First Wedding of 2017 with Gavin and Emma


The weather was kind and the drive beautiful as I made my way north to the Huntingtower Hotel outside Perth. There was a tangible buzz around the place when I arrived and even before the ceremony began I could tell people were up for a good time and ready for a laugh. Which is just as well because my goodness, did we have a laugh although I don’t think Emma always approved.

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But I was pleased with the response from the assembled family and friends because I knew what was in store for them at the end – we shared a Quaich. Well, when I say we shared a Quaich it was more like cocktail time. The Best Man brought the Quaich forward, Emma’s Dad added the gin; Gavin’s Dad, the tonic and Emma’s Step-Dad squeezed the lime. Gavin and Emma shared their Quaich and the Dads finished it off. What a hoot.

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Forced To Go To A Brewery To Marry Sinead and Colm!


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Those of you who know me well will know that I am a bit of a beer fanatic so when Sinéad and Colm asked if I would marry them at the West Brewery in Glasgow I jumped at the opportunity. They looked at me strangely and asked if I wanted to more about their plans.  I said, “more?” somewhat hesitantly and they explained that theirs was to be a small family affair because they originally came from Ireland and not all of their families would be able to travel for their big day. They also wanted it to include a cup of tea, oh and some readings in Irish. “OK”, I said again somewhat hesitantly, “a  cup of tea?” “Yes”‘ they said and looked at me expectantly. “Right, you want to include a cup of tea in your wedding ceremony? For yourselves or for everyone?” “Oh, don’t be silly, just for ourselves.” At this point, to be honest, I felt myself slipping inexorably into an episode of Father Ted that I had never seen so I said “oh, right then, that’ll be fine” and clapped my hands in that Father Ted way.

cs-wedding-bw007So, come the big day and everyone gathered in the brewery, well, when I say everyone I am including about half of the population of Glasgow because they don’t close the brewery restaurant just for a wedding. We gathered in the small side room for the ceremony and began, of course, with a Band Warming. Thought originally to come from Ireland it is a lovely way to include everyone present in your ceremony as they pass your rings amongst them and wish you happiness.

We then had a reading from Rosie and Aileen who read “Hero and lover and the heart of Ireland” by Aonghas MacNeacail.

A race was once organised between the young maidens of Ireland, their goal was the summit of sliabh na mban (the mountain of the women) where one of ireland’s legendary heros awaited them as prize. The woman of his own choice being among them he told her the shortest route to ensure her victory.

 If I were on the summit of sliabh na mban

Waiting

I would whisper for you the shortest way

 

Laoch is leannan is cridhe eirinn

Nan robh mise air bhar sliabh na mban

A’feitheamh

Chagrainn dhuts’ an rathad gear

But what about the cup of tea I hear you ask. well, here is how we included the moment in the ceremony:

We have another short ceremony to perform and I thought that this might be the perfect time for it. Drinking from a Quaich is part of the ancient tradition of hospitality from the Celtic honour system – whoever had shared a cup could not do injury to the other, hence the term “loving cup”. It Is usual to drink whisky from a Quaich, however, Sinéad and Colm are going to make each other a cup of tea. Everyone has their own specific way to drink tea… strong, weak, middling. Whole milk, semi-skimmed, sugar or sweetener. In rural Ireland it is almost a way of telling the time. Tea with breakfast, tea with lunch, 3 o’clock tea, after dinner and maybe a cup somewhere in between if it’s needed. Tea is to comfort and celebrate and to focus on the moments in the day. It is almost a moment of meditation. And Sinéad and Colm will continue to share pots, mugs and cups of tea with each other into the future more than likely every day.

They served each other a cup of tea and sat down. I sat on a stool, very Dave Allan style, and began. “When I first meet a couple I am to marry I ask them to do some homework for me, tell me their story and their hopes and dreams for their marriage ….”

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To Culcreuch Castle with Arlene and Paul


Oh, I do love a good castle and Culcreuch is amongst the best of the amazing selection we have in Scotland, still in private hands and looking very castley and Scottish in the misty, autumnal light. In fact, Arlene and Paul included a little bit about the castle in their ceremony and I didn’t know that it was built in 1296 and is the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland.

Theirs was a beautiful ceremony and they turned out to be real romantics. The story that touched everyone’s heart is that if the Jim Morrison biography which Arlene was reading on the bus when Paul turned up and interrupted her. Then, months later, well, I’ll let Arlene tell the story:

“One cold and dark Sunday evening shortly afterward, at the end of November, there was a knock at the door. Arlene had been upstairs sleeping after a rather windy and cold day at Edinburgh Zoo. She told her dad, Alan, if it was for her, then she wasn’t in – she was in no mood to speak to anyone after such a miserable day, especially looking like a drookit moose! The conversation at the front door soon ended and the door was closed. In her curiosity Arlene ventured downstairs and was handed a somewhat suspicious looking package, wrapped in a plastic bag, addressed to her! Opening the package, it quickly became obvious as to what its contents were – her very own copy of the Jim Morrison biography that she had been desperately trying to finish reading on the bus! The book was inscribed inside with a message which read ‘For those bus rides without me'”

Isn’t that just sooooo romantic and wonderful.

They had a Hand Fasting and exchanged their promises and then made their legal vows when they exchanged rings. This is what they said to one another:

“With this ring I promise to keep you safe and out of the shadows.

I promise to make you happy for the rest of our lives.

Today I accept you  in marriage”

So simple.

Paul and Arlene were good enough to send me the following with their photos:

We would like to say that you conducted a wonderful, light hearted, and meaningful ceremony in a very unique way. Guests commented that they thought we had known you for years, the way you spoke about our love for each other, and our hopes for the future. I didn’t realise you had a side line in stand up comedy, the guests were delighted to be entertained by you as they waited patiently for me to arrive and for the formalities to begin!! Paul and I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for us leading up to the day, and the advice you gave us on how to piece the ceremony together, (with the help of Brian’s book of poems (????) (sorry – i cant remember the exact name!). We couldn’t imagine choosing anyone else to marry us, and were confident when we first met you that you were the only man for the job! We have so many unforgettable memories of the day, from the relentless rain at the historical venue of Culreuch Castle, the fantastic reception, our amazing guests and of course a wonderful humanist ceremony to start off a truly memorable day, the day we became Mr and Mrs Sabatelli!

 

What a Great Day With Sean and Michael


 

I will be honest, the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh is not the easiest place to get to especially on a Friday. The parking is expensive or miles away and the tram, well, where do you get off? I decided on the tram, left early, got off at Shandwick Place and had something to eat en route to the hotel. I arrived at the hotel and decided to go and see if Sean and Michael were OK. OK?, I have never seen two more laid back people about to get married. Their Groomsmaids (Groomsmaids? now there’s a new word for me) were more nervous than they were.

Their ceremony was perfect. When I say perfect I mean by that that is was “just them” and reflected the two of them and their relationship. To design a ceremony that is perfect I need the willing help of the couple and I ask them to do some homework for me when we first meet about four months before the big day. I have realised that the care and attention that the couple put into their homework has quite an impact on the quality of their ceremony. Well, it might be that or it might be the quantity of wine consumed when they discuss their homework. The wine, by the way, is a compulsory part of the homework! Anyhow, to illustrate, here is an extract from Sean and Michael’s promises and pledges to one another (I would get a hanky):

Michael:

“Sean has a great sense of humour, he can make light and laughter in any situation. He is caring and compassionate and always brings a different perspective to mine. I don’t admit this much but he’s often right and he cares deeply for his friends and family. I want to marry him because he is my soul mate and I can’t see the rest of my life without him. There is a lot more to come and I can’t wait for it.”

Sean:

“I don’t know what Life has in store for Michael and I but I hope it’s filled with music, The Dixie Chicks and Celine, travelling, a kid or a dog and lots of love and laughter.”

I mean, don’t you just feel that you know them already?

They sent me a note with their photos. “Our guests loved the ceremony and many have remarked since that it’s one of the most memorable they have attended.  Thanks for making everyone feel welcome before our arrival and for the light hearted and laid back manner of the ceremony which left guests and us feeling at ease.” It was a pleasure guys and thank you for including me in your big day.

 

Off To Duns with Hayley and Kris


barnett0296img_4131So, it was off to the depths of the borders on a glorious early autumn day to marry Hayley and Kris. They chose the absolutely beautiful Wedderburn House for their special day, and it was a really special day. They had two of their friends, Chris and Colin, play guitar for us during the ceremony and their friend Emma read Real Love by John Lennon followed by a guitar version. The highpoint for me was however when they read their own secret vows to each other. They were so personal and so well balanced, mixing a bit of humour with some lovely sentiment. Here they are:

Hayley, today I promise you this:

I’ll always treat you as an equal, trust you, respect you and support you in everything you do. 

I’ll put you first and I’ll always be loyal and faithful.

I’ll do my bit to make our home loving, stable and welcoming to all our family and friends.

I’ll try to ease your load if you’re stressed, listen to you with compassion and encourage you to achieve everything you want to in life.

Even when I’m really, really hungry, you will always be welcome to some food from my plate, even if I don’t offer it to you.

Together, as a couple and a family, let’s keep travelling to see and experience new places, let’s fill our lives with love and laughter and I promise that I’ll do my best to make you happy every single day.

I want to marry you without any hesitation or doubt and I will always love you, today and every day of our lives.

Hayley, I will always be yours.

Hayley’s Vows

Kris, I want to share the rest of my life with you and I stand here before you because I am happier and more fulfilled today than ever,

Today I give you my promise that I will love you faithfully and honestly throughout all of the good times and the bad,

I will respect you and learn from you, challenge and encourage you, 

I promise to listen to your advice, occasionally take it and never take you for granted.  

We are stronger together and I will laugh and cry with you and ‘step up’ and support you each and every time you need me, 

I promise to take account of your feelings, to be more patient and forgiving, and to say ‘sorry’, even when I really think I’m right,

You have helped me become the person I am and I will strive to make you proud of me every single day. 

Life is so much better together and these things I promise to you today, and every day of our lives.

Hayley was good enough to send me the folllowing:

We just wanted to say a huge thank you for conducting our wedding service. It was absolutely perfect! Everyone (even the sceptical ones) commented on how personal it was and how well you delivered it.

Thank you again

Hayley & Kris

 

First Time To Carlowrie Castle with Ruth and Dan


Carlowrie Castle it transpires is about half an hour down the road for and yet I have not conducted a wedding here before. Must be a new venue! Anyhoo, Ruth and Dan live in London so all the initial contact was on Skype although we did eventually meet face-to-face when the two of them ventured north in May.

Theirs was a classic wedding with the odd twist. Dan’s sister Victoria started the proceedings by reading the delightful W H Auden classic “Foxtrot To A Wedding”:

The soldier loves his rifle,


The scholar loves his books,


The farmer loves his horses,


The film star loves her looks.


There’s love the whole world over


Wherever you may be;


Some lose their rest for gay Mae West,


But you’re my cup of tea.


Some talk of Alexander


And some of Fred Astaire,


Some like their heroes hairy


Some like them debonair,


Some prefer a curate


And some an A.D.C.,


Some like a tough to treat’em rough,


But you’re my cup of tea.

 

Some are mad on Airedales


And some on Pekinese,


On tabby cats or parrots


Or guinea pigs or geese.


There are patients in asylums


Who think that they’re a tree;


I had an ant who loved a plant,


But you’re my cup of tea.

 

Some have sagging waistlines


And some a bulbous nose


And some a floating kidney


And some have hammer toes,


Some have tennis elbow


And some have housemaid’s knee,


And some I know have got B.O.,


But you’re my cup of tea.

The blackbird loves the earthworm,


The adder loves the sun,


The polar bear an iceberg,


The elephant a bun,


The trout enjoys the river,


The whale enjoys the sea,


And dogs love most an old lamp-post,


But you’re my cup of tea.

Don’t you just love that? I had all but forgotten it but Victoria absolutely nailed it on the day.

The twist came at the Quaich ceremony where, instead of the more usual whisky being poured into the Quaich, Ruth and Dan shared a gin and tonic. Well, why not?

 

 

Wedding Hotel of the Year (again) with Lindsey and Rob


 

 
100916d-291100916d-131Balbirnie House is in the village of Markinch just outside Glenrothes and has won the Scottish Wedding Hotel of the Year Award so many times it is insane. But not unjustified. A short drive over the Forth Bridge and onwards into the heart of Fife, you approach the house through the manicured golf course. The staff ensure that every wedding is perfect and that certainly was the case with Lindsey and Rob’s big day.

100916d-132The one thing I remember above all else from the ceremony was just how friendly everyone was and how up for a party they were – I bet it was some night. The ceremony was that perfect mix of laughter and lumps in throats none more so than when they exchanged their pledges:

On this day,

I give you my heart,

My promise,

That I will walk with you,

Hand in hand,

Wherever our journey leads us,

Living, learning, loving,

Together,

Forever

Isn’t that beautiful.

Lyndsey sent me an email afterward:

We are so glad that we were able to meet you and have you be a part of our wedding day. Although at first nervous when looking for a celebrant for our big day, your brief description of yourself seemed to click perfectly with us and we were not disappointed at all along the way! We were so glad that we were able to communicate via Skype and then to meet in person closer to the wedding when we were up in Scotland.You followed our brief of how we wanting our wedding to be perfectly. We asked for it to be a happy day and to avoid tears and that is exactly what we received. You made everyone laugh in all the right places and helped us to make the ceremony both meaningful to us and lighthearted enough to show our less serious sides.The feedback from our guests was nothing short of outstanding. You were a true highlight on our wedding day.

Thank you once again for your guidance and support in helping us to create our ideal ceremony.

Lindsey and Rob