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!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Byre at Inchyra -Nathalie and Cameron’s Big day


Never been here before! This was a long distance wedding and I didn’t get a chance to meet Nathalie and Cameron until the week before the wedding all the way from Australia. We had, however, talked many times on Facetime and swappped many, many emails. On the day it was a very international crowd of guests that joined us crammed into a very sweaty byre. But boy did we have a laugh because the story of how the two of them got together was hilarious involving goat racing (don’t ask) and boar hunting.

I think the reading by Nat’s sister-in-law, Amy, kind of sums up the day:

LOVE IS LIKE A BOTTLE OF GIN

It makes you blind, it does you in

it makes you think you’re pretty tough it makes you prone to crime and sin its makes you say things off the cuff its very small and made of glass

and grossly over-advertised it turns a genius into an ass

and makes a fool think he is wise it could make you regret your birth or turn cartwheels in your best suit

it costs a lot more than its worth and yet there is no substitute they keep it on a higher shelf the older and more pure it grows it has no colour in itself

but can make you see rainbows you can find it at the bowery

or you can find it at Elaines

it makes your words more flowery

it makes the sun shine, makes it rain you just get what they put in

and they never put in enough Love is like a bottle of gin

but a bottle of gin is not like love

 

Comrie Croft with Lorna and Stewart


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I had been to Comrie Croft once last year so this was my return visit. It was a lovely May day, a bit breezy but the sun was out so the wedding was to be held in the courtyard. As I arrived the string quartet was setting up in the corner and guests were all wandering about and looking very relaxed. Not as relaxed as Lorna though and when I dropped in to see her before the ceremony she was very laid back.

The whole ceremony was actually very laid back. One of their friends, Scott, wrote a poem to open the ceremony that was about them getting together, which rather stole my thunder when it came to the part of the ceremony that I call “Your Story” so, inspired by the format of Stewart’s homework I presented their story in the form of an old telegraph:

Eight years ago– On the coach at Riverbank–boom petite blonde with great bum–started working together–just friends–quickly changed after spending time alone–involved rum– threw herself at me–courting–flat in Glasgow–best times ever–Tenerife – Bianco’s – Dublin–things progressing easily– Mount Pleasant way– sharing days off– watching Harry Potter– learning to compromise–stronger relationship–redundancy –hard times– stuck together– became even stronger– Cuba engagement– proudest day of my life–best day ever-Beagle – Winston– Wrecking Ball – Tichfields– Comrie– And here we are.

Timing is, of course, everything and allowing the audience to laugh at the in-jokes is key. The rest of the ceremony was fairly simple, just as they wanted it.

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With Lisa and Chris at The Norton House Hotel


I do love the Norton House. It is very close to where I live so I don’t have to start off too early in the day and it is staffed by real professionals. The Hotel has at least three different venues and Chris and Lisa chose the Garden Suite which is, to all intents and purposes, custom built for a wedding with a separate bar where everyone can meet beforehand. Outside it is like a walled garden (actually the roof of the spa) and, on a really nice day you can get married outside if you wish, as long as you don’t get too distracted by the planes taking off from the airport. The main room has huge picture windows through which the bride would be very visible as she arrived, so they draw the curtains and then open them when she is in position for her grand entrance. It all adds to theatre darling!

Lisa and Chris’s ceremony was beautiful, thoughtful and simple with two great readings and some lovely vows, which I will share now:

I Rely On You by Hovis Presley

I rely on you
like a Skoda needs suspension
like the aged need a pension
like a trampoline needs tension
like a bungee jump needs apprehension
I rely on you
like a camera needs a shutter
like a gambler needs a flutter
like a golfer needs a putter
like a buttered scone involves some butter
I rely on you
like an acrobat needs ice cool nerve
like a hairpin needs a drastic curve
like an HGV needs endless derv
like an outside left needs a body swerve
I rely on you
like a handyman needs pliers
like an auctioneer needs buyers
like a laundromat needs driers
like The Good Life needed Richard Briers
I rely on you
like a water vole needs water
like a brick outhouse needs mortar
like a lemming to the slaughter
Ryan’s just Ryan without his daughter
I rely on you

and their vows were so special:

I promise to be your friend and partner,
and to walk beside you always;
to love you with all that I am as you love me;
to support, respect and share with you in all of life’s decisions,
through joy and sadness, triumph and uncertainty, laughter and tears;
to have you in my life every day for as long as we live.

 

Isn’t that so lovely.

A Finnish/Irish Occasion at Errol Park


Emma and Chris’s big day was quite an occasion held deep in the woods on the Errol estate outside Dundee. This was to be Emma’s perfect wedding and indeed everything was quite perfect. Including the weather which, in Scotland in September was almost unbelievable. The couple’s guests from all over the world with Emma’s family joining us from Finland and Chris’s from Ireland plus many of their great friends whom they had met on their journeys. The ceremony included elements from both their cultures including a band warming from Ireland and reading in Finnish and even a hand fasting from their adopted Scottish home.

Emma and Chris decided to write their own promises to one another and they eventually sent them through about a week before the wedding so that I could print them out for them to read to one another. However, the two of them had been up most the previous night and had separately re-written their promises so they bore no relation to anything I had in my script – not a dry eye in the glade and a somewhat confused celebrant but so what?

Emma chose an extract from April Rise by Laurie Lee to end the ceremony with:
If ever I heard blessing it is there

Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are

Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ear their crests of throbbing air.
Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.
Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.”

With Kirsten and Pablo at The Mackintosh Church Church


Tucked away in Queen’s Cross is one of Glasgow’s hidden architectural gems. The only church in the world designed by the great Scottish architect, designer and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and it is beautiful. I had not conducted a ceremony before so when Kirsten and Pablo contacted me all the way from California, I was so excited. and their wedding was truly wonderful.

Working with a couple from abroad takes a lot of trust and although we had chatted on Skype a couple of times we had obviously never met. Kirsten was returning home to get married and I believe it was for many of Pablo’s family their first time in Scotland. The ceremony that Pablo and Kirsten helped me put together was an emotional roller coaster and for many of the guests who had never been to a Humanist ceremony it was a real eye opener.As Kirsten wrote to me afterwards, “Starting out writing our ceremony was initially rather daunting however with your positivity, guidance and suggestions we managed to create the most perfect ceremony which was very personal to us and even better than we could have imagined! So many people commented on how lovely the ceremony was and how you managed to set the perfect celebratory tone for the day – relaxed and fun yet serious at the bits that needed to be! Thank you so much for helping us make our day so special, we loved every minute!”

This was definitely a day to remember for me and for Kirsten and Pablo. I do hope that they keep in touch.

Kirsten and Pablo Wedding 486{D - The Bride and Groom

Outdoors With Lee and Scott. In May!


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A wedding outside in Scotland at the end of May? You’ve got to be joking but Lee was insistent that her wedding would be in the unforgettable scenery of the banks of Loch Ard and, sure enough, it was. But my goodness was it chilly, I think, if you look closely, you may be able to see Lee’s goose bumps in the photograph. Altskeith House was the venue for the big day and, my goodness, it is gorgeous, what I call a “do it yourself” venue where you hire the house and then bring in your own caterers etc.

 

Lee and Scott decided that they wanted to integrate a hand fasting into their ceremony and you can see their hands bound as they made their vows. Very romantic, very Scottish, just perfect for the location and Lee told me it was the best part of the ceremony for them both.: 166A4331_resized“I’d like to start by saying that my day was perfect, and that all started with you. I couldn’t have asked for a better ceremony. Everything was amazing from start to finish.

IMG_1744You helped us so much with our preparation and made us feel completely at ease. You’ve had numerous compliments from our guests, and I know that choosing you as our celebrant was the perfect choice
I loved the handfasting, the photos of that are some of my favourites. Also the way that you interact with the guests make the ceremony that little bit more special.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning Dundas Castle with Victoria and Joe


 

I arrived at Dundas castle to be told that poor Victoria was really quite unwell and “had spent most of the morning in the toilet”. My heart sank at that point but, heh, I wasn’t going anywhere else that day so we could all just wait until she recovered. Which she did and in tons of time for her own wedding. Phew!
Now, the chapel in Dundas Castle is not a large room so when Victoria told me months before that she had five bridesmaids and a bridesman (is that the right word?) and Joe then followed that by telling me that he had two best men and two ushers that he wanted at the front with the wedding party I thought wee were going to be a bit cramped and, to be honest, on the day they had so many guests there was no where else for them all to go anyway. So we were a tiny bit cramped, but it was so cold it actually helped keep us all warm. The ceremony that Joe and Victoria helped put together was just beautiful and so, so personal. In their homework Joe wrote the most amazing passage about what marriage meant to him so, with Victoria’s permission, I read it at their ceremony:

“It means making a commitment to ensuring Victoria is as happy as she possibly can be each and every day.

Marriage means bringing two families together as one – Officially, at last!
Marriage means accepting each other for who we are.
Marriage means planning for the future and all the exciting things that it holds for us.
Marriage means celebrating what we represent as a couple.
Marriage means having shared beliefs and values that we live by together.
Marriage means being completely comfortable in each other’s company – comfortable being our true selves together.
Marriage means committing ourselves to be the best we can be, both individually and as a married couple.
Marriage means I get to spend the rest of my life with the person I love.”
 
There was not a dry eye in the room and I think the bridesmaids used up a whole packet of my tissues on their own. But that wasn’t even the high point because they followed that with reading aloud to the other what they loved about them. Victoria’s was five paragraphs long and just inspiring. It ended as follows: 
 
I love that I have no doubts, no fears whatsoever in the future of our relationship. I have never been so sure of anything. You are my light, my sunshine.”
 
To be honest I think I was sobbing at this point.

Victoria was good enough to drop me a note after the wedding:
“We just wanted to also let you know how fantastic our ceremony was. It was truly personal and it was without a doubt my favourite part of the day. Our guests (many of whom had never attended a Humanist ceremony before) were blown away by it. They loved how quickly you put them at ease with some humorous remarks and I believe that you created a relaxed and happy feeling that lasted throughout our whole day (and night!). You were wonderful and I cannot thank you enough for making our wedding ceremony so memorable with the perfect balance of laugher and tears!”

Oran Mor with Fiona and Keith


FionaKeith_HiRes_357For those that love theatre Oran Mor offers it all and a location plum in the busy West End of Glasgow right next to Byres Road. Fiona and Keith’s wedding was a big affair and the place was buzzing. Their ceremony was lovely there were three readings in all with Fiona’s Mum Moira doing a wonderful reading which had everyone, including her in tears:

Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It FionaKeith_HiRes_298offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is
promised for a lifetime.

Within the circle of its love, marriage en
compasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent or child.

FionaKeith_HiRes_543Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.

When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words.

Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.

But real highpoint was when, after we signed the Wedding Schedule the choir that Fiona sings with all came forward (there seemed to be many of them) and surprised everyone by performing two wonderful songs. Goose bumps or what?

The highpoint of MY day was meeting Ewen, Fiona’s nephew because I married Morag and Nemes, his Mum and Dad in 2013 and they live in Australia so very few us had the chance to meet the wee one before today. Now, all go awwwww

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Thank you so much Fiona for sending the following note to me:

“We chose to have a humanist ceremony as we wanted to celebrate our marriage in a personal way which reflected our relationship and personalities…and that’s exactly what we got!   Meeting you in advance really helped us prepare/build the ceremony so we had nothing to worry about on the big day.   Keith recalls all the guests being put at ease with your humour before I arrived and during the ceremony we felt like the only people in the room.  Saying our vows was such a special moment and one we will never forget; you really kept us relaxed and happy throughout.   Having my choir sing after we signed the register was the icing on the (wedding) cake to what was already the most magical part or our day!”