Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Lisa and Antonio's humanist wedding at Eskmills

Some of the best relationships start off with a mistaken identity, but there can't be many where the future groom claimed to be the cousin of former Liverpool, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid star, Fernando Torres!

Lisa said, 'my sister in law Sam asked for his ID, and when we saw his name, Antonio Torres, we actually believed him. To this day, my brother David still calls him Fernando!'

Early dates included The Buccleugh in Dalkeith and Lisa's favourite, TGI Fridays. They also went further afield, with trips to Mexico which is their favourite destination. 

In the ceremony at Eskmills Venue, Lisa said, 'We were always talking about marriage and babies, but in 2015 our world was turned upside down and our hearts were broken when we learned we would not be able to conceive naturally and if we wanted to try for a family we would have to receive IVF treatment. 

'These last 3 years have been very difficult and have been a rollercoaster of emotions for us both. Our family and friends have been so supportive and helped us through. As a couple we have become stronger and have learned so many things. How to talk and listen to one another. How to support one another. How to comfort one another and not to be ashamed to cry with one another. We've learned that if we can get through this we get through anything as long as we have each other. We are now excited to start our IVF journey again as husband and wife!'

Not surprisingly, this was a very emotional ceremony.  Antonio and Lisa invited their mums, Eleanor and Kathleen, to light candles of remembrance and we had a pause for contemplation before we heard a reading from Antonio's sister Elena and a speech from Lisa's brother David. Only then did Lisa and Antonio speak their very personal vows...


Antonio David Aguilar-Torres
I promise to continue to make you laugh every day
I promise to care for you, support you, love and cherish you always
I promise to love you as much as you love your trainer collection!


Lisa Anne Hood
I promise to continue to make you laugh every day
I promise to care for you, support you, love and cherish you always
I promise to comfort you when your football team loses... again!

It was a lovely surprise to get these photos by Vows Awards winner Emma Gray from Lisa and Antonio yesterday. As they wrote, 'Can you believe it's exactly 6 months to the day and date that Antonio and I got married? It truly was the best day of our lives and as you can see from our photos, it was a day full of laughter and smiles.'

We still talk about our ceremony and how it was the best part of our wedding day. We are so grateful for the help you gave us and for being part of our special day. Thank you.

I apologise for taking so long to send these photos to you as we’ve had a very busy married life so far. Everything is going perfect. We started our ivf treatment after the wedding and we are so excited to tell you that we are expecting a baby girl in August. We feel so blessed and we are finally getting our happily ever after! 
What amazing news - and what an uplifting ending to your story, as well as a  wonderful new beginning to the next chapter of your lives. 

I really couldn't be happier for you, Lisa and Antonio. Thank you again for choosing me as your celebrant, and for allowing me to share your inspiring story! thanks to - of course - to Emma Gray for these great shots.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Destination Weddings

Despite all the uncertainty over the UK's future, more and more couples are choosing Scotland as the place they want to tie the knot. 

Just two days ago, I conducted the wedding of Julie and Nicolas, a French couple who brought their families over to see them getting married on the shores of Loch Fyne, and very romantic it was too. This is 'the wedding tree' at their venue, Stonefield Castle, which is decorated with mooring buoys, one for every couple who's been married there.

One couple who know all about 'Destination Weddings' are Christina and Jay of Elemental Photography. They love photographing their couples in wild and romantic destinations, and you can really see that in their work.

They recently launched their own online magazine, We Fell In Love, and their second issue is all about how to plan your perfect day from 10,000 miles away. 

It's full of practical tips as well as inspirational photography

And even if you're not flying in from the four corners of the earth, it's well worth checking out.

I'm looking forward to conducting a wedding blessing later this year for an American couple who've produced their very own guest guide book to Scotland.

I wonder who told them about Irn Bru?

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Sarah and David's Humanist Wedding at Archerfield House

I love getting thank you cards, and as you can see from the date on this one, David and Sarah sent it to me last year. 

They created a very moving and inspiring ceremony, and as they wrote at the time, 

"Thank you for making us truly appreciate what marriage is all about. You made the experience more special and profound than we thought possible. Your guidance and patience were appreciated more than you know. We promise we'll write our testimonial and send some pics soon. All our love, David and Sarah."

Well as we know, life got in the way, and it was only yesterday that Sarah sent me these photos and this wonderful message. "We’re doing great. Puppy on board and bun in the oven yikes!! It’s all systems go. We haven’t actually finished looking through the 15000 photos that Gerardo gave us aaah! But here are a few for you to do with what you please"

David and Sarah first met when he interviewed her for a position as a personal trainer, and over time, she supplanted Gloria, David's first love, in his affections.

Gloria is the triathlon bike on which David cycled to Barcelona and completed his first Ironman in Nice. She's now proudly hanging on the wall of their living room.

In the ceremony, we learned how they'd met and learned from both sets of parents. Charlotte, Helen and Lucy gave us readings, and we discovered the location of David's proposal (appropriately, on a morning training run along the Costa del Fife, near their happy place, Pittenweem).

Sarah and David spoke their secret vows to one another directly. I'm not going to tell you everything they said, but I think these short excerpts will give you an idea...

David said

I promise that I will never forget the fun, the excitement, the joy and the reward. 
The challenge is the journey, not the destination. 
I promise that we will not have a destination, 
because I don’t want our adventure to ever end.

and Sarah said

Today, I marry you because I love you, 
and I feel loved by you. 
You’re the best part of my day 
(even at 5am when only fitness nutters are awake) 
and I marry you knowing 
that our best days are yet to come. 

Well, the best days are here now, Sarah and David. Congratulations on your happy news, and much love to you, to the bun and to Archie (the pup!) Big thanks to Gerardo Jaconelli as well - you can get a sense of his work from his Instagram page here

Monday, 1 April 2019

Ashley and Jackie's Humanist Wedding at Marlin's Wynd

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen my version of this photo about a month ago!

Ashley looked lovely, but I could tell she was a bit nervous.

Marlin's Wynd isn't just one of Edinburgh's cutest venues: it's also one of its oldest. Just off the Cowgate, and tucked into the side of Blair Street, it was named after the French stonemason Jean Marlouin who paved the Royal Mile in the mid-sixteenth century when Mary Queen of Scots was on the throne, so it has a long and interesting history.

Ashley and Jackie were doing what I call 'reversing into marriage' because they already have a family, and Ashley arrived with their daughter Violet and son Jackie, attended by her sister Rebecca, her friends Susan and Nina and her future sister-in-law, Jackie's sister Kirsty.

Naturally, Violet and Jack stole the show!

Ashley came in on the arm of her mum, while Jackie waited with his best friends, Mikey and Jamie.

Jackie had been led to believe that Ashley was a bit quiet and didn't say very much, so when her first question to him was, 'are you married?', his reply made sure she was. 'No', he said, and that constituted the entirety of their first exchange.

Fortunately, they got over their nerves, and over the coming weeks and months, Jackie introduced Ashley to some of his favourite bars and eateries in Portobello and further afield. Ashley was fair swept off her feet!

Not long after they got their trial baby, Higgs the puppy, Ashley became pregnant with Violet who was born healthy and happy on the 13th of April 2015. Jackie said that week was the happiest of his life because his team secured a place in the Scottish Cup Final, so the arrival of Violet was the icing on the cake. They soon decided she needed a wee playmate, and Jack was born on the 16th of March the following year. Jackie enjoyed that week too!

Jackie and Ashley told some great stories about each other. We now all know that Ashley is a very messy eater, whose favourite dish is nachos, because she prefers to eat with her hands!

Ashley complimented Jackie on his great dress sense - for her as well as for him. She also said what a great father he is to the kids: they love wrestling, kissing and cuddling with him and they even like to listen when he plays his guitar!

Bro Maid Barry flew all the way from Qatar to be with them, and he read us an excerpt from a rather famous love letter: from Johnny Cash to his wife June. It's been voted the greatest love letter of all time, and you can read it for yourself here

Like that love letter, jackie and Ashley's vows were very simple, very heart-felt and very true.

I, Ashley, accept you, Jackie, as my husband.
I offer you this ring 
as a symbol of my love and commitment to you.
With it, I give you all that I am, 
and all that I ever hope to be.

I, Jackie, accept you, Ashley, as my wife.
I offer you this ring 
as a symbol of my love and commitment to you.
With it, I give you all that I am, 
and all that I ever hope to be.

I always love working with Victoria Litster, who took these great photos - I really like the way that Ashley and Jackie made sure that they were surrounded by images of all the people they love when they signed their marriage schedule.

Ashley dropped me a line the other day.

She said, 'We just want to say a big thanks again for the wonderful ceremony!'

Everything was just perfect, and everyone commented how lovely it was, and very personal. 

Looking back it was such an amazing day and if I could do it all over again I would: it was one of the best days of my life. 

We couldn't have asked for a better humanist to conduct our ceremony. You spoke as if you had known has for years and the ceremony was very personal. It was so lovely to have a small wedding during the day with just close friends and family, then having the big party at night with everyone else. 

If I could change anything about the whole thing, it would definitely be not to be so worried about everyone else and not to be so nervous before walking down the aisle to Jackie. 

Jackie said he doesn't know why he got himself so worked up about doing a speech and this is something he regrets. 

I waken up everyday with my smile on my face that I have finally married the man of my dreams, and I am sure Jackie feels the same haha! The whole day was just perfect from start to finish and these are memories that we will treasure forever. 

I'm sure that you will, Ashley - and thank you again for allowing me to help you create them in the first place!

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...