The Best Humanist Celebrant in Scotland

The best Humanist Celebrant in Scotland is…..

…a question that’s pure SEO titillation and I could just answer it by directing you to my child who would stare hollow-eyed, into your soul, slowly extend an abnormally long digit in my direction and say, ‘Not her’. 

Laughing couple stand either side of Claire. She is also laughung and wrapping their hands in material.
James Frost Photography

Maybe we should start with a deep dive on the word ‘celebrant’…

Anyone who conducts a ceremony of any type can be called a celebrant whether they be Humanist, religious, interfaith or a red-faced man who reckoned he’d be good at it because he once made a room filled with other red-faced men laugh at a Bowling Club Burns Night and it made his pee pee feel happy.

A Humanist celebrant is someone who considers themselves a Humanist and conducts ceremonies that reflect those Humanist values. Hello. That’s me and, as a fully trained celebrant with the charity, Humanist Society Scotland, I am legally authorised to conduct Humanist weddings. 

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. Some celebrants call themselves Humanists but aren’t. They don’t identify as a Humanist, they just refer to themselves as that because (in Scotland at least) the term ‘Humanist’ has come to represent all personal, non-faith ceremonies. Also, some celebrants will be able to legally marry you, some won’t. Here’s a clue- if a celebrant is legally authorised, they nearly always have those exact words in their bio or website. They scream about it because it’s a really big deal. You should also be able to look at the organisation or society they are affiliated with and be instantly reassured everything is legit.

If you are looking at a celebrant and you can’t immediately see any mention of authorisation, they probably aren’t. If there’s a mention of a ‘brief legal ceremony’ or ‘a quick visit to the Registrar earlier in the day’, they probably aren’t. If you are in any doubt, ask before you book them.

Just married couple and Claire taking a selfie. Everyone is very happy including a small dog
Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Back to my original question- who is the best? Since Humanist weddings were first granted legal authorisation back in 2005, there has been a massive increase in celebrants across the board and I’m going to put this out there:

Not all are created equal.

It’s not a bad thing. If we were all the same, it would be a very boring world. There are celebrants who love to make magic happen with their words and there are those who rely on being a bit of a character (a bit of a prick? You decide). Some will prioritise your story, others look to symbolic gestures to fill the gaps. My least favourite is the lazy celebrant, the one who churns out the same trope-filled ceremony every time, a basic relationship CV peppered with cheap jokes and cringe. Yawn yawn YAWN. 

wedding couple look at claire, slightly confused. Claire is facing them, holding a folder.
Claire Juliet Paton Photography

You deserve better. I have amazing colleagues with incredible life experiences, intelligent people who are passionate about the arts and philanthropy, all good things they can draw on to create extraordinary ceremonies. I work alongside people who are wonderfully straightforward, who use familiar language and comfortable humour, the antithesis of the outdated stuffed shirts of the olden days. I love anyone who is original, authentic and genuinely engaged in their celebrant practice….

…but that’s my favourite. I’m not the one getting married. If you’re on the hunt for the best celebrant to suit you, here are my top tips:

  • Figure out what you want- between you, decide what you are looking for. Be honest. Your ceremony has to be meaningful and that can only happen if you are both engaged with the process.
  • Firsthand experience– have you been to a wedding and loved the ceremony? There’s no better way to decide on a celebrant than seeing them in action.
  • Reviews– a good resource but look at the language. ‘Excellent organisation and prompt’ are great admin skills but are they the best you can hope for? Also, you might miss out on a brilliant newbie if you go solely on reviews.
  • Web presence- Google ‘em. Where else do they pop up? 
  • Socials- You should get a very good idea of a celebrant’s ability with words by reading their social posts. If the posts are all the same mibbes their weddings are all the same too. Does their style suit you or does it put you off? It’s deliberate on their part because it’s the best way to streamline enquiries, sift out the non-matches and funnel their perfect couples in their direction so don’t feel weird about it. Jump on board or walk away.
  • Other suppliers- Ask a trusted supplier who they rate and why.
  • Meet them- narrow down that list as much as you can and arrange a chat. If you meet the first candidate and you still want to meet more, it’s unlikely you’re going to book the first one.

Ultimately, the best celebrant in Scotland is the one that brings your ceremony to life and aren’t you lucky that there’s such a wide and varied community of bright and brilliant people to choose from? Make sure you share that love once you’re married- tell anyone and everyone how brilliant they were and write the sort of review that would make you want to book them ten times over. Maybe don’t call them organised and prompt though.

Who the hell am I?

I haven’t written about myself for a hot minute so here are some interesting thi… here are some things about me:

  • I like to use the pronouns she/her. What about you?
  • I’m tall. In these days of Zoom chats and Skype meetings, it can come as a mighty big surprise when I lurch up to your wedding IRL, very much the noisy BFG to your kilted Oompa Loompas. I’m 1/4000th the length of the Las Vegas strip. Or thirty golf tees high. Either works as a scale, right?
dinosaur bird
A hugely tall and ancient bird
  • If you have an accent, I will mimic it at some point in our relationship. Sorry about that, it’s a compulsion.
  • I love a hot water bottle. We live in an old cottage* and it’s never ever warm. I spend most of the year inside my house complaining about being too cold and the rest of it outside my house complaining about being too hot. Get it up ya, Goldilocks.

Here I am, too hot and delirious in Florida. Man, that place is roasting. And very full of other people. 

Claire in a pirate hat making a face. She is very hot.
Hot. Sweaty. Delirious.
  • I’m vegetarian except for the very occasional fish supper and fish finger sandwich. Suppose that makes me not a vegetarian then.

Huh. 

About three years ago, I gave up being a vegetarian for a year because I was SO BORED. I ate every steak pie in Scotland and then had a total refusal at a West Brewery Sausage Platter. Couldn’t do it. It was texturally very challenging so back to pretending tofu is imaginary and mainly eating eggs, cheese and large chocolate buttons.

  • You have no idea how much I want a dog. A Great Danoodle is the breed of choice but any pooch that looks a little like Sprocket from Fraggle Rock is very welcome. Or a smiley Staffy, all swagger and couch-hogging laziness. Thing is, I married a man who is allergic to dogs so I’ve been saving up for a bald cat that hates the cold and would probably benefit from a wee hot water bottle of its own (see above). Or a divorce from the husband.
Black and white phot of a bearded man and his dog. Man is human, dog is a puppet.
Captain & Sprocket
  • Big fan of a niche museum and an interesting fact. Went to the Postal Museum on holiday. Absolutely loved it. There were pneumatic tubes and a tiny underground train. Not going to lie, it was a bit claustrophobic and I felt a bit like one of those tubes of croissant dough when they opened the door to let us out but I loved it.
  • I’m exceptionally good at knowing what time it is without looking at a clock. I’m also rarely early or late. This is a skill gleaned from being a Funeral Director for many years. (Other FD skills: guessing your height, sniffing out decomposing things and dealing with leaking orifices)
  • I revel in pareidolia.

    Coffee foam face
    Herrrroooooo
  • I truly believe if I met Caitlin Moran, she and I would be best pals and if we ever both hung out with Desiree Burch, the patriarchy jacket would be on a very shoogly peg. 

Think that’s enough of an insight into my peculiar little brain for now, don’t you?

*not as quaint as it sounds. Cottage = old and small. Like the wee Krankie.

Wee weddings are GO!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

To some couples, not having hundreds of guests at their wedding is unthinkable. No shade, lovely people, but off you pop. This post is not for you. I’ll see you in 2056 or whenever we can all gather in overly hot function suites and breathe in other people’s sweatiness again.

I’m talking to the elopers, the ‘f*ck it, let’s just get married’ people, the ones who never really wanted a big wedding in the first place but were carried along on a wave of familial enthusiasm/bullying. I’m talking to the introverted, the people on a deadline, the traditionalists who want to get married before they have babies. The long termers, the second-weddingers, the romantics who want to run away and the ones who just thought they would be married by now and can’t quite get their heads round the fact that they’re not.

Those last ones, the ones who should be married by now. You’re the ones who are really pissed off that Covid ruined your plans. You’ve rebooked your wedding but it seems so far away, I mean, you’ll have been planning the damn thing for nearly FOUR YEARS by the time you get married. It’s rubbish, it’s not fair and the more you think about it, the less you want to put your life on hold for the sake of paying for a hundred dinners in two years time. 

Get married now. Wee weddings, micro weddings, you might even call them mini-monies but I wouldn’t. Whatever you want to call them, little weddings are the way forward. 

Just ask Rowan and Jason. They had a big wedding planned in May and it didn’t happen. It was rescheduled for a date later in the year and then things didn’t get any better and it was devastating.

So they took back control. They asked themselves why they were getting married and they both agreed it wasn’t for the party or the fancy hotel. They were getting married because they love each other and wanted to make a lifelong commitment to one another.

This realisation is what gave us the courage to scale our big day back and to have a ‘wee wedding’ with the focus being on our marriage and not all the bells and whistles. Dont get me wrong we still had a few bells but nothing in comparison to the ginormous day we had previously planned.

They planned a wee wedding that was hugely different to their original wedding. They changed venue to somewhere more meaningful and intimate, Glengoyne Distillery aka Jason’s work. 150 guests became 17.  They moved to a slightly later start time to prevent too much hanging around post-ceremony before they headed to their reception at The Bothy, the perfect space for their teeny guest list, even if the rules changed that weekend which meant it had to close at 10pm. 

On the day, everyone was super-chill. Jason ordered sushi for his groomsmen and Rowan didnae.

Parris Photography

Our day went at our pace, no early morning starts, no running about like crazy people, just a chilled day unlike most wedding days. What we loved so much about having such a small day was being able to actually spend some quality time with our nearest and dearest family and friends. It felt so much more special than the ‘wedding factory’ wedding we had originally planned. We broke the wedding mould and it made our day so much more enjoyable.

 

It was so exciting but it became apparent Covid was still very much a part of our day. From staff in masks and our guests sitting socially distant it hit home… we were getting married in the middle of a pandemic. But it didn’t take the shine off of our special day. Our ceremony was so special not only because it was finally happening after so much anticipation but because we were surrounded by loved ones and all of our guests who couldn’t be with us in person were able to join us via a live stream.

Parris Photograpy

 

Getting married was the best day of our lives. It marked the end of one chapter of our lives and the start of a very special new one. We couldn’t have had the day we had without the support of everyone who had been involved in our wee big day. From family and friends to suppliers, each person played such a special role in making our day happen.

 

Marriage is such a special thing and hard times like these shouldn’t rain on your wedding parade. I’m a big believer in what’s for you won’t go by you and I feel that if it wasn’t for Covid we wouldn’t have had the same day. We will never forget our wedding day. It was the most incredibly happy day of our lives so far and we will forever cherish the memories.

It was a beautiful day. The Distillery was glorious and everyone bent over backwards to make the day run smoothly and as normally as possible. Jason and Rowan’s ceremony was relaxed and funny and as if that wasn’t good enough, they got married. Imagine how that felt after months of uncertainty! They got married and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and then Rowan got papped on Byres Road as she ran for a taxi and next thing, Nicola Sturgeon’s tweeting about her and the BBC want to talk to her. Honestly, you cannae take her anywhere.

Parris Photography

If you fancy a wee wedding, let me know. You need to submit marriage notice paperwork to the Registrar closest to your venue 29 clear days in advance so you can’t get married next week but you could be married before the end of the year. You could even, if you were feeling wild, phone me from outside the Registrar and tell me you’ve put my name on your paperwork and you’re just checking that’s okay? Turns out it was and they’re getting married next month but shhhhh. It’s a secret…

Parris Photography
Claire | Claire the Humanist

Thanks to Rowan and Jason for their help with this post. They were very nice about their ceremony (best humanist around, laughed til our bellies ached, nothing but praise etc) but I was feeling modest so didn’t include that bit. Oh wait… 

Parris Photography

 

Covid 19 update

The Scottish Government website is the best resource for up to date guidance. There may be additional hospitality and general public health rules that also need to be taken into consideration, along with the Tier level of the Registration District for your ceremony.

If you want to get married in Scotland any time soon, here’s the key points:

Where: anywhere except inside a private dwelling (this includes airbnb, self-catering etc. Ask your venue if you are unsure).

Numbers: 20. That number includes guests, couple, suppliers etc but not people employed by your venue or me.

Face Coverings: During an indoor ceremony, as long as we can all socially distance, everyone must wear a face covering except the couple getting married and the person conducting the ceremony. Face coverings are not required outside.

Content: Wedding ceremonies are still shorter that normal, around twenty minutes, and some of the symbolic gestures are not permitted, others have to be adapted. I can talk you through the changes.

Travel: travel to weddings is permitted from any Tier level.

Receptions: 20 people in a Covid secure venue unless we’re in Tier 4 in which case Receptions aren’t allowed. Receptions not permitted in private dwellings. Normal hospitality rules apply re face coverings, closure times and music. Your venue will keep you right as they are responsible for ensuring guidance is followed and Track and Trace is in place.

Any questions, send me an email.

 

Celebrate your un-wedding date

How are you doing, pals? Are you alright? Are you struggling with lockdown or are you revelling in the fact that staying at home and not having to see Other People is actually your Best Life? We’ve spent a lot of time playing cards (I recommend Spite and Malice if you want a game that passes a bit of time), found a new love for jigsaws (although I will kill the person who put one into the charity shop with two pieces missing) and I learnt how to solve a Rubiks cube. What an overachieving day that was.

Oh aye, and my daughter discovered TikTok. 

I’ve also been attempting to move an entire wedding season into a new month I’ve created in 2021, Clairpril. Or Diganuary if you prefer. It’s been a testing few weeks for all my wedding supplier colleagues and if you’re a couple who have had to move your wedding date, well done if you kept the heid. It was a bit stressy, wasn’t it?

If you have changed wedding dates, what are you doing to mark your OG date? Are you going to celebrate it somehow? You definitely should. You’ve got the day off anyway. Take some time to celebrate what was going to be a brilliant day, drink some booze, call your pals, one of you should absolutely dance around your kitchen in a wedding dress (bonus points if neither of you were intending on wearing one) and then, when you wake up the next day, you might have a raging hangover but you also have a wedding to look forward to, not one to miss.

Scottish Wedding featured the loveliest article about a couple who got ’emotionally married’ on what should’ve been their wedding date. It’s an absolute treat of a read and might inspire you to think a little differently about your own un-wedding day.

You might want to create a tradition of your own. You could drink from your quaich with the wrong date engraved on the bottom, dance your first dance together to the song you really wanted, not the one you felt you should have, create your own wedding feast (as long as it doesn’t involve flour) or have an all-in-one hen/stag Zoom party with the people you’d most want to spend your day with if you were allowed out the house.

I immediately thought about a handfast. Handfasting is a traditional ceremony that signified an intent to marry. Imagine it’s five hundred years ago, there were all manner of plagues ravaging the land and people who could conduct legal weddings were few and far between. This was very inconvenient if you were young and in love and impatient so you could be bound together by family, using tartan or cloth, a symbol to everyone that you had made a commitment to be together, to live as family and be legally married within the year. Life was much simpler in Ye Olde Times.

Usually, you need a third person to handfast you. That might prove a little tricky so I’ve written a Useful Guide to DIY Handfasts. Exciting, huh?

I also recorded a video of Flora and Andy attempting to demonstrate it. Honestly, if that pair of clowns can do it, anyone can.

 

I’m sure you’ll come up with some really lovely ways to celebrate your un-wedding day. These are extraordinary times and you need light in your lives. Celebrate your relationship so far, embrace the love of your socially distant family and take time to make the most of a day off together in the madness. Whatever you do, have fun and if you choose to celebrate your wedding day, email pics of your happiness (I said happiness) to hello@clairethehumanist.com and cheer me right up!

Let’s talk about Humanist Weddings….

Most folk getting married have never been married before and, if they don’t fancy a religious wedding, it’s confusing- what exactly is the difference between a Registrar, Humanist Celebrant, Marriage Officer, Interfaith Celebrant, Officiant, Spiritualist etc?

Glad you asked. Let me try to explain.

In Scotland, you can only be married by someone who is authorised under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014  and/or by the Registrar General of Scotland. This basically means that your pal who is really good at speaking loudly in front of people can’t do it, not unless they are affiliated to a religious or belief body and supported by office bearers of that body to conduct a marriage ceremony on its behalf. Hope that clears that one up.

One option is a civil ceremony. That’s one that’s conducted by a Council Registrar. They’ve changed a wee bit in recent years.  I was always under the impression that they were completely non-religious ceremonies, reflecting the official, council, non-church-based nature of a civil ceremony,  Turns out hymns and religious readings can be included as long as they aren’t delivered by the registrar.  Who knew?

A civil ceremony can take place at the Council Marriage Suite or anywhere the Registrar is happy to travel to within their registration district and on a day and at a time they are paid to work. Some registrars will only conduct weddings at very specific times of the day and their ceremonies may be a prescribed length of time; they are council employees and their job is to provide a council function- to register births, deaths and marriages. I have met some really very lovely Registrars who are doing their best to make ceremonies less ‘council’ but, regardless of how lovely they are, they are very restricted in the time they have to create a ceremony and their flexibility is limited.

You might consider an Interfaith celebrant and they are usually happy to include religious content or not, they can have hymns and prayers or not. Let’s call them Religion Lite. Spiritualists rip ma knitting and I don’t know what a Marriage Officer is but they sound stern.

Humanist Celebrants are easy. I don’t mean easy easy, although some probably are. I mean, I know what I am talking about with Humanists, in particular, the ones who are my amazing Humanist Society Scotland colleagues.

First things first.

There are a number of Humanist organisations in Scotland. I am a member of Humanist Society Scotland (HSS from now on to save my carpal tunnel) and we are the only Humanist organisation allowed to authorise our own celebrants. This is a big deal. HUGE. HSS HQ recruits, trains, mentors and assesses the very best funeral, naming and wedding celebrants and the Scottish Government has recognised that we can be trusted to authorise them too. Wee proud face for our historic place in Scots’ Law.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

What does this mean to you? Well, as long as the HSS will have me, I will be authorised to conduct your wedding. Most organisations are restricted to either a fixed term of a few years or they can be authorised on a wedding-by-wedding basis but, when you book me, I am authorised to legally marry you whenever your wedding is, regardless of how far in the future it may be.

(Just while we are on the subject, always, always check that your celebrant, whichever organisation they hail from, can legally marry you. Ask them outright. I’ve spoken to (and subsequently married) too many couples who have been misled by celebrants who don’t have authorisation and who fudge their way through the awkward questions until it’s too late and you find yourself having to have two ceremonies or looking for someone like me, at untenably short notice).

HSS has over 120 celebrants based all across Scotland and our workloads and expenses vary but we’re all superconscious that planning and budgeting for a wedding is difficult, especially when inflation sucks, so we’ve not increased our basic rate since 2017 and it will remain the same until at least 2020.

We do ask you to join the HSS and your two year membership is a bargain at £85 per couple. We ask you to join for two main reasons, the first being, when you join, you are then covered by our HSS promise. It’s a good thing. Makes me happy.

The second reason is that the HSS isn’t a wedding business or company, it’s a charity and its main function is to provide a secular voice in Scotland. Take away weddings and the HSS would still exist and would still be campaigning.

It’s so important to me that Humanist Society Scotland isn’t just a provider of weddings. I love that I am part of a much bigger thing; a worldwide Humanist family and a Scottish charity that does stuff. It takes your membership fee (and the money I give back from every ceremony I do) and uses it to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY in the face of some equally shouty people who would otherwise get their own way. And yes, shouting is rude but, believe me, some of these guys dinnae listen. Not one bit.

Did you know HSS were involved in the discussions and law-changing that ensured Equal Marriage in Scotland? I know! We monitor religious involvement in education and raise loud objections when lines have been crossed. We are part of a working group looking at Funeral Poverty, working with Funeral providers, Charities and Bereavement groups to address problems and advise government.

We campaign for Women’s Rights; I gave a speech on a wall outside the Scottish Parliament about threats to abortion law from religious nutters men campaigners. I did the same thing on the steps of Glasgow Concert Hall. I get about.

We work with the homeless in Glasgow (and now Edinburgh and Stirling too) through our Streetcare initiative. It’s proper hands-on volunteering and it’s local and visible and not just waving a Great Big Cheque at a camera and you can learn more about it on the HSS website. Several of my wedding couples have gone on to volunteer on our TRun and TWalk. Maybe you would like to too?

Further afield, we support and mentor colleagues in Malawi and beyond. The first humanist wedding took place in Kenya recently, the celebrant expertly overseen by our own Gary Smith in Monifieth. What a fabulous thing to be part of!

So, when you book your wedding with me or one of my Humanist Society Scotland colleagues, you are contributing to change, to making a difference and making other human lives better. That’s Humanism for ya. Gives you all the feels AND you get a legal wedding full of personality and warmth.

You get a flexible approach to timing and location (I am the actual Martini* wedding woman) and you have input and control over the content of your ceremony. We want you to create something wonderful and personal and very ‘you’.

Me? I don’t want to fill in blanks with your names and read the same thing every time; I want to be laughing and/or weeping in Costa because you’ve written the most beautiful words and I want to hear all the chat about your adorable furbabies and havoc-wreaking human babies and I want to encourage you to do what you want when it comes to your wedding because you are awesome humans and life’s too short for traditions that aren’t for you. Bin them. Do something better.

What was that? You want to arrive in a unicorn carriage suspended by glitterbees, preceded by eight flowergrannies on rollerskates? Do it. I’ll bring my own skates.

Wait. What? You want to climb a modest hill with an amazing view and get married at sunrise? Sounds like an absolute treat.

Now, you’ve read enough. You must be knackered. Take a break and go do something good and worthy and send me cake.

Jo Donaldson Photography

*ask your grandparents.

Wedding – Robyn & Adam

You know me by now.  You get that I love weddings, don’t you?  I love great big crazy noise-filled ones, wee teeny downing-shots-in-rock-bars ones, ones that go a bit off piste, ones that are your fairytale dream, I love ’em all.  But I have a favourite.

Elopements.

Man, it melts my heart when people take their wedding and make it their greatest adventure.  Robyn and Adam did it and they took the people they love with them too.

Glencoe is a one of the most beautiful places on the planet and, if you drive through it, and come out the other side, you find yourself in Ballachulish (pron: Ball-a-hoo-lish.  You’re welcome).  Robyn, Adam, their kids, a smattering of family and friends, their extraordinary photographer, Carole-Ann of Harper Scott Photography and me, we all rocked up to a wee spit of land on the edge of the village, just over a year ago, and we had a wedding….

….but not before we had climbed a gate, lugged giant wooden poles through the mud and helped a man who was previously lost in the wilderness (and possibly raised by wolves) build a teepee.  Two hours later than planned, under a well-constructed, sturdy wooden structure and surrounded by big country, the marrying began.

The big kids promised to look after Mum and Adam just like they look after them and the same big kids were in charge of the rings. I’d love to say they were in safe hands but that would be a fib.  The main thing is those rings went on the right fingers and that’s all that matters.   There was a handfasting with silver cord.  Most times, the material you use for a handfast has sentimental value or it’s something precious and relevant to the day.  And sometimes the material is hastily bought from a curtain makers in Fort William because you’ve left your actual material in the hoose.

You know what though?  This is Adam and Robyn.  Their life is a constant juggle of kids and work, craziness and laughter and they took that with them to the peaceful waters of Loch Leven, in the shadows of Beinn Sgulaird (pron: you’re on your own with that one).  It was their wedding, their way and it was absolutely brilliant.

So are Carole-Ann’s photos.  I’ve only included a few here but head to her page for more.  Rock n Roll Bride magazine featured this wedding later last year and no wonder.  Glorious!  Happy belated anniversary, lovely people x

Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography
Harper Scott Photography

As as wee note, when we met in the Clachaig Inn, in the heart of Glencoe, there’s a sign on the front desk.

Let’s never tell them Robyn’s maiden name…….

Vows

My husband’s heart Claire | Claire the Humanist
One of the best thing about Humanist weddings is that they are so personal.

Yada yada yada.

You know that already though, right? You know you can include readings and poetry, music and symbolic gestures. You guys are on it. You know what you like and you know what you don’t (dove release, talking about you).

So why are vows so difficult? Why do I get more panicky emails about vows than any other part of your ceremony?

Silver photography
Because vows are the most flexible part of your ceremony. You can say whatever you like, in whatever form you like and they aren’t even legally binding. I know! There are words we include in your ceremony that are very definitely legally binding but if you promise to always put the bins out or make a cup of tea every morning, no one is going to sue you if you don’t. Your conscience though, that’s another story. The reproachful looks, the ‘but you promised….’

This I’ll defend.

This is the motto of my clan and my promise to you.

It is these words I will always remember

It is you I will forever cherish.

It is this I will defend.

The best vows I’ve heard are genuine, honest and kind. They are full of love and warmth and gentle humour. They aren’t overly Shakespearey or flowery and, if all else fails, tell ’em you love them and they’re your best person, the Pumpkin to your Honey Bunny, your lobster…

I hope to support and encourage you as much as you do for me

Because you make me a better person and now I see,

That facial hair isn’t everything and we are meant to be.

Winner.

Or don’t. Because it’s your wedding and if you don’t want to write your own vows, don’t. Choose from the examples I send you or get married the Ronseal way; accept each other in marriage, by name, in front of your witnesses and me and that’s you. Job done.

Best seven words you’ll ever say.

Can’t sleep

Needs to be a good reason for me not to be sleeping. It takes a lot stop me boarding the train to Bedfordshire or whatever people who like cricket would say. Tonight’s reason is September. It’s giving me The Fear.

Can you not sleep either? Don’t let my September trouble you. It won’t keep me awake much longer and anyway, September will be here whether I’m ready or not* and it will happen and it will be feckin’ marvellous.

Just like your wedding. And if your wedding is in September, even better.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of me, taken a hundred years ago when I was about four. If you look closely, there are biscuit crumbs on my jumper, a statement that has been true every day of my life since.

G’night!

*Always ready. Born ready. Biscuits help.

 

Claire | Claire the Humanist

VIP (Very Important Paperwork)

Here’s a thing.  I thought it might be useful if you knew what happened on your wedding day, prior to your ceremony starting and guess what?  There’s no one way.  You’re all very different.  You are all individuals <insert Life of Brian quote here>.

One thing that never changes- your Marriage Schedule.  You’ve submitted your M10 forms and supporting paperwork, one (or both) of you has collected the Schedule from the Registrar local to your venue a couple of days before your wedding and it’s barely been out of your sweaty hands since.

When I arrive at your wedding, I have a good scout* around for someone clutching a very official-looking envelope and I take it from them and I check it and I tuck it away in my folder and I smile and say, ‘There SHALL be a wedding today!’ and choirs sing and bells ring in glorious chorus and folk drop to their knees in elation.  Or something like that.

or

When I arrive at your wedding, I have a good scout* around for someone clutching a very official-looking envelope and, instead, I see queasy, grey-faced blank stares.  No marriage schedule.  It’s lost, forgotten, a dog ate it, it spontaneously combusted, it Evanesco’d, it’s an ex-schedule (what’s with the Python references tonight?).

Whatever.  Find it.  If you don’t find it, yo wedding is a bust.  It’s a very expensive party for some very grumpy people and the only saving grace is that your Mother-in-law, the one giving you the hardest, longest I’m-going-to-kill-you stare, isn’t actually your Mother-in-law BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MARRIED.

So, for the love of All Things Dull and Ugly, remember your effing Marriage Schedule.

 

* Here’s a good scout, my friend and colleague, Jennifer.  With a owl.  Not a parrot.

 

Claire | Claire the Humanist