Saturday, 25 March 2017

How to have the best ever Humanist Wedding!

My friend Ditte Solgaard Dunn is one of Scotland's top photographers.

She invited me to tell her followers the secret of having the best ever humanist wedding on her blog, and in return I have asked her to give you some advice on how to get the best from your wedding photography.

That story will be up here just as soon as she shares it with me, but in the meantime, check out what I wrote here

Friday, 24 March 2017

Gemma and Calum's Humanist Wedding on Buachaille Etive Mhor

Calum and Gemma got in touch with me way back in December 2015. They'd checked out my blog about Jo and Rob's wedding on the Buachaille back in 2011, and as they said, "Oddly enough that exact route, Curved Ridge and mountain would be our first choice too."

As you can tell from the photographs, they're experienced mountaineers. More than that, they are expedition leaders, so over the intervening months, they contacted me from all kinds of remote places before we finally met up at the foot of the ben. 

It was a fair old walk. 

Whenever we stopped, the guests and I talked about why Gemma and Calum had chosen to be here, and for their English friends, I gave a bit of an insight into what makes humanist ceremonies so special.

As Calum and Gemma told me, "We are so happy to have a wedding day where we are doing everything that brought us together and everything that makes us who we are; being in the hills, climbing, van camping and a few pints down the Clachaig".

They had a great group of friends with them, all of whom had come straight from their stag and hen do, where they kayaked down the Spey. 

And they had a great story to tell, involving adventures in many far off places, but in the end, they kept the ceremony very simple. 

The guests walked up with me, as Calum and Gemma tackled the North Gully and we met up at the summit.

As I said, "They've chosen this place to remind themselves of what brought them together and what keeps them together. Mountains are deeply rooted in their search for happiness and it seems only right that they would choose to be in the mountains for such an important occasion."

They both gave readings that they'd kept secret from each other until that moment.

Calum chose a passage from WH Murray's classic, 'Mountaineering in Scotland'

Then they exchanged rings as they spoke their simple vows.

Now mountain weddings are all special but there was a particular magic about this one, because we had two visitors: a pair of ravens who, just as I started to speak, flew a parallel course on either side of the wedding party, before circling round, and landing at opposite ends to sit and listen to the ceremony.

Ravens were regarded as sacred in many cultures: to the ancient Greeks, they were the bird of Apollo, to the Scandinavians, they were bearers of wisdom, and to the Japanese, they were messengers of the gods. 

We were also blessed by the weather gods... 

I've never actually been able to sign the marriage schedule on top of a hill before!

My last words before we descended were these.

"Go now safely on your journey from this place as husband and wife, with the love and trust you promised today and the promise to continuously seek the adventure that burns in your souls."

Gemma and Colin did precisely that. Last time I heard from them, they were leading an expedition in Oman, but they did eventually find the time to upload these great photographs and send me a note saying, "Thank you so much. It was a really memorable and beautiful day for us."

And for me too!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

I was up early today. 5.45 to be precise, because I was off to Blackford Hill to conduct a wedding for Carrie and Raj, in front of around seventy friends. 

It was very moving, not least because when I was talking about why we were all there on that hilltop, I remembered it was because Carrie's friend Louise had married Stuart on top of Ben Vorlich, back in December 2012.

The weather was a bit different then. Deep snow, and wind chill factor of minus 15 degrees meant that Stu couldn't actually put the ring on Louise's finger because her hands had swollen so much in the cold!

And then I remembered that Stu and Lou had got in touch because they'd seen a story about Jo and Rob's wedding on Buachaille Etive Mhor the previous year. 

That was pretty special because they were mountaineers, and they'd climbed all the way to the summit with their best man and bridesmaid.

As part of their ceremony, they chose to do a hand fasting, which of course they did with the rope they'd used to climb the hill. It was pretty cool, because they really know how important it is to tie the knot correctly!

I like the idea that every ceremony I do is connected to another, in some way. I wonder who'll next ask me to climb a mountain on account of this?

You know how to find me...

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cat and Euan's Humanist Wedding at Knochraich Farm

When a photographer marries a musician, you know you're going to have a great day!

I'd first met Cat and Euan separately. 

Cat played with the Cairn String Quartet when I first met her on a freezing cold day in the Royal Botanic Gardens, and Euan had been the photographer of choice at more than one wedding I'd conducted, so I was dead chuffed they chose to work with me.

There were many unusual things about the day, not least that it was the first time I've married a couple who shared a surname. 
I loved how they told that story.

When they first met, Fiona said, 
"hah, you're both called Robertson: you guys should get married!" 
Cue some uncomfortable shuffling.

Cat's boyfriend arrived 5 minutes later.

They decided to have their wedding at a place I'd never been: Knockraich Farm, where Katy Roberts produces her award-winning yoghurt. It was going to be an outdoor wedding.

But it was October, so they decorated one of the byres in case.

In the event, it was a bit of both. 

We were in an' oot twice, 
before we finally decided that staying dry was probably a good idea.

 The beautiful music came from a very special quartet of friends, along with Amie, who gave us a reading from a letter that Johnny Cash wrote to his wife on her birthday.

Cat was accompanied by her gorgeous wee flower girl, Natasha. Euan was supported by his cousin Iain who'd flown over from Minnesota, and we all somehow managed to squeeze into the byre.

It was a very individual ceremony.

Cat and Euan told their story (OK, I did that bit). 

Then we talked about why they love each other and what they hope to achieve in their marriage, before they spoke vows they had written but kept secret from one another until the day.

Euan sent me a lovely note not long afterwards (and long, long, long before these photos.)

Firstly, a thank you for being so accommodating and helpful in the mayhem that was my decision making process at the beginning of the service. 

Both Cat & myself had our hearts set on outside, which is what made the decision difficult. 

As it turned out, it was a perfect start to the day and was a major talking point as we joined friends for a drink last night. 

Apologies for the hassle that it caused, but huge thanks for making it flow around me. 

(Editorial note: it was no hassle at all, Euan: on the contrary, it just made it all the more fun!)

Further to that, thank you for being our celebrant for the day. It was difficult to take it all in, but your manner & humour seems to have made an impression on many of our guests, and of course on both of us. 

It flashed by, as I’ve been told it would, but the laughs and tears during the service will stay with me I’m sure. 

I hope you will (or have) enjoy(ed) your ‘Hoppy Ever After’ beer, 

and I’ll be sure to send over some of our many, many photographs when they appear.

Well here they are and they are excellent! Please give it up for Nikki LeadbetterZoe AlexandraJen Owens,Lindsay Parker, and Neil Thomas Douglas who'd been saving up a roll of 1980's Ektachrome stock for this very day... 

My only regret was that I couldn't stay longer: It was clearly going to be one of those great parties!

Big thanks to the four feisty fiddlers, and of course the five fabulous photographers, without whom this would have been very, very different, but most of all, my thanks go to you, Cat and Euan: I wish you both every happiness!

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