Saturday, 28 July 2012

Kirsty and Stu's Humanist Wedding at Kirknewton Stables

If you're an avid reader of this blog, you'll have noticed the word 'homework' cropping up quite a lot. I used to hate doing it at school, but now I love reading other people's, and if I had to mark Stu and Kirsty's, it would get a gold star.

As they wrote, they first met at a fancy dress party at work, where they'd been paired off as the Generalissimo and 1st Lady of Mexico by a mischievous match-making colleague, so Kirsty was wearing a hired red frock, a blunt fringe and a saucy look, while Stu was in tight trousers, fake tan, a moustache and mirrored sunglasses, like a Hispanic version of ‘Top Gun – The Musical’. Nothing happened that night, but Stu knew that he wanted to see Kirsty again, not least to see if her hair really was made of Lego.

You won't be surprised to learn that this tale made it into the ceremony, but rather than have me read it, they invited three of their friends, Seyoan, Kat and Triona, to tell it, and they did a great job - a brilliant one, in fact, and they were so funny, I lost my place in the ceremony.

The next part was supposed to be where Stu and Kirsty themselves spoke about the reasons they love one another and want to spend the rest of their lives together, but for some reason I forgot, and went on to introduce their next speaker. I do sometimes say, "to err is humanist", but I felt awful when I realised what I'd done. Luckily Kirsty and Stu were in a forgiving mood.

As Kirsty said, "In retrospect, it was probably for the best, as we were never 100% sure about that part anyway. Certainly nobody noticed, and it was probably better for the ceremony to be a bit shorter as a few of the little ones were getting a bit wriggly".

Which may be true, but it's still embarrassing!

Luckily by this point, nothing could dampen their spirits, and as Stu and Kirsty’s friend Adrian gave us a rendition of the old Morecambe and Wise classic, "Bring Me Sunshine", their mums, Denise, and Pat signed the Marriage Schedule.

 Stuart’s cousin John gave us a final reading, of "Oh, the places you’ll go", by Dr Seuss, 

Everyone joined in to speak a blessing, and then off they went, on a quick honeymoon to the magical Island of Mull.

I was so pleased to get these photos from Kirsty along with a note to say, "The ceremony was funny and moving - exactly what we'd hoped it would be. A good number of our friends said it was the best wedding ceremony they'd ever been to - I think we might be seeing a few copycat humanist ceremonies amongst them in the next year or two!"

So, as ever, my thanks to you, Kirsty and Stu, and to your photographer, Malin Widstrand, who as you may have guessed isn't from these parts. It was a rather dull and overcast day, but you'd never guess from the pics, which have a lightness and brightness about them that really appeals to me. Very Scandinavian!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Why I support the Equal Marriage campaign

Why Support Same Sex Marriage in Scotland - An infographic by the team at Humanist Society of Scotland. Click for references

Embed Why Support Same Sex Marriage in Scotland on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

Ali and Ste's Humanist Wedding at Wedderburn Castle

I knew from the start that Ali and Ste would do things their own way, and not just because they're from Yorkshire... This was how they kicked off the marriage ceremony. 
Entrance: Ali, Ste and Tim to lead everyone into the room then hang around at the front while everyone gets seated. We want to stand facing the room but together, at the same side, not opposite each other.
Even before the ceremony began, they had another original idea. They and their guests had lunch together, and better still, they invited me to join them! 

Third and fourth great ideas: they both had a Best Man, and they asked Ali's Best Man, Phil to tell their guests their story. Better still, they allowed him to keep it a secret until the day.

That way, they had the same pleasure in hearing it as everyone else. (Of course Phil sent what he was going to say to me first, so I could make sure he was on the right track!)

Next up was Ali’s little sister Dote, who gave us a poem called The Promise by Eileen Rafter.

Then, after a well chosen quotation from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, they turned and spoke to one another directly about the reasons they love one another. (They'd kept these a secret from one another too)

 Their sisters, Marg and Joanna, welcomed them into one another's families...

before Ste's mum gave the next reading and we took a moment for quiet contemplation.

Their vows were as original and idiosyncratic as they are. They were in four sets of complementary pairs, and not surprisingly, they got a great reaction from all of the guests.

Ste: I will always encourage you to face your fears but back off when you put your foot down.
Ali: I will continue to face my fears unless you are pushing me into something stupid and dangerous.

And sure enough, when I said, "Stephen, you may kiss your bride", he did exactly what it said in the script - grabbed Ali, threw her backwards and gave her a smacking great Hollywood kiss!

The usual unusual witnesses at my weddings are the mums. So instead, Ali and Ste asked their dads. 

Apart from a few last words from me, that was that pretty much that.

When they got back from honeymoon Ste and Ali sent me a lovely card (that I appear to have mislaid!), saying all kinds of nice things about the ceremony, but the nicest surprise was to bump into them at a debate in which I was speaking on the question of whether or not God is necessary for morality. (Don't watch it unless you've got about an hour and a half to spare and you've already lost the will to live...) 

As they said, "It would have been nice to hang around for a proper chat afterwards but it was getting late and we had just been handed a book about god from a Christian so though we’d make a move before he tried to ‘convert’ us!!"

Somehow I think he'd have found that Ste and Ali know their own minds very well! My thanks to them for asking me to conduct the ceremony in the first place, and for sharing these excellent photographs taken by Emma & Ivan of Claremont Photography, who are becoming deservedly popular,as I keep on bumping into them everywhere!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Judy and Steve's Intimate Humanist Wedding at Home

Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy doesn't often serve as an inspirational source for a wedding ceremony, but that was how Steve and Judy chose to begin theirs.

There were two points of coincidence - the number 42, which was the age at which they met, and the strange and unpredictable workings of computers. They were a bit put out that while it took Deep Thought seven and a half million years to come up with the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, it took only 48 hours for the algorithms of to deliver them both with a single 100% perfect match.

And despite their natural misgivings, and a series of catastrophic dates involving broken down cars and near-death experiences, Judy and Steve discovered that the computer was indeed correct, and ten years later, they decided it was time to create a new vessel on which to voyage together for the rest of their lives.

Their very musical guests had come from as far away as Austin Texas, and between them, they created a really wonderful, moving occasion. This is what they said.

We continue to bask in the joy, laughter, tears, beauty, love and involvement of everyone at our wedding, making it simply the most wonderful and perfect day.

Every photo is filled with sunshine and happiness, and in each photo, everyone is smiling or laughing, looking happy and clearly having a great time.

The intimate and personal ceremony was thanks to you in helping us to craft our words, and everyone has said they have never been at such a personalised and relaxed wedding, ever (and we have all been at quite a few!)

Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for giving us such a fantastic, magical start to our married life.

PS And we even have your blog to look forward to as a lasting memento!

Thank you, Judy and Steve, and of course to Best Dog Angus, who was a very, very good ring bearer!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Doreen and Trevor's Humanist Wedding at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

I do like it when couples arrive in style... 

Trevor and Doreen turned up on a chauffeur-driven trike, and a Harley Davidson respectively! Their ceremony was a blast, not least because of the honesty and humour with which they spoke about their relationship and the way it evolved from a meeting between a hairy biker and a crazy cat lady to a loving, committed relationship between two people who promised to remain partners in crime for ever! Along with these great shots, Doreen sent me this note.

Firstly a huge thanks to you - Trevor and I and all of our guests thought your were fantastic. 
It is fair to say that the majority of our friends and family had never experienced a Humanist wedding and so we had quite a few questions beforehand about what to expect from the "Humorist" wedding as some thought it was called. So it is ideal (as you obviously already knew) to include an explanation as part of the ceremony. After the ceremony everyone - and I really do mean everyone - expressed how much they had enjoyed it, how lovely and personal it was and how it really made them feel connected and part of our lots of happy tears and snotters as well.

Two comments stand out in mind especially - one from my 75 yr old aunty who rushed up to me and said "well if that is an alternative lifestyle then sign me up now!" The other was from my 24yr old nephew who said "I never knew that weddings could be like that, I had decided that I never wanted to get married, but that ceremony has changed my mind."

We randomly bumped into Tom from the Botanics after the wedding and he was saying that the registrars don't meet the couple til the day of the wedding. Again I really appreciated the fact that we met before the day and spent a couple of hours getting to know each other (when we both weren't nervous for one thing!)- & I for sure wanted to be married by someone that I had met and knew that I felt comfortable with.

Also after we met you provided so many examples and helpful information that it really helped us to plan our day....every base was covered!

Otherwise - funny story - Trevor's dad kept coming up to me and others throughout the evening and asking when the human sacrifice would be happening and as I hadn't heard that part of the day, I was wondering what the hell he was on about! Anyway my other nephew was funny cos he whipped around and said the Humanists only sacrifice people with beards (which T's dad has). Anyway all of this made us laugh and various people also commented after the wedding about your opening remarks and thought it funny. 

The only exception seems to be T's 86 yr old grandmother - oh well - you can't please all of the people....

It was our day and it was exactly as we wanted it - hearing our own words spoken and exchanging the vows we had written ourselves was incredibly powerful, poignant and memorable. When T & I are in our retirement home we will be boring the staff to tears with stories of our humanist wedding. I am so thankful that humanist weddings are legal in Scotland!

Thanks so much to both of you for these kind words, Doreen, to your friends for the pics, and to the guys at Trike Tours Scotland for theirs as well. Carry on sharing those adventures!

I'm delighted by Vicky Allan's article about 'WE DO!' in today's Sunday Herald ! My thanks to all the couples who ...