Just Down The Road at Inchyra Grange with Rachel and Iain


 

0c3a0190
Well, you’ve got have a bit of a laugh at a wedding!

A short drive down the road from me is the Macdonald Inchyra Grange Hotel ao, I suppose, it’s one of my more regular wedding venues. I remember Iain and Rachel’s ceremony fondly because their guest were such a nice crowd and so very welcoming. I think they also had quite a good time as Rachel said the following, “Thanks for conducting such a wonderful service for our wedding! You really did make it special. We have had so many people compliment you and say that it was the best humanist ceremony they’ve been to!! You really did put us at ease and we instantly knew that you would be the person to marry us when we first met you, so thank you very much.”

 

The ceremony itself was lovely and included a cracker of a reading, which I don’t think I had heard before: Don’t Squeeze My Shoes

0c3a0565
“A love, like shoes, must feel justright
Not too loose and not too tight
Not too high or far too low
And if you’re young have room to grow
It must look good with any clothes
It must be kind, not pinch your toes
It must last well and not wear through
It must be just the thing for you

 

 

img_3973

The style you choose, however strange
Must show ability to change
To cope with rains and frosty
morns
To help you dodge bunions and corns
Your love must fit and not break banks
It must not always expect thanks
It should be happy being there
The chosen one, the happy pair

 

 

Isn’t that lovely? The two of them then exited to Elbow, “One Day Like This”, such a romantic moment.

 

0c3a0209

Four Weddings And A Funeral


This is one of the busiest times of the year and in three days over the weekend I delivered four weddings and a funeral and thought, well, that’s got to be worth a post!

Wedding 1: To Whitburn with Tammy and Jon (and Rory)

IMG_3929

So, the weekend began with a drive over to Whitburn to be with Tammy, Jon and their family for their wedding at the Hilcroft Hotel. Tammy and Jon lit a candle at the beginning of the ceremony in remembrance of all those who couldn’t be there on their big day, which was a lovely touch. We also had a handfasting, two readings I ended with the following very Scottish well-wishing:

 

May the best ye’ve ever seen

Be the worst ye’ll ever see;

May the moose ne’er leave yer girnal

Wi’ a tear drap in his ee;

May ye aye keep hale and he’erty

Till ye’re auld enough tae dee,

May ye aye be juist as happy

As I wish ye aye tae be.

 

Wedding 2: On The Banks Of Loch Lubnaig

It was then an hour’s drive north beyond Callander to the banks of Loch Lubnaig to join Carly and Scott, the two luckiest people in the world on the dry but cloudy lochside.

The setting was idyllic and the ceremony was just so appropriate. It was a small intimate, mainly family affair with Carly’s Dad, Andrew, doing a wonderful reading of Union by Robert Fulgham. Carly had made her own plaited band for the handfasting and everyone gathered around a pine tree by the loch. So simple, so easy, so rainless, phew.

Wedding 3: To Glenskirlie Castle With Suzanne and Robert (and Rowan)

So, it’s Sunday and off to Banknock, to Glenskirlie Castle where the flower girls stole the whole show. Young Abby read “On Your Wedding Day” to everyone and I awarded her with the gold medal for the fastest ever reading of that poem. But it was little Rowan, Suzanne and Robert’s daughter who was the star upstaging her Mum and Dad and the celebrant with ease and a dimpled smile.

Wedding 4: Rachel and Allan at the Linlithgow Burgh Halls

august-photosIMG_3963

Theirs was a lovely ceremony and made special by their friends selecting secret poems that were just so appropriate for the occasion. We had a band warming, which  was just a beautiful way to involve all of their guests in the ceremony, and afterwards we all proceeded out to the garden for the photos and there we were joined by the gorgeous Jayda. I then realised just how appropriate Peter’s reading had been:

Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog, by Taylor Mali

Falling in love is like owning a dog
First of all, it’s a big responsibility,especially in a city like [London].
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security: when you’re walking down the street late at night and you have a leash on love
‘ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable. Who knows what love could do in its own defence?
On cold winter nights, love is warm. It lies between you and lives and breathes and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs. It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long. But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life, but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad.
Bad, love, bad!
Very bad love.
Love makes messes. Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after. Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain, just to let love know don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk. Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting. It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go. People who have nothing in common but love stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops

The Funeral

But the weekend began with one of the saddest of all funerals, a tragedy played out over nearly forty years that resulted in someone taking her own life. Her friends and family celebrated a life cut short by mental illness and the crematorium was filled with tears and bunches of flowers, often simple posies picked on the way to the ceremony.

We finished with the following paragraph:

No-one who knows about the circumstances of Alice’s death can remain untouched by it, or fail to ask themselves if there is something they could have done to prevent it, that’s natural. I think it would be best to recognise that the borderline between life and death is a fragile thing for all of us and accept that Alice’s illness made that borderline even more fragile.” (I have changed the name)

My Ancestral Home with Anushka and Malcolm


Those of you that I have married will know that my middle name is Winton, a family name that had passed through the generations of my mother’s family. If you look up, as I have done, the origin of the name Winton you discover that there are two branches, one down in the west country and one in Scotland and the Scottish Wintons all appear to have originated from one small village in East Lothian, which is where Anushka and Malcolm chose to get married – in the actual Winton House.

And what a venue! The driveway as you approach it is enough to convince you that it is a very special place and as you enter it becomes even more apparent. Anushka and Malcolm’s ceremony fitted perfectly into these surroundings but before it even began their guests, who had joined them from all over the world, were submitted to, or do I mean, took part in, a treasure hunt around the extensive grounds. Suffice to say that from the atmosphere in the room it was apparent that they had all got along very well but I still don’t know who won. Oh, yes I do, because the two people who found the package with the pens came forward and as their surprise witnesses.

The ceremony was full of unique and unusual moments. This reading I had never heard before:

Habitation by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

and they wrote and read their own pledges to one another:

Malcolm    I promise to remember why we fell in love

Anushka    I promise to remember why we fell in love

Malcolm    I promise not to stop loving you just because you get old and shrivel to the size and texture of a prune

Anushka    I promise not to stop loving you just because you get old or wrinkly or because your nose gets too big

Malcolm     I promise to continue to organise treasure hunts

Anushka     I promise to tolerate your endless schemes and puns

Malcolm   I promise you will end up supporting Scotland and they will win the Six Nations and subsequently the football World Cup

Anushka  I promise to pretend that I believe Scotland will win anything ever

Malcolm     I promise to look after you and make you feel safe and secure as long as we are together

Anushka     I promise to take life as it comes but always face it together

Malcolm   I promise to be the best husband I can be

Anushka  I promise to be the best wife I can be

They were good enough to send me the following in their email with the photographs:

“We wanted to say a huge thank you to you for being the perfect celebrant on our special day. You were reassuringly relaxed, endlessly cheerful, and a charming host for our guests as they waited for the ceremony to begin. You went to great efforts to ensure our ceremony kept to who we are as a couple, and to the fun feel we wanted for our day, which definitely did not go unnoticed by our guests. Almost every one of our family and friends mentioned how beautiful and unique our ceremony was and how envious they are that we were able to have a humanist ceremony, and have you as our celebrant. Thank you for helping us create some of the happiest memories we could hope for.”

To The Hub on the High Street with Stephanie and Mark


 

_am26436-edit
Photos by Jonathon Fowler

Conducting a wedding at The Hub, the cafe at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival on the High Street just below the castle, is always a hoot. As we all wait patiently for the bride’s arrival, standing outside at the entrance, we are mobbed by tourists snapping away and standing beside the piper having their photographs taken. What a laugh. Steph was running a few moments late so the tourists had a field day and the crowd was so large that poor Steph couldn’t get out of the car.

 

_am17879

Their’s was a lovely ceremony, so well constructed and put together it was a joy to deliver. They had family join them from Australia and so many friends from all around the country. We began by lighting a candle in memory of those who couldn’t join us and the highlight was when Steph and Mark read their promises:

Mark:

Stephanie, asking you to marry me was the one of the easiest decisions I’ve made. I want to spend the rest of my life showing you why saying yes was the right answer. No matter what path life puts us on, we will take it together. I promise to love you and to respect you, to make you laugh and keep you safe. I promise to be the person you need, even if that’s not always who you want me to be. And finally I will try to be the best husband I can – who knows, I might even learn to put a washing on!

And Stephanie:

Mark, from 16 year old school kids to standing here today about to become your wife

I am so happy and proud of all that we have achieved

Today, tomorrow and forever

I promise to share in all of life’s decisions as your wife and best friend

I promise to respect you, care for you and keep you organised!

I promise to support you in the tough times and laugh with you in the happy times

But most of all I promise to love you for all the days of my life

Yep, not a dry eye in the house!

_am25883

Steph sent me a thank you:

Thank you so much for the important role you played in our special day. We couldn’t have been happier with the ceremony and it is something we will cherish forever. You made the ceremony so personal to us and also gave us all a few laughs during it! You were so helpful in the planning process and gave us lots of ideas to use in the ceremony whilst also encouraging us to do what we wanted. Many guests have commented on how much they enjoyed the humanist ceremony and most importantly we loved it!

With Joanna and Joe at Dalhousie Castle


What a lovely day it was at the wonderful Dalhousie Castle. Joanna and Joe met as students at Heriot Watt University nearly ten years ago and it was such an honour to meet their family and friends. Their ceremony was thoughtfuly put together and we began by lighting a candle in memory of Joanna’s grandfather and Joes’s grandparents. The ceremony included a Band Warming where we passed their rings amongst their guests and at the end  Joanna’s sister Vicki sttod up and shared the following, which I thought was beautiful:

In spite of what some of the famous old readings say, it is impossible to perfectly define what love is, or what marriage is, or how to keep them strong. The definition is different for each couple.

[Sister & new Brother]: This is your relationship, your wedding, your marriage, your life. You had the amazing good fortune to find one another, and now YOU get to define what love and marriage will mean to you. This will be one of your greatest tasks, and greatest adventures. Your married life will be uniquely yours. No one else has ever had that particular life, and no one else ever will. Make it loving. Make it wild. Make it last.”

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


061

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.

048059053