To The Trossachs with Alister and Michelle


When they first approached me and explained they wanted an outdoor wedding in November frankly I thought they were insane but Michelle and Alister were insistent, “It will be fine!” became the motto of the day. The venue was a new one for me as well – Loch Venachar Lochside, and a new venue always intrigues me so I shrugged my shoulders and said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

As it transpired it was much better than “fine”. They were so lucky, the day dawned cloudless but cold. The drive down along Loch Tay, through Killin and down to the Trossachs was just sensational and to find the venue just turn right at the real ale shop, which I visited on the way back of course.

It was second time around for them and for their extra special day they were joined by Michelle’s daughters, our bridesmaids Kirsten and Louissa and by Alister’s sons, Struan and Ruaridh our best men. Michelle had lived for many years in Athens so they were joined by a very international group of guests from Greece, Greece via New York and by one well-travelled family who joined us from Greece via Stenhousemuir. The venue was not very large and all the guests seemed to know one another so for me it a bit like being a guest at a private party but it was a great atmosphere.

Michelle did warn me that she would arrive around 1-ish and that she was not the most punctual of people. I think it was 1.45 when she arrived, much to the relief of all involved including me.

It was very much their day and very much their ceremony. It was so personal and the two of them were such hopeless romantics it was wonderful. I am sure they won’t mind me sharing this piece from their homework, it is something every single one of us should recall every day:

“But now they have found each other and that finding is too nice for them to let go. They have been alone for so long that the simplest acts of kindness have profound meaning – making each other a cup of coffee; hanging up the washing; going to the shop in the rain when they’ve run out of milk; hugs after a hard day at the office. These moments are the very essence of love and they promise that they will never take them for granted again.”

Alister wrote to me afterwards:

“Our wedding day was wonderful and when we think of it – the sunshine, the laughter, the love and the fun – Brian is right at the heart of our memories. He’s warm and humourous and engaging and our guests loved him. We loved him too and he made everything about the ceremony so special for us. He spent time with us in advance to learn our story and used it to shape the ceremony and make it unique and personal to us; he created a special atmosphere right from the start, making everyone laugh and share our happiness; and his words and approach to the celebration captured the spirit of our love for each other perfectly. Marriage is a happy occasion and Brian picks up that happiness and shapes it into something extraordinary that everyone is a part of. Our day was perfect.”

Olivia and Ryan – The Wedding Of The Year


From my new base in Highland Perthshire I can tell already that I am going to be working with some amazing people at some amazing venues. Big call out to Emma @timelesswhite for organising this amazing extravaganza.

The bride and groom’s photo shoot was before the ceremony

Olivia and Ryan both came from the USA and they lived in Chicago so all of the preparation was done via Skype and email. As I arrived at the amazing Inverlochy Castle I could see them in one of the fields with the Craig and Eva getting their photos done. Photos before the ceremony? All will become clear.

To say that Ryan loves Scotland would be an understatement, he owns three kilts, which is two more than me, though obviously he only wears one at a time. At Olivia’s insistence, sorry suggestion, the wedding ceremony was to be held outside at sunset in November – in Scotland! Was she mad?

No. she was just incredibly lucky.

The ceremony was beautiful if a bit chilly around the knees. We shared a Quiche including the grooms superb choice of whisky but the best bit in the whole ceremony was a gag played on Ryan by Olivia. It is so American that I don’t really understand it but all the guests fell out of their seats laughing, so it went well. Anyway, Olivia had Ryan’s ring made especially with gem stones inside the band and she chose the gemstones to symbolise key aspects of Ryan’s life and their marriage. I introduced it innocently as follows: “On the inside it has four sets of gemstones: The first is a sapphire surrounded by two peridots (her birthstone surrounded by his birthstone) to symbolize his love surrounding her, then a peridot surrounded by two sapphires to symbolize her love surrounding him , then a diamond surrounded by two sapphires to symbolize Scotland and this amazing wedding day and finally, a burnt orange stone set beside a maroon ruby to symbolize the combining of your alma matters into one household as you begin your marriage ” The joke was that burnt orange is the colour of Olivia’s school her alma matar, a rival to Ryan’s and he HATES and I mean HATES it and all that it symbolises. And that’s true, as I read this out I thought he was going to have a stroke! I got a standing ovation when I said “only joking” – it’s all in the timing.

Emma and I had decided that not would be far too cold to sign the paperwork outside so we retired to the dining room to sign the schedule.

An amazing day with an amazing couple and their families, just joyful.

Katie and Craig at Comrie Croft


You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for ages. That’s because in May I moved right to the other end of the country, to Aberfeldy. I thought this would be an appropriate post to begin my new life as this is going to be one of my local venues from now on – the glorious Comrie Croft.

©Fraser Stewart

Family and friends had joined them from all over the world because the two of them had travelled when they first met and had spent time in Asia and Australia, proving their love for one another touring the latter in a camper van. As I said during the ceremony “if that isn’t true love I don’t know what is”.

©Fraser Stewart

The sun shone and we had a right laugh as you can see. I suspect that the party afterwards would have been a complete riot. We had a Hand Fasting and we shared a Quaich but I must admit that the highlight was a reading that I hadn’t heard before (as a reading) and Holly, who read it, completely nailed Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End Of Love. I share only two verses here – go look it up:

Dance me to the wedding now,
dance me on and on Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

We cheered and clapped the happy couple.

©Fraser Stewart

Married by the guy down the pub – Zsofia and Phill


In my job, you get asked to all sorts of different weddings. Phill and Zsofi approached me in the pub we frequent because they were looking for something entirely unique, informal and without all the, eh, shall we call in razzmatazz of a “typical” wedding. As they said to me, they just fancied going off and being married by the guy in the pub! Theirs was a small, intimate affair at lunchtime in the garden of a restaurant in Linlithgow with a few of their close family and friends. I should share with you all that it was not a warm and balmy as the photos make it appear and Zsofia, in her gorgeous dress, was the bravest woman in the world.

Zsofia is from Hungary and we were joined for the day by some of her family and really close friends. Phill is from Scotland and he wanted a touch of Scotland in the ceremony so we performed a Hand Fasting. My Hungarian is non-existant  but I did manage the odd phrase in the story of their romance because Zsofia shared the most romantic of Phill’s proposal: “The ring was already on my finger for a long time, I know it is strange to say, but I felt it so real. I had a secret wish and the answer for that was Phill… When he asked me “Hozzám jössz?” (Will you marry me?), there was only one possible answer: Igen! (Yes!)”

LastWedding of 2015 – Jodie and Charlie at the Invercarse Hotel


W281215 Small 152 1
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

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!”