With Carol and Kieran at The Parsonage


One of the great joys about my job as a celebrant is the variety of the couples I work with and the different ways they put their ceremonies together. Each ceremony is different, each is unique because, well, each couple is different and unique, especially each of their stories about how they met. This was so true in the case of Carol and Kieran. Their stroy was not just unique it was, well … this is how I introduced it during the ceremony, “As you can imagine their homework had a certain whiff of the surreal about it, a hint of the absurd and a couple of tablespoonful’s of just plain, not self raising, weirdness!” As you can see from their guest’s reaction their stories were hilarious.

But what made it even more special was that they had written most of the ceremony themselves including their promises to one another:

“You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to the other, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.

“Will you, Kieran, keep Carol as your favourite person – to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and give her all the affection and love you give the fish?

Kieran: I will.

“and will you, Carol, keep Kieran as your favourite person – to laugh with him, go on adventures with him, support him through life’s tough moments, be proud of him, grow old with him, and give him all the affection and love you give the cats?

Carol: I will.

Will you, Kieran and Carol, be each other’s partners from this day forward? Will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, and love each other absolutely – for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?

Carol and Kieran: We will.

Oh, and let me share one other thing from their sparkling ceremony. It’s a poem called Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton:

“I like you a lot
You’re funny and kind
So let me explain
What I have in mind.

I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to walk right by your side
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
I want to travel with you far and wide

Wherever you go, I’ll go there too
Here and there and everywhere
And always with you
I want to be Your Personal Penguin
From now on.

Now lots of other penguins seem to do fine
In a universe of nothing but ice
But if I could be yours and you could be mine
A cozy little world would be twice as nice”

It was read at the ceremony by Karen O’Driscoll who, I will be honest, absolutely nailed it.

Carol  was kind enough to send me the following:

““When we first went to meet Brian to talk about our ceremony we knew he was the right man for the job straight away. We wanted a light, relaxed and humorous ceremony and he didn’t disappoint! All our guests, some of whom had not experienced a Humanist ceremony before, couldn’t stop complimenting Brian and the ceremony. He made the whole process easy and stress free from start to finish”

Thank you my dear, a pleasure.

Family affair at Keavil House with Suzanne and Lawrie


638A04590C3A2193Keavil House is one of my more infrequent venues. It is not that far away from me but there is this river in-between that presents more of a psychological  than physical barrier even though we do have a lovely new crossing to link the Kingdom to the rest of the (inferior parts of the) United Kingdom. Suzanne and Lawrie were joined by their very well behaved children Abi and Thomas and the ceremony was beautiful. We did, of course, have a bit of a laugh expecially at their meeting up a second time. It was in a pub and Suzanne, who was not one to hold back, immediately sprinted across to say “Hiya” and tell Lawrie that she was single and, as she said in her homework, “I was even more delighted to hear “so am I”, to this day still 3 magical words.” So romantic.

We laughed, had two lovely readings, the children were perfect. What more can one ask for?

0C3A2184

A Rather Damp Myres Castle with Nicola and Iain


Travelling up everything was fine and rosy, a bit overcast but it will be fine I thought to myself. As I parked I noticed that Nicola and Iain had decided to have the ceremony outside, underneath the beech tree. “So, we’re outside then Henry?” I asked, just for clarity. Henry is lucky person who owns Myres Castle – not as glamorous as it sounds as, at that moment, Henry was laying the chairs out for the guests. The swing band arrived and set up beneath the tree behind me.

The ceremony was ever so special and Nicola and Iain had chosen readings that I had not heard before like this, which Carol read:

“Once upon a time, a boy met a girl.

She gave him her hand and he held it tight.

Together, they set off down the unknown path in front of them.

Sometimes they walked slowly; sometimes at a quicker pace.

Sometimes they ran so fast it felt kind of like flying.

Whenever he lost his footing, she steadied him, and whenever she tripped, he helped her back up.

Whenever she grew weary, he’d carry her.

Sometimes they didn’t know which direction to go, but though they would occasionally lose their way, they never lost each other.

They wandered contentedly and lived happily, forever and always side by side.”

The highpoint of the cermony was when we sang a song, Stand By Me by Ben E King accompanied and lead by the swing band but by this point I could see Henry struggling up the path with an arm full of umbrellas.

There is inspiration everywhere for your own special vows and Nicola and Iain had taken theirs from the 2012 film The Vow and they were beautiful:

Nicola

I vow to help you love life,

To always hold you with tenderness,

And to have the patience that love demands, to speak

When words are needed, and to share the silence when they are not

I promise to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home.

 

Iain

I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms,

Now and forever,

I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love

I vow to love you, and no matter what challenges might carry us apart,

We will always find a way back to each other

I declared them married, we signed the paperwork, I announced their grand exit.

And the rain stopped.

And the sun came out.

It was a wonderful and special ceremony and Nicola and Iain were good enough to send me this:

“We are so happy we found you to conduct our wedding ceremony. Not only did we think you did a fantastic job, many of our family and friends have commented on how great you were, and that you were a “class act”. You made everyone relax, and your quick thinking when the rain came on meant that nobody got soaked! We would recommend you to anyone looking for a Humanist Celebrant”

 

 

Married by the guy down the pub – Zsofia and Phill


In my job, you get asked to all sorts of different weddings. Phill and Zsofi approached me in the pub we frequent because they were looking for something entirely unique, informal and without all the, eh, shall we call in razzmatazz of a “typical” wedding. As they said to me, they just fancied going off and being married by the guy in the pub! Theirs was a small, intimate affair at lunchtime in the garden of a restaurant in Linlithgow with a few of their close family and friends. I should share with you all that it was not a warm and balmy as the photos make it appear and Zsofia, in her gorgeous dress, was the bravest woman in the world.

Zsofia is from Hungary and we were joined for the day by some of her family and really close friends. Phill is from Scotland and he wanted a touch of Scotland in the ceremony so we performed a Hand Fasting. My Hungarian is non-existant  but I did manage the odd phrase in the story of their romance because Zsofia shared the most romantic of Phill’s proposal: “The ring was already on my finger for a long time, I know it is strange to say, but I felt it so real. I had a secret wish and the answer for that was Phill… When he asked me “Hozzám jössz?” (Will you marry me?), there was only one possible answer: Igen! (Yes!)”

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.

image2

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.

image8

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


img_7616

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 ….”

img_7584

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!