Symbolic gestures- Part Two

In case you’ve skipped the pilot and have launched straight into Episode 2, there’s another part to this post. It’s here. Read it already? Well, buckle up, buttercup, there’s more quality symbolic goodness heading your way RIGHT NOW!

HAND FASTING

Probably tied with the quaich for popularity. See what I did there? ‘Tied’?

Multiple ribbons tied in a knot

History: Properly Scottish. Been around for ages. In ye olde days, it was a temporary marriage and could be undone a year later if no boy child had been produced. Awkward. We don’t mention that.

You can use anything you like to be handfasted: handfast tartan, ribbons, scarves, ties, if you can tie a knot in it, you can be handfasted with it. Each tie should be between 1.5-2m long and, ideally, no narrower than 5cm. The width isn’t hugely important but the narrower it is, the harder it is to see from a distance. If you have thin ribbon, consider sewing it onto a thicker one so it shows up better.

There are two main ways to be handfasted and countless variations of both:

You can be bound together. This is simple, traditional and can be done with one, two or more handfast ribbons/ties. It’s the perfect way to involve people in your ceremony as they bring up your ties, and tie them around your joined hands. You can either leave it at that or, if you’ve used two or more single ribbons, they can be tied together.

Claire smiling and wrwpping handfasting ribbons round the joined arms of a couple
The Kitcheners

You can tie a knot. This is a bit more theatrical. The ribbons/material are arranged round your hands in such a way that when you pull the ends, it ties a knot in the middle. Taaa-daaaaah! Either I can arrange the ribbons or you can do it yourself. There’s something very pleasing about you handfasting yourselves. Appeals to me. It’s pretty straightforward to handfast yourselves but I strongly encourage a couple of practice runs. 

Couple holding hnadfasting ties successfully knotted into a saltire cross shape
Alan Snelling Photography

SAND CEREMONIES

I’m going to level with you. Not my favourite. This takes AGES to do and is always messy. Kids nearly always chuck all their sand in the vase in one go and you will be horrified for the rest of your life that there’s a massive BRIGHT RED LUMP SPOILING IT ALL.

I have seen it beautifully done with sand from different countries. By adults.

different coloured sand in a sealed bottle on a table

You could write your vows on wee bits of paper, read them to each other either on the day or privately the day before and then pop them in the bottle before you fill it with sand. Like a sandy message in a bottle.

OATHING STONE

History: Pretty decent Scottish connections. Meant to connect you to surroundings and nature. Based in ancient Celtic tradition. Great for wild ceremonies or ceremonies next to a loch. Bit weird in a hotel in Larkhall.

You need a stone, preferably one small enough to hold enclosed in your hand. You can choose a stone from somewhere special to you, like the spot you had your first kiss or got engaged, or you could wait until your wedding and pick one up then. 

When you make your vows, you hold the stone in your hand. Once you’re done, you can keep your stone or you can throw it in the loch, sea, whatever body of water you’re getting married near. Skim it if you don’t mind derision from the banks when you fail miserably. 

M/F couple dressed in wedding clothes standing by water looking at splash where stone has just landed.
Fotomaki Photography

Alternative use of stones: You could also use the stone instead of rings for a band warming. You could get loads and paint them, get kids to decorate them, get your guests to bring their own from a place they love. They can write on them (or not) and everyone chucks them in the loch at the end or you keep them all in a jar.

hands holding a bowl containing multiple decorated stones
Fotomaki Photography

GIFTS TO PARENTS

You could recognise your lovely parents (or other special people in your lives) by giving them a gift during your ceremony. Who doesn’t love a present? What you give them is up to you but previous examples have included roses, a photo, a necklace, 200 cigarettes and a personalised lighter…

OTHER THINGS PEOPLE HAVE DONE

  • Invite guests to leave words of marital advice in a jar or, on one exceptional day, on post it notes stuck to a life-size cutout of Tom Hanks.

Cardboard cut out of Tom Hanks covered in brightly coloured Post it notes

  • Gave every guest a flower as they arrived and asked them to come up during the ceremony and place them in a vase.

Many daisy flowers of many different colours in a vase

  • You could exchange family tartans, books or objects representing your heritage or family history. If you do this, make it equal, non-patriarchal, none of this Man accepts Woman into clan pish.

 

  • If you proposed near water, go and get some in a wee bottle and have someone sprinkle over your joined hands. Even better if you’re being bound together in a handfast because a wet knot is harder to untie (that’s also a good ‘un to come out with if it’s pouring on your wedding day. Everyone LOVES it)

 

  • There’s historical symbolism in lesbian and bisexual women exchanging or wearing violets or lavender. Gay men might exchange green carnations or blue feathers. Or something else you think is symbolically important to you.

 

  • Wager cup. Dutch? German? Cup looks like a woman carrying a bucket and one drinks from the bucket, one from her skirt. Fastest to finish wins.

Whisky box, german drinking cup in the shape of a woman holding a bucket abover her head, and a bottle of irn bru

 

EXAMPLES OF SYMBOLIC GESTURES WITH CULTURAL ROOTS

I would avoid choosing these unless they are culturally significant to you. 

  • Placing of Jaimala (HIndu floral garlands) by parents
  • Glass smashing (Mazel tov!)
  • Greek Stefania (crowns)
  • log sawing (energetic Germanic, usually done post-ceremony)

I WON’T INCLUDE:

  • Balloon, lantern, dove or butterfly releases. Environmentally terrible and, in the case of the butterflies, they rarely survive once released. Not great.
  • Bloodletting ceremonies. I’ve been asked. The answer is always NO! ARE YOU MAD?? OUTLANDER ISN’T REAL, YA FUD!

Featurd image at the top of this post of the glorious Ginny and the Tonic quaiching it up big time c/o Tub of Jelly

Symbolic gestures- Part One

‘What’s a symbolic gesture?’ I hear you cry. ‘Is it this?’

Wedding couple and guests in Glencoe, rudely gesturing to invisible drone flying overheard
Lovely guest Aidan took the photo because we were all busy

That is indeed a fantastic gesture but no, it’s not that. Symbolic gestures are things you can have in your ceremony that aren’t words. You’ll know them when you see them: drinking from a quaich, handfastings, candle lighting, that sort of thing. They can be traditional or brand new, quirky or sentimental. They are great for including people and for adding a bit of theatre to your ceremony and who doesn’t love a bit of wedding jazz-handery?

They might also hold no appeal to you at all. In fact, the very idea might give you the dry boaks. Do not think you must include anything symbolic. As with everything else in your wedding ceremony, only include something if you love it. If you reckon you need to have a handfasting because otherwise your ceremony will be too short, I guarantee you (and your guests) would much rather have a shorter, more meaningful ceremony than one filled with fluff. I was going to type, ‘I give you agency to keep it simple’ but I think that’s the opposite of what agency is. You know what I mean.

two women dressed in white wedding dresses being handfasted with tartan ribbons.
Amy Faith Photography

If you do choose to include any symbolic gestures, I’m going to ask you what they mean to you. Doesn’t need to be complicated but if you’re doing it, it should have meaning. Make it relevant to you. Use a scarf that belonged to someone special for your handfasting and spray some of their perfume on it. See that bottle of champagne your aunt and uncle gave you when you got engaged? Drink that from your quaich. Or create a new drink, just for your wedding day. Are there any traditions from your own culture you can adapt? Even if it’s a very religious symbolic gesture, we may be able to include it but change the wording and symbolism to reflect you, your values, Humanism, your families. Speaking of families, if you have children, you can involve them in most symbolic gestures, just add another ribbon, choose a softer drink etc.

Have you said symbolic enough times that it sounds really weird yet?

DRINKING FROM A QUAICH

This is the most popular symbolic gesture. There’s something about having a wee drink that seems to appeal to people….

pottery quaich on table next to suitcase, lime and bottle of corona.
2020 quaich vibes

History: Peak Scottish. Clans welcome other clans with quaichs. Good times are toasted with quaichs. Druids may have been the OG quaichers. Not to be confused with quiches.

Quaichs can be found in any tartan-covered tourist trap, jeweller and online or, if you’re feeling creative, make your own. Ask around. I can guarantee someone in your family has one kicking about in a drawer. Everyone’s won one at golf or for being head boy or something equally heroic.

A bottle of Buckfast wine, a quaich and cream toned bouquet on a table

You would drink from your quaich after you’ve been declared married to toast your wedding. You can share it together, invite other people to take a sip too if you don’t mind slavers*, you can even provide shots for all your guests so they can join in as well. You might want to incorporate a wellwishing from your parents or family- they can offer a drink each and we mix them together and you share it with them.

Drink what you like from it. One very strong drink will elicit an amusing photograph of your reactions. If you have two drinks that mix, that could symbolise your families blending together. It doesn’t have to be booze if you want to involve kids or if you’re more a ‘nice cuppa tea’ kinda couple.

*dribbles [Scots] not people who enslave because we all mind them. 

UNITY CANDLES

Unity candles are lovely. For inside ceremonies.

Outside, they are a massive pain in the arse. You can do it but you need storm lanterns and it’s awkward. By all means, prove me wrong.

You need three candles: two that are lit at the beginning either by you or two people you choose to do it and a third that you light together once you are married.

Two taller pink candles either side of a central candle on a table

You can also include a separate Remembrance candle, one that would be lit right at the beginning of your ceremony in memory of people no longer with you. You would then light your first candles from that flame. Remember to bring a reliable lighter.

You can use any candles as long as you can lift them (more important for the first two) and they are secure – they need to be in holders or can stand on a tray or in a candelabra – If you can’t lift them, you’ll need tapers to transfer the flame.

ELEMENTAL BLESSING

For the nature lovers amongst you, you can involve four people/families with an elemental blessing. Each person/group brings up an item to represent one of the following: air, fire, water and earth. What they bring is entirely up to them.

Usually, the wording follows this kind of pattern:

Chosen pal: Will your love survive the currents and tides of life, withstanding fear and uncertainty? 

Couple: It will

Chosen pal: Then accept the ‘blessings’ of water. May your life together be filled with compassion and respect. 

Ideally, you’d ask the person who is offering you the blessing to write their own.

Fun fact- for some reason, people can never think of anything for Air. Someone brought a sealed bag of air from a chippy at the seaside, a feather from a roadkill seagull and a whoopee cushion. I very much look forward to seeing what the Air People™ bring.

HEART ENTWINING

Clay hearts decorated with plants in a wicker basket

You need at least two decorative hearts. They can be made of anything you like. What’s important is that they have ribbon at the top that allows you to put them together in some way.Always practise the entwining part. Then practise it again if you’re having great big glorious wedding nails that you’re not used to. If you can’t pick up a kirby grip, you’ll struggle tying a knot.

MEXICAN HUG

Imagine a Mexican wave. Now replace waving with hugging. Sounds awful, right? In reality, it’s brilliant. It’s a right good ice breaker and my absolute favourite when there’s not a germy pandemic kicking about.

FIRST FIGHT/ANNIVERSARY BOX

Find a box, fill it with nice things and then lock it or hammer it closed. You then open the box on your first anniversary (although it could be a later one) or your first fight. Things you might put in the box include (but aren’t limited to):  a copy of your vows, a letter to each other written on the morning of your wedding, booze, a gift. I’ve also seen couples put in sex toys, big bags of weed and £30 for a takeaway. You do you.

JUMPING THE BROOM

besom broom withpaper labels tied to the twigs

History: Tons. Then we take all this weighty history and reduce it to the threat of two people falling over.

This is a gesture with mixed symbolism. Historically, Celts had marriage rituals that weren’t recognised by the Christian church, including Besom weddings. A broom would be placed across a doorway and the couple would jump over it. If they managed to get over it without touching it, hurrah! That’s them married! If, at a later date, they jumped over the same broom backwards, their marriage would be annulled. Handy to know.

It’s also linked with slave marriages in the US, the European anti witchcraft movement, fertility rites and a commitment to household cleanliness.

At the very end of your wedding, two people would hold the broom at a level they think you can jump over. It’s usually impossibly high and the look of terror in the jumping couple’s eyes is hilarious. To me. Maybe not to them so I then get the broom holders to pop it at floor level, declare you married and you leap over your broom before heading up the aisle together.

You don’t have to use a broom. I’ve had people jump over a kayak oar, an ice hockey stick, a limbo pole, a sword…

a sword on a table

 

WEDDING BAND WARMING

History: None. Always called a wedding band warming. Avoid referring to it as a ring warming *snigger*

two hands holding a Tiffany ring bag

Possibly the easiest way to get everyone involved. Your wedding rings are passed round your guest. Each person holds them for a second or two, wishes you well (silently) and passes them on to the next person. You can start with a parent, a niece/nephew, bridesmaid, it doesn’t really matter as long as they end up with the person/s who will hand them over when they’re needed at your vows.

Make sure the rings are either tied together or are in a wee bag. This is very important, especially if you are outside because someone will drop them. Fact.

Small wooden box with red lining containing a net bag containing two wedding rings

More symbolic gestures to follow in the hugely originally titled Symbolic Gestures – Part Two….

Featured image at the top of this post of the extraordinarily joyful Sami and Kerrie  c/o Amy Faith Photography

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!

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…….

Wedding – Claire & Stephen

I like to blog in a timely manner.  It’s important to be relevant.  That’s why I’ve waited a WHOLE YEAR to blog about Claire and Steve and their tremendous winter wedding at The Lodge on the Loch on the 21st November last year.  Great at weddings, useless at blogging.

Steve spent their first date grinning goofily and not really understanding what Claire was saying.  Claire just kept talking regardless and time passed and lo, they got married!  It was a great big, everyone’s invited kinda wedding- Steve and Claire booked out the entire hotel, filled it with their very excited pals and, as parties go, this one was tough one to leave.  Nearly didn’t.  Nearly went home with them to London.

Their ceremony was full of lovely moments including a band warming that started with Steve’s Dad, Richard, and ended with Sebastian and Ethan (super-nephews) polishing the rings on their kilts to make them shiny again.  Then Claire and Steve’s mums lit the first two candles on a Unity candle, a nice touch and a great way to include two very important women.  As for their handfasting, aaaaw man!  This pair chose to use one of Steve’s ties and a piece from Claire’s dress but not just any old tie or dress, oh no.  They used the dress and tie that they wore on their first date.  All.  The.  Heart.  Eyes.

I wasn’t sure I would ever find someone as caring, wonderful and inherently good to share my life with, who understands my quirks, calms me when I need it, and supports me in all I do.

I’ll be eternally grateful that we found one another.

Something that was obvious was how relaxed their guests were.  This was a three day party and the wedding fell right in the middle so everyone had been hanging out together and, by the time I arrived, they were all pals.  Cue the tall humanist woman trying to be part of the gang.  As atmospheres go, this one was buzzing even before the Bold Colin Lawrie started blawin’ all that hot air.

Add to the mix an usher called Tudo-rhymes-with-Judo, some lovely readings read by lovely voices (sucker for an Irish reader) and the best vows and it was a spectacular wedding.

I will always be your safe place and I love you more and more as every day passes.

I spent much more time than I should have having a good nosey at all the gorgeous photos courtesy of Paul Walker Images but just look how much Claire and Steve love each other!  Absolutely brilliant day and happy anniversary, Mr and Mrs Aldous!

Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images
Paul Walker Images

Readings – The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach, The Union by Robert Fulghum and The One (Poet unknown)

Music- Colin Lawrie making a tuneful racket and Pharrell’s Happy for skipping back up the aisle

Wedding- Ryan & Angela

I’m sure you’ve realised by now that a Humanist wedding is an opportunity for you to have the wedding of your dreams. Some people’s dreams are traditional, others less so and the wonder of our ceremonies is that that’s fine, in fact, it’s encouraged. You choose. It’s your wedding.

Themes for weddings are common, THEMED weddings less so.

On my first meeting with Angela and Ryan, we gently chatted awhile until Angela paused, leaned forward and said, ‘How do you feel about a Doctor Who themed wedding?’

Well!!

Naturally I felt just fine, especially when they told me that Dr Who brought them together. Not in an ‘actual time travel’ kind of way but in a ‘both mad Whovians and met at a Convention’ turn of events.  They knew what they wanted and that was a wedding that was elegantly geeky and truly reflected who they were.  I think you’ll find that’s what we HSS celebrants do…..

In their wedding we covered how they got together with expedience and urgency took a hundred years to stop man-flirting and start snogging, how the proposal ended with “[sitting] under the stars, on a bench in the car park, drinking alcohol that neither of them particularly liked, listening to the sounds of the neds leaping off the pier” and how special the wedding rings were.  Yes, I know, all wedding rings are special but these ones were handcrafted by Angela and Ryan (and Angela’s son) from bits of jewellery donated by their mums.  And they were “currently resting on your ring bearer’s plunger”. I kid you not.  Best line in a wedding ever.

Witnesses?  An actual doctor and a (sometimes) pretend Doctor’s assistant.

Vows?  Oh yes.  Written by themselves and including the line “Your reliable, confident, constant friend and favourite Companion”  

Symbolic gestures?  A dinky wee handfasting with a dinky wee tardis charm to bring us luck.

When it comes to themes, you can go all out and that works….as long as you commit. Don’t be half arsed- do it like these super-cool Biffy Clyro fans. Share the love.

Alternatively, reflect your passion with subtlety and clever touches* (and a few props that even normals will recognise) and enjoy your day being a little different and very much all about you.

“Thank you so much for the work you did on conducting our ceremony at the end of August. We had a totally perfect day and the beautiful ceremony you conducted was exactly what we had hoped for. We knew the first time we met you that you were the one for us and you didn’t disappoint!

My father was pretty upset that you seemed to have stolen his ENTIRE speech. He really did explain this when it came to his turn to speak and just said “ditto”. It is good to know that our ceremony reflected us so well that it echoed the words used by someone that has loved me for my entire life (& for months before).

As a lovely story to come from the day, some relatives decided it was innappropriate for them to attend a Humanist ceremony and declined our invitation. Ryan’s Godfather was concerned that maybe he should not attend and consulted 4 Catholic priests and a BISHOP! He was told that he was ORDERED to go – “love is love and should always be celebrated in all of its forms.” (as long as he didn’t participate in any rituals)

I would not hesitate to reccomend a Humanist ceremony to everyone I know and a few people have even been asking questions about Humanism in general which can only be a good thing! We will also continue to sing your praises every time we remember our most special day.

Thank you again.

Mr & Mrs H

Venue:Loch Lomond Arms Hotel

Readings:  Excerpt from Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Music: Their friend, Zoe, played the flute and it was lovely

* Angela folded a thousand cranes to bring them luck. The patterned paper she used was the Exploding TARDIS.  When she wasn’t folding cranes, she stuck a squillion TARDIS coloured crystals on to her shoes.  

Wedding- Hannah & Ross Pt 2

I arrived at The Highland Fling and there was a definite buzz in the air.  That would be because Hannah and Ross had just arrived too and were a leeeeeetle hyper.

Ross was already dressed for the occasion and Hannah looked like she was too until she disappeared and returned…..in her wedding dress!  And she wasn’t the only one to make the effort; the bungee fellas were all ready for a wedding, kilts and everything.  It was abundantly clear to see they weren’t intending on jumping, if you know what I’m sayin’.  <nudge nudge>

Claire | Claire the Humanist Callum, Michelle, Hannah, Ross, Lizzie, Loz

We all filled in that waiver, the one that makes you nervous, had numbers written on our hand* were secured into our harnesses and off we went in the minibus to the big bridge that towers over the River Garry.  Lovely spot of the world to throw yourself into nothingness.

Once we’d all made our way up the leg (?) of the bridge, we followed the very narrow walkway along the underside until we reached the platform suspended from the middle.  Safety checks….done.  Not looking down…..absolutely.  Just looked down…..gulp.

And that’s when it became less about the crazy-assed surroundings and all about Hannah and Ross and their lovely wedding.  And it was lovely.  They had sent me their Suffolk ceremony and, as it was so beautifully crafted by their friend, Clive, we used a lot of it when we were creating this one.  Ross and Hannah had brought with them a plaited ribbon and, with the help of Michelle, they were handfasted before they read their vows.  They rewrote the ones they said on Saturday and they said them to each other with smiles on their faces as broad as the bridge.  As a wee surprise, prior to the ceremony, Loz and Callum, two of our kilted bungee dudes, chose a reading each, and they read them beautifully.

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

It was a ceremony that, for all it was in an odd location, was genuine, romantic, touching, endearing and honest.  Perfect.

I declared them married and there were HUGE cheers from the busload of German tourists standing on the banks as they spotted Hannah and Ross locking lips for a great big smooch.  They signed their marriage schedule before it was safely tucked away again and, rather than walk up the aisle, they shuffled across the platform, like Siamese penguins.  Which is odd given penguins can’t fly…..

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Unlike Ross and Hannah!  Seconds before they jumped, Hannah realised that, whilst her concerns about folk seeing her pants were very real, she had failed to take into account the effect gravity might have on her strapless dress.  ‘If my boobs all out, you stop filming!’ she instructed Callum who was videoing their wedding.  Callum, a typical young man, replied, ‘Aye. So I will.’

Claire | Claire the Humanist
Claire | Claire the Humanist

And, as they jumped, all the distractions that made me temporarily forget my own impending doom, well, they all disappeared and, in their place?  Fear.  Holy crap, it’s a scary thing to be standing on the edge of an actual abyss.  It’s scarier still to jump. But it was my turn and, once I’ve said I’m going to do something, I do it so, I jumped and I opened my mouth to scream…..

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

….and instead, as I hurtled through the air, I made a sound like a large cow being thrown from a bridge, a sort of ‘Mooooawwwaaaarggggghhhhhhoooooooomph’.  The gentle tug of the bungee, the one that meant I was still alive, it was glorious and comforting and not at all retina-detaching.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Looking like Andy Warhol and Boris Johnson’s bouncing love child, I was hoisted back up and, after watching Ross jump again- aye, nutter- and shaking uncontrollably for a little bit, we clambered up and down ladders and back to terra firma and an ever-so-slightly emotional Flora.  I think she was a little worried but disguised her fear by telling onlookers that she ‘hoped her Mummy didn’t have too much fun on the bungee jump or she might forget about the Ikea Crayfish party the next day’.  Priorities, kiddo.

Cuddles all round and, after wishing the happy couple well on their epic honeymoon, I treated Andy and Flora to lunch at the Blair Atholl Watermill.  Seriously, this is one of our favourite places in the world. Go.  Eat.  Marvel at the working watermill that grinds the flour that makes the bread that we don’t share.

Hannah and Ross’s wedding was extraordinary.  They are two of the nicest, most up-for-anything people I’ve ever met and, although it all went a little bonkers after (phonecalls from journalists, BBC, ITV, my pals), they were just genuinely thrilled that they were married and they’d been able to do it they way they really wanted to.  I don’t imagine I’ll have many requests like theirs but, do you know what? Bring ’em on!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

The ‘joke’ was the numbers made mortuary identification easier. Oh, ha. Ha. Ha.

Wedding- Hannah & Ross Pt 1

Ohhhhh yes. This has been a very exciting week.

Hannah and Ross contacted HQ last year- would anyone be interested in conducting a wedding on a bungee platform?? Hmmmmm. I remember saying to them that I had never done a bungee jump but I had once fallen off a set of step-ladders (not my real ladders heh heh heh). No difference, I reckoned.

I was a little wary that some would see this as a silly wedding, a bit of a joke, but, within a few minutes of talking with Ross and Hannah, it was obvious they were incredibly sincere and just keen to have a wedding that was fun, different and reflected them. It was also to be a proper ceremony, not just the declaration, which was good to hear. They weren’t interested in publicity and had no wish for any press or photographers- I couldn’t help but like them from the off!

Over the next few months, we planned their ceremony, talked about paperwork, got excited about bungee jumping (them), resolutely blanked the idea of a bungee jump (me). Did I mention I was going to jump too?

They had a non-legal ceremony in Suffolk, on the family farm, a great big celebration, surrounded by all their family and friends. Ross said it was a truly wonderful day and, when it was all tidied away, they jumped in Kim the Campervan and headed north to the Highland Fling in Killiekrankie.

Meanwhile, Andy, Flora and I also decided to make a wee road trip of it and we had booked a couple of nights in The Roost at the Mill of Logierait. We’re quite partial to a wigwam and this one was magic. Lovely owners, fabulous views and a roaring fire. Right up our street and exactly what we needed.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

The day before the wedding, I asked Hannah if she had flowers arranged and, when she didn’t, Flora suggested she collected some from the hedgerows surrounding the farm the next morning. Quick check with Fiona (lovely owner) and off we went, secateurs in hand. Not a bad job, all in all!

Claire | Claire the Humanist

I had given the logistics of the ceremony a fair bit of thought. Flat shoes, leggings and no jewellery. My fancy pen was attached to The Clipboard of Impossible Romance with a length of bungee elastic for fear it would fall through the grille platform. The plans were to sign the Marriage Schedule before they jumped but, if it was super windy, we would do it in the minivan. Lots of thinking.

On the day, no breakfast. No wish to see my porridge twice, thanks. A short drive to Killiekrankie and we were almost ready to go……

(Pt2 to follow)

Wedding- Ian & Liz

Claire | Claire the Humanist

I’m just gonna say it…..I love a winter wedding. Ten years ago, I was married in November and one of the nicest things was being able to shrug when people said, ‘But the weather! What if it rains?’ So what? It’s Scotland! It could rain anytime! One less thing to worry about, to be honest (although it was a nice surprise when I awoke to the first frost, clear blue skies and a good excuse for a furry coat).

Ian and Liz booked their wedding for that wee lull between Christmas and New Year, and invited their family and best pals to join them for the weekend, and a party, at the stunning Lodge on the Loch Lomond.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

When I first met Liz and Ian, they booked me with the phrase, ‘….and you seem like the right kind of nutter to marry us!’ Takes one to know one, that’s all I’ll say…

Ian & Liz’s ceremony was a belter! They have a great life together, full of laughs and adventures and their hopes for their future together were simple…..more of the same.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Liz was accompanied by her daughter, Lauren who later read a poem with her sister Pamela and Ian’s son, Neil. When the poem finished, Ian and Liz ‘tied the knot’ with Marshall and McKenzie tartan ribbons, and I don’t know who was more delighted by the knot, me or Liz, who loudly exclaimed, ‘Oh well done, Claire!’ much to everyone’s amusement.

Claire | Claire the Humanist

Ian’s grandsons, Aly and Harry were there to spontaneously lend a hand with the rings and, promises made, vows said and declarations announced, Ian and Liz had a great big kiss to enthusiastic cheering from their guests. And then they had another one when I said, ‘You may now kiss!’ Just couldn’t wait, apparently!

After signing the schedule, Liz and Ian enjoyed a succession of drinks from their quaich, an apt ceremony to celebrate their union and one particularly appreciated by Ian, I think.

And the weather was beautiful.

I did that 😉