Thursday, 22 March 2018

Dan and David's Humanist Wedding Blessing at Edinburgh Castle

Most of the weddings I conduct are legal, but the blessing ceremonies I do that have no legal status whatsoever can be every bit as emotionally powerful - if not more so.

There can't be many couples who waited 20 years to get married, but David and Dan did. 

What made their blessing ceremony at Edinburgh Castle so special was that they chose to have it on the 20th anniversary of the day they met - the 4th of July - making it the 'real' celebration of their marriage, even though it wasn't a legally binding ceremony. (They'd taken care of the legalities before they flew over).

It was a very international gathering, with guests from Spain, Belgium, Germany, England and every corner of the USA, and Dan and David really made it their own.

Their maid of honour and their best man came into the sounds of Pachelbel's Canon, and once they'd arrived, David and Dan entered together to the sound of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

The first thing I told the guests was that this wasn't just their anniversary, it was THE BEST DAY OF THEIR LIVES.

We had a reading from Les Miserables, by Scott: we talked about the sun, about Zeus, and about the Vena Amoris: Sarah read a poem by Anne Sexton called Cinderella, and then Dan and David spoke their vows.

Oh boy... it was emotional!

I think this shot has to get my 'wedding photo of the year' award for its symmetry, balance and emotional heft. Erica Hardesty is a truly exceptional photographer, isn't she?

I've been looking forward to writing about this ceremony for a while now. 

Some time back, David got in touch to say, "Once we Skyped with you on that afternoon really sold it for us. You were so gracious, calming, comforting and smart. You really understood us; you listened to us; and we really understood you. We both remember looking at each other after Skyping with you and saying: WE FOUND THE PERFECT PERSON TO FACILITATE OUR BLESSING."

Well, I feel blessed to have been part of it: it certainly was the best 4th of July party I've ever been at. 

Thank you once again gentlemen, for choosing to work with me, and thanks once again to Erica for these really splendid images.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Rhian and Kenny's Humanist Wedding at Colstouin House

I was very touched to get a thank you message from Kenny and Rhian the other day, illustrated by these very atmospheric photos by the talented Claire Juliet Paton.

They chose to get married on the first day of the Six Nations, when Wales and Scotland met in Cardiff, so that required very careful planning. 

They very sensibly decided to have the ceremony at 1.00 pm which meant that the guests could all watch the match at 2.30. 

OK, the Welsh guests were probably a little happier than the Scots by 4.00 pm, but as you will see, it didn't detract from Rhian and Kenny's truly moving and creative ceremony.

Just over a month on from the day and we’re both still filled with real joy and pride over what our day and our ceremony ended up being. 

I remember thanking Tim immediately after the ceremony and saying how fantastic it had been and he replied, ‘Of course it was – you wrote it!' 

That sums up the whole experience. 

From our first visit to Tim we were encouraged to do what we wanted to and it helped make for a beautiful, emotional, personal experience that we wouldn’t swap for anything. 

Tim offered guidance where required but overall just gave us the reassurance we needed that the ceremony we prepared would work. And it did! 

We were complimented so many times on how enjoyable everyone found it. There were tears, laughter and singing from everyone in the room.

One of our favourite moments, however, happened even before the ceremony. We had chosen not to spend the night or morning separately and to enter the ceremony room at the same time. This meant we were able to grab some time immediately before the ceremony, together with Tim. 

He immediately sensed how nervous we each were and set about settling us down with his trademark humour. Tim then let us have a dry run of putting the rings on so we didn’t mess up with the wrong hands. Of course, this all ended in tears (of joy) and make-up had to be hastily fixed. It was a beautiful moment and it helped prepare us for doing it again in a room full of people.

Tim remained a hugely calming, guiding influence through the ceremony, casually and calmly directing us where to stand and what to do without it even really being noticeable. It helped give us complete faith that everything would go smoothly. 

His advice to take in the moment, enjoy it and to also look at everyone else enjoying it too stuck in our minds throughout and it was great to see our friends and families laughing and crying along with us.

Looking back, we can’t imagine having done things differently and can only offer our complete thanks to Tim for guiding us through the whole process.

Once again we'd like to offer you our thanks for helping to make such a special day.

It was my pleasure, Kenny and Rhian: I can't thank you enough for sharing these words with me and of course these great shots from Claire.

I can't not post these last two - they still bring a big smile to my face, despite the result!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Allan and Gary's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

Our story starts in 2002 in Gran Canaria where Allan was working as an overseas holiday rep. Gary had had just recently secured a job - also as a rep. 

Gary arrived at Las Palmas airport looking like something out of The Matrix wearing a long black leather jacket, even though it was 30 degrees plus. They very quickly became good friends, always the last two standing on a night out and always getting into trouble too...

Ten years passed, during which they largely lost contact but thanks to their mutual friend Kelli they met again in Edinburgh. Allan invited Gary to his Christmas Party, and again it wasn't long before they were the last two left reminiscing over a bottle of champagne. Four years later, on Allan's birthday, Gary proposed and that was what led us to a very emotional day at the glamorous Carlowrie Castle.

You may already have heard of a bride's mate: well, Gary and Allan coined a new term for Jane, Sarah, Lyn and Christine: Groomsmaid, and it was lovely to see them making their entrance with the best men, Scott and Rudy to the sound of the Cristina Perry favourite, 1,000 years, sung by Lara Fullerton who was accompanied on the piano by the legend that is Alex Graham.

I also loved the way they chose to involve their mums as their witnesses when they signed the Marriage Schedule.

Along with these pics from photographer Alan Meadows, Allan sent me these kind words.

Firstly Gary and I would like to thank you for doing our ceremony, all our guests have commented about how unique it was, funny, emotional and very well delivered. We were all very happy with the day - it really was the best day ever.

The whole day was faultless, but it just went in so quickly. We were both very humbled by the love, kindness and emotions shown though out the day, and both now appreciate more how lucky we are to have such a great group of amazing and supportive friends and family.

The ceremony was very personal to us, and we loved the way in which our story was shared with our loved ones.

Once again Tim many thanks for being a part of what truly was the most amazing day ever.

Gentlemen, it really was! I am sure there are lots of other photos which show just how emotional and moving a day it was, and if you're feeling brave, I hope you'll get Alan to send me some, but even without them, I think everyone reading this will get just how much it meant to you, your families and your friends, so thank you again for asking me to be your celebrant: it was a joy!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Claire and Ross's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

Weddings are often seen as a 'girl' thing, so this story told from the groom's point of view is very special for lots of reasons. The words are from Ross: the atmospheric photos are by the gifted Suzanne Li

The walk down the aisle is normally reserved for the bride and her wedding party. For me the importance of walking my mum down the aisle arm in arm was hugely significant.

Our wedding was the first major family event since my dad passed away back in April 2015, so it was a day full of mixed emotions both for myself and more so, for my mum. However, I know my dad was celebrating with us throughout the day. Tim, our celebrant, and toasts to my dad during the evening speeches, paid tribute to a great man.

After showing my mum to her seat, I joined my best men up front and the anticipation grew as we waited on my wife to be making her grand entrance. Having a couple of my trusted buddies beside me eased the nerves.

First to appear was my little cousin Craig, looking dapper for his first time wearing a kilt. He had been in training on the lead up to the wedding, practicing his walk down the aisle on his own carrying both rings on a small cushion. As soon as he entered and saw me at the other end of the aisle, all training went out the window and he ran at full speed, delivering the rings in spectacular fashion. Job done little cousin!!

Next down the aisle was Claire’s cousin and our only bridesmaid, Jenny, and she looked amazing! I could tell from her face she was full of emotion. I was glad she was by Claire’s side on the day, the two of them were as thick as thieves growing up.

Prior to the big day one of the best pieces of advice I received was to take moments throughout the day and make mental snapshots. 

As the music started playing and the doors opened, Claire appeared with her dad at her side, this was one of my mental snapshot moments. Not only did she look amazing in her dress, but it was also the happiest I’d ever seen her.

I was the proudest guy in the room.

As she joined me up front we both had smiles from ear to ear. All that planning, the emails, phone calls, Skype sessions, venue visits, flights home for fittings, menu tastings, meetings with our wedding planner, photographer, videographer, celebrant and band had all culminated in this moment.

Tim commenced the ceremony with a short quip about humanist weddings and immediately put the room at ease. That set the tone, and from then on the remainder of the day flowed seamlessly.

The great work from everyone involved including our photographer and videographer, combined with our own mental snapshots of the day, ensured we now look back on our wedding fondly with many great memories.

Thank you so much, Ross. Your words mean the world to me, and I'm just so glad you and Claire decided to ask me to conduct your wedding!

The entrance of the groom can be every bit as important as the entrance of the bride. It's a chance for the groom to honour his relationship with his parents, and as Ross has shown, it's one of those moments when actions speak louder than words. 

Thanks again to Claire and Ross, and of course to Suzanne Li for these lovely photographs

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...