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!”

Oran Mor with Fiona and Keith


FionaKeith_HiRes_357For those that love theatre Oran Mor offers it all and a location plum in the busy West End of Glasgow right next to Byres Road. Fiona and Keith’s wedding was a big affair and the place was buzzing. Their ceremony was lovely there were three readings in all with Fiona’s Mum Moira doing a wonderful reading which had everyone, including her in tears:

Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It FionaKeith_HiRes_298offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is
promised for a lifetime.

Within the circle of its love, marriage en
compasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent or child.

FionaKeith_HiRes_543Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.

When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words.

Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.

But real highpoint was when, after we signed the Wedding Schedule the choir that Fiona sings with all came forward (there seemed to be many of them) and surprised everyone by performing two wonderful songs. Goose bumps or what?

The highpoint of MY day was meeting Ewen, Fiona’s nephew because I married Morag and Nemes, his Mum and Dad in 2013 and they live in Australia so very few us had the chance to meet the wee one before today. Now, all go awwwww

FionaKeith_HiRes_392

Thank you so much Fiona for sending the following note to me:

“We chose to have a humanist ceremony as we wanted to celebrate our marriage in a personal way which reflected our relationship and personalities…and that’s exactly what we got!   Meeting you in advance really helped us prepare/build the ceremony so we had nothing to worry about on the big day.   Keith recalls all the guests being put at ease with your humour before I arrived and during the ceremony we felt like the only people in the room.  Saying our vows was such a special moment and one we will never forget; you really kept us relaxed and happy throughout.   Having my choir sing after we signed the register was the icing on the (wedding) cake to what was already the most magical part or our day!”

A Feel-Happy Collection of Some of my 2014 Weddings – Enjoy


2014 was a great year. It is so wonderful and inspiring to be able to bring so many smiles to so many people.
Best photo of the year – Carly and Iain at Balbirnie
With Lisa and Richard at Glenskirlie Castle

 

This time Barony Castle with Craig and Zoryana

 

 

With the lovely Anne and Alan at the Grange Manor

 

What a hoot
at the Rose Club with Angela and David

 

To the grandeur of Errol Park with Adelle and Rod

 

It’s Joe, stealing the show with Carly and Iain

 

An antipodean wedding at the
George Hotel with Jennifer and Troy

 

Outside, sunny Fife with Laurie and Paul

 

To a damp, cold, very secret day
with Wendy and John

 

It’s The Vu, lovely photo of Julie and Robert

 

I was a guest as well at Simon and Gina’s big day
The stunning Doune Castle with Judith and Donald

 

Awwwwww, The Vu again with Emma and Steven

 

The gobsmacking Dalhousie Castle
for Sarah and Craig’s big day

 

Nothing like having your
grand daughter at your wedding

 

Back to the Vu with Sandra and Jim

 

 

A very, very special day
at a secret location for Johanna and Andy

 

And a photo that captures it all – Marcus and Lyndsey at Dundas Castle

To The Roman Camp with Katie and Sam


A beautiful drive up to the Trossachs, still not too many caravans on the road nor tractors to raise my blood pressure so arrived relaxed and ready to go. The Roman Camp is a lovely venue, expensive I imagine, but lovely with the most amazing staff. I was greeted by Alex Graham as I arrived. He was the pianist for the ceremony and he and I had worked together before but neither of us could remember where. I found Sam and the Best Man amongst the guests in the bar and walked through the ring exchange with them. Katie and bridesmaids arrived on time.
One of the things I ask my wedding couples to do is some homework and I ask them to tell me their story and their hopes and dreams for their marriage. The thing is that I ask them to do it separately and sometimes, just sometimes the result can be hilarious. Let me illustrate from Katie and Sam’s ceremony:
” Sometimes you read someone’s homework and your heart sinks. Let me quote from the first paragraph of Katie’s homework, “We were set up on a blind date by Sam’s brother, didn’t go so well – he was a cheapskate who had no clue about wine and was very keen.”  It doesn’t get much better but let’s just find out, from Sam, what actually happened.

According to him that first date generally went very well. I hate to think what a date going badly would be like. Anyway, apparently there was a slight misunderstanding over the wine because Sam thought £14 for a bottle of house wine was expensive. Well, they had managed to get through two of them but still, so he asked Katie to go Dutch. The word cheapskate does actually spring to mind Sam.  As Sam says in his homework, with a hint of despair, “there was no second date”.”

Needless to say it all turned out right in the end. we had two readings and the second was read by Lisa, one of their friends. It is called Marriage Fulfils The Dreams And Love Two People Share by Glenda Wilm:

“Everyone searches for one special person
They can share their lives with.
The other half who makes them whole,
Like two notes blending together to make a beautiful song,
Or the colours that complement
Each other to form a rainbow.
It is everyone’s wish to have a lifetime of sunny days,
A rainbow after every storm;
A lifetime of loving and living and growing and giving,
Of sharing and caring; a lifetime of days together,
Learning from the bad times and cherishing the good times.
Marriage is everything your heart desires
And the strength, courage and determination to work for it.
In marriage you take care of each other’s heart
And hold on to what you share.
You hold it gently so it doesn’t smother
And firmly so it doesn’t slip away.
Hold it so that it can grow
And you can grow together
And live and laugh and love together always”


Not a dry eye in the room.

A Chilly Day at Dundas Castle with Marcus and Lindsey


It was quite a cold and damp March day as I threaded my way through the road works for the new Forth crossing, skirted South Queensferry and made my way through the front entrance to Dundas Castle. Perhaps they will restore the wee road outside Newton once the new bridge is open.




I discovered Marcus and his best man with his guests in the tower relaxing (ha, ha) before the big event. We managed to grab a few moments and walked through the ring exchange just to make sure we all knew what we were doing.
At Dundas Castle the ceremony is held in the chapel atop the tower up a long, winding and uneven circular stone staircase and I seemed to spend a lot of time and energy going up and down the stairs to get updated on Lindsey’s progress.
The guests were all asked to climb the stairs to the chapel, the music played and we waited patiently. Then, in the distance, I heard the swirl of the bagpipes that heralds the bride’s entrance.
At the beginning of the ceremony Lindsey and Marcus took a moment to light a candle for everyone who could not share in the celebrations; a very touching moment. The rest of the ceremony was very simple, just as they wanted it to be and focused very much on them and their hopes and dreams for the of life together.

 

Dundas is a wonderful venue, very traditional, a true taste of Scotland and remarkably close to Edinburgh. The staff are professional and whole event is always handled with care and precision. What more could you ask for?

On The Bonny Bonny Banks with Diana and Allan


It was, to put it politely, mildly organised chaos when I arrived at the Lodge on the Loch Hotel. “The Best Man has lost the rings” was the first thing I heard as I entered the bar looking for Allan. “You have got to be joking” was my response. I wondered why everyone was looking at me a bit peculiarly and then I realised that no one knew who I was. The chaos had now transformed itself into panic with people taking leather sofas to bits, moving tables and even peering ominously through the cracks in the decking above Loch Lomond. When someone announced that they would have to cancel the wedding I thought it time to introduce myself and was directed to Allan. The best man was in an awful state but somehow I got through to him and asked if he had the Wedding Schedule (the paper we must sign to make the marriage legal). “Oh aye” he said pulling it out his pocket. “The marriage will go ahead” I announced, “this is the only thing we need”. “But the rings…?” “We can borrow two from the guests if need be” I explained.
You see, being a wedding celebrant is not only about solemnising the marriage and often it seems like the only people who know what’s going on is me and the wedding coordinator from the venue – somebody has to take control. As soon as I solved the problem with the rings and looked like I was in charge then, of course, someone found the proper rings. They were in a sporran, as they always are!
Handfasting
It was a lovely setting with the loch stretching out behind us in the mist and the rain – well it was February. Diana was a beautiful bride and everything went perfectly. They even got some photos taken outside when the rain stopped for a moment or two.

 

Julie and Charles at Norton House



So, it was a lovely day in between Christmas and New Year and Julie and Charles chose the wonderful Norton House Hotel for their wedding. There are several rooms that can be used as venues for a wedding from the intimate to the seriously large in the ballroom. But Julie and Chaz chose the Garden Suite, a large self contained venue with a separate bar area. The room is beautiful and, in summer, if the weather is good, you can even have your ceremony outside in the walled courtyard. Not really the venue for a December wedding however but it wasn’t that cold, well not cold enough for you to spot Julie’s goosebumps.

One of the highlights of their ceremony was when they made their promises to one another:

Would you now join hands. Julie and Charles, will you seek to have a loving marriage, allowing it and each other to change and develop, supporting each other in happiness and sorrow, health and illness?
Julie and Charles: We will.
Will you seek to live together as equal yet different individuals, and to recognise and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses?
Julie and Charles: We will.
Will you seek always to learn from your shared experiences, and to build from them a full and caring friendship based on trust and on respect?
Julie and Charles: We will.

 

Julie was good enough to send me an email after the wedding:
Chaz and I just wanted to thank you so much for last Saturday. All our guests loved the ceremony with a lot of people passing on nice compliments! I know a few people getting married next year and I will definitely be recommending you.
Thanks Again for everything.
Happy New Year.

Julie and Chaz x

 

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.

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.”