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)
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.
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!