Thursday, 29 November 2012

Antisocial Media?

When you got engaged, did you post your happy news on Facebook? Do you share the highs and lows of your private life on twitter? As so many of us share the intimate details of our lives online, there are bound to be times that somebody oversteps the line.

More and more often recently, I've been adding a new line to my 'pre-ceremony warm-up routine'. Along with checking people can hear me at the back of the room, and asking them to switch off their phones, I usually go on to explain 'today's rules on photography'.

Some couples rule it out completely. They want their guests to be present during the ceremony in every sense, and that's fine. Others are relaxed about guests taking pictures, but don't want them to use flash in case it interferes with the official photographer's pictures. Others still are happy for everyone to take pictures, or shoot video anytime anywhere. But now we have Facebook and twitter, and they've changed the game completely.

So I think it's well worth taking a moment to talk to your partner about your own Facebook Privacy Policy. If you're happy for the world to see someone's iPhone snap of your first blissful embrace on Facebook two seconds after I've said, 'you may kiss', it's your call.

But if you want a modicum of privacy, just ask me to say this. "Please feel free to take pictures by all means, but please don't post them to social media sites until Janet and John give you the OK".

Thanks to professional wedding photographer Ian Johnson whose snap I've used above.
I think he's right when he says, 'please tell your guests to enjoy your wedding instead of taking photos!'

Once Upon a Time They Lived Happily Ever After - Telling Your Story

The story of your relationship, from first encounter to the moment you both say 'I do' is an important part of your ceremony, and there are lots of different ways of telling it. Earlier this year, at  Sophie and Neal's wedding in the Royal Botanic Garden one of their friends, Jamie Hall, came up with a really original one, and I've been meaning to write about it for ages.

James only got in touch with me a day before the wedding to let me know that he was a surprise addition to the line up, and that he'd written a poem designed for audience participation. He read most of it, but he'd also roped in 8 friends, who had one line each, and all of whom were dotted variously about the John Muir Grove. With his permission, I reproduce it below, with thanks also to Claire Tennant for the illustrative photography.

A Rhyme for Neal and Sophie
So 2 months ago I think it was
My dear Neal asked me to state
A few lines at his wedding to Sophie
With a brief of ‘say whatever u want mate’
 Of course I accepted with overwhelming emotion
An honour beyond all words
The only things that were off the agenda
Were religion and the bees and the birds!
So I met Neal at the university of Bournemouth
And my gosh do I have some stories
And 13 years later I could regale you all
With the naughties, the funnies and the gories
But if there’s one thing I let uni teach me
Was that’s it’s best to leave the scandal behind
(ANDY) So it’s lucky for you that I aint reading,
Cos Sophie’s dad would change his mind
So that’s enough of Uni
We could talk about that all day
It’s time to talk about these amazing 2 people
For whom we’re all here today
So 2005 I believe was the year
When I first heard Neal quote
That He’d met this lovely young lady
Who was very much floating his boat
Now at the time I lived with Neal
(DUNC) so did I
(ANDY) So did I
So it was the house of bachelor bromance
Saturdays we’d go and get hammered
Sundays it was football in our pants
 But alas, our reprobate existence
Of which we’d all made an art
Would end as Neal and Sophie moved in together
But how had he won her heart?

Was it midnight walks on the South Bank?
Was it Frank Sinatra or some other crooner?
(LEE) c’mon lad let’s be honest now,
It’s cos he decided to become a Gooner

Now Lee my friend, don’t be so quick to judge
Love is a sum of many beautiful parts
(DANNY) No I really do have to agree with Lee,
For 25 years you supported Hearts!!

 Oh well Danny, all that really matters
Is that they sit in front of us right now
Amongst their nearest and dearest
Exchanging their wedding vows

But it was never always that public
When they first sparked their romantic flames
Cos they met and hooked when they were work colleagues
So at first they played the cloak and dagger game

So the clandestine relationship was blossoming a treat
The office anonymity was working out just chipper
And everything was going so perfectly until
(JACKY) I busted you snogging on the Thames Clipper

So several years on and here they are
And their love it so beautifully still stands
But if you’re a budding new boyfriend
You’ve got a challenge on your hands
Cos dear old Jon hooked up with Soph’s mate Amy
And took her way on their first romantic break
(JON) but romance was 100% off the cards,
When I discovered it was a double date

Yes Neal and Soph invited themselves along
To check the new boy out
But let’s be honest, if there’s an opinion you’d trust
It’d be these 2 without a doubt.

 So at this point Neal and Soph lived in Oz
Where their relationship reached new heights
But I don’t have too much material here
(ROZANA) yeah, cos you were too cheap to pay for flights

 Oh and how we all rejoiced
When they came back to Blighty
But that was just the start of it all
As these 2 were to become a 3

And last summer your angel Daisy came along
And I have to admire her style
As her arrival gave Neal a nudge
To at last walk Soph up the aisle

So now I conclude with a couple more lines
And I dedicate them to this breathtaking team
3 wonderful souls for whom we all cannot overstate our love
Quite simply today will be a dream

Neal and Soph you are my soulmates
Of warmth and love you are both so in wealth
And when I say I couldn’t have picked a more perfect couple
I speak for the congregation, and myself.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Kirsty and Euan's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Phoebe Anna Traquair's exquisite frescoes glittered in the early autumn sunlight as Euan and Kirsty tied the knot, just nine years after their first meeting in a tiny Perthshire village.

Kirsty looked stunning as she came up the extremely long aisle with her mother, who gave her away. (Fabulous dress, btw!)

Their friend Lauren told us the story of their relationship, from their first tentative flirtations all the way up to a turbulent ferry journey to the wild and wonderful Knoydart, where Euan asked Kirsty to be his wife.

Their friend Alan read a poem called "Friends", Kirsty’s cousins, Louise and Rebecca, read us Marriage Joins Two People in the Circle of its Love"by Edmund O’Neill, and Euan’s mum, Carol, gave us a reading adapted from the Jewish Marriage Ceremony, before we had a pause for contemplation just before the vows.

After their vows, but before they exchanged rings, Kirsty and Euan asked me to read a poem called “The Blessing of The Hands” by an unknown author.

As they exchanged rings, these were the words they chose to say to one another.  

"With this ring, I join my life to yours.

Wear it always as a symbol of my love and commitment to you, 

and when we are apart, look upon it and think of me."

When they got back from honeymoon, the new Mr and Mrs Thomson sent me these lovely shots by Andrew & Emmett of Wilson McSheffrey with this note.

Just a wee message to send a very overdue thank you from us both for helping to make our day such a success. Everyone thought the ceremony was wonderful - so personal and meaningful - and you of course played a huge part in ensuring that that was the case!  You definitely helped to calm the nerves a bit, and I felt as though we were in good hands.

The day was a bit like a fairytale - such a whirlwind - but we both have such happy memories of celebrating with family and friends. I can't believe how smoothly eveyrthing went, and all the folk participating in the ceremony did so well! We couldn't have asked for anything more.

Thank you, Kirsty & Euan - it was my pleasure!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Can you read what it says on this card?

I find that many couples now want to speak their vows directly to one another rather than repeat them after me, which I think is great, and the ultimate expression of what you are doing on the day.

You can write them by hand of course, which is more personal, but if you want to print them, you may find this suggestion handy.

Centre the text
choose a font you can read
 at a size you can see

and put the line breaks 
where the sense breaks

so you can read one line at a time

See what I mean?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Chazz and Louise's Humanist Wedding at King's Acre Golf Club

When couples tell their stories, the proposal is usually a highlight, and that was very much the case for Louise and Chazz. They had their own versions, of course, and that was what made it so good. 

Louise remembers how she waited a whole year and seventeen days for Chazz to say he loved her, (but it was well worth the wait!). While Chazz said, "I might not be the most romantic guy, but I try my best when it’s needed the most", and he did a great job of misdirection when the time came to ask for her hand in marriage. 

Almost two years ago, he took Louise down to London for a surprise weekend trip to celebrate Christmas, and did all the tourist stuff, 'like walking around Primark...'

Louise had wanted to see 'Legally Blonde', at The Savoy Theatre, but Chazz told her it was sold out and they'd have to go to 'The Jersey Boys' at The Prince Edward Theatre instead, so of course she was gutted. It was only after Chazz had deliberately taken her past the queue for 'Legally Blonde' en route, that he revealed he had the tickets after all.

Better still after the show, he took her down to the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, got down on one knee in the slush, and popped the question. As he said in the ceremony, "I’m surprised Louise never got whiplash trying to get her glove off!"
When it was time for them to talk about the reasons they love one another, Louise came out with a cracker. As she said, 

"I promise to try and be a good wife babe. 
I think I'm doing a good job so far but please, for goodness sake, 
do a little bit more around the house - you have me demented at times! 
I love you always, forever and more every day! 
I cannot wait to be your wife".

Along with these great pictures, they sent me this lovely note.

Our wedding was amazing and you were absolutely fantastic! Everyone raved about the service and how great you were. I've already recommended you to a few folks thinking of having a humanist wedding. Your quick responses to emails and correspondence filled me with every confidence for the big day and u certainly delivered :-)

All part of the service, Louise. Thanks again, and good luck with the housework Chazz! xxx

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Alex and Becka's Humanist Wedding at St Columba's by The Castle

Sometimes even before I meet a couple, I get a sense that they're going to be a lot of fun to work with, and so it was with Becka and Alex.

Back in March, they sent me an email that said, "Hiya, We saw you in action at Kate and Mark's wedding out of town by a lake last year and wandered if you were free to do us! We're planning a simple and inexpensive do with bring a dish food, and friends to play music in a community centre so that the emphasis is on enjoying the company of our friends and family rather than worrying if lots of complicated details will go right."

 The venue changed about three times before they finally ended up at St Columba's By The Castle, which is a church hall, but the powers that be were very relaxed about having a Humanist in their midst.  When I arrived, there was a kind of pub quiz going on, and about a hundred people of all ages, with lots of kids, sitting around tables, chatting and playing and generally having a really good time trying to guess the answers to questions about Alex and Becka. 

Eventually, we took our place over where the band were going to play later, and I kicked off the ceremony, with the words, "Mawwige, Mawwige is what brings us together today," and went on to explain that was for all the "Princess Bride" fans out there, a film of which Becka and Alex are big fans. 

I'm always really pleased when couples take my suggestion that they involve their friends. Alex and Becka involved LOTS of them! Thomas, the best man, who knows Alex so well he can finish his sentences for him... Becka's brother Aaron... Kay who was there when Alex and Becka met at 'ShedFest'... Alex's sister and Becka's friend Ruth... and finally, Alex's dad... 

There was a lot to love about the ceremony, which lasted for the better part of an hour; so much joy and laughter, for a start, but there was also a profound sense that Becka and Alex really were marrying in the presence of the people they loved, and that's what a Humanist wedding is all about. 

To cap it all, they decided to have a hand fasting, and that was great fun. We started out with the intention of having six cords tied by family and friends, but we got a bit carried away, and invited everyone who had anything they could tie to come up and join in.. I think there must have been over twenty in the end and the very last one was a beanbag frog.

I really like the way they chose to do their photography too: all uploaded to Google Plus where their friends can see it any time. Rather than choose lots of individual photos, I've just grabbed a few screen shots of some of them as they are laid out, and I think they give an excellent sense of how the day went. As well as the pics, Alex sent me this lovely note.

First of all, Becka and I would like to thank you once again for making our wedding day so special, not only did we enjoy it hugely but you steered us to a very appropriate ceremony and added your own charm to proceedings on the day.  It was a real pleasure to have you as our celebrant.

Any time, Alex and Becka - It was a pleasure!

Jill and Chris's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Just look at Mansfield Traquair . Could it be more calm and tranquil? Little did Jill and Chris know what was to come. If they h...