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

It's time to celebrate, people!

I'm delighted to announce that from now on, I will be a celebrant with Celebrate People , a new Humanist organisation led by two of Scot...