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!


Through Wind and Snow to Culcreuch Castle for Sarah and Colin

The 17th March 2013 was the day of the big family party to celebrate my aunt’s 80th birthday in Gatehouse of Fleet but before that I had a far more important event to attend – Sarah and Colin’s wedding. So my wife and I set off for Fintry in the sleety rain and had a lovely drive through the Stirlingshire countryside and then on to Fintry. No problems so far. Everyone was gathered at the magical Culcreuch Castle and I met up with Colin and his best man to run through the Band Warming* and the ring exchange before Sarah and the rest of the bridal party arrived.

 Sarah’s Dad piped her in and we were ready to go. The ceremony was great fun, it couldn’t fail to be when the part when I share the story of how they met began:

“So there were Colin and Ben trying to rent out this tiny, crap room in their flat and interviewing prospective flat mates. Colin had obviously lost the will to live as one after another trooped through the door. They had asked the candidates to email their application and Colin started reading their emails out in front of them. As he said in his homework, “I must have sounded like a total idiot”. One of the applicants was Sarah and she remembers the whole experience just made her cringe. A great start to a relationship.”

We had some wonderful readings, the bridesmaids cried a little, Colin’s Mum cried a little and lost her voice as she read. I announced them husband and wife and we all began to follow them out… into the snow!
When they sent me the photograph of the two of them in the snow infront of the castle I was seriously impressed because we had left by that point, having had a drink (orange juice!) to wish the happy couple well. In fact I reckon that while they were having their photograph taken my wife and I were slithering around on an untreated road crossing the Fintry Hills at 10 MPH.

Oh, and we made it all the way to Gatehouse without incident.

*A Band Warming is a lovely way to involve all your guests in your ceremony. At the beginning of the ceremony I ask the Best Man to bring the rings forward and I tie them with a ribbon. I then ask each of your guests to hold your rings for a moment or two to warm them, make a wish for your marriage and then pass them on. As I explain to everyone, “it would be great if the rings could make their way back to the front of the room for the vows. Well, better than great, necessary is the word I’m looking for.”