Sunday, 21 July 2019

I'm delighted by Vicky Allan's article about 'WE DO!' in today's Sunday Herald!

My thanks to all the couples who are featured in it: Eli and Kate, Elizabeth and Bengtis, Natasa and Grant, and in the headline - but sadly not the article itself - the originators of 'Until death or zombies do us part', Kellie and Kevin. And of course thanks to the lovely Ditte of First Light Photography for the photo above

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Sharon and James's Humanist Wedding at Edinburgh Castle

Weddings don't get more intimate than this...

James and Sharon hail from British Columbia, and they contacted me in March of this year about their wedding at the Castle in May. My first concern was that they might not have enough time to get the Home Office to approve their visa, but luckily, the wheels of bureaucracy moved quickly and smoothly and we had all the required paperwork.

They chose to have a morning ceremony so they could have a proper 'wedding breakfast' afterwards, and when I joined them on the roof of the Gatehouse, they were already being photographed by Luke Bennett

Their only guests were also their witnesses: James's parents, Janet and Gus, who've been married for more than fifty years - sadly Sharon's mother Jenny who's 93 wasn't able to make the journey to be with them, but she sent us some words which I read on her behalf.

One of the joys of a really intimate ceremony is that they are less formal, so we were able to take advantage of the space and light that the Gatehouse affords. The marriage chamber isn't a big room, and as it was built for defence rather than the view, it can be quite a tricky space for photography.

The first call I made was to move Sharon and James from the fireplace (where couples usually stand) over towards the south window, which gave Luke a strong light source to play with. 

Both Gus and Janet spoke, before James and Sharon spoke the traditional vows, and I pronounced them man and wife.

Sharon's mum wasn't the only missing person at the wedding. She and James had only just lost their companion of many years, Milo, a little black and white Japanese Chin, so it was lovely to get this message from them the other day.

Looking back we have nothing but the best memories of the whole thing. It was just absolutely amazing. It does feel like a long time has passed! A few days ago we adopted two Shih Tzu/ Havanese mix dogs from a rescue home. These two brothers are the missing piece of our family and we now feel like we have all we want in our lives! Sharon and I just want to thank you again for such a wonderful ceremony. 

I was also very pleased to get these very atmospheric shots from Luke, who said, "It was a pleasure to work alongside you because you're so aware of the needs of a photographer in terms of light and angles to create the most beautiful photographs. 

"James and Sharon’s wedding was a wonderful, heart warming, intimate celebration of love."

You're so right, Luke! Thanks again for the photos - it was a pleasure working with you and I hope we get to do that again soon!

This was one of the snaps I grabbed of Luke at work at the Castle - you can see a few more from the day on my Instagram feed.

And thanks again, Sharon and James - I wish you and your new canine companions many years of happiness together!

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Victoria and David's Humanist Wedding at Carlowrie Castle

I love it when a photograph just sums up a whole day. This great shot by Sean Bell does exactly that for David and Victoria's wedding at the stunning Carlowrie Castle

As is now 'the new normal', David and Victoria met online - but only just. David's initial subscription to was coming to an end when he spotted the babe in the blue lace dress, so he had to take out another three months' worth to see if she'd replied. For her part, Victoria had just signed up for a laugh, so when she saw the wink from 'EdiDave', she too had to fork out to check out this intriguing Russell Howard lookalike.

A mutual obsession with gin and food led to an espresso martini-fuelled first date at Bar Kohl. Date three took them skating where a Bambi-on-ice David had to grab an inappropriate part of Victoria to stop himself going face first onto the rink, but even before I could tell these stories, 

their friends Katie, Laura and Natalie gave us a great reading of ‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton.

Even the proposal revolved around food: David was keen to show Victoria the home of the award-winning Hebridean Blue Cheese but it was February and it was getting dark, so Victoria was a bit miffed that her farm tour was brought to such an abrupt end.

Romantic Calgary Bay was the destination of choice that evening, and thankfully, Victoria's immediate reaction to David's proposal - is this a joke? - wasn't her last, or we'd never have made it to their big day!

I was so pleased when Victoria sent me these photos the other day, along with these words.

The whole process of the ceremony writing seemed quite daunting at first but once we got stuck into it, it actually flowed quite easily. Honestly, it was worth every moment of effort to get the ceremony we did. 

Every single person has said to us what an amazing ceremony and many of them have even said it was the best ceremony they’d ever been to which is exactly what we’d hoped for, so thank you! 

I want every couple I marry to get exactly that reaction from their friends and family, so I count your wedding as 'Job Done!', Victoria and David.

Keep protecting each other from moths and spiders, keep conquering the world one coral reef at a time, and don't forget what you promised - 

Love is not for sometimes
Love is for all times,

For you and for me.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Lola & Sean's Humanist Wedding at Norton House Hotel

“I don’t really know what to say except hello with jazz hands”

that's how Sean introduced himself to Lola on Zoosk. After walking past each other several times while nervously waiting to meet for their first date, dinner at Chiquito's was followed by a walk in the rain under a pink umbrella around a long-abandoned psychiatric hospital and the discovery of a mutual love of The Dave Matthews Band, and their song, 'Crush'.

Zipline and Human Catapult adventures were just the taster for their first holiday together in Iceland, a trip they hope to make again one day with their sweet baby son, James.

Sean and Lola's ceremony was every bit as quirky and original as they are. Lola's mum Susan read Manticore the Great's poem, 'What's Micky without Minnie?'

Then Lola and Sean spoke the individual vows they'd written, while I held the cards at their shoulders in case they needed a wee prompt: they didn't!

Liam and Cara joined them to sign the marriage schedule, and before they all headed off to enjoy a glass or two of champagne, I got the guests to speak one of my favourite Scots blessings.

May the best you've ever seen
Be the worst you'll ever see.
May the mouse never leave your pantry
With a tear-drop in his eye.
May you always keep healthy and hearty
Until you're old enough to die.
May you always be just as happy
As we wish you now to be.

I loved their ceremony so I was really pleased to get these great photos taken by Matt Dale of Fern Photography, and these kind words from Sean and Lola.

"We are all good here, even though James keeps us busy a lot of the time. We are still into Dave Matthews Band and we play that certain song, which I still think is a sign. 

We received a lot of compliments about our ceremony: it made even the strongest of men shed a few tears.  This was mainly down to you and the homework you set us. A lot of people enjoyed the atmosphere you created. 

We still can't believe that we only got married just over a month ago. Before we got married, we felt like we were already married. So the wedding solidified our love for each other and our little family. 

Not much has changed since the wedding. Just our left hands are heavier and Sean has finally grown a beard, which he suits." 

One of the things that made the day extra-special was that Lola's Auntie Hilary and her quartet were providing the soundtrack for the day. This is my InstaSnap of them rehearsing.

The other was Sean's matching hair and suit - he's unlikely to be rivalled for best-co-ordinated Best Man any time soon!

So thanks again, Sean and Lola, for allowing me to be a part of your big day. Keep playing that song, and I hope that one day, all three of you get to go back to Iceland x

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Susanne and Mark were among the very first couples to buy my book at the launch back in February. Here's what they said...

Our wedding day was without doubt the most fabulous day ever.  

Everyone was so happy for us and there was something special about having family and life long friends who knew our journeys to witness the start of our happy ever after.  

Everyone spent the day smiling, crying, laughing, drinking and dancing.  And it was very considerate of the sun to make an appearance and shine all day!

Regarding our ceremony, the amount of people who said to me afterwards that it was the best wedding ceremony they had witnessed was unreal.  Asking people to put their phones away and be in the moment was a great move.  However, the master stroke of the ceremony was getting us to write it.  

The way you guided us to do that was enlightening and clever.  A few people said ‘the humanist knew you so well!’  That’s not really accurate, but you knew how to get us to tell our story and you delivered it so well!  

I know it’s your ‘job’ but you do it so professionally, with the correct amount of humour, emotion and sentiment.  

I’m so glad we got the kids involved.  Not only did that allow them to feel even more part of our special day, but it generated even more emotion, in an already emotionally charged room!  

I don’t think we would have come up with that idea if we hadn’t read your book.  Not because the idea was in the book, but the inspiration for it was.

The rest of the day just followed in the same vein as the ceremony.  We had a magician for our guests when we were getting our photos taken and he was brilliant.  The speeches were very funny and very moving.  Then at night The Soul Kings performed and the dance floor was literally jumping.  

We followed that with our ‘Happy Hibby Half Hour’, green shots for our guests and songs associated with our beloved football club.  And the best thing about our entertainment was that we hadn’t told a soul.  

So nobody knew what to expect, nobody had any preconceived ideas about how the night was going to be and everybody had an incredible time.

Thank you so much for marrying us and helping us create the most wonderful memories.  One of my favourite moments of the day was when one of our friends approached us during the wedding breakfast and said ‘seriously guys, are you in a competition for the best wedding day ever!’  

Mark and I just wanted to be married to each other, but on planning our big day we realised we wanted everyone to share in what that meant to us and to join us in celebrating our marriage.  And celebrate we did!  I wouldn’t change a thing about our day.

Love from Mr and Mrs Hendo.

Mark and Susanne, I just want to say a huge thank you for your kind words: I couldn’t be happier with what you said, and I loved this particularly - 'I don’t think we would have come up with that idea if we hadn’t read your book.  Not because the idea was in the book, but the inspiration for it was.’ That was what I hoped the book would do, so it's very affirming to read. Much love to you, and of course many thanks to Neil Whiteside of Dream Captures Photography

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Laura and Craig's Humanist Wedding at Rufflets St Andrews

Scene One, EXT. 
A formal garden in St. Andrews 
A group of sharp dressed men walk to camera

But these dapper dudes are not Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange and MrPink: they're Lee, Sean, groom Craig, and his brother, 'protein shake enthusiast', Rorry.

Cut to INT, where a pensive Laura awaits bridesmaids Michelle and Louise and of course, her dad ...

When we can't find time for a rehearsal beforehand, I always have a quick heads up with the cast before they take the stage...

Craig and Laura put a lot of thought and imagination into their ceremony, which covered a lot of different locations in the eight years since they first met in their hometown of Blairgowrie.

Their burgeoning relationship moved to Edinburgh, and it took in gigs by Lady Gaga, Calvin Harris and Moby, as well as trips to London, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon before climaxing in a romantic proposal by the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

Craig and Laura shared their homework over a bottle of bubbly, and they used it as a basis to write their vows as well as the rest of the ceremony. 

Before they did that, Best Man Sean read ‘I wanna be yours’ by John Cooper Clarke

And I asked the guests to make a series of promises to the happy couple

before Laura and Craig spoke their own, very personal vows. 

Among other things, Craig promised to protect Laura from the 8-legged intruders which often frequent their home...

While Laura promised  always to be Craig's cheerleader, supporting him through his presentations and reports, no matter how dull the topic may be...

After I pronounced them husband and wife, but before we signed the Marriage Schedule, Maid of Honour Michelle gave us a particularly good rendition of e.e. Cummings ‘I Carry Your Heart with Me’ 

Only then were we joined by Hilary and Marion, the mothers of the bride and groom, who witnessed the signing.

I've been conducting legal marriages in Scotland for almost fifteen years and I can't believe that this was my first ever visit to Rufflets. A frequent VOWS award winner, it's best known for its ten acres of gardens, and the wedding suite which can take up to 150 guests. I think we were almost at capacity!

I hadn't worked with the Perthshire-based photographer Iain Struthers before either, but as you can see, he did a great job on these photos which Laura and Craig sent me a few days ago, along with these words.

"We cannot thank you enough, not only for conducting our wedding ceremony, but for your guidance and support throughout, which gave our ceremony the ultimate personal touch we were hoping for. 

Whilst the thought of the homework you set was daunting initially, we really enjoyed it in the end, hearing the little things that made us each fall in love, really thinking about what marriage meant to us, and why we wanted to take this step in life together. 

Your approach made our ceremony truly unique to Craig & I, and your delivery was fantastic. We don’t think we have ever heard as many laughs within a ceremony before, whilst not losing the sentiment or significance of the occasion. 

Our family and friends were truly present within our ceremony and heard every word: based on the feedback and the questions we received afterwards, even our guests of faith commented on how much they enjoyed our very personal ceremony.

From start to finish, our wedding day was more than we could ever have hoped it would be and after a forecast of rain, even the sun came out to play which really was the icing on top of the wedding cake! 

After a lot of planning, everything just slotted together and we have made memories we will cherish forever. It really was ‘THE’ best day!" 

It certainly looks exactly that! Thank you so much, Laura and Craig: it was a pleasure and I'm just proud of you both for giving your ceremony so much thought and making it such a pleasure for me to deliver - don't lose touch now!

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