On The Beach Opposite Skye with Dougie and Eilidh

Some requests to conduct a wedding ceremony are just irresistible.

In the section marked location was the following “on a beach near Arisaig”. Mind you, that was three years ago and this was the third rescheduling of the date but we made it. So turning left off the Glenfinnan to Mallaig road, down through the campsite to park in a field and then through the dunes towards the sound of the best piper I have ever heard. You see, years ago, many years ago, Dougie was the lead piper with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers so any piper at his wedding was going to have to be better than good. Most of the rest of the original band were there as well all milling about, moving chairs and sorting stuff out.

Guests arrived, tramping through the dunes and then we waited for Eilidh and her bridesmaids. They were late. Of course. It is the bride’s prerogative after all.

Eilidh’s brother Donnie read for us.

“All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

We had a Handfasting and we drank from a Quaich.

It was magic.

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:


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.



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”



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!


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.”













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.”

Let’s Move The Wedding Outside – Fiona and Kris at Prestonfield House Hotel

 “Fiona’s decided that she wants her wedding to be outside. Is that Ok with you?” I looked at my watch it was 4:35 and the ceremony was due to begin at 5:00pm. “Eh, yes, I suppose, it’s not a problem for me,” I replied. 

It was a glorious summer evening, not something we have experienced in Scotland for a good few months, and the extraordinary hotel staff got to work moving the fifty or more chairs from the garden suite to the garden. And the table to sign the schedule, and the floral arrangements and two large classical pediments and the harpist. At 4:45 we were ready to go and the guests started arriving – most of them to the garden suite which confused them completely. With Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags as a backdrop and beneath the shade of the enormous oak and beech trees the setting was idyllic and the ceremony matched the occasion perfectly.

Awaiting the bride’s arrival

Emma, Fiona’s Maid of Honour came forward and presented a reading, well, it was way more than a reading. She started, When I was asked to speak today, I wanted to find the perfect quote about love.” She then took us through her considerations touching upon Wet Wet Wet, Elvis, Meatloaf, Richard Geare and ended with, of course, William Shakespeare. Very clever.

Fiona and Kris chose to exchange their declarations and their formal vows in a hand fasting ceremony. They chose to read their own declarations to one another and they were beautiful:

Signing the schedule

Today I give myself to you in marriage.

I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, 
and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. 
I promise to love you in good times and in bad, 
when life seems easy and when it seems hard,
when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.
I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard. 
These things I give to you today, and all the days of our lives.” 

  It is one of those ceremonies that I will never forget, Fiona’s moving the ceremony, the beautiful evening, their wonderful friends and family. I was completely blown away when Fiona and Kris sent me an eCard thanking me for the ceremony:

It was an honour and a privilege to be a part of your special day guys. Thank you.

Rachael and James at the Royal College of Physicians

 It has been raining in Scotland non-stop (or so it seems) for two months. I have had three outdoor weddings moved inside because of the weather. Last year in total I had one.

I was not looking forward to the walk up the hill to Queens Street in Edinburgh to the imposing Royal College of Physicians because, frankly, there is nothing worse than a soggy kilt hem sawing its way through the back of your knees. But it was fine, I managed to dodge the thundery showers, and arrived to the strains of the string quartet playing in the library. What a venue, just stunning and, with a lot of Rachael and James’s relatives having travelled over from Canada, it just captured the essence of Edinburgh’s New Town and the age of enlightenment.

Rachael and James asked to perform a handfasting. There are many variations on this ancient ritual using various numbers of ribbons or even ropes. A handfasting symbolises your union by joining your hands together and originally symbolised a union for a year and a day although of course in a marriage ceremony it symbolises your union for life. The most common handfasting ceremonies use either one ribbon as in this case or two ribbons that tie themselves together when you draw your hands apart.

I have the distinct feeling that Rachael influenced the choice of readings which included:

  • The Lovely Love Story from the children’s book by Edward Monkton (Thank you Flora)
  • An extract from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (Thank you Cate) and
  • Love by Roy Croft (Thank You Emily)

We followed the bride and groom across the road and into Queen Street Gardens (a first for me) and there, waiting for us was a Luca’s ice cream van. Result!