Friday, 16 July 2010

Victoria & WIll's Humanist Wedding at Balbirnie Castle

Victoria and Will's wedding was a very international affair. They met while working in Japan, and their guests came all the way from Alaska at one end of the world and New Zealand at the other to join in a very happy and joyous ceremony. This was the first time that I've ever had a letter afterwards from the father of the bride thanking me for the ceremony, which was a lovely surprise.

Photographer Ruth Hillman did some great shots - so many in fact that I decided to ask her to choose some, and I invited her to share her own memories of the day.

Victoria & Will's humanist service was just lovely!  Full of happiness and laughter, whilst observing the necessary reverence at all the right bits!!  

A true reflection of their personalities, it was clearly evident that everybody thoroughly enjoyed the service and I am sure all of those present will remember it as the perfect start to Victoria & Will's new journey together as husband and wife.

It was an incredibly sunny day just at the end of April and the light levels were bouncing around all over the place, so I think Ruth did really well to catch these moments; what strikes me is just how happy everyone looks, but that's how I remember it as well, so it's documentary realism...

Victoria sent me a lovely note to say "We are both very grateful for the help and advice you gave us to making our exceptional ceremony. We had a wonderful day.  Everyone commented on how brilliant you were at relaxing everyone into the ceremony."

My thanks to Ruth for her words and pictures, (of which you can see more here, on her blog), and of course to Victoria and Will for allowing me to use them.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Multi-lingual Weddings

I've just had a call from a lady whose daughter is marrying her French boyfriend, and it occurred to me that I haven't written anything yet specifically about ceremonies in other languages than English.

In the first place, the whole ceremony could be conducted in a different language (including Gaelic or old Scots) as long as the couple, the Celebrant and the witnesses understand what is being said, using the services of an official translator if necessary. More importantly, the legal declarations do not have to be made in English, as long as they are clearly understood by the couple, the Celebrant and the witnesses.

Most of the ceremonies I conduct are entirely in English, with the odd bit of Scots thrown in, but I do get asked to do bi-lingual ceremonies as well, and they are great fun. 

I'm lucky that I've lived in France, so I'm reasonably fluent, and my work as a producer and director took me round a lot of the world, so I've learned how to ask for two beers in most languages apart from Arabic - it's generally not a good idea to ask for a beer in Saudi Arabia... I know that my accent in most languages is considered to be good, and I really enjoy speaking knowing that all the guests are being included in the ceremony.

To date, I've incorporated French, Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Italian, Dutch, Polish, German, Japanese and Russian elements in weddings I've conducted. Je parle francais, ed io parlo italiano, anche espanol, pero no hablo mucho. Ik spreek Nederlands, maar Ich sprach kein Deutsch, Ich bedaure, but I have a smattering of Polish, at least enough to say przepraszam, czy mowisz po Angielsku? 

What you should consider is just which parts of the ceremony need to be in more than one language.

If it all needs to be translated, then it's a good idea to keep the ceremony short in the first place, but my usual advice is that we include a few elements that I speak in both languages, but bear in mind that it tends to take longer to say the same thing in both French and German. 

Usually I will speak in both languages, but I'm entirely happy to have a native speaker along side me, translating paragraph by paragraph.

Another way to do it is to have someone out in amongst the audience simultaneously translating for the benefit of those guests who have no English at all - if they all sit together, that can work well. 

Alternatively, if there are a lot of guests who have no English at all, then it would be worth giving them sealed copies of the ceremony that they can read at the same time as I speak, but I would generally counsel against that is it means that the guests will sit there reading, rather than watching and listening.

So - I hope that's a help. Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, da svedanya, ci vediamo, (yes, yes, shut up, we get the point!)

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...