Wedding Hotel of the Year (again) with Lindsey and Rob


 

 
100916d-291100916d-131Balbirnie House is in the village of Markinch just outside Glenrothes and has won the Scottish Wedding Hotel of the Year Award so many times it is insane. But not unjustified. A short drive over the Forth Bridge and onwards into the heart of Fife, you approach the house through the manicured golf course. The staff ensure that every wedding is perfect and that certainly was the case with Lindsey and Rob’s big day.

100916d-132The one thing I remember above all else from the ceremony was just how friendly everyone was and how up for a party they were – I bet it was some night. The ceremony was that perfect mix of laughter and lumps in throats none more so than when they exchanged their pledges:

On this day,

I give you my heart,

My promise,

That I will walk with you,

Hand in hand,

Wherever our journey leads us,

Living, learning, loving,

Together,

Forever

Isn’t that beautiful.

Lyndsey sent me an email afterward:

We are so glad that we were able to meet you and have you be a part of our wedding day. Although at first nervous when looking for a celebrant for our big day, your brief description of yourself seemed to click perfectly with us and we were not disappointed at all along the way! We were so glad that we were able to communicate via Skype and then to meet in person closer to the wedding when we were up in Scotland.You followed our brief of how we wanting our wedding to be perfectly. We asked for it to be a happy day and to avoid tears and that is exactly what we received. You made everyone laugh in all the right places and helped us to make the ceremony both meaningful to us and lighthearted enough to show our less serious sides.The feedback from our guests was nothing short of outstanding. You were a true highlight on our wedding day.

Thank you once again for your guidance and support in helping us to create our ideal ceremony.

Lindsey and Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ancestral Home with Anushka and Malcolm


Those of you that I have married will know that my middle name is Winton, a family name that had passed through the generations of my mother’s family. If you look up, as I have done, the origin of the name Winton you discover that there are two branches, one down in the west country and one in Scotland and the Scottish Wintons all appear to have originated from one small village in East Lothian, which is where Anushka and Malcolm chose to get married – in the actual Winton House.

And what a venue! The driveway as you approach it is enough to convince you that it is a very special place and as you enter it becomes even more apparent. Anushka and Malcolm’s ceremony fitted perfectly into these surroundings but before it even began their guests, who had joined them from all over the world, were submitted to, or do I mean, took part in, a treasure hunt around the extensive grounds. Suffice to say that from the atmosphere in the room it was apparent that they had all got along very well but I still don’t know who won. Oh, yes I do, because the two people who found the package with the pens came forward and as their surprise witnesses.

The ceremony was full of unique and unusual moments. This reading I had never heard before:

Habitation by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

and they wrote and read their own pledges to one another:

Malcolm    I promise to remember why we fell in love

Anushka    I promise to remember why we fell in love

Malcolm    I promise not to stop loving you just because you get old and shrivel to the size and texture of a prune

Anushka    I promise not to stop loving you just because you get old or wrinkly or because your nose gets too big

Malcolm     I promise to continue to organise treasure hunts

Anushka     I promise to tolerate your endless schemes and puns

Malcolm   I promise you will end up supporting Scotland and they will win the Six Nations and subsequently the football World Cup

Anushka  I promise to pretend that I believe Scotland will win anything ever

Malcolm     I promise to look after you and make you feel safe and secure as long as we are together

Anushka     I promise to take life as it comes but always face it together

Malcolm   I promise to be the best husband I can be

Anushka  I promise to be the best wife I can be

They were good enough to send me the following in their email with the photographs:

“We wanted to say a huge thank you to you for being the perfect celebrant on our special day. You were reassuringly relaxed, endlessly cheerful, and a charming host for our guests as they waited for the ceremony to begin. You went to great efforts to ensure our ceremony kept to who we are as a couple, and to the fun feel we wanted for our day, which definitely did not go unnoticed by our guests. Almost every one of our family and friends mentioned how beautiful and unique our ceremony was and how envious they are that we were able to have a humanist ceremony, and have you as our celebrant. Thank you for helping us create some of the happiest memories we could hope for.”

To The Hub on the High Street with Stephanie and Mark


 

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Photos by Jonathon Fowler

Conducting a wedding at The Hub, the cafe at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival on the High Street just below the castle, is always a hoot. As we all wait patiently for the bride’s arrival, standing outside at the entrance, we are mobbed by tourists snapping away and standing beside the piper having their photographs taken. What a laugh. Steph was running a few moments late so the tourists had a field day and the crowd was so large that poor Steph couldn’t get out of the car.

 

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Their’s was a lovely ceremony, so well constructed and put together it was a joy to deliver. They had family join them from Australia and so many friends from all around the country. We began by lighting a candle in memory of those who couldn’t join us and the highlight was when Steph and Mark read their promises:

Mark:

Stephanie, asking you to marry me was the one of the easiest decisions I’ve made. I want to spend the rest of my life showing you why saying yes was the right answer. No matter what path life puts us on, we will take it together. I promise to love you and to respect you, to make you laugh and keep you safe. I promise to be the person you need, even if that’s not always who you want me to be. And finally I will try to be the best husband I can – who knows, I might even learn to put a washing on!

And Stephanie:

Mark, from 16 year old school kids to standing here today about to become your wife

I am so happy and proud of all that we have achieved

Today, tomorrow and forever

I promise to share in all of life’s decisions as your wife and best friend

I promise to respect you, care for you and keep you organised!

I promise to support you in the tough times and laugh with you in the happy times

But most of all I promise to love you for all the days of my life

Yep, not a dry eye in the house!

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Steph sent me a thank you:

Thank you so much for the important role you played in our special day. We couldn’t have been happier with the ceremony and it is something we will cherish forever. You made the ceremony so personal to us and also gave us all a few laughs during it! You were so helpful in the planning process and gave us lots of ideas to use in the ceremony whilst also encouraging us to do what we wanted. Many guests have commented on how much they enjoyed the humanist ceremony and most importantly we loved it!

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’

A Finnish/Irish Occasion at Errol Park


Emma and Chris’s big day was quite an occasion held deep in the woods on the Errol estate outside Dundee. This was to be Emma’s perfect wedding and indeed everything was quite perfect. Including the weather which, in Scotland in September was almost unbelievable. The couple’s guests from all over the world with Emma’s family joining us from Finland and Chris’s from Ireland plus many of their great friends whom they had met on their journeys. The ceremony included elements from both their cultures including a band warming from Ireland and reading in Finnish and even a hand fasting from their adopted Scottish home.

Emma and Chris decided to write their own promises to one another and they eventually sent them through about a week before the wedding so that I could print them out for them to read to one another. However, the two of them had been up most the previous night and had separately re-written their promises so they bore no relation to anything I had in my script – not a dry eye in the glade and a somewhat confused celebrant but so what?

Emma chose an extract from April Rise by Laurie Lee to end the ceremony with:
If ever I heard blessing it is there

Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are

Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ear their crests of throbbing air.
Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.
Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.”

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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