Yes, It Is Glamis Castle! Maxine and Tracy’s Big Day

What an absolute delight! It was a truly gorgeous, wonderful day when Tracy and Maxine got married at one of the most beautiful venues in Scotland. The two of them were great fun to work with, we had an absolute ball.

Their ceremony was in the tiny basement that only holds around 50 people so intimate was the word for it and their friends and family were very much a part of their big day. Tracy’s brother Mark began proceedings with a reading by Mark Twain:

‘A Marriage’

This will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives,
For it makes of two fractional lives a whole,
It gives to two purposeless lives a work,
And doubles the strength of each to perform it.
It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living,
And something to live for;
It will give a new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers,
A new beauty to the earth,
And a new mystery to life.

Their ceremony was hilarious with more puns per line than I ever thought possible. They then presented their respective mothers-in-law to-be with flowers before exchanging their pledges to one another. There honestly wasn’t a dry eye in the room and I have to share them with you all:


“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,
But you can be my wingman anytime.
When I first saw your face, I thought the sun rose in your eyes.
I knew I’d found that somewhere, over the rainbow,
Where blue birds fly and dreams really do come true.
No measure of time with you would be long enough,
But let’s start with forever.
Come what may, I will love you until my dying day.”


“To me you are perfect.
I felt it early on, this was the beginning of something special.
I’ll always remember that text you sent.
“I like your fire, but keep a handle on those flames,” it read.
You know I have a tendency to get over excited.
But you were my destiny and I felt the force.
I love you more than I have ever found a way to say.
I love you, and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”

Aren’t they wonderful? Oh, you may wonder what Tracy is doing with a cardboard cutout Elvis. Well, theirs was an Elvis themed reception so the King had to appear at the castle as well, didn’t he?

Thanks for the message Maxine and Tracy, “Working with Brian was so easy, his guidance in helping us to create our perfect ceremony was invaluable and as a result, we ended up with something very personal and unique to us. All the guests commented on how lovely and intimate the ceremony was, some even said it was the best wedding ceremony they had ever attended which meant so much to us. Brian’s warmth, fun, and easy going nature made us feel so relaxed on the day and the nerves soon went – we enjoyed every moment of it and our only wish is that we could do it all over again!”

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!


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.

Outdoors With Lee and Scott. In May!


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.”













Completely Mad – David and Laura at the Birds and the Bees

 “We thought we’d do a kind of fairground theme,” said David when we first met back in January. “We’re planning to have the wedding outside.” he said,
“In May? In Scotland?” I replied thinking, this man is off his trolley.
“Yeh, we’ll be fine. We’re going to put up a small marquee just in case it rains and people need somewhere to eat at the barbecue.”
“Barbecue!” I was thinking that I’d had barbecues rained off in Scotland in August never mind May.
“It’ll be fine.” Laura emphasised.

And so the day dawned and it wasn’t too bad, a bit cloudy, odd bits of sunshine, occasional drizzle and a cold wind from the east that would have cut you in half but we went for it and it was charming.
The wedding was held on the 4th May which as well as being National Weather Observers Day was, of course, Intergalactic Star Wars Day and I could therefore say “May the fourth be with you” with out blushing (too much).

Laura’s good friend Irene began with a reading which was unfamiliar to me:

 His hello was the end of her endings,

Her laugh was their first step down the aisle.
His hand would be hers to hold forever,
His forever was as simple as her smile.

An ocean couldn’t prevent it.
A New York minute wouldn’t let it pass.
Does the universe decide for us,
Which love will fade and which will last.

He said she was what was missing.
She said she instantly knew.
She was a question to be answered.
And his answer was “I do.”

I performed a variation of a hand fasting for them called “tying the Big Knot” where, by using two broad, stiffened ribbons and a little piece of magic the ribbons tie themselves into a beautiful double bow. The exchange of rings was interesting. David had decided not to have a physical ring but rather have one tatooed onto his ring finger so Laura uncovered his “ring” after hers had arrived on the back of a remote controlled car. What else?

My overwhelming memory of their day? It has to be the big bowls of chips that everyone shared after the ceremony.

A great day.

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.”

Marie and Kenneth at Glencorse Old Kirk

As you can see I believe that a wedding should be a joyful occasion and that it is OK to have a laugh or two. I am pleased to see that it even amused the musicians who must have been to more than a few weddings before. I ask the couples that I am to marry to do some homework for me and to tell us how we come to be at the wedding and how they met. There is always an opportunity for a smile, or more, especially when I have been sent two separate accounts of the same story. I seem to recall that this moment was about the proposal when Kenneth pulled out an engagement ring made of pipe cleaners and proposed to Marie on a freezing cold day in Dunfermline.

Glencorse House is dramatic and romantic. I actually married them in the Old Kirk, down by the gates to the house, and it is a wonderfully atmospheric venue, an old church building with no electricity and yet full of light, even on a dreech day. I joined the guests for a glass of orange juice (I had another wedding later in the afternoon) and then went to bid my farewells to the newlyweds only to discover that the photographer had whisked them off to a secret location in the woods. I had to text my goodbye and apology to Marie the next day. She forgave me and was good enough to send a message with the photos just before they departed on their honeymoon.

“Thanks again for such a lovely ceremony – lots of people are still going on about how lovely and personal it was and how you had them all laughing, then crying at some bits”

Insane, but beautifully insane – Alaina at Linlithgow Palace

 The snow and ice had melted in the midst of the coldest winter on record when the day came for Alaina to arrive for her wedding at Linlithgow Palace – on horseback. It was the 2nd of March 2010 when I first met Alaina and David to talk about their wedding. “So,” I asked casually. “have you got anything special planned yet for the big day?” “Yes, I’m arriving on horseback.” Alaina replied. “On the 25th January? On horseback?” I think was my stunned reply.

Alaina arriving at the Burgh Halls
another excellent Linlithgow venue

But on the day it all went well. Alaina made her entrance and brought the traffic on Linlithgow High Street to a stop, and then the piper brought her up the street to the Palace. I know she had to quickly change when she dismounted but I didn’t inquire as to whether she had her long johns on under her beautiful dress – there was a bitter wind blowing.

The wedding was held in the undercroft, a lovely, intimate room perfect for a wedding with 50 or 60 guests and, as you can see, the photo opportunities in the Palace are just amazing. David and Alaina’s wedding ceremony was as unique as was the day and the story of how they first met was particularly amusing – so tears and laughter flowed in equal measure. Just as a wedding ceremony should be, or so I believe.

My First Wedding

The training to become an authorized celebrant is extensive and covers not only the legal aspects and obligations of the role but also how to design the ceremony and the variety of rituals, vows, pledges that other, more experienced Celebrants have used in the five years we have been delivering legal weddings. I still vividly remember the stories of the outdoor weddings in howling gales and one in six inches of snow. But, on the day of my first wedding and a Registered Celebrant, it was the discussion about children at weddings that came back to me most powerfully.

John and Zoe Scally, as they now are, were to be married in the Clubhouse of the Prestonfield Golf Course on the 1st May 2010. I met John and Zoe and their three year-old son Zac and worked with them to design the ceremony they wanted on their special day. Being my first wedding I thought it wise to be as prepared as possible so I visited the Prestonfield Golf Club and it was amazing, with panoramic views over Arthur’s Seat and the eighteenth green sitting beneath. Being midweek during February the clubhouse was, of course, very quiet.

The day arrived and I got to the venue early but not before half of the guests who were already enjoying themselves at the bar, arranging tables, and, as far as I could ascertain, running a crèche. As promised they had closed the partition to separate the bar but behind that partition were, what sounded like, a hundred golfers all shouting at the top of their voices over a television showing the Hearts game. We got ourselves organised, I managed to calm John down, eventually tracked down the two of their elder children who were going to do the readings and found the one who was bearing the rings. Zoe entered and the place went wild, everyone on their feet, cameras flashing and then Hearts scored in the bar next door. I gestured wildly to the bar staff who managed to quieten things down, got some semblance of order in my half of the clubhouse and the ceremony started. Fortunately, in my other life, I am a management trainer and, in the early part of my career, I was voice coached by an actor so I know how to project my voice. I needed every ounce of that training, Cicero in the Forum would have been impressed.

We got the heart of the ceremony when the bride and groom make their declarations with many tears flowing and a few good laughs as well. Then came the crowning moment. As, for the first time as an authored Celebrant, I was making my first legal declaration, “As you have now both made a solemn and binding contract and by virtue of these declarations, made in my presence…” young Zac bolted forward from nowhere, grabbed his Mum’s wedding dress and shouted, at the top of his voice “Are you a Scally now?”