Love - What a wedding is all about

Monday, 15 August 2011

Fiona and Tom - 13 August 2011

This was the most local wedding I have conducted as it was held in Inchberry Hall, Orton which is less than 5 miles away.  Fiona and Tom first met when they attended the Royal College of Art where they were taking a printmaking course. This certainly came in handy as they produced the beautiful printed banners and table cloth which were used to decorate the marquee.

The wedding was a delightful throwback to simpler times as the whole family and many friends turned up a couple of days beforehand to deck out both the hall and the marquee.

Fiona and Tom thought about a suitable symbolic gesture with which to commemorate their wedding and came up with the idea of 1000 origami cranes.  I was able to find out about this "tradition" which allowed me to compose suitable wording for use during the ceremony to explain the significance to the guests. It is called "Sembazuru" in Japanese and the tradition itself is called Tsuru wa sennen.  This involved them producing 1000 origami cranes.  The Japanese revere the Crane as they are a noble bird who mate for life (they have a long life span), protect their family and are considered good luck.  The perserverance needed to fold 1000 cranes is said to test the compatiblity of the couple inasmuch as if they complete the task,  without falling out, the marriage will be successful.  Well, they managed it and still appear as happy as when I first met them.

The whole marquee was bedecked with the cranes and many were used not only as background, which you can see in the above photograph, but were also suspended in such a way as to create an arch, which we stood within as I conducted their wedding and they took their vows.

It was a tremendous achievement and it looked stunning - much more so than my photpgraphs have captured.  (memo to self: play with the new camera more often and actually learn something.).  All the guests left clutching a crane -a unique momento of the day.

Both their careers are developing well as you can see by their web sites: and

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Joanne and Chris - 30 July 2011

There was something about this wedding I just could not place - and then it struck me!  For the first time in a year of ceremonies at Elgin Cathedral, we were able to hold it outside in the main area.  Okay, there is no roof and the walls are mostly missing, but it is still a lovely place to marry.

Joanne and Chris were quite laid back about their wedding and, until a few weeks before, nothing appeared to bother them.  However, they manged to get through the nerves and agree the final wedding script.

During the ceremony, Joanne's daughters, as well as being bridesmaids, read a poem and a friend read a Native Apache wedding blessing.  On behalf of their families, the mothers of  the Bride and Groom accepted their child's choice of partner into their own family and handed over a glasss of whisky which was poured into a Quaich.  After the signing of the marriage schedule Joanne and Chris shared the contents of the Quaich.

The best man - who looks worried here - was kept busy.  We had included a ring warming which was carried out as the wedding blessing was being said, so he had to follow the rings and have them back for placing, "suitably warmed with best wishes", on Chris and Joanne's fingers.  The marriage schedule also flew off in the wind so he had to chase after it.  And he still had his speech to do!

On my way to the wedding, I realised I had not taken my own camera so the photographs displayed here are by kind permission of George Duncan Photography. (

Dorothy and Craig - 16 July 2011

This ceremony was held indoors at the Ramnee Hotel, Forres.  Since, for both, this was a second marriage, they wanted to involve their children from their previous marriages.  Dorothy made her entrance accompanied by her daughter Georgia and her son Daniel read a poem after we had signed the marriage schedule.

 After the ceremony we adjourned to the front lawn for drinks and some photos however the dark sky presaged a deluge, so we had to return post haste into the hotel before the drinks were diluted.

Cassandra and Gary - 14 July 2011

This was a transantlantic wedding ceremony.  Gary, who is from the North East of Scotland, had met Cassie when he was visiting Dallas and they now live in Houston.  All of the pre wedding planning had been done via email.

The setting was Pittodrie House Hotel, at Chapel of Garioch.  Fortunately the weather was playing its part, enabling the proceedings to be held outside on the lawn.

This was the very first occasion where I have been 'miked up' as they were recording the ceremony for a live feed back to Texas so that Cassie's family and friends who could not be at the wedding could share the experience.  It also meant I did not need to shout to be heard by those in the back, which can be a problem with outdoor weddings.  Before the start we did a sound check so the cameraman and audio guys could adjust the volumes to the right setting.  Due to restrictions on the length of cable from the feedpoint we had to adjust our ceremony places and instructions.  The bride and groom stood next to each other and I was off to the side and guests were instructed not to stand so that the fixed camera could get everything in.  I made a mistake - while going over the ceremony with the cameraman and photographer, I forgot to mention that there was a poem  I would be saying that involved some dramatisation - i.e. I get loud!  The first I realised was when I saw the sound man rapidly pull the headphones from his ears. Oops!

To symbolise their marriage, they chose to have a sand ceremony,  with purple for Scotland and blue for Texas.

Cassie and Gary wished everyone to be involved so, to round off the wedding, we had everyone repeat after me a traditional Celtic blessing.  I have yet to hear if the US guests on the web feed joined in - I hope so.

After the wedding, drinks were held on the patio area while photos were taken.  I am happy to say there were many good comments about the personal nature of the ceremony and how it captured the essence of the couple.

Rachel and Robbie - 9 July 2011

This wedding took place at Dalmunzie Castle,Spittal of Glenshee, Perthshire.  During the preparations for the wedding, it was hoped the weather would be good so as to allow an outside wedding.  On the two and a half hour drive to the location, the weather was as one would hope for a Saturday in July.  The sun was up and there was warmth in the air.  However, as I reached the last climb before dropping into Glenshee, the dark clouds started gathering.  No prizes for guessing that the weather went downhill from thereon in and despite the staff waiting until the absolute last minute, the wedding was held in the drawing room.  The String Quartet had to play via an open door (as you can see) from the snooker room next door.  During the ceremony, the rain came down very heavily, causing concerns over the marquee for the reception.

Rachel and Robbie were keen to involve everyone in their wedding and after the introduction to the ceremony, they decided to have everyone sing the Beatles song "All you need is love".  I hasten to add that I, personally, do not sing - even cats complain if I try.  The guests started off quietly but soon got into the swing of it.  After it was over, I joked that as we were videoing the wedding, we would go for Take Two.  The look of horror on some faces was a picture to remember!  Rachel and Robbie had written their own vows which were kept a secret from the other until the ceremony.  It was very emotional for both of them but their words were just perfect.  Another friend sang a Dusty Springfield number as we signed the marriage schedule and Rachel's mum Jacqui gave a reading to complete the ceremony.

As all the family and most of the guests had come from England, few had been at a Humanist wedding before and there was a lot of very positive feedback about the ceremony being so personal and meaningful.  Even the photographers from England were thinking about re-doing their vows it was such a inspiring ceremony.  I'm still waiting!!!!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Moira and David 2 July 2011

The wedding of Moira and David was held at Aswanley, near Huntly in Aberdeenshire.  It is a lovely location with facilities for both  indoor and outdoor weddings. 

As I was arriving, the weather looked better than it had for some time and the decision had just been taken to hold the wedding in the gardens.  It was all hands to the pumps as the chairs were moved from the main hall in time for the Bride's arrival.

It may not be noticeable but I am actually standing uphill from them both - and I'm still looking up at them!  As the sun beat down on us I was thinking I should have remembered to apply my factor 50.  Both David and I were cooking slowly in our kilts.  Moira's dress was far more suitable for the occasion. They had decided to exchange their vows while they were hand fasted.  Normally I say to the couple that about 1metre is sufficient for the length of the ribbons or ropes.  Moira must have found a very generous supplier as the ribbons  must have been a metre and a half long - at least!  Instead of just a couple of wrap overs there were quite a few.

After the ceremony we all adjourned to the main hall where Pimms and other drinks were served.  Ditte and Chris, the wedding photographers, had a beautiful location (and couple) to work with and their photos do it justice.  As I said, it was a lovely day - almost a summer's day in fact.

All photographs have been used with the kind permission of First Light Wedding Photography.

Sue and Gordon 25 June 2011

Sue and Gordon's special day was held at the newly refurbished Linlithgow Burgh Halls which has several rooms capable of hosting weddings.  This room has two lovely old fireplaces, one at either end of the room, while the rest has been modernised sympathically.

From the very beginning, Sue and Gordon wanted their marriage to be fun and a celebration of their love and commitment.  Gordon even persuaded his mum, Betty to read this poem by the prolific author Anonymous.

Marriage Is
Marriage is all about giving and taking
And forgiving and forsaking
Kissing and loving and pushing and shoving
Caring and sharing and screaming and swearing.
About being together whatever the weather
About being driven to the end of your tether
About sweetness and kindness
And wisdom - and blindness.
It's about being strong when you're feeling quite weak
It's about saying nothing when you're dying to speak
It's about being wrong, when you know you are right
It's about giving in, before there's a fight.
And for you two today it's about to begin
And for all that the two of you had to put in
Some days filled with joy, and some days with sadness
Too late you'll discover that marriage is madness!

Still that did not put them off  and, after a hand fasting, they were duly married.  As you can just make out on the photo they used ribbon bearing the Scots and English flags to represent each other.  There was some debate on which had come out on top.

As many guests had not met before and had travelled some distance, we included them towards the end by having them recite an Apache Blessing.  As we adjourned for drinks in a neighbouring room, I noticed that their wedding cake was eminently suitable for  two such laid back people!

Maybe, after all, the effort of getting everything together had taken its toll!

Niamh and Andy 18 June 2011

I suppose this is the wedding I have approached with the most trepidation since my very first wedding.  Not because of anything Niamh or Andy have done in the lead up to the wedding but because Niamh is my dentist's dental nurse!  So, if anything went wrong, there could be payback - big time!!!!

That may explain my pensive petrified look just before we started.

The location was Elgin Cathedral and the weather, as usual, this wedding season - note I refuse to call this summer - was overcast and threatening to rain so, instead of being out in the grounds, we adjourned to the covered Chapter House.  The wedding was fairly traditional; the groom nervous and the bride fashionably late.

As many of the guests had travelled considerable distances to be here, we included them shortly after the beginning by having a "ring warming".  We sent Niamh and Andy's rings around the guests and asked them for their silent best wishes for the couple's future together.  Suitably warmed, they placed them on their fingers after their vows.

As you can see my trepidation was uncalled for and as we said the magic words - you may now kiss the bride - Andy took full advantage of it.  When we were signing the marriage schedule, Niamh's cousin, Mhairi sang "Make you feel my love" which was absolutely beautiful.  She could certainly wow them on X Factor (if I knew what that programme was). After a few final words of advice from me, the couple were piped down the aisle to start their new life together.

I wish them well - especially as I'm due to visit the dentist shortly.

All photographs used were by courtesy of Douglas J Caldow Photography.