Friday, 15 March 2019

Siobhan and Stephen's Humanist Wedding at Orocco Pier

I sometimes talk on this blog about couples 'reversing into marriage' and what I mean by that is that nowadays it's much more normal to have your family first and get married later.

That's what Stephen and Siobhan did. They met because they worked in the same office in Glasgow, but it took a couple of years for them to notice each other, so it definitely wasn't a case of love at first sight!

Then there was a period of commuting from the Central Belt to Stonehaven before Stephen managed to get a transfer to Aberdeen where they enjoyed a lot of eating out, cycling and running together.

It was only a month after they moved into their new home that their first son Finn was born, which was wonderful until they discovered, when he was almost a year old, that he had a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia.

That led to five months of intense chemotherapy, but it didn't work. Things were desperate. Finn urgently needed a stem cell transplant and it was only when he was in a children's hospital in Glasgow that an anonymous donor came forward to save his life.

Of course the story has a happy ending. Finn recovered fully, and now he and his wee brother Leo lead entirely normal lives, but you can just imagine what Siobhan, Stephen and their families went through during that time.

This story was an important element in the ceremony, and of course it was very moving, but what I didn't tell the guests was that among them there was a very special person: that anonymous stem cell donor.

Stephen saved that story for his speech at dinner, and as I wasn't there, like you I can only imagine how it went down, but I'm sure it must have been amazing! 

So here he is: our hero Anthony, on the beach outside the hotel with young Finn and the rest of the family. I feel so lucky to have played a small part in telling this inspiring story!

I couldn't have told it if Siobhan hadn't just sent me these photos today, with this message.

We have just returned to normal after a lovely few days away after the wedding and I wanted to get in touch to say thank you so much for the beautiful ceremony you conducted for us! So many guests commented and said how wonderful it was.  We really couldn’t have asked for a better day from start to finish :) 
Thank you so much again for helping to make the day so amazing!

Siobhan and Stephen x 

Not at all, Siobhan and Stephen - the pleasure was mine! Thanks again for allowing me to share your day and to share your amazing story and thanks of course to the lovely Emma Gray who took these great shots.

I speak far too quickly

The lovely people at Luath Press have just shared a wee story about WE DO! on Instagram, with a link to the interview I did with Ellen and Nicole on Soundcloud.

They took me a bit unawares, and perhaps because of that I didn't realise that they were going to stream it: I had thought they were just going to extract the odd phrase here and there.

Anyway, I was wrong - the whole thing is now online and I apologise if I'm gabbling: I must learn to speak more slowly...

Sunday, 10 March 2019

The D Word

I heard an interesting story on the radio this morning: it seems that BBC's Sunday Programme on Radio 4 has commissioned its own research into the statistics and found that couples who choose to marry in a Humanist ceremony are up to four times less likely to divorce.

You can read the full story here and it's very heartening, although I think that this observation from the research director of the Marriage Foundation is worth bearing in mind.

Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation said the figures were "sensible" but there are "caveats".
"It may be that humanists are older or richer than most, either of which would account for their apparently lower divorce rates," he told Radio 4's Sunday programme.
"However couples with a shared faith or worldview tend to do better, which might well also apply to humanist couples. And as social pressure to marry has reduced, divorce rates have been tumbling across the board as fewer couples 'slide' into marriage and more 'decide'."
I'm not a statistician, but anecdotally, my own experience backs this up.
When I was writing my book, I contacted 100 couples to ask them if they were happy to be part of it, and of them, only one had separated. 
It did strike me at the time that this was remarkable, and I think it if there is a single underlying reason, it's simply that when I meet a couple to discuss their wedding, I give them an exercise to do.
I call it 'The Homework Process' and it's very simple. If you have time, you can do it yourself now
  • Under exam conditions - no conferring - write down the story of you: when you met and what’s happened since. 
  • Write down 10 things that made you decide that this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with
  • Write down 10 things that marriage means to you or that you want to achieve in your marriage
Their reward for that is a date night where they get to share what they wrote, and it's usually an incredibly emotional and rewarding process - I never tire of getting e-mails from couples telling me how much they enjoyed it, but there is a 'but' and here it is...
What I also say to every couple I meet is that I'd rather they shared their homework, had a screaming row, and never spoke again that go through with their wedding and find themselves 10 years down the line realising that they've made a big mistake.
Almost every year, I get an email from a couple who found that their homework showed they weren't on the same path, and it's incredibly sad, but I know that when they look back, they will realise it was for the good.
Divorce - however amicable - is painful: I know that from my own experience. But if humanist weddings really do help couples make their marriage work, then I am delighted, and I am truly grateful to be a part of rebuilding society's most important institution.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

We Do too!

I was delighted to see this amazing double-page centre-spread feature article on my book in the Sunday Mail last month - until I spotted the major factual error in the body copy. 

If you look closely, you'll see the article says 'Humanist weddings, which are non-religious, now account for more than half of all weddings carried out in Scotland each year.’

Well, I didn't say that, and it's not true.

In 2017, the last year for which figures were published by the Registrar General of Scotland, there were 28,440 marriages in Scotland. 14,201 of them were conducted by registrars - which is just under 50%. There were 5,912 Humanist ceremonies, which come to just over 20% of all marriages.

I've asked the Sunday Mail to publish a correction, but in case they don't, I thought I should... 

Still, the feature looks amazing, and as I often say, 'to err is humanist' - we all make mistakes!

You can find 'WE DO!' #inallgoodbookstores and of course it's widely available online too. You'll find it at Amazon here or at Waterstones here

Friday, 1 March 2019

Ruth and Stuart's Humanist Wedding at at the Principal George Hotel

Ruth and Stuart created a wonderful ceremony that really wowed their guests! Their friends David and Jennifer told their story, and here's a prĂ©cis of how it started.

It was on Tinder that Stuart stumbled across the profile of a pretty blonde girl called Ruth. A teacher and pizza lover from Lanark. She swiped right, he swiped right and his first message was, "Perfect date -Theatre, or pizza and a film?" 

Ruth scanned quickly for good English and thought to herself, 'this guy seems genuine, handsome and he can spell. Perhaps a potential date?' Then she read his profile - STUDENT. Oh dear, this was no good... 

Spoiler Alert: it all worked out OK in the end!

David's father gave us his take on their story and Yvonne read a poem of her own composition before Julie sang us 'It feels like home'.

Ruth and Stuart spoke their secret vows directly to one another before exchanging rings and they gave Ruth's granny Elizabeth a lovely surprise by asking her to be one of their witnesses.

Along with these great photos by Sarah from Morgan and Rose Photography, Ruth and Stuart sent me these words.

Following the best day of our life, and a lovely honeymoon, we just wanted to take the time to thank you for your contribution both on and in the lead up to our wedding. 

Your professionalism and manner throughout the whole process in the lead up to our wedding was fantastic, and just what we needed in terms of how to structure our own ceremony. Our guests have commented on how much they enjoyed it, and have given us lovely remarks such as it was the best ceremony they have seen etc. This would not have been possible without your support.

We feel that with your help we developed a ceremony that was personalised to us, and really summarised our past as well as what is to come with our future.

Thank you so much once again, and best wishes, Ruth and Stuart.

It was my pleasure! Congratulations to you both - and to Sarah of Morgan and Rose whose baby Mae came into the world at the end of January (despite being immersed in the world of baby snuggles, she's still taking enquiries!)

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...