and Mido next April, so I was pleased to get an email just the other day keeping me up to speed with their busy lives. Joanne's started a new job; they've moved house, and they're off to Australia for her sister's wedding at the end of next month, so it's non stop! Joanne said, "As you know, when we came to see you in January, we'd already started to plan the wedding before Mido had actually officially proposed, because we needed to wait and get the ring"




"Mido officially proposed to me in Princes Street Gardens in April, so I've attached a few wee pics for you that I thought you'd like to see. 



He got a bagpiper to play as he took his shirt off  for me, got down on one knee to reveal a t-shirt that said 'Joanne will you marry me?'


How cute is that? And how happy they look!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Donna and Graham's Humanist wedding at Marlyn's Wynd

There's usually a good four month gap between the wedding and me blogging about it, but this has to be a record. I married Graham and Donna four YEARS ago! It was meeting them at Kevin and Lindsay's wedding at the Hub last Christmas that brought them right back to mind.


Marlyn's Wynd is one of the city's cutest wee venues. It "went dark"for several years after Donna and Graham's wedding, but it's now back and being run by the wonderful Rowan family who have made such a success of The Caves just down the road. It was the perfect place for an intimate, family wedding.


Graham and Donna met at work, and after Graham eventually summoned up the gumption to get the conversation started, they soon bonded over setting the world to rights over lunchtime. After a lightbulb moment on Graham's part, a trip to the many pubs in York that have both real ale and real fires, they finally became engaged on Lokrum, a little island in the Adriatic that looks over to a very different walled town altogether, Dubrovnik.


I particularly liked what they said about what marriage means to them. "Marriage is not something we would consider lightly but it has never has been something that we HAD to do before we died. Our view is that once you meet someone special, it’s important to create a history together before you can think about building a future. So, we're here today content in the knowledge that we have done that, and can look back on our shared past as a base on which to build a future that we hope will be every bit as good as – if not better than - the story so far". So it was a lovely surprise to bump into them at The Hub, where I grabbed this snap of how they look today.



I'm pleased to see that even though Graham is now going to my hairdresser,  Donna looks every bit as lovely now as then! This was the note they sent me all those years ago, which I'm humbled to share with you now.

We'd just like to thank you once again for the ceremony on Saturday.  It ended up being everything that we wanted and more, and the way you conducted things played a major part in that, which we really appreciate.

We had guys coming up to us afterwards saying they were moved to tears and let's face it, that doesn't really happen at many weddings - they're usually just wondering when they can start drinking!  We think that this is another example of the Humanist approach being able to strike chords that religious ceremonies simply cannot. So anyway, thanks again for everything and all the very best. Graham and Donna x

Not at all G&D - it was a pleasure, and I hope we meet again in less than another four years!

Things to think about if you don't want a rehearsal

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, rehearsals aren't mandatory, but they're a good chance to work out what happens when and who does what.



I first met Julie and Dougie at a wedding fair at The Corn Exchange last November, and I remember we got on like a house on fire. They're getting married at one of my favourite venues, Orocco Pier next month, and for various reasons they aren't able to have a rehearsal.

Instead they asked me a whole bunch of questions, which of course I was happy to answer, but as I thought the whole Q&A might be helpful, I asked them if I could share them with you here. They of course said yes, so there you go - please let me know if they help you too.

Just for clarity: my responses are IN CAPS, and Julie's answers to my responses are in red and in bold

We have opted not to have a rehearsal , only because trying to get everyone together the week of the wedding will be impossible.  I am sure between the 3 of us, we can make this look very professional !! J  We are not doing anything complicated. 

TRUE AND I WILL COME TO SEE YOU BEFORE YOU COME DOWN TO FUSCHIA JUST SO YOU AND THE BRIDESMAIDS KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING WHEN YOU COME IN AND WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BOUQUET, ETC. – GREAT – THANK YOU, LOOK FORWARD TO YOU CALMING ME DOWN!!! J

I will write up the cards with our declarations on them for Dougie to pass to  you at the wedding, so that you can hold them at our respective shoulders during that particular part of the ceremony. 

GOOD. 
TRY TO LAY THEM OUT LIKE A POEM, 
CENTRED, 
SO THAT THE LINE BREAKS 
WHERE THE SENSE BREAKS
AS YOU'VE GOT IT IN THE CEREMONY
WILL DO TIM - THANKS

Our plan is that as guests arrive in Fuchsia, Lewis (our Usher & Dougie’s son ) will hand out our Order of the Day’s to guests as they come in. OK

Is there a particular side family should sit on – or can they just sit wherever?? 
I SUGGEST YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY SITS ON THE LEFT AND DOUGIE'S ON THE RIGHT – NOTED, THANK YOU

Will/Should Dougie and his Best Man will be at the front standing with you when  guests arrive??   
NO - THAT'S THE LAST PLACE I WANT THEM TO BE, BECAUSE IT PUTS ADDITIONAL PRESSURE ON THEM AS THEY WAIT FOR YOU TO ARRIVE. THE GUESTS TEND TO START SITTING DOWN 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE OFFICIAL START TIME, SO MY ADVICE TO ALL GROOMS IS TO WAIT TILL FIVE MINUTES BEFORE KICK OFF, THEN WE CAN ALL GO IN, STAND AT THE FRONT AND WAIT FOR YOU TO TURN UP... – THAT’S GREAT THANK YOU FOR CONFIRMING – IT WILL BE DOUGIE, HIS BESTMAN & BROTHER, STUART AND OUR USHER AND DOUGIE’S SON, LEWIS

It is at this time he will pass to you the cards I have written up with our declarations (unless he speaks to you before this, then he can give it to you then along with the Marriage Schedule) – pink cards will be for me reading to Dougie and the blue cards are for Dougie reading to me.  
IF HE GIVES THEM TO ME WHEN I TURN UP I WILL MAKE SURE THEY ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACES – I WILL LEAVE THIS IN DOUGIE’S CAPABLE HANDS J

Once all the guests are in, then Lewis will join Dougie and Stuart at the front with you.  
Please advise – during our ceremony is it normal for the Best Man and Usher / Bridesmaids  to sit down in the front row or do they stand throughout the whole ceremony??? 

I'D HAVE THEM STANDING  BECAUSE - IF YOU CONSIDER THE INVESTMENT IN HAIR MAKEUP AND WARDROBE ALONE - THEY ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE SHOW. BUT IT'S YOUR CALL, AND DOUGIE CAN TELL ME WHAT YOU'VE DECIDED ON THE DAY – PERFECT  - THEY CAN ALL STAND DURING THE CEREMONY


Then once everyone is in and we are good to go, my Maid of Honour Tracey will come up the “aisle” first, followed then by Emma and then it will be myself with my Dad (Allan). Once we are at the top – do I pass my flowers to my Maid of Honour or do I hold on to these until we are exchanging our rings??  
HANG ONTO THEM TILL IT'S TIME TO SWAP RINGS – PERFECT , THEY CAN HIDE MY SHAKING HANDS!!!

We are really looking to be guided by you here – we weren’t sure if we were could/should be holding hands throughout the ceremony???  

AGAIN I WOULD SAY NOT. THERE'S AN ELEMENT OF RITUAL IN A MARRIAGE CEREMONY WHERE YOU START OFF SEPARATE BUT LOOKING AT EACH OTHER, THEN YOU GET TO HOLD HANDS AND SPEAK YOUR VOWS AND FINALLY YOU GET TO KISS. 

SO OF COURSE YOU CAN HOLD HANDS ALL THE WAY THROUGH, BUT YOU MIGHT THINK THAT HAVING THAT LITTLE SEPARATION AND EVENTUAL COMING TOGETHER IS MORE EXCITING. 

I DON'T KNOW, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, SO YOU DECIDE TOGETHER AND TELL ME!  HAPPY TO GO WITH THE TRADITIONAL – START OFF SEPARATE, THEN HOLDING HANDS FOR VOWS ETC

With regard to our wedding rings. We would like Dougie’s children to carry the rings for the ceremony (on small ring cushions).  When it comes to the giving of the rings, Lewis will have my ring to pass to his Dad or to yourself -  please confirm.  Then Emma will have her Dad’s ring to pass to me or yourself – again please confirm?

I'D SUGGEST THEY COME UP AND STAND BESIDE ME SO THAT YOU CAN EACH TAKE A RING ONE AT A TIME WHEN IT'S YOUR TURN TO PUT IT ON YOUR PARTNER'S FINGER – BOTH EMMA AND LEWIS ARE PART OF THE BRIDAL PARTY SO WILL BE STANDING UP AT THE FRONT WITH US ANYWAY DURING THE CEREMONY

We are going to check with Lynda and Jamie to see if they would be comfortable enough to come up to the front to make their readings – hopefully they will be.  Is this the norm, for people to come up to the front? 

YES, THEY SHOULD COME TO STAND WHERE I AM AND I WILL GET OUT OF THE WAY.

 TELL THEM THEY CAN USE THE VERSION OF THE READING THAT'S IN MY CEREMONY IF THEY LIKE BECAUSE IT'S EASIER TO HOLD SOMETHING QUITE SOLID WITH BOTH HANDS, THAN A SINGLE SHEET OF WHITE PAPER IN ONE TREMBLING ONE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN... WE WILL LET THEM KNOW THIS - THANKS

Apologies for all the questions, but not having been to many weddings of late, I am not sure what the best etiquette is?? 

IT'S GOOD OF YOU TO ASK, BECAUSE THESE ARE ALL THE ISSUES WE USUALLY DEAL WITH AT A REHEARSAL, SO IF IT'S OK WITH YOU, CAN I POST AN EDITED VERSION OF THE CONVERSATION ON MY BLOG? X YES OF COURSE!

Was that useful? I hope so. Please share it with your friends if it was.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Chris and Gill's Humanist Wedding at Portobello Town Hall

Ever thought of getting married in the evening? Gill & Chris did. 


From the start, they wanted to ensure that their wedding would be truly unique. So rather than take over a craggy castle or a swanky hotel, they invited about two hundred of their family and friends to join them at the majestic Portobello Town Hall down on The Edinburgh Riviera. 


As they wrote, "Portobello Town Hall was the place where Scotland's first Showbiz Megastar, Sir Harry Lauder trod the boards; it's the place where Edwyn Collins played a recent gig and more importantly, it's the place that witnessed the titanic tungsten tussle between Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson." 


It was a smart move, because it gave them the time and space to say exactly what they wanted about why they were doing what they were doing in front of all the most important people in their lives. And there were an awful lot of them as you can see!


Our star-crossed lovers had a great story. It was a long one, but it was very funny, involving as it did, the Six Nations, twelve imaginary air-hostesses, and a series of weird coincidences, not least that they'd lived in the same village for eighteen years but never ever met. Serendipity or what? 


Their next date was three weeks later. Where did they meet up, I hear you ask? A posh restaurant, a few drinks? The cinema? Nope, Gill turned up at Chris’s new flat, with a bottle of fizz and an overnight bag the size of the flat. “I hope you don’t think I’m being presumptuous” she said.


There was much more in this vein, which was great fun for me, and for the guests too of course!




In October 2012, along came Lennox, the most amazing wee person that they’ve ever known, and if he could just sleep in his own bed for a single night, Gill and Chris would have the perfect baby!

We had readings from Robyn,  Chris’s sister and his godson Alex, and after a moment of contemplation to remember those who couldn't be with us,  we went onto the vows,  which as you'd expect,  they wrote themselves.

They also exchanged rings: you can't see Chris's in the photo, but it came with batteries, and lit up. Gill's was a wee bit more traditional, but when Chris put it on her finger, he said, "Gill, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment. Wear it always and when we are apart, look upon it and think of me. And if you do take it off, always remember where you left it."

Our photographer, Ryan Warburton, chose the perfect place to catch the big moment.



A couple of days later, I got a text  (fae Chris's ayePhone), saying
"Just a short note to say thanks so much for an amazing ceremony. It was everything we hoped for and more and you delivered it perfectly. Unsurprisingly, the comments have been overwhelming with everyone telling us both what an unique, personal, touching, funny (I could go on) ceremony it was. Thank you - we look forward to our paths crossing again!"

Thank you, Gill and Chris for giving me the pleasure of conducting one of the most enjoyable weddings of my year so far. And thanks Ryan for these great shots!


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Jools and Iain's surprise wedding at St Columba's by the Castle

It was at the beginning of July that Jools and Iain got in touch about their surprise wedding this August.  That's right - less than two months later!


They've been together for almost eleven years, having come up here (separately) from Brighton. Since then they've had two wonderful children and "built their fortress" as they describe their relationship. Sadly they have to leave town for prospects new, and they decided it would be a great idea to get married as part of their farewell party.

Their eventful story began in 1997 when they both knew the same pod of divers for three years - but never met. I loved the way they made their children Tommy and Indy the centre of their tale, and even included a reading especially for them from Julie Myerson's much loved column, Living with Teenagers 



The next especially lovely moment was when they passed their wedding rings around the huge gathering of their friends and kids. As they wrote, "Their rings have been worn already through two whole lifetimes by two family members, Iain’s father, and Jools’s grandmother. Iain’s ring was first exchanged on June 21st 1969 and Jools’s ring on Christmas Day 1936. This makes their rings extra special but today they’d also like to make those rings become their own."
 

Emma and Michelle gave us two very original readings: of song lyrics rather than poetry or prose. The first was from Nick Drake, but the second was was written in 1988. Iain said "if you don’t know who it’s by, you’re living in the wrong city and should probably leave the hall", and the opening lines were these…
My heart was broken.
My heart was broken. 

Sorrow and Sorrow. Sorrow and Sorrow.
 
Yes, of course it was the wonderful 'Sunshine on Leith' by The Proclaimers! 


I was very surprised to get these great photos from Jools so soon after the event. She very kindly said, "We just wanted to say again thanks so much for your part in our surprise wedding a few weekends ago at St Columba's by the Castle.  It was just a fabulous day and it ended up being everything we hoped it might be. I was especially grateful that all my nerves fell away when I saw you arrive... we felt safe in your hands :-) A million thanks again, Jools and Iain (Mrs & Mr)

It was a real pleasure Jools - handcrafted, meaningful, original, heartfelt. Perfect x

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Keren and Stephen's Humanist Wedding at Linlithgow Burgh Halls



It was back in November 2012 that Keren decided that the Linlithgow Burgh Halls were the perfect place to get married, and she and Stephen first came to see me. They'd chosen the date because it was going to be her dad's birthday, and I loved their story which was very romantic, and involved a proposal in Gaelic on Kilchoman beach on Islay.


One of the best bits though was the way they were brought together. 


Keren and Stephen’s good friends Paul and Fiona had once tried to set Stephen up on a blind date that hadn't gone too well (not long afterwards the girl in question had emigrated to New Zealand to put the memory behind her!) so with some trepidation, they engineered an introduction to Keren. It went OK but it wasn't love at first sight, so Paul and Fiona got Keren and Stephen together for a second date, and this time it worked! It was lovely to hear Fiona and Paul's own version of that story as part of the ceremony.



After that, everyone joined in a rousing rendition of Mairi's Wedding, led on the harp by the wonderful Margaret Knight,







before we had a short pause for contemplation after which Stephen and Keren spoke their own very personal vows to one another, as you can hear in this trailer for their wedding movie by Strangeworx


Even though the marriage schedule only arrived by courier just before kick-off (someone had left it at the hotel), it was such a joyous, relaxed wedding.


I particularly enjoyed being upstaged  by Poppy, one of the charming little flower girls, 





and it was lovely to get this note (and the above photo) a few days later from Keren's mum Jackie, who along with Stephen's mother Barbara, was one of the witnesses.


I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful ceremony for Keren and Stephen on Saturday. You made it so special, and so many people told me how much they preferred it to a stiff church ceremony !!  I knew when I heard you speak at Syl's funeral that if my daughter ever got married, I would love you to officiate. It was a wonderful day. 



A wee while later, I got this lovely card from Keren (you can just see me trying to get out of shot behind the bridesmaids as Stephen and Keren had their first kiss).



I'd just like to thank you so very much for making our ceremony so wonderful. I loved every minute of it. I was so nervous about it, but it ended up being my favourite part of the day. I thought it suited Stephen and I perfectly and I thought you told our story so well and kept me calm. So many people commented on how fantastic the ceremony was and how they had never seen anything like it before. Nice to know our wedding will be remembered for many reasons.



I truly had the best day of my life and could not stop smiling and laughing from beginning to end. I'm looking forward to seeing the video so I can replay the important bits and fast forward the bits that make me cringe. Thank you for helping us create the best wedding ceremony I have ever been to :)



It was a pleasure Keren! And my thanks also go of course to Sylwia and Simon of Crofts & Kowalczyk Photography for these lovely photographs.



PS I didn't realise until today that the Burgh Halls were redesigned some time ago by my old friend Malcolm Fraser which probably explains why the elegant penthouse room where the wedding took place feels so welcoming. 


The staff are lovely too, so add it to your checklist if you're looking for somewhere a bit different.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Claire & Gareth's Humanist Wedding at The Thomas Morton Hall in Leith

People find all sorts of ways to fall in love, but Gareth and Claire were the first couple I've married who got together while running. Along with Gareth's dad and other friends from Inverness, they were part of the infamous “Tuesday Night Running Club” where Claire got her nickname ‘Coach McGeary'.


Their wedding was a total hoot, in so many ways. Like the story of the proposal which almost took place in a Gay Bar in Copenhagen (for details, apply to couple), but eventually took place in the funfair in Tivoli Gardens. 



Now Gareth doesn't like funfairs, so after going on all the rides, he felt really queasy, but he  grabbed Claire’s hand, pulled out the ring, and said “How would you like to join me on the ride of your life?”Yes, Gareth admits it was very cheesy. 


Claire’s expression was one of complete & utter confusion, but it was followed by the line that every young gentleman hopes to hear at least once in his life: “Are you shitting me?”


The other particularly memorable moment was when I had to get everyone to join in and sing the Proclaimers best known song, "I Wanna Be (500 Miles)" which was great except there was no backing track: apart from me…




We had a lot of fun! 


Claire sent me these photos and a note about how much she and Gareth had enjoyed the whole  process. "It was lovely thinking back to how we met,  the proposal etc. Having now lived it & watched it back, it was just so personal. It was all about us, our story & it means so much to us. Thanks again for everything & your singing 500 miles - it saved the day!"

Not at all - thank you, Coach McGeary!

Fran and Bobby's Humanist Wedding on Calton Hill

Flaming June days are rare in Edinburgh, but Fran and Bobby are a lucky couple. That's not me in the pic btw: Bobby and I just go to the same hairdresser. 

  
Their ceremony was simple, direct, and full of fun. When they met, Fran was living in her girly palace with her daughter while Bobby lived in his football mad house with his four boys, so joining their  families was a challenge. Fran had to adapt to a life of football, mopeds and Xbox, while Bobby had to make allowances for Fran’s shoes, Sarah’s Brat dolls and their love of all things Disney.


Fran said, "I love Bobby for all the little things he does, like getting me the matching knife and fork that I like for my dinner, helping me finish my food when I’m full, eating the mushrooms off my cooked breakfasts and buying me Lucozade for my hangovers". Bobby said, "Fran is my soul mate. It took what seemed like an eternity to find her,  and I now want to spend eternity with her".


Fran's sister Mairi read to us from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin...


Best Man Davey and Bridesmaid Sarah did a hand fasting...


And everyone joined in speaking a blessing to the happy couple


I can't remember the last time I saw Calton Hill looking this good. Their marquee was really cool,


and just the other day, Fran sent me this lovely note, saying, "I can't help smile when I think back to the day. It was such a beautiful experience for Bobby and me, and the icing on the cake was seeing how happy all our friends and family were too.



Everyone complimented us on the ceremony, how personal and heart warming the contents were and how wonderful you were in making everyone feel part of it. Thanks again Tim for making our day just that, ours in every way".

The pleasure was entirely mine, Mr & Mrs Richardson. Thank you for choosing me to help create your perfect day!

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...