An amazing day with Ashton and David


I first met Ashton 10 years ago when my daughter moved into her halls of residence. I’m sure I met him that day but the two of them have remained the very best of friends (she is one of the groom maids, if that’s a word) and Ashton and I have bumped into each other on numerous occasions, including, most recently, seeing Annie Lennox (we are both her biggest fans). But it was about three years earlier, on the 19th December 2016 that I received a message from Ashton asking if I might be able to marry him and David. It took me all of two seconds to say “yes”, mainly because I was utterly speechless. What an honour. Between then and their wedding day we have met many times and used a few of them to plan their wonderful ceremony at one of my favourite venues, The Cottiers in Glasgow. The Cottiers is one of the most theatrical venues in the city and ideally suited to the marriage of the ex-President of the university Musical Theatre Society.

I guess you’ve already worked out that the ceremony was something special. We laughed and we cried, well David did, had some wonderful readings, a Hand Fasting, we shared a Quaich, Hannah sang beautifully and it was just the most emotional day imaginable. Their story was like a fairytale. It was really love at first sight, David admitted in his homework that, “from that first moment I knew he was right for me.” This photo from the ceremony captures the moment when I talked about their first date quoting from Ashton’s homework, “he arrived at my flat with a bottle of wine and a monkey onesie under his clothes, and we watched Death Becomes Her”

When David admitted that Death Becomes Her was his second favourite musical-in-a-movie after Beaches they both knew that that was the moment.

Let me finish with a reading from a book that captures a generation, that pre-dates Harry Potter, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. It was read by Justine and she absolutely nailed it:

I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.

Ashton and David sent me a note:

There was no other option for us for who should officiate on our wedding day (and not just because Brian’s daughter is one of our closest friends!) – Brian was organised, super helpful and full of great tips to help us make our ceremony meaningful. He was fantastic at keeping our guests informed as to what was happening during the ceremony itself and wove our personal stories together to create what really was an unforgettable celebration.

A Very Aussie Occasion at Bachilton Barn


I do find it strange when the first time you meet a couple is at their wedding but sometimes it’s just not possible to meet-up beforehand so everything is planned over Skype. As Catriona and Hok live on The Gold Coast in Australia there were many Skype calls and many emails as we put their ceremony together. But the day arrived and I scuttled down the road to Bachilton Barn on a slightly breezy day, as you can see. I arrived early secure in the knowledge that I would recognise Catriona (the one in the fancy white dress!) but Hok? Fortunately he dashed across and introduced himself and then all his groomsmen.

The ceremony was outside and we survived the wind but I do remember that keeping Catriona’s veil secure was a challenge. We even had a song and all sang Stand By Me, which was great. Their stories were hilarious but the best bit was when they read their promises to each other. Promises that they had kept secret until that moment. Not a dry eye in the house.

To end Lisa came forward and read the delightful Realistic Wedding Poem:

Marriage is a journey, and not just a destination
That goes far beyond this wedding, this public celebration.
This is just the beginning of a path we’ll travel together
With obstacles to overcome, and possible storms to weather.

One day we’ll sit side by side, hands withered and bent
Thinking back over the years, the good times we have spent.
We’ll remember the laughs. We’ll recall special places
And look far beyond the greyed hair and softly lined faces.

So let’s take it all in and cherish each day
No matter what happens, no matter what’s thrown our way.
We’re both realistic. Every day won’t be a dream
But we’re in this together, because we make a cracking team!

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)

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

 

LastWedding of 2015 – Jodie and Charlie at the Invercarse Hotel


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Dreich, that’s the word for it – Dreich Dundee on a day in between Christmas and New Year. If you hate that kind of dead period in the year then here’s an idea – get married. Jodie, Charlie anW281215 Small 135 1d I met on the 26th September, I remember because I had just conducted Emma and Chris’s wedding at Errol Park and arranged to meet them whilst I was in the neighbourhood. I usually meet couples I am to marry about four to five months before the big day. Even then we had a real laugh and remember leaving that meeting thinking that their wedding would be great fun. And it was.

The parts I remember from the ceremony were Jodie’s Uncle Jim’s reading which he wrote himself and was hilarious. The other was when they exchanged their promises:

Before they exchange their formal vows Jodie and Charlie would like now to share what they love about the other. I wouldn’t put the hankies away just yet.

JODIE: Today I marry my friend, 

CHARLIE: The one I have laughed and cried with,

JODIE: The one I have trusted and shared with,

CHARLIE: The one I have chosen to support, encourage, and give myself to, 


JODIE: through all the days given to us to share.

BOTH: I choose you today and every day.

BOTH: Today I marry the one I love.

Isn’t that just beautiful

Jodie sent me a lovely email:

‘From beginW281215 Small 123 1ning to end Brian was supportive and enthusiastic, offering suggestions when needed and swiftly helping with any queries. We chose Brian as he took the time to make our ceremony very personal and a celebration that was true to us. On the day he created a relaxed and informal atmosphere that made it so special and unique to us as a couple. So many people have commented on what a beautiful ceremony it was. Thanks a million we couldn’t have asked for any more for our big day’

With Kirsten and Pablo at The Mackintosh Church Church


Tucked away in Queen’s Cross is one of Glasgow’s hidden architectural gems. The only church in the world designed by the great Scottish architect, designer and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and it is beautiful. I had not conducted a ceremony before so when Kirsten and Pablo contacted me all the way from California, I was so excited. and their wedding was truly wonderful.

Working with a couple from abroad takes a lot of trust and although we had chatted on Skype a couple of times we had obviously never met. Kirsten was returning home to get married and I believe it was for many of Pablo’s family their first time in Scotland. The ceremony that Pablo and Kirsten helped me put together was an emotional roller coaster and for many of the guests who had never been to a Humanist ceremony it was a real eye opener.As Kirsten wrote to me afterwards, “Starting out writing our ceremony was initially rather daunting however with your positivity, guidance and suggestions we managed to create the most perfect ceremony which was very personal to us and even better than we could have imagined! So many people commented on how lovely the ceremony was and how you managed to set the perfect celebratory tone for the day – relaxed and fun yet serious at the bits that needed to be! Thank you so much for helping us make our day so special, we loved every minute!”

This was definitely a day to remember for me and for Kirsten and Pablo. I do hope that they keep in touch.

Kirsten and Pablo Wedding 486{D - The Bride and Groom

Outdoors With Lee and Scott. In May!


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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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark and Fiona at Shieldhill Castle


For those of you who don’t know Shieldhill Castle is in the back of beyond. No, that’s not strictly true it’s in Quothquan, obviously. Ah yes, I hear you say, Quothquan, “isn’t that in the middle of nowhere?”. Shieldhill is a gorgeous venue, a typical Scottish castle close to Biggar, steeped in history, low ceilings, wood smoke and joy. The wedding venue is a lovely candle lit chapel entered round the back of the main building – really rather special.

As I arrive the gospel choir is warming up and rehearsing nervously. I suspect it is their first gig at a wedding, it might be their first gig anywhere, but they are good. We get the rings sorted (we are doing a band warming where the rings are passed round the guests during the ceremony) and await Fiona’s entrance. The ceremony is quite a laugh, the story of how the two of them met is quite hilarious and then we come to the serious bit. In a humanist ceremony it is perfectly possible for you to write your own vows, which makes the whole day rather special. Fiona and Mark chose this option and, having shared with all their friends and guests I don’t think they’ll mind me sharing them with you:

FIONA
I promise to be your best friend and share my life with you
I promise to laugh with you in the good times and be there for you the hard times
I promise I won’t try to fix you because you are not broken
I promise I won’t keep score even when I’m winning
I promise to speak when words are needed and share the silence when they’re not
I promise to live within the warmth of your heart and forever call it home
Mark, today I accept you in marriage to be my husband
MARK
I promise to be your best friend and share my life with you
I promise to love you through the good times and the bad
I promise to always be there to share those special moments
I promise to laugh at your jokes even when no one else thinks your funny
I promise to listen to your worries and try to make it alright
I promise to live within the warmth of your heart and forever call it home.

Fiona, today I accept you in marriage to be my wife

 

Stunning Dundas Castle with Victoria and Joe


 

I arrived at Dundas castle to be told that poor Victoria was really quite unwell and “had spent most of the morning in the toilet”. My heart sank at that point but, heh, I wasn’t going anywhere else that day so we could all just wait until she recovered. Which she did and in tons of time for her own wedding. Phew!
Now, the chapel in Dundas Castle is not a large room so when Victoria told me months before that she had five bridesmaids and a bridesman (is that the right word?) and Joe then followed that by telling me that he had two best men and two ushers that he wanted at the front with the wedding party I thought wee were going to be a bit cramped and, to be honest, on the day they had so many guests there was no where else for them all to go anyway. So we were a tiny bit cramped, but it was so cold it actually helped keep us all warm. The ceremony that Joe and Victoria helped put together was just beautiful and so, so personal. In their homework Joe wrote the most amazing passage about what marriage meant to him so, with Victoria’s permission, I read it at their ceremony:

“It means making a commitment to ensuring Victoria is as happy as she possibly can be each and every day.

Marriage means bringing two families together as one – Officially, at last!
Marriage means accepting each other for who we are.
Marriage means planning for the future and all the exciting things that it holds for us.
Marriage means celebrating what we represent as a couple.
Marriage means having shared beliefs and values that we live by together.
Marriage means being completely comfortable in each other’s company – comfortable being our true selves together.
Marriage means committing ourselves to be the best we can be, both individually and as a married couple.
Marriage means I get to spend the rest of my life with the person I love.”
 
There was not a dry eye in the room and I think the bridesmaids used up a whole packet of my tissues on their own. But that wasn’t even the high point because they followed that with reading aloud to the other what they loved about them. Victoria’s was five paragraphs long and just inspiring. It ended as follows: 
 
I love that I have no doubts, no fears whatsoever in the future of our relationship. I have never been so sure of anything. You are my light, my sunshine.”
 
To be honest I think I was sobbing at this point.

Victoria was good enough to drop me a note after the wedding:
“We just wanted to also let you know how fantastic our ceremony was. It was truly personal and it was without a doubt my favourite part of the day. Our guests (many of whom had never attended a Humanist ceremony before) were blown away by it. They loved how quickly you put them at ease with some humorous remarks and I believe that you created a relaxed and happy feeling that lasted throughout our whole day (and night!). You were wonderful and I cannot thank you enough for making our wedding ceremony so memorable with the perfect balance of laugher and tears!”