Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Jen and Sean's Humanist Wedding at Colstoun House

As its website will tell you, Colstoun is arguably the oldest house in Scotland, dating back in parts to the 12th century. 

It's very beautiful but when Sean and Jen got married there, they really wanted to be outside. In fact, as Jen said on the Colstoun blog, "Before booking our date, I'd checked historical rainfall figures for East Lothian and May showed by far the lowest chance of precipitation so we went for 20th May and kept our fingers crossed..." 

You know where this is going, don't you? 
Jen takes up the tale...

Our Rock Paper Scissors Ceremony

We knew we wanted our wedding to be personal, which is why we chose a humanist ceremony. And it doesn't get more personal than getting the opportunity to write the whole thing, from start to finish! 

That, coupled with a professionalism that was unrivalled, was why we chose Tim.  

Writing the whole thing initially seemed a bit daunting, as we thought we didn't have the first clue about what should go into a wedding ceremony. 

But Tim made it easy for us by breaking it into smaller, bite size chunks, and in the end it was such a great experience putting it together and remembering all of the little things that are part of our story. 

It helped us to remember the reasons why we were getting married in the first place. 

I enjoyed it so much I frequently recommend the 'homework' to other couples even if they're not getting married, as it was such a lovely experience - we learned things about one another that we didn't know before. (That is such a good idea, Jen - thank you! Tim.)

We were able to communicate our story and what it is that we love about each other to our guests so that we could share what brought us all there that day. 

Our vows were built from what we each wanted out of marriage (with a few extras thrown in there too!), so it meant that we were able to make promises to one another that are actually relevant and therefore a lot more meaningful. 

Tim was great on the day, a reassuring visit to each of our respective cottages ensured we knew exactly what we were doing and who was to go where. 

I will never forget the feeling I got right before the ceremony, as I approached the poly-tunnel with my dad and my bridesmaids. 

Seeing the silhouettes of our guests inside, hearing them laughing and talking with the string quartet playing mixed with the sound of the rain on the canopy was incredibly exciting. 

The butterflies I got when my last bridesmaid turned from me, smiling, and disappeared into the polytunnel before it was just my dad & I left to do the same! Unreal. 

Then it was our turn to go, and seeing Sean for the first time truly settled my nerves, and I was so excited for the day to begin. 

I walked down the aisle to 'String Reprise / Treaty' by Leonard Cohen, arranged and played beautifully by The Cairn String Quartet. It was perfect.

During the ceremony, it was so lovely seeing all of our guests enjoy hearing our story and our promises to one another. 

When the rain got so loud that some guests struggled to hear, Tim (ever the professional) knew to pause the ceremony and wait for the rain to die down. Sounds disastrous, but it was hilarious!

We incorporated a game of rock paper scissors to decide who got to speak their vows first, as this is how we resolve many dilemmas. 

Our readings were super personal - the first was a rhyming story Jen wrote for Sean one Valentine's day, and the second was chosen by Sean as a surprise - the lyrics from 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' by Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells. 

The latter was so perfect, our guests laughed very loudly at the line 'and still it will rain' (those who could hear it over the rain anyway!)

We included a ring-warming ceremony and a guest-spoken Apache wedding blessing, as we wanted our guests to be a part of the ceremony too. 

It meant that the day was not just a celebration of our love for each other, but also our love for all of our friends and family, and was a small acknowledgement of everything they'd done for us that meant we could all be there that day. 

Our ceremony was just perfect. 

All of our guests have told us how personal and touching they found it - it offered an insight into us as a couple, and brought us all closer together. 

It was our favourite part of the whole day and I wouldn't change any of it, even the rain!  

Especially the rain, Jen and Sean! Thank you so much for this perfect story of a brilliant day. Who needs sunshine? Thanks to of course to Caro Weiss whose excellent shots these are: you can see more of them and read her story of the day on her blog here

PS This has prompted me to create a new category - Really, really rainy weddings - something tells me that I'm going to be using it again soon!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Speak the speech, I pray you - Jim and Becky's wedding at the Caves Part II

I was delighted to see this story in the current edition of the Scottish Wedding Directory: what Jim and Becky did was a great way to use poetry which allowed them to involve lots of their guests at the same time!

You can find out how to do that if you read my original post here

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Mags and Bryan's Humanist Wedding at Kirknewton Stables

Bryan and Mags got married in the garden at Kirknewton Stables three years ago almost to the day, and I'm so pleased they got back in touch, because I just loved their ceremony!

They had one of the biggest wedding parties I've ever seen, ten people hailing variously from Limerick and Edinburgh. The Irish really know how to party, and it was one of the funniest and most emotional weddings I can remember.

There were some great stories, involving twirly moustaches and a cat called Arthur, culminating in the tale of the proposal, which took place on the top of the steps at the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, where their all-time favourite movie Amélie was filmed.

Looking out over all of Paris, Bryan gave Mags an old copy of her favourite book, Les Miserables. Inside it, he had carefully secreted a ring box containing the heart shaped diamond he had made for her. 

On bended knee and with tourists gathering around he popped the question to a teary-eyed and for once speechless Mags. And that’s what brought us to Kirknewton!

As they wrote in their message to me,"We celebrate our three year anniversary this week and wanted to thank you again for an incredible ceremony. All our friends and family still talk about how wonderful it was. 

I've attached a couple of memories from the day. Difficult to choose but these are two of our faves because they show how emotional it all was. We all went from sobbing at the sentiment to cracking up with laughter when we walked out to '99 Problems'. 

You really allowed us to make our wedding ceremony personal to us, which we were so grateful for. It was appreciated by all the guests, who still tell us three years later how special it felt. 

Three years later, it still feels every bit as special to me, Bryan and Mags, and thank you so much for letting me know: I'm deeply touched! x

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Alana and Luke's Humanist Wedding at Kinkell Byre

Are you lucky? Alana and Luke are. 

They fell in love the first time they met. Five years later, they got married.

They had one of those perfect Indian summer days for their wedding and they made the most of it, as these amazing shots from Marc Miller show. The exterior shots are  beautiful (and you can see lots more of them on Marc's blog here) but I really wanted you to see photos from the ceremony itself because Luke and Alana had lots of ideas that I think will inspire you.

Can a byre be more magical than a castle? 

When it looks like this it can! Sandy Fyfe and his team at Kinkell Byre do a great job, and Luke and Alana came up with some great decorative touches of their own

The place was absolutely rammed. There must have been about 130 guests and the atmosphere was electric. before we started, I asked the guests their eyes not their iPhones, and then in came Alana, with her twin sister Lisa, and her mum, Fiona.

Luke and Alana are both from the world of the performing arts, so they really embraced my suggestion that they involve their guests in the ceremony. I really enjoyed playing my part, but I loved the way they cast many of their friends in starring roles.

Ashleigh and Esme told Luke and Alana's story in words of their own, which came as a surprise to the couple who sat down in the audience to enjoy the tale.

Then Luke's oldest friend Alex read a poem from the book that Luke made Alana for the engagement

They did a hand fasting with football scarves: Arsenal for Luke and Hearts for Alana. 

Then Owain and his sister Sooz gave us a song, called In This Room

Alana and Luke then sealed two letters they'd written each other into a box along with a bottle of wine to be opened in ten years time

We had a wee pause for contemplation to remember the people who couldn't be with us, and then nine of their friends asked them to make promises that put them on the spot. 

Sarah asked Luke if he would accept that Alana will wear granny pants six days out of seven, and Alana promised not to be annoyed when Luke has to go to the toilet sixteen times before he can leave the house. 

We had an unusual contributor at vow number nine: their dog, Pongo.

I asked him if he agreed to mummy and daddy tying the knot today and he said 'woof!'

Eileen Dunn of Sugar 8 shot a beautiful movie on old Super 8 film of the day: you can see the trailer here

Alana & Luke Trailer from Sugar8 on Vimeo.

Alana and Luke spoke their serious vows to one another, Marc got the all-important clean two-shot for the kiss, their mums witnessed the Marriage Schedule and then before they left, I spoke a very short blessing that Luke and Alana composed themselves. 

It was a very joyous occasion, as I think you can see. Luke and Alana went off to play in a VW Campervan

before heading off into the sunset to get some more dreamy portraits.  

I was very pleased when Alana wrote to me with these photos and said, "Thanks so much again for making our wedding day the dream - so many people commented that it was the best ceremony they had ever been to!" 

The reason for that is simple, Alana and Luke - that's because you wrote it! Thanks again for asking me to be your celebrant, and drop me a line in ten years time when you open that wine and read those letters!

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...