Friday, 11 October 2019

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 Scotland's best loved celebrants, Susan and Gerrie Douglas Scott. 

If you think you've heard those names before, it's probably because you have.

They were the first same sex female couple to be legally married in Scotland on Hogmanay 2014. As you can see they had some quite well known guests, but what made their ceremony even more newsworthy was that they'd been denied the right to have a humanist ceremony by the very organisation of which we were all members. 

I know. You couldn't make it up. It was what happened to Susan and Gerrie that led me to resign too, so I am really pleased that we're going to be working together again. We share the same values, and we have a very clear vision of what humanism could be.

Susan and Gerrie have achieved a great deal through their tireless campaigning for LGBT and human rights issues. 

Susan was awarded a CBE in the 2019 New Year's Honours List for her service to public life in which she has worked for the rights of LGBT and disabled people. She has been the CEO or director of a long list of organisations including Epilepsy Scotland, PHACE Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance. Now, in addition to her busy schedule as a celebrant, she now chairs both the Independent Living Fund and the Golden Jubilee Foundation and she's an inspiration to us all.

Gerrie has been by her side all the way, and her good news is even more recent. She has just been appointed as the first ever employed Humanist Chaplain in the NHS, which is truly ground-breaking and I hope her appointment gets the media attention it richly deserves.

These are early days for Celebrate People, and the only way is up. You can see my profile - along with those of my new colleagues - here and as always, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Kirsten and Greg's Humanist Wedding Blessing at Marine Villa Archerfield

One of the advantages of a destination wedding is that your guests are with you for several days, so there's a lot less pressure and everyone is really relaxed. 

Another is that you may have the time to do what Greg and Kirsten did, which was to shoot a lot of photos for your album before the ceremony rather than afterwards. Marine Villa is set in acres of mature woodland on the edge of the Firth of Forth. It's a stunning location as you can see.

Kirsten and Greg came a long way to have their blessing ceremony. They took care of the legalities back home in the States, but as I said in the ceremony, 'today is the real celebration of their marriage because what makes it different and meaningful is that they have written it themselves so it will be their words and thoughts that I am speaking so I invite you to listen as they tell you why it is they wish to spend the rest of their lives together.'

Kirsten came in the traditional way, on the arm of her father, Patrick.

Eric gave us our first reading, of To Love is not to Possess, by James Kavanaugh, 

And then the three of us took centre stage as I told their story, which was a good one!

Greg managed to convince Kirsten that he worked as a 'Monkey Tamer' at the Zoo. Mind you, they had both had a few pints in the Bulldog Bar by that point, so she believed him until one of her friends called him out because he could say exactly where the Monkey House actually was.

The second date didn't go quite as planned when they realised that the restaurant Greg had booked was closed on Mondays... 

but they laughed it off, and went with the flow.

Kirsten's family introduced Greg to the southern Louisiana hobbies of fishing and hunting, and he was a much better shot than anyone anticipated!

I liked how they felt able to talk about their sorrows, as well as their joys. as they said, 'the strength of their relationship was tested when Darcy, Kirsten’s mom, passed away suddenly just over a year into their relationship. Greg’s unwavering love, patience, and dedication for Kirsten and their partnership was the strength that they needed to overcome such a sad time.' 

Kirsten was welcomed into the Lorenz clan and invited to join them for a “classic Lorenz family vacation.” These typically have at least one “near death experience” and horseback riding through blizzard conditions without the proper gear in Banff, Canada proved to be her initiation!  

Katie gave us our our second reading: 
a poem called Love, by Roy Croft  

and after a moment of silent reflection, it was time for Kirsten and Greg to speak their vows

 Of all the people you’ve met on your journey 
and of all the places you’ve been, 
somehow and some way, 
you ended up here — with me. 
It is the most powerful 
and humbling fact that I can accept.

I vow to be your partner 
in all of life’s adventures.  
Loving what I know of you 
and trusting what I don’t yet know, 
I give you my hand. I give you my love. 
I give you myself.

Collin and Jordan came forward with the rings

before I said the magic words 

And then Greg moved in for 'The Kiss!'

As this wasn't a legal ceremony, there was no paperwork to sign, so it was Greg's mother Diane who gave us the last reading of the day, by an unknown author.

When evening falls, 
I will look up and there you’ll be.
I will take your hand 
and we will turn together 
to look at the road we travelled to
reach, this, the hour of our happiness.

It stretches behind us 
and the future lies ahead,
A long, winding road, 
whose every turning means discovery.
Old hopes, new laughter and shared tears.
The adventure has just begun.

after their wedding, Greg and Kirsten headed off on a little tour of Scotland, and when they got home, they sent me these great photos by Lina and Ryan of Ryan White Photography along with this note.

We have been doing really well and enjoying our newly married life! We miss beautiful Scotland, and we look forward to the chance to visit there again. Our family had nothing but amazing things to say about you and the ceremony. Thank you so very much for your help with everything!

It was my pleasure, guys! Come back any time, but even if you don't do that for decades, I hope you'll never forget your wonderful, romantic wedding! 

Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it, and thanks of course, to Lina and Ryan for these great shots.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Jill and Chris's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Just look at Mansfield Traquair. Could it be more calm and tranquil?

Little did Jill and Chris know what was to come. If they had, then these placards might have had alternative captions. 

'Last chance to run - 
here come Harry and Grace!'

it all began so well. The acoustics were perfect for the voices of Pitchcraft, the splendid Edinburgh based amateur choir who led the wedding party in with a song in Swahili.

It really was a spell-binding moment

Chris and Jill's story was funny and clever. As they wrote, 'They met on the darkest dingiest stairs in the office building they shared when Jill mistook Chris for someone one else. 

 Chris thought Jill was a little nuts (correct) and Jill thought Chris was pretty cocky (correct too).    

They took almost six years to get together, and now look fondly back to their carefree holidays skiing the slopes in the days before finding 'pretty much anywhere with a Kids Club' became their reality.

Harry and Grace are clearly the apples of their eyes and they are as lively a pair of monkeys as you'll ever meet!

But before they completely took over the event, they gave their big cousins Rebecca and Matthew a moment in the limelight.

Rebecca and Matthew were great, but all of a sudden it was 'The Grace and Harry Show'!

From here on in, I honestly can't remember what I said because I was laughing so much.

And although Jill and Chris had lots of interesting, touching and moving things to say, I have a feeling that I didn't have the audience's complete attention...

Chris and Jill clearly loved it every bit as much as Grace and Harry did.

I got this lovely email from Jill not long afterwards

We wanted to say thank you for the part you played in our wedding on Saturday we had the BEST day. 

You were brilliant while Grace and Harry were making sure everyone knew they were there and helped us and everyone else feel at ease about it. 

Our guests all loved the service too and told us how different, happy and relaxed it had all felt. 

We’ll be sure to share Ricky’s photos with you when we receive them but currently this photo is the one that we feel sums up our day best. 

I can see why, can't you? I'm changing my contract. From now on I'm going to insist I work only with children and animals - as long as the children are as talented physical comedians as Grace and Harry!

Thank you so much for these great shots, Ricky Baillie, and thank you to Chris, Jill and the kids for giving me such a gift of a story!

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...