Martin and Kirsty, Wedderburn Castle in the Scottish Borders

Martin and Kirsty were so lucky with the weather. It had chucked it down the day before and I was not looking forward to the drive down the A1 and then across country to the spectacular and secluded Wedderburn Castle. But on the day the weather was sunny and the scenery glorious with the autumnal colours beginning to show on the trees.

Kirsty and Martin were looking for a more formal wedding, one in keeping with the surroundings. They were also more than a little apprehensive about relatives travelling up from England and what they would make of a humanist wedding. But on the day it all went very well and the highlight of the ceremony for me was when they read a poem together. Martin and Kirsty had a great love of the north west of Scotland and chose a poem called “Shores” by Sorley Maclean, translated by Ian Crighton Smith. They read it as follows:
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If we were in Talisker on the shore

where the great white foaming mouth of water

opens between two jaws as hard as flint –

the Headland of Stones and Red Point –

I’d stand forever by the waves

renewing love out of their crumpled graves

as long as the sea would be going over

the Bay of Talisker forever;

I would stand there by the filling tide

till Preshal bowed his stallion head.


And if the two of us were together

on the shores of Calgary in Mull

between Scotland and Tiree,

between this world and eternity,

I’d stand there till time was done

counting the sands grain by grain.

And also on Uist, on Hosta’s shore,

in the face of solitude’s fierce stare,

I’d remain standing, without sleep,

while sea were ebbing, drop by drop.


And if I were on Moidart’s shore

with you, my novelty of desire,

I’d offer this synthesis of love,

grain and water, sand and wave.


And were we by the shelves of Staffin

where the huge joyless sea is coughing

stones and boulders from its throat,

I’d build a fortified wall

Against eternity’s savage howl.

We shared a quaich of fine malt whisky towards the end of the ceremony and then it as passed around the guests as we signed the marriage schedule.

Martin and Kirsty were good enough to drop me a note when they returned from their honeymoon:

“We’ve been meaning to write and thank you for conducting such a wonderful ceremony. Everyone that we’ve spoken to has said it was a very personal and touching ceremony. You played an important part in that – not just on the day, but at our initial meeting back in February, and then your guidance and assistance when we were writing our ceremony.

We are so pleased that we chose to have a Humanist ceremony – it meant a lot to us to have a wedding ceremony that was relaxed, not too stuffy, and personal to us, and our beliefs. We think that a Humanist ceremony gave us exactly that – from being able to choose readings that meant something to us, to writing our own vows, and to being able to incorporate a quaich ceremony and the Apalachan blessing, which allowed everyone else to be involved. Even the homework exercise helped us to really think about how we felt about each other and why we were getting married – having done that, we definitely knew that we were doing the right thing.

Although it was a bit different (and a little daunting!), we’re also glad that we jointly read the Shores poem – when we read it for the first time, we were quite inspired by it, and it wouldn’t have been the same if someone else had read it. Thank you for encouraging us to do that.

The majority of our guests (particularly those from England) had never been to a Humanist wedding before, and all really enjoyed it. I think we may have a few converts amongst our friends and families. I believe that someone even asked you if you would do his funeral!”

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