Wedding- Sarah & John

Sarah and John were married just before Christmas in Glasgow, at the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket and I’m still talking about it.  I’d been looking forward to their wedding for ages- our meetings had been a lot of fun, they both really put the effort in with their homework, the ceremony was looking pretty fine and the Fruitmarket is a really cool city centre venue.  AND John’s from Sunderland so his accent is a little lush.  AND Sarah never. Stopped. Smiling.  I’ve looked through all their photos (repeatedly, stalker-like) and Sarah is grinning, all the way through.  It’s lovely to see and it’s just amazing to be part of it all.

Three things we covered in their ceremony:

  1. Tinder
  2. Beetroot makes your pee pink
  3. There’s a relatively new Aldi in Anwick.

Can you tell that this was a fun ceremony to write?  Foiled engagement plans, love at first sight, great guns; we had it all!

We also had a band warming, a handfasting (using some very precious Harris Tweed) and, unusually, a wee jumping of the broom at the end.  Sarah’s mum and John’s son did fab readings: The Union by Robert Fulghum, which Mum read beautifully during the handfast and an excerpt from Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, which was delivered word perfect and to enthusiastic applause,

“If my like for you was a football crowd, you’d be deaf ’cause of the roar.  And if my like for you was a boxer, there’d be a dead guy lying on the floor. And if my like for you was sugar, you’d lose your teeth before you were twenty. And if my like for you was money, let’s just say you’d be spending plenty.”

Back to the jumping of the broom.  I’ve maybe had it half a dozen times but it never fails to get your guests excited, especially in a kilted wedding ‘cos you never know what you might see, mid-leap.  Some say it’s a fertility rite, others reckon it’s more a way of marrying when there’s no one to marry you.  Whatever the reasons, it’s really good fun and a bit different.  You should try it!

“Dear Claire, We wanted to thank you again for being so wonderful and making our wedding ceremony certainly one to remember!  We had such a wonderful day and a big part of that was down to your care, attention to detail and, of course, humour!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Lots of love, Sarah & John”

This was also my first wedding with ace photographer, the bold Neil Thomas Douglas, he of the beard.  There were lots of ginger beards there that day:  Neil, The Groom, Me……


Readings: The Union by Robert Fulghum and an excerpt from Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Music: Rhys the Piper

Photographer: Neil Thomas Douglas (cheers for letting me use all your amazing photos and not running away when I started waving a fake beard about!

A year of weddings- what have I learnt?

It’s been a full year since I married the delightful Diane and Thomas.  And what have I learnt? 

Loads, loads, loads.

Things I quickly confirmed: my admin skills are abysmal, I have a pathological fear of double booking (but have invented a 400 point strategy to avoid it) and sleep in July is for wimps.

Perhaps more importantly for you:

It’s never to early to book your celebrant.  Fact.  

If you are getting married between May- September, regardless of how far away your wedding is, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT!! Then sit back and peruse Pinterest with impunity, smug in the knowledge that you are sorted.

And, if you are getting married between October- April, BOOK YOUR CELEBRANT!  Damn it, just do it!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

People confuse Humanists with Spiritualists all the time.

Let me be clear. Humanists are fantastic, genuine, considerate and compassionate folk who would never pray on the understandable desire of the bereaved and vulnerable to speak to their much loved deceased relatives.

Spiritualists, not so much.

Weddings get HOT.  Damn hot.  

Open ALL the windows. Now.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Folk worry about being emotionally vulnerable in front of their guests.

Dinnae worry about it.  They LOVE it.  In my limited experience, grooms are more likely to cry than brides.  I put this down to the long wait with no dizzyingly chaotic bridal party to distract them.  Groomsmen- yo need to up yo game, bruh.

Most commonly asked question about ceremonies is ‘How long does it take?’

Answer: longer than the 20 minutes on offer by some wedding venues.  Yes, The Vu, I’m looking at you.

Bridezillas are a figment of TLC’s imagination.

Bridesmaids and Mums, on the other hand, are occasionally as crazy as a soup sandwich.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

The most important thing I have learnt this year is this:

Your ceremony sets the tone for your entire wedding day.

Claire | Claire the Humanist
You heard me.

If you do your homework and spend some time thinking about who to involve in your ceremony, you will be amazed what happens.  A teensy bit of effort on your part and your wedding is elevated from something lovely to something extraordinary.  Don’t take my word for it, check out what Katie’s Dad had to say….

You really set the tone for the whole day and it carried on through the meal and the dance at night – we had an absolutely fabulous day.

See?  If Mike said it, it must be true.

I know it’s been a good day when I have to wolf whistle to get everyone back to their seats after the ‘Signing the schedule’ photo break ‘cos they are all so hyper.  I know it’s been it a good day when I’m picked up and burled round by an excitable Scouser proclaiming it’s the ‘best fookin weddin’ he’s ever been to.

And I know it’s been a good day when I get a wee email afterwards that says this,

Everyone at the wedding said it was quite simply the best they had ever attended, Louise & Chris

We had a totally perfect day and the beautiful ceremony you conducted was exactly what we had hoped for, Ryan & Angela

Thank you so much for making our wedding ceremony so amazing, Derek & Lisa

Nailed it.

Thanks, Year One Wedding Couples, it’s been a blast…..bring it on, Year Two!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Wedding- Scott & Paula

Scott and Paula have been meaning to get married for ages and yesterday, on the sunny banks of Loch Lomond, they finally did it!  Their wedding was on a shingle beach at Milarrochy Bay near Balamaha and, for the first time in forever, the sun shone, absolutely perfect for a very informal and fun wedding.

‘They chose to be married on a beach, surrounded by water and hills, the wind (and possibly rain!) whistling in our ears because this is where they are happiest. It’s also a pretty good metaphor for their relationship- nothing is forced, it’s all very natural and easy and, individually, every element is amazing but, together, it’s something unbelievably special, breathtaking at times.’

Scott and Paula have two girls, eight year old Robyn and Grace, who’s five, and they have been involved throughout the planning and during the ceremony too.  As well as being beautiful bridesmaids, they were happy to (very loudly) give their blessing to Mum and Dad, blew bubbles for the people who couldn’t be at the wedding, in particular Paula’s late father, and, right at the end, Robyn led the toast and introduced her Mum and Dad, for the very first time as, ‘Mr and Mrs MacDonald!’

Claire | Claire the Humanist

After Scott and Paula made their vows to each other, they both made a promise to their daughters,

‘Robyn and Grace, you have always been the most important part of mum and dad’s life and we are so proud of you both. Today we are making a promise to one another. It is a promise that whatever may happen, good or bad, that we will always be there for one another.

This promise is also a promise to you.

We love you with all our hearts, and no matter how big you get or where life takes you, we want you to know that that‘s forever.’

Scott and Paul painted their names and their wedding date onto a fairly substantial wee boulder (!) which was then passed round all their guests as the ceremony went on, much like a band warming. After the bride and groom had signed their Marriage Schedule, Scott, with the Grace’s help, launched the rock into Loch Lomond, a permanent reminder of their wedding day and a really fun thing to do.

Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist

Paula and Scott’s wedding was really special as it was a proper reflection of them and their girls. It was relaxed and fun, their guests were happy and truly delighted that their twenty year wait was finally over!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Congratulations, Mr and Mrs MacDonald!

Things to consider if you are thinking of a similar wedding:

Shingle beaches = knackered shoes.  Anyone wearing high heels was in trouble yesterday; trying to manoeuvre over the stones was extremely difficult and the pebbles weren’t kind to the shoes either. Lots of shredded heels.

Having the permission of the Loch Lomond Rangers is not sufficient.  You MUST have requested permission from the Duke of Montrose if you want to be married on his land.  Contact the National Park for more info.

You cannot release balloons.  They might kill ducks or cause the sea plane to crash. Yes, really.

You cannot drink alcohol on the east side of Loch Lomond, not even for a toast at a wedding.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Scott and Paula brought several bottles of completely alcohol-free fizz for a toast to close the ceremony but it wasn’t long before the police rocked up to check we were following the rules.

There are always other people on the beach.  Some are content to stand and watch your wedding from a polite distance, others actively try to photo bomb it. People are walking their dogs, traffic trundles along in the background, kids are running around screaming, dogs charge through your guests, jet-skis roar past…….  It’s never as secluded as you would like but hopefully you will be so caught up in your own moment that you don’t even notice everyone else.

Shelter and seating- we were lucky as it stayed dry but you need to have a back up plan in case the weather turns.  Also, your guests are hanging about for an hour or so; a few folding chairs never go amiss.

Lastly, when your eldest bridesmaid steps on her dress and rips it from hip to hip along the waist, don’t panic!  Speak to your celebrant.  I carry a sewing kit (amongst other things) and I am pretty nifty at emergency lochside repairs.  Same goes for balloons that suddenly require a string…..

“We have just about come back down to earth after our big day. We absolutely cannot thank you enough. Your smiley face stood out to us on the HSS website and we immediately agreed we would try and tie you down to the date. Our first meet sealed the deal for us, you’re funny, witty and warm personality was exactly what we wanted for our ceremony. None of this, however, could have prepared us for the ceremony itself. You completely blew us (and our guests away) with the delivery of ‘our words’ which you gently coaxed from us.. Every single person commented on the stunning service. Your real genius came out when you sewed up my teary 8 year old daughters bridesmaid dress which she had torn climbing a fence (why did I let that happen!). Really there are no ends to your talents. Thank you so much for everything, you contributed in more ways than one to making our day blooming perfect!”

Readings: ‘I don’t believe in marriage’ (An excerpt from the wedding toast for Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego from the film, Frida) and Carrie’s Poem (from Sex and the City)

Wedding- Lizzy & Fee

Largs is (normally) a sunny little place, home to legendary ice-cream, fish and chips and, erm, Vikings. Today it was host to Lizzy & Fee and their extremely excited guests- these girls are just ADORED by all their pals. Everyone was in such a good mood for their wedding and the room was buzzing as they waited for the brides to arrive.

Marion at the Brisbane House Hotel was totally in charge, which was just as well because I was too busy being a goon.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Fee and Lizzy’s ceremony was full of funny moments, honesty and shared dreams. They asked their friends Fraz and Barbara to choose readings, one they knew about and one that Barbara kept secret ’til the day.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Fee and Lizzy were a lot of fun, and they entertained their guests with the story of how they met (in the toilets of Polo), how they went on a date to play pool and it all went a little weird (Lizzy’s nerves) but how everything came right on the next date, a day (and night) of singing and laughing and chasing after a rapidly shrinking train.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

 “Fee and Lizzy could have continued to just live together but, for both of them, marriage is about making that commitment to each other and being with the person who they can’t live without, not just as their partner but as their wife.  Marriage is about building a family and a life with their best friend, about knowing that they are meant for each other and that they won’t give up when times are hard, they will always get through it, together.”

The importance of family, present and passed, was a strong theme for both girls. The candle in the background was lit in remembrance of those who were sorely missed from the wedding and the rings they exchanged held very special significance too.  In addition, Lizzy’s bridesmaid, Mandy, had given her the most thoughtful gift- three framed photos to hang from her bouquet so Lizzy could have everyone near her.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

I’m afraid I played a mean trick on Fee and Lizzy.  Throughout their story, there was a recurring phrase, ‘Go on, you know you want to!’.  It led to their first proper kiss and then, a few years later, to their engagement.  It was also shouted out loud by all their guests immediately after I declared them married and asked if they would like to share their first kiss as a married couple!  Brilliant!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

“When I asked you what you hoped for your future together, you both said the same thing- to continue to be surrounded by friends and family and in the future, to one day have a family of your own, to have a lifetime of love.  Most importantly, you just want each other to be happy.”

There was such a sense of anticipation for the Wedding of the Year and, although they were both nervous, Lizzy and Fee radiated happiness and love and everyone was right there with them.  It was obvious that this was just the beginning of a tremendous day for them all and, if the wickedly blue cocktails that were waiting as they left were anything to go by, the night time was going to be an absolute blast!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Last October, I met Lizzy and Fee for our first meeting. I remember Fee had the worst cold, they had nearly been in a terrible accident on the way there and the weather was dreadful but, above that, when I got home, I remember telling Andy that I had just met the loveliest couple, not just because they were very much in love but because they were so excited about being married. What made their excitement extra-special was that our meeting took place just a few days after the Scottish Government had announced that the marriage law was changing in the new year. Lizzy and Fee were absolutely delighted, and a little overwhelmed, that they were able to be legally married, to properly call each other ‘wife’.

You can tell they are pretty pleased about it, can’t you?

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls x

Readings: Love is….., poet unknown and I will be here, Steven Curtis Chapman

Music:  Stop and Stare, One Republic

Photos: c/o John

Are you getting married in Scotland this year? Read on….

From today (1st March 2014) the very latest you can submit your Marriage Notice forms, also known as the M10 forms, is 29 days before your wedding date. It used to be 15 days but no more.

Every person marrying in Scotland is legally required to submit these forms to the Registrar of the district in which they are marrying.

If you don’t submit your M10 forms on time, you will not be issued with a Marriage Schedule.

No Marriage Schedule = no wedding = a very expensive hangover.

In addition, if you, or your intended, is not a British, Swiss or EEA citizen, you must now complete a Declaration of Immigration Status form and submit it with your M10 forms. Your M10 forms will not be accepted if you don’t.

So here’s my suggestion to all couples who are looking to marry in Scotland:

Make a note in your diary, three months before your wedding, that your M10 forms are now able to be submitted. Then make an appointment at the Registrar and hand in your forms.

Job done, breathe easy and back to planning the fun stuff.

Please see the National Records of Scotland website for more details