My daughter is an expert at knowing when to call me a noob.
How do I change the clock on the oven? NOOB!
Why has my beautiful new houseplant died? NOOB!
I just don’t understand how compact QKD Systems will pave the way to cost-effective satellite-based Quantum Networks! NOOOOOOOB!
Since I’m not allowed to lock her in the cupboard again, I thought I’d harness some of this teen Noob-energy and channel it towards you because one of the most common things I hear is, ‘ ‘We don’t have a clue. We’ve never done this before!’
Ha! Noob! Actually, it is fun to say that. It’s right punchy. Also, it’s cool not to know what you’re doing. That makes two of us. LOL.
Let’s start at the beginning. When it comes to your ceremony the first rule is…
There are no rules. That’s annoying and unhelpful but it’s true. Repeat this mantra:
‘It’s my ceremony and there are no rules’
Okay, so actually there are a couple of rules about content for a ceremony but usually, if it has a place, it’s fine. What’s not fine is something outwith the scope of the belief/humanist ceremony that you have chosen. For example, your priest isn’t going to be mad keen on a drag queen bursting in screaming, ‘It should’ve been me!’ just as I’m going to look at you funny if you want to halt for Communion. Snacks I can do, but it’s less Body of Christ and more warm jelly babies and a carton of Ribena.
What I mean by ‘no rules’ is that you aren’t constrained to a format. You don’t need to have the things you don’t like and equally, you can include more of the things that you do like. If you don’t like people, you can elope. If you love your friends, get them to sit nearer the front. They laugh the loudest.
When it comes to content, the temptation, as with life, is to fill your wedding with ‘stuff’. Will your wedding be a success because you have given people free booze, a wall of donuts, a glow-in-the-dark saxophonist? Probably. That all sounds fun times.
I’m going to make it better: your ceremony is the ace up your sleeve.
You know Colin the Energy Vampire in What We Do In The Shadows? A bad ceremony is like Colin. It leaches joy from your day. It makes people tired and bored and whilst you’ll get married (congrats), it won’t do anything. It’s a wasted opportunity.
A great ceremony is literally a different story. Think Eric from Sex Education, a Ron/Tom/Jean-Ralphio threeway, Michael Scott and his Cafe Disco; complex bursts of energy and emotion that propel your wedding forward. Start with purpose and intent, bring everyone along with you and you will make your whole day something extraordinary.
As there are no rules, you can, of course, choose the easy route and skip to the last page. Well done, you’ve escaped the castle unscathed.
Or you can scale great mountains, conquer ogres and race dragons, fall in love with deeply stereotyped imprisoned maidens and emerge victorious, flaming sword in hand, every page of that Choose Your Own Wedding Ceremony Adventure filled with excitement and anticipation and ultimately, a smug satisfaction that comes from unlocking something really special. You did that. Not me. It was all you. And maybe a little bit of me. Let’s call it teamwork, like He-Man riding on the back of a detail-obsessed Battlecat.
So yes, you are a Noob but, like the Maximoff twins or a hairy-toed little Hobbit boy, you have great power within you. Off you pop. Go and explore the Shire (of your Sheremony). You’ll be Galadriel you did. Ergh. Sorry.
There are a lot of niche references in this post. Well done if you got them all.
…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’.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I’m vegetarian except for the very occasional fish supper and fish finger sandwich. Suppose that makes me not a vegetarian then.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Probably tied with the quaich for popularity. See what I did there? ‘Tied’?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gave every guest a flower as they arrived and asked them to come up during the ceremony and place them 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.
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!
‘What’s a symbolic gesture?’ I hear you cry. ‘Is it this?’
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.
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….
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
WEDDING BAND WARMING
History: None. Always called a wedding band warming. Avoid referring to it as a ring warming *snigger*
Possibly the easiest way to get everyone involved. Your wedding rings are passed round your guests. 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.
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
How’s things, internet? How does your corner of the world look today?
Quick update. Until the end of January, weddings are limited to five people: you and the person you are marrying, me and two witnesses. That’s it. No party, no gathering of pals afterwards and I’m going to be blunt- stop asking how it would be if people were just ‘walking past’ or if they just ‘happened to be there, you know, “exercising”‘. If it’s important to you to have those people there, don’t get married now. Wait until everything is a bit brighter and less out of your control and get married then instead. Only get married now if you are fully on board with the limit of five and are happy that you are working within the spirit of any other lockdown guidelines.
Bet this all changes again this week. These are wild times, my friends.
My diary needs a bit of a mention. I’m about three-quarters full for 2022 and if restrictions don’t lift, I’ll be closing it next month to allow a bit of wiggle room for the inevitable 2021 postponements.
In other news, my fee will increase for 2023. This is a bold move considering it’s been the same since 2017. It was meant to go up last year (didn’t) and then this year (the admin involved was just another level of pish I could do without) and then next year (same story, different lockdown). So 2023 it is. To be honest, who knows what currency we’ll be trading in by then? Scavenged autoparts? GMO bungleberries? Harsh threats and violence?
Other exciting news….erm….not a lot’s happening really. My tax return’s done, I’m perfecting my moonwalking skills and I’m back out tutting at people who walk two abreast on the pavement again. JUST MOVE, YA BAMS!!
NB I read this post aloud to my husband to check it struck the right balance. He said it did if the balance I was hoping to acheive was somewere between informative and losing your shit. Spot on, then!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
Don’t know about you but I’m a wee bit fed up with old ‘Rona. As of today (August 27), weddings are taking place, with restrictions. You can read more about them on the Scottish Goverment Website but they include:
No more than 20 people in attendance. That number includes the couple getting married, guests, kids and babies, your photographer, musicians….if they’re at your wedding in any capacity, they count. Except me. I don’t count.
When it comes to numbers permitted, don’t confuse Scottish guidelines with English ones. Would you listen to anything Bawchops Johnston has to say anyway?
Outside is the new inside. If your wedding is outside, you can socially distance your guests in household clumps much much MUCH easier than you can indoors. There are fewer surfaces to touch, the air is free to circulate like air should and, if it’s outside, no masks are required. Which brings me on to…
Masks/Face coverings. If your wedding is inside, everyone in attendance must wear a face covering or mask, including the couple getting married. I know. Don’t blame me, blame that dodgy wee dreamcrushing virus. Due to conflicting advice given by some venues, Humanist Society Scotland sought clarification from Scottish Government and their reply was unequivocal- wear a mask indoors. It’s the law. Couples can remove their masks to allow identification to take place and to make their legal declarations. And to winch, presumably.
Nae trumpets. You heard me. No instruments which require blown into to create a noise. I feel bad for the romantic tuba lovers but dems the breaks.
Length of ceremony. No longer than 20 minutes. The way I see it, you’re going to get less content so the content you do get has to be extraordinary. All killer, nae pish chat.
Symbolic Gestures. There are some things that you associate with Humanist wedding ceremonies: handfasts, bandwarmings, drinking from a quaich etc. Some are no longer permitted, others have to be modified. I can talk you through what you can and can’t do.
I won’t start a wedding ceremony if the current rules aren’t being adhered to. I don’t like being the Bad Guy but I will (classic Mum line), not just for your safety, but for mine, my family, future weddings, funerals etc. I don’t want to be Typhoid Mary. Or Covid Claire.
It’s really important to remember that life is still not normal. Weddings at the moment definitely aren’t normal. They are short, simple and socially distanced and certainly not the precursor to any kind of party. In fact, when I leave your wedding, the rules regarding gatherings kick in again- no more than eight people from three different households are allowed indoors, fifteen folk from five households outdoors.
I love enabling you to have the best possible wedding ceremony but that is going to be challenging if your heart is set on a ‘normal’ wedding. No shade if it is, by the way, I’m all for Great Big Fat Weddings of Joy but if it is, now is not the time for you. Wait a bit. Get married when you can have what you want to celebrate your big day.
If, however, you are thinking of eloping or having a tiny wee wedding in a garden somewhere, and when you think about it, you get all giddy and giggly and reckon it might be the most perfect way to get married ever, give me a shout. Given we’re racing towards Autumn, it would help if you’re not made of sugar….
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and cheer me right up!