Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Importance of Being Earnest

My old friend Giles just stumbled across his Marriage Certificate while tidying up some old paperwork. We met when we were both working in advertising and I'm pretty sure that when he and Nicki got married back in 2003, he was a Group Account Director at the hip Leith Agency. The one thing I am 100% sure he wasn't was a 'Biscuit Designer'.

Here's the story, as Giles tells it. 'An old friend of mine from the agency WCRS got fed up with City types in bars asking her what she did for a living, and used to tell them she was a Biscuit Designer. 

It struck me that my occupation at the time had absolutely no bearing on the act of getting married, so that's how I answered when the official asked. I wasn't aware it would show up on the form...'

And there it is. Giles Moffat, Biscuit Designer.

We don't tend to look at our Marriage Certificates once we've got them: they go into the filing cabinet, and it's usually only our children who get to see them when the time comes to lay us to rest. So take Giles's advice and when the Registrar asks you for your occupation, play it straight if you want to avoid causing them a lot of confusion!

Mind you, had Nicki and Giles been getting married today, the question,'what do you do for a living?' would still have been almost impossible to answer. 

Giles is currently a Gin brand owner, a clothing entrepreneur, and a CMO for occasional hire, so as he says, 'The form is not fit for purpose!'

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Why can't I use my own pen?

The moment you sign the Marriage Schedule is an important one: as the Registrar General of Scotland says, 'no marriage can proceed without it', and people often ask me if they can use their own pen. The answer is, 'sorry, no you can't', and here's why.

The Marriage Schedule is a permanent record, so it must be signed using permanent black liquid ink. The ink in ballpoint pens isn't permanent - it fades over time, and it can be erased, and that's why celebrants, members of the clergy and registrars have to use fountain pens and archival, or permanent black ink.

I've got three or four fountain pens, and I bring them all to every wedding just in case the ink in any one of them has dried up. You might say, 'well I've got a fountain pen too, and I'd like to use it'.  

In that case, I will be happy to use your pen instead, but only if you load it - in my presence - with an appropriate permanent black liquid ink.

If you'd like to take that approach, have a look at this post about the kinds of ink you can use. The one I'd recommend is called, appropriately, 'Registrars Ink' and you can order some here.

Thank you Scott Macfarlane for reminding me of the issue: I look forward to signing your Marriage Schedule in a couple of months from now!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Hell on Heels

I've written before about the perils of outdoor weddings for wearers of high heels, but here's an even better idea from Alan and Andrew, whose brilliant wedding I conducted yesterday at Archerfield's Marine Villa.

Don't just advise your guests to get heel protectors: buy some on their behalf, and give them away on the day!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Jade and Michael's Humanist Wedding at The Cowshed in Crail

Jade and Michael did a lovely thing in their very relaxed and informal ceremony at The Cowshed.

They asked their parents and grandparents the BIG question: What's the secret to a long and happy marriage?

Jade’s parents said: ‘Compromise, and doing things together as a partnership and family. Love has blossomed as we’ve grown old together'.

Michael’s parents said: 'it was just a feeling that we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and marriage was our commitment to doing that'.

And Jade’s grandparents said: 'Always have fun and have a sense of humour! Do things together – we’ve been dancing together from as long as we can remember.'

Thank you so much for those words of wisdom

oh ancient ones!

Michael and Jade sent me a lovely card that said, 'We want to thank you for conducting our truly amazing ceremony! Even without a rehearsal, it was better than we ever imagined.

we thoroughly enjoyed writing our story, and you delivered it so well, with many laughs and tears from our guests'.

Thank you, Jade and Michael - I loved it too, and thanks to Michele of Lamb Loves Photography for the pics!

Last Minute Rehearsals, or How To Negotiate the Dress!

Even if we've already had a formal rehearsal, I always make a point of having a word with the bridal party in the half hour before the wedding. It's a chance to settle last minute nerves, and most importantly give some advice about how to 'negotiate the dress'.

At the rehearsal, brides are almost invariably wearing skinny jeans and sneakers, so walking down the aisle is easy. It's only on the day that I get to see what she's really going to wear and it's the ideal time to talk about how best she should come down the aisle.

Like many brides, Carly had chosen a beautiful A-Line dress, with a fitted bodice and a skirt that flows to the ground. 

A lot of online advice about making your entrance suggests you 'lock arms' with your escort, but in an A-Line dress, that won't work.

What's actually going to happen is that at some point your escort is going to put his size twelve feet foot right onto your skirt - and that's not a shot you want in your wedding album!

That's why I usually suggest that for this style of dress, the bride holds her bouquet in one hand, and lays her other hand on top of her escort's (in this case, Carly's dad, Garo). 

That way, you have the freedom to move and you can be as close or as far away as sense and the skirt dictate. Even if it does make you look a bit like you're on 'Strictly'...

You can see more of Carly and her beautiful dress here: thanks again to Raymond Keith for these photos.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Carly and Gordon's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

In these days when many people meet their life partner on a dating app, it's lovely to be able to tell a story about a couple who first met in primary school, (even if Gordon thought that Carly was 'quiet and shy', and she just remembered him as 'the wee guy with the curtains').

They didn't actually date back then, and it was only after a random meeting at the legendary Subway on Lothian Road in 2005 that their paths and lives entwined. Two years later they moved in together, one year after that, their beautiful baby boy Cole came into the world and delighted though they were, they knew they had to add the lovely Lucia to complete the clan. (Yes, Gordon did get a bit emosh at that point!)

As they said, 'Lucia's the funniest wee girl we've ever met and she never fails to make us laugh every day with her one liners and her diva attitude' (yes, you guessed, she takes after her mother!)

Three years went by, during which Carly gave up on any hope of having her 'big day' but of course Gordon had other plans, and despite giving every appearance to the contrary, he was planning a special surprise.

On the morning of the engagement, Carly said that Gordon was being shifty. She didn't realise why until they were standing next to a beautiful loch, and Gordon got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife. As she said, 'it turns out that Gordon can be romantic when he wants to be!'

After a wonderful honeymoon, and a manic few weeks of getting back to normal life, Carly and Gordon sent me these great shots from the day taken by the award-winning photographer Raymond Keith, and these words, which express better than I can why I take a hardcore approach to weddings.

'Wow - what a day we had! We cannot thank you enough for allowing us to have the ceremony that we dreamed of. It was amazing in every respect - we had tears of happiness and laughter, which every wedding ceremony should have.

When we first came to you and we heard how you bring everything together with homework we were a bit apprehensive.  

With both of us working full time with 2 kids we didn’t know if we would find the time to fit the homework in, however, we gave it our best shot.  Our homework made us realise all the reasons we fell in love with each other in the first place and it was lovely.

I had the fear when you then asked us to write the whole ceremony from the notes we had provided - the whole process seemed a bit daunting.  

Now I know and understand why you do things they way you do - our wedding was so personal to us and that's how it should be. We put in our hard work, and it definitely paid off!

Its funny that the ceremony was the one part of our wedding which we were least looking forward to but looking back it was our favourite part and we can’t wait to get our video back so we can relive it all again.

I would not hesitate to recommend you to a friend should they marry.

Thank you again, Carly and Gordon.

As I said, Carly, your words really do sum this up. From being the part of your day that you least expected to enjoy, your ceremony became your favourite bit. Job done - and it was done by you, not me, and that makes me very proud! 

Thank you so much once again, and thanks of course to Raymond Keith for these lovely photos.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Robert and Stuart are getting married!

I love to receive wedding invitations, and I felt I had to share this one from Robert and Stuart because it's beautiful, funny and imaginative.

Stuart and Robert met just over 40 years ago, and they're very widely travelled gentlemen. So are their guests, and their designer Marianne Lethbridge reflected their love of travel in her 'Save the Date' cards, which came in the form of luggage tags.

The invitation itself is a passport... 

and you've got to love the dress code!

The boys had another lovely idea. They asked their guests to send them a photograph along with their acceptance.

But what touched me most was what they said about gifts...

Marianne's company is called Ditsy Chic, and she's based in Bristol: Stuart and Robert found her online. She's having her website redesigned, but you can find her here.

Robert and Stuart's script is as witty and generous as their invitation, so I'm really looking forward to delivering it next month.

Travel well, gentlemen: I can't wait to see you again!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Sarah and Ali's Humanist Wedding at The Principal Edinburgh

Sarah and Ali's story began back in 2009 when they first laid eyes on each other in Why Not? Nightclub (still going strong on George Street) where Ali's tanned good looks caught Sarah's eye. 

He then checked her out on Bebo (not going quite so strong these days), little realising that she'd been stalking him there for some time...

 Ali chose their first date film - Marley and Me - thinking it was girly and romantic. Sarah thought it was the worst choice ever, and Ali compounded his error by turning up in green and white Nike Split Toes, as much a fashion faux pas today as they were when launched in 1996.

Ali was very nervous, not just because Sarah was beautiful, but also because she had a car. Despite everything, they were soon inseparable, and Sarah became the best-dressed supporter of Arniston Rangers, which was where Ali was playing his football in those days.

As you'll have gathered, this was a fun-filled ceremony, with a huge posse of family and friends who'd come from all four corners of the earth to see Sarah and Ali tie the knot.

I think it might have been the first time I've conducted a wedding where there were more groom's men than bridesmaids, but I suspect it won't be the last.

Like all the best love stories, theirs didn't run smoothly, although Sarah never forgot Ali telling her, ‘I promise that you will be the girl I marry…’ when they split up.

Fast forward a few years, and after a chance encounter, a happy reunion, a maritime proposal and an eight-month spell playing football in Sweden (for Ali), we all gathered to celebrate their love in the ballroom of The Principal Edinburgh, coincidentally just across the road from the club where they first met!

Our pageboy, James, read us a poem called 'No Mistake', by Martha Sims, I got to speak a bit of Swedish,Inga tråkiga personer tillåtna 
then Ali and Sarah spoke their vows and exchanged rings.

Sarah and Ali decided to incorporate The Quaich Ceremony, but as with everything they did, they made it their own by inviting both sets of parents to share it with them.

I really enjoyed being a part of Ali and Sarah's wedding, so naturally I was delighted  when they sent me these great photos by Marshall Hall, and told me,'You were fantastic! We have had so many wonderful comments with regards to your ceremony! Thank you again, you were sooooo fab!'

It was my pleasure, guys! Thanks again for these kind words, and don't lose touch!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Megan and James's Humanist Wedding at Myres Castle

There was a strong University theme running through James and Megan's ceremony: not just the fact that they met during their first week, but also that Meg's father and I became friends during our first week at Uni too, although that was more years ago than it would be polite to mention. It was really lovely to have that family connection, and of course to meet up with David again.

Despite James's penchant for dressing up as an old lady for 'Bingo Night', Megan's love for him soon deepened. By Christmas, he'd been invited on her annual family skiing holiday, and that was the start of many long-distance travel adventures over the years they spent together before coming up to the beautiful Myres Castle to tie the knot.

After a sun-kissed Hebridean honeymoon, Megan and James sent me these great photos, taken by Morag Brown, along with these lovely words.

What made it so special was that fact that it was our story, in our words, and being able to share that with our friends and family. 

It also gave us a chance to mention those closest to us by name in the ceremony which was a lovely addition. 

Tim delivered the words perfectly, and made everyone (mostly us who needed it!) feel very relaxed and reassuringly in safe hands throughout. 

Whilst we don’t have religious beliefs, it was still important to us to say vows to each other and say them out loud in front of the people we love the most. 

Megan's mum, Janet, and James's dad, Nigel, both gave us readings, before Meg and James spoke their very personal vows directly to one another.

Many of our guests hadn’t been to a humanist ceremony before and commented afterwards how personal the whole ceremony was, and for many they said it was the best ceremony they had ever been to! 

It’s going to be something we look back on with a great deal of happiness and it will remind us why we chose to marry each other.

I'm deeply envious of James and Megan's honeymoon, which started on the Isle of Barra: on the first evening, a pod of dolphins were playing in the sea whilst they had dinner by the window - it was pretty special!

I'm sure you'll have many more special memories over the years to come, Meg and James, but thank you for allowing me to be a part of your most important one to date!

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...