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)

Just Perfect – John Muir Grove with Victoria and Gavin


It’s Official.
I have decided that my favourite venue in May has to be the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the stunning John Muir Grove. The rhododendrons and azaleas are just coming into their own, their flowers vivid and bright and the whole place is lush with spring growth.

Even last Sunday it was beautiful. The weather was dubious, it had been very showery in the morning. Showery as in stair rods showery, and my heart fell for poor Vicki. But as I drove over the rain slowed it dried up, and as I arrived I noticed the staff carrying the chairs across the path and up the hill to the John Muir Grove. Gavin had taken an executive decision to move the wedding outside and a good call it was as well.

The guys from the Apollo Strings were there, tuning up in the marquee before making their way up to the grove and there were the usual crowds of inquisitive tourists and spectators wondering what on earth was going on with all those men in kilts hanging around, beautiful women in their fancy frocks and staff wrapping seats in white and rolling out red carpets.

The ceremony that Gavin and Vicki had written was short, simple and humorous, just exactly what was required for the day because it was a bit chilly when the sun disappeared.

 Oh, and the Apollo Strings have changed their name to Capella thereby ruining one of my best gags when I ask the “appalling strings” to play while we sign the schedule. Anyone who can come up with a good line around “Capella” gets a prize.

To The Vu with Catriona and Keir


Overlooking the rolling West Lothian countryside The Vu, on a sunny day, is the most spectacular venue.

Catriona and Keir wanted a simple, meaningful ceremony for their family and close friends and that is, of course, what the three of us put together. They preferred that I do the readings for them and everything was cut down and kept to the minimum. They did light candles to celebrate their union. They both lit one individually and then used the two candles to light a third symbolising their marriage. Very simple, very beautiful.

The one moment that everyone will remember was when the read their own declarations to each other. Here are Cariona’s:

I will give my love to you equally with my body my heart and my mind, and will be open to your love always.
I will do my utmost to understand your needs, feelings and wishes.
I will always turn to you in need, as I hope you will of me.
Through good humour and imagination may we inspire each other and may we always find a way to overcome challenges in our path.
In the presence of our families and friends
I ask you to be my companion, my husband and lover in life.

Not a dry eye in the room.

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”

The Vu at Bathgate, Craig and Gill’s Big Day


I must perform a marriage ceremonies at the Vu at least once a month and yet Craig and Gill are the first couple to actually send me some of their photographs. Thank you, you wonderful people.

What a wonderful ceremony and what a laugh we all had. The story of how Gill and Craig first got together was hilarious and romantic. Craig’s proposal came as a complete surprise when he got down on one knee in front of the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York and the moment was captured on the front page of the New York Times courtesy of a Japanese photographer. Their wedding invitation was a copy of that front page.

And then there was a wonderful surprise, well it was a big surprise to Gill’s grandpa Jack who had composed a wonderful poem for the two of them which he thought he was reading at the reception. There was no escape once I had announced his moment during the ceremony.

By the way, always best to ask the people that you want to do a reading a few weeks beforehand!

The Vu, as I said, is one of my local venues and it is in the most stunning location perched on the hills above the Avon valley with views across to the Highlands. Well, most days. I have been there in the late winter/ early spring when the views were to end of the lake that surrounds the Waterlily – the venue for the ceremony – all of 150m. It might not have all the old world charm of an Incholm Island or Linlithgow Palace but, my goodness, they know what they are doing. The staff are so professional and the food, I hear, is excellent, certainly the canapes are good! If you are looking for a venue that will arrange everything for you (except me), photographers, pipers, cars, the works then look no further. And they will ensure that your day is perfect, exactly as you want it.

Return to Glenbervie, Touch and Go with Joanne and Barry


 Ah, it was only last week when I was last at Glenbervie House. That happens you know, you visit a new venue one week and then suddenly you are there again and again. A bit like buses I suppose. But last week it was warm and sunny and today it was close, yes that’s the word, close. As we waited for Joanne to arrive the skies became more and more ominous, dark, dark clouds looming overhead. I talked to the hotel staff about the fallback plan which seemed to consist of me talking faster and finishing the ceremony before it rained. So that’s what I did…once Joanne arrived.

The bride’s arrival was greeted with the most enormous thunderclap and I could see the bridesmaids and especially the little flower girl waiting in fear and trepidation as Joanne prepared for her entrance.

Towards the beginning of the ceremony we lit a candle in memory of Joanne’s stepdad, her gran and of Barry’s gran as well. The swirling breeze didn’t make it very easy but it was the gesture that counted and the few moments of silence for people who should have been at their special day but couldn’t be there.

A Warm Summer’s Day at Glenbervie House with Nicola & Sean


I seem to remember that Nicola and Sean didn’t want their wedding to be too serious, “we should have a bit of a laugh” they said and we certainly did have an emotional day. The thing that stays in my memory of the day were the readings that their family and friends gave. We started the ceremony with Sean’s sister Emma reading one of the most difficult poems – ee cummings, “I Carry Your Heart With Me”

I think this was during the story
of how they got together
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


and she absolutely nailed it, not a dry eye in the audience. Later in the ceremony, after we had a bit of a laugh about Sean’s romantic proposal, “Do you want to look at some rings?”, their friend Jamie read an Apache Blessing before the serious and formal marriage ceremony itself. We signed the schedule and the bride and groom exited to the strains of, what else, but the Cantina Band theme from Star Wars played by the Apollo Strings. Well, what else do you end a marriage ceremony with?