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


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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 ….”

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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)

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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

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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)

A Scottish Celtic Wedding for Diane and John


I do occasionally receive a letter or an email from a couple that I have married but never before have I received a complete Blog and I am indebted to Diane for taking the time to share her experiences of her special day. I leave the rest of this to Diane:
“We had met Brian for a chat and were told that we would be given homework to do. Little did Brian know that it had already been done!!!  From Brian’s blogs I had seen that he was looking for us to write a story of how we had met and what had made us fall in love.
There was a few surprises in the story and Brian thought it read ice cream not ice when I had fallen and hurt my ancle at Dumbarton castle and ended up at A and E and Brian did not ask about my husband’s love of dragons !!!

So yes a few dragons did make it on to the wedding cake and onto the top table!! 
We had also asked Brian what was in the legal part of the wedding
Brian told us that there are three parts that you must include in a wedding:
  1. Saying that will accept each other as husband and wife
  2. His declaration
  3. Sign the marriage schedule
  4. Kiss 

With Brian giving us his helpful hints book we stared to  look for poems. We chose a poem called “What is a Wedding”:

If you go to a wedding, here’s what it means
No one wears trainers and no one wears jeans
your best new clothes are all that you wear
and family and friends they are all there

Even some cousins that you’ve never known
and the grown-ups all say “Oh, how much you have grown!”
So everyone’s sitting in one big room
(except Diane and John, the bridge and groom)
Then all of a sudden things quieten down
Music starts playing and people turn round
Slowly, Douglas and Diane walk in
She’s prettier now than she’s ever been.
She’s a bride and is really looking great today
(when normally she looks just kind of okay)

She walks in and stands with her dad for a while
As John her Fiancé, awaits in the aisle
His hair is all combed and he’s wearing a tie
and then Diane’s mum starts to sniffle and cry.
And now it comes time for the “get-married” part
The Celebrant says that we’re ready to start

So he talks and he talks about serious things
then bestman Steven steps up with two rings
He gives one to the groom and the other to the bride
then his wife Susan pulls him aside.
Then Diane and John kind of look at each other
And another big sniffle comes from Diane’s mother

Diane and John put on their wedding rings
they talk and they vow to each other special things
They promise that they’ll love each other a lot
and help one another no matter what
to be with each other the rest of their life
Then the Celebrant says “Now you are husband and wife”.

Now everyone’s in such a happy mood
so on to a party with wonderful food
where we dance with each other and drink some wine
then do a conga in one long line

‘till Diane and John Mark drive off in a car
and everyone’s thinking how happy they are
So we all yell goodbye and throw handfuls of rice
Then the whole thing is over. Weddings are nice

We looked at doing a ring blessing , hand fasnings and getting our parents blessing at the wedding all made the ceremony more special for us.

 The ring blessing (or Band Warming) was a great way for all our family and friends to take time to see the celtic rings we had both chosen.

The hand fastening made it all the more special for us saying our vows together and individually.
Handfastening poem
I will now join you to one and other,
With a bond not easy to break
Take the time of the binding
Before the final vows are made
To learn what you need to know
To grow in wisdom and love
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond

The first knot is for Bride’s love for Groom. And the second knot is for Groom’s love for Bride. These knots symbolise the strength of your love and commitment for one another…..

 We signed our marriage certificate and then exchanged our ring this gave all our friends and family time to see the rings. Brian pronounced us the new Mr and Mrs  before we headed to go and get our photo taken

David the owner of three king taking the marriage certificate from Brian for save keeping

          
There was just enough snow for make making a snowball for having photos taken out side. Again thank you Brian for making our day so special and we could not have had a better venue for us as well.”

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.”

A Windy Day at Dalhousie Castle with Alison and Shawn


Another Skype wedding although this time I met Alison and Shawn briefly around Christmas time when they were over from the US to visit her parents. During the rehearsal on the Friday evening the weather was slightly, eh, inclement if wholly representative of the summer (ha,ha) we’ve been having in Scotland. I met nearly all of their families, including Shawn’s who had travelled all the way from the United States for Alison and Shawn’s big day and Alison’s wonderful bridesmaids Lesley and Fiona who were to play such a big part in the day. We walked through the key parts of the ceremony – the entrance, the readings, the vows, the ring exchange and the exit – and we were only missing one important player, Bonny.
The day arrived and the weather improved. It was actually sunny, if slightly breezy (as in champagne glasses blowing off the tables breezy). Everyone assembled, the Apollo Strings played, and the ceremony began. The entrance went perfectly, not easy when you have two flights of stairs to negotiate to enter the room, I welcomed everyone and then asked the Best Man to bring the rings forward for a Band Warming. The Best Man did not have the rings at this point Bonny, the beautiful barn owl, did and on cue she flew down and landed perfectly on the Best Man’s gloved hand. I tied a ribbon through the rings and asked the guests to take part in the Band Warming, each to hold the rings and make a wish for the happiness of the couple and then pass them on. Lesley sang and stole everyone’s heart and Fiona ended our ceremony with a reading. Glorious.