Love - What a wedding is all about

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Janey and Alan - 21 July 2012

This wedding took place at the Britannia Hotel in Aberdeen with a couple whose main passion in life outside of their family is Pool and both are quite proficient at it.  The wedding ceremony itself was quite a traditional affair, as Janey did not want to have a fuss and people looking at her.  Kind of difficult to do on your wedding day I'm afraid.

It was during a family holiday in Florida that Alan hatched a plan to propose.  Janey is a very big fan of Disney and Alan intended to do the deed while in front of the Disney’s famous Cinderella Castle.  Unfortunately, there were large crowds around the Castle and, as he knew she would not want anyone looking, he did not go ahead.  However, at the airport, on the way home, he came across a cardboard Cinderella Castle and quickly took the opportunity to propose.  While she was happy, indeed delighted to accept she kept constantly looking around her, hoping no one would see what was happening.

Both bride and groom were nervous beforehand but, as they stood facing each other, they gained the strength of the other, just like I said in my intro - am I psychic!  After the ring warming, their small son did the honours by polishing the rings before we placed them on their fingers.

There was only one potential small hitch in the proceedings.  As we moved to the table and chair to sign the Marriage Schedule, Janey discovered a slight problem; her dress, which had one of these plastic rings to hold the base out, made it difficult to fit it under the table.  However, with a little squeezing, she was able to sit down.

After the ceremony they were piped down the aisle and out of the building to a welcome breath of air outside in the sun.  Notice to the Britannia - air conditioning, which works, on very hot days would be much appreciated.

While mingling with the guests over an orange juice (maybe one day I'll earn enough to employ a driver) I learned that, for many, it had been their first experience of a Humanist Ceremony and they were very delighted with it, remarking upon how personal and apt it was for Janey and Alan.  That's what I strive for!

Lisa and Dave - 7 July 2012

This was a fun wedding on a very miserable day.  To make matters worse while my new Skoda Superb car is excellent the Skoda umbrella, which came with it, leaves much to be desired.   Yes, there was great precipitation from on high washing the streets clean.

The wedding was held at the Marcliffe of Pitfodels in Aberdeen, which is a lovely venue.  While the wedding itself was planned to be indoors the initial drinks after the ceremony were to be held in the courtyard, a quaint little enclosed garden.  Well, so much for that idea!

The ceremony itself was quite representative of the couple who have a very fun outlook on life.  We told the story of how they came together or, closer to the truth, almost didn't.  Dave is a tall lad and very outgoing but, as we got closer to the ceremony, he began to appear a bit nervous.  When Lisa appeared, looking stunningly beautiful, and began to walk down the aisle to join us, I thought he was going to faint as his emotions took over but a gentle hand from Lisa on his helped to steady him and we progressed.  Amongst the readings by friends was "Marriage Is" by that well-known author, Anonymous - the one that ends in "Marriage is Madness".  This went down very well with the guests.  After we signed the Marriage Schedule, Lisa and Dave drank some Rosé wine from their Wedding Quaich which, no doubt, helped his nerves!

After the wedding, Dave looked like the cat that got the cream.  All the guests were extremely flattering about the ceremony and its content, which mostly goes down to the couple themselves.

Jonica and Sean - 23 June 2012

I seldom do two weddings on one day but I was persuaded, on this occasion, although this decision almost came back to haunt me.

Jonica and Sean live in Australia and so all the wedding ceremony preparations were accomplished through email.  They are both quite laid back people and tying them down to get the details of their ceremony in place seemed to take forever, they were so quite chilled about the whole process.  The only part that seemed to annoy them was the local Registrars’ having the idea that they were to marry them.
They arrived in Dundee on the Tuesday prior the wedding and we were able to speak for the first time.  My parting shot to Sean was not to forget the marriage schedule!  Guess what?  At 4.15pm, at Scone Palace, Perth, for a 5pm wedding, I asked Sean to produce the marriage schedule.  Oops!!  He thought Jonica had it!  Quick phone call - answer, NO!!  Some names were then bandied about until it was decided the Marriage Schedule was in Granny's car.  The problem was that Granny's car was in Dundee!!

Having explained to Sean, family members and guests that, without the marriage schedule, I could not conduct a legal wedding and suggesting vigorously that someone be dispatched to Dundee for it, we waited until the bride arrived in her Bentley.  It was she who decided that someone must high tail it to Dundee for the Marriage Schedule.  Meanwhile she removed herself to a nearby hostelry for a lemonade!

By 5.40pm, we had confirmation that the driver had retrieved the marriage licence and so we began at 5.50pm.  By this time, the co-ordinators at Scone Palace were very anxious and concerned, as they had to have the room vacated and restored for the next function by 7pm. 

The wedding was always going to be different and so it began.  If you ever saw the spoof Royal Wedding video, "Everybody in the House of Love", on YouTube, you get the idea!  (Hmm, I must try and get a copy of my dancing.)  We had reached the Hand Fasting and they were exchanging their personal vows when the Marriage Schedule arrived.  A quick check, to confirm everything was in order, and we were ready for the legal vows
We finished about 6.35 and everyone danced out.  It was a very memorable wedding albeit for two entirely different reasons.  The Scone Palace staff was very impressed, especially with the way I had handled the situation.  It's a good job they didn’t see me panicking inside!

Frida and Are - 23 June 2012

Frida and Are came all the way from Norway for their wedding at Forter Castle, Glenisla, near Blairgowrie.  One advantage was that their family and friends were able to stay in the castle as well.  I won't mention the fact that the cost of alcohol in Norway is over four times the level of that in Scotland - and they had sourced a great deal of it for their weekend stay from local supermarkets!

I first met Frida and Are in Edinburgh at the beginning of May, after exchanging many emails, and we discussed the draft of their wedding.  Despite being together for eleven years and having two small children, they were very keen for a simple wedding.  The venue had been chosen because of their friendship with Phen, a Scot who works with Are.  To complete the wedding they wanted a Piper and I was able to put them in contact with my friend and excellent piper, Robbie Innes (

As you might suspect, the weather on the day played some games and as Robbie was piping outside, he was walking around trying to avoid the rain, using the building as cover.  What I found really amusing, was the sight of Robbie trying to walk away from the guests to allow them to enjoy the scenery and give them a little quieter area.  However, they were chasing after him to have their photos taken with him! 

The wedding itself took place in the very small chapel in the castle as you can see from the photos.  I had to "move" the large cross from the front of the table for obvious reasons.  During the ceremony, their young daughter, Selma, polished the wedding rings after the ring warming - well they do get a bit grubby with all those hands.

By the time the ceremony was over, the weather had relented a bit enabling drinks to be served and photos to be taken, outside.  Even for Norwegians it was quite nippy. Are had been very chilled out prior to the wedding taking place as you can see in this photo.

It was a beautiful location, with a lovely couple and guests, who made both Robbie and I feel at home.  Pity I was driving, but Pipers traditionally get a dram after playing - eh, Robbie?  Maybe next time!

Nora & David 16 June 2012

The words of the song, "Love Story" keep floating around my head as I begin to write this story.
Both Nora and David are from Ireland although they live in Edinburgh.  As they are both professional people they lead very busy lives, which made it quite difficult to arrange everything, but thank goodness for Skype and email.

The venue was the Hub just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  It is the old Church of Scotland Ecclesiastical School and Assembly building.  The main auditorium is simply splendid, although you can easily guess its former origins in the fittings.

Now, I am often accused of being cruel in that I suggest to my couples that they face their guests (just so they can see who has bothered to dress up, of course!), however, Nora and Dave took this one or two steps further.  They had three best men and three bridesmaids whom they intended to make work for their keep!

They came down the aisle together to the sound of a harp, beautifully played by their friend Declan.  Shortly into the ceremony, they asked their mothers to light candles signifying the union of their two families. This was followed by short readings given by one best man and two bridesmaids on behalf of Nora and Dave who wanted to express their feelings for their families and guests and show appreciation for their support they had received over the years.  Next came a ring warming - cue best man No 2.  Nora's sister and Bridesmaid No 3, Grace, then read an excerpt from Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road" after which Best Man No 3, Daire, read the "Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear.

It was all highly appropriate as, although they did not actually go off to sea for a year and a day, Nora and Dave did spend a year working, first in Malawi and then travelling through Africa and South America.  It was during this time that they became engaged.  More music followed, this time by three friends on guitar and a female cousin singing "The Blowers Song", which was excellent.

To seal their vows, I conducted a hand fasting which, from the beginning, gave me some concern.  They had decided to use a piece of Irish Linen, (a wedding present to her parents) and a length of cloth from Malawi.  Initially, I thought nothing of it - until I saw them!  The Irish linen was quite a bit longer than the usual one metre and fairly wide.  The Malawi cloth was shorter and much wider.  However, I managed to fold them into what I hoped would be a workable size and they were given to other guests to deliver at the correct time.  To my absolute delight(and okay, some shock), it worked a treat and is definitely one of the best knots I have ever tied.

Even the ring exchange had an unusual element in that the rings had been made by Nora and Dave themselves in a local Jewellery Craft shop near to their home.  After signing the Marriage Schedule (music provided by another friend), they lit the third candle to symbolise their, and their families’, joining through marriage.  This was not quite the event we planned.  Before the wedding, as we set up the candles, I found that the main one had been broken in transit and we could not reset it so it was now the shortest candle of the three.  Fortunately, this mishap did not faze them one bit. 

To ensure everyone was in the mood to enjoy the festivities afterwards, we then had a Mexican Hug, which went round very well.  So well in fact, that I was moved to say that I had business cards if anyone now needed my services!

As I sent them back down the aisle, their friends played and sang the Beatles song "I Will."

After the ceremony, I received a massive bear hug from one of the guests who proclaimed it to be the “best wedding ever!!!”  Everyone was very impressed and delighted with the ceremony.  When I eventually reached the end of the line, where Nora and Dave were greeting their family and friends, they were ecstatic, as all their guests had commented on such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony.  All had thoroughly enjoyed the wedding.  The credit has to go to Nora and Dave and all their friends who made such a significant input during the ceremony. 

It is one wedding that will endure in my memory for a long time.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Laura and Colin - 09.06.12

Laura and Colin - 09.06.12

This wedding began in slightly differently from most in that I originally only met with Laura as Colin was unavailable.  Due to her own work schedule it was difficult to actually find a time for the meeting, but that is a problem that seems to be happening more frequently these days. 

Initially their plan was to marry at the Mosset in Forres but due to the time needed to turn around the entertainment suite into a reception room after the wedding, this was not going to be possible and they switched the ceremony venue to a marquee in the garden of her uncle's home in Nairn.

I set off for the wedding armed with the directions for getting there, as well as having programmed the satnav (not so easy in the new car).  I found the turn off and then started looking for the venue.  I headed out of Nairn through Kingsteps (that was fine, included on the instructions) for what seemed like an age, then, just as I was looking for place to turn around, feeling sure I had missed the venue, I saw a marquee in the distance.  We were by now a good three miles out of Nairn.  As I closed in on the marquee, signs began to appear, Laura and Colin's wedding - success I was there!

I had just done getting everything set up when Colin arrived.  One marriage schedule check later and we were good to go.  The marquee was a bit chilly but as the guests began arriving, it soon heated up so my going from having blue fingers to a leaking forehead was accomplished quite quickly.  Unfortunately, the weather did not play ball and it was a damp afternoon as Laura arrived.
The ceremony involved several readings and Laura's uncle read "Marriage Fulfils the Dreams and Love Two People Share" by Glenda Wilm.  I then tied the two of them up as they exchanged their personal vows.  The wedding concluded with a suitable ending and I sent them off down the aisle with instructions to take their time, as so many rush this part.  By now, it was raining and they headed off to her uncle's home for the photographs as they could not be taken outside.

The timescale being tight, the guests all headed for the bus or their cars to make the journey to the reception at the Mosset.  This meant I had little opportunity to mingle with them and obtain some feedback on the ceremony.  Those that did take a moment to talk to me commented very highly on the personal nature of the ceremony and how much they had enjoyed it.

Catriona and Peter - 2 June 2012

Catriona and Peter - 2 June 2012

The venue for Catriona and Peter’s wedding was the Chapter House at the beautiful Elgin Cathedral and, surprise , surprise, it was not raining!  Two Saturdays in a row, and no rain!  What is the world coming to?

The one problem with the Chapter House is that massive pillar which supports the remarkable ceiling.  The layout of the seating usually means that not all the guests have a full view of the ceremony but this time, due to the numbers attending, Peter, his assistants and I did our best to move the chairs around so that everyone could see the marriage take place. 

Catriona and Peter were quite concerned their wedding might be too long and though it actually ended up being one of my shorter ones, it was still very personal and meaningful and struck a chord with the many guests. 

I think the guests enjoyed hearing the story of how the couple had first met.  Peter, still feeling very under the weather due to his previous night’s exploits, had to be pretty much dragged to a party by his friends, with the promise of a smashing girl from the Highlands being there.  After the party, Catriona told her friends that she had found "The One".  It never ceases to amaze me, when the couples I marry tell me about their first meeting, how often coincidence and just pure chance is involved in their ever getting together at all!

After the ceremony, the guests adjourned to the courtyard where champagne and strawberries were served while the photographs were being taken and before they headed off for the reception.

I received a lovely card from them, with the two of them gazing into the others eyes on the beach (still in their wedding outfits) with "Thank You" written in the sand.  It said, "Dear George, We just wanted to say a huge thanks for your fantastic service for our wedding.  We really enjoyed it and found it very personal and special.  So many of our guests also came to us and complimented the service"

The photographs with the couple and me, myself for the ring warming and the candle lighting courtesy of Steven Seymour, Parallel 57

Jill and Fraser 26 May 2012

Jill and Fraser  26 May 2012

This was both a long distance, yet a very local wedding.  Let me explain.  Jill and Fraser, although both originally come from and met locally, were living in Perth, Western Australia when they contacted me regarding their wedding.  It was their intention to marry at Gordon Castle, Fochabers, which is only 2 miles from where I stay.

Initially we exchanged emails but I was able to meet Jill when she returned home for a brief holiday.  Surprisingly, even after meeting me, they decided to book me as their Celebrant.  Over the months since then, they designed their ceremony but even when they were returning to the UK, where they will remain, the script was not finalised. 

We met up as they were setting out the wedding venue on the Thursday afternoon and were able to almost complete the tasks involved before we had a rehearsal.

On the Saturday afternoon all their efforts to arrange the venue were helped by one of the best days of the year so far.  Gordon Castle is just dipping its toes into becoming a wedding venue but it could become the "must have" venue in Moray although I doubt they will often see what Jill and Fraser had for their wedding.  To begin with the marquee was unbelievably big – roughly, it seemed, about the length of a football pitch – draped with swags and adorned with chandeliers.  The wedding itself was outside where the bridal party were sheltered from the baking sun by a permanent canopy as we face towards the house.  Jill's father had built a bridge over the large pond which was now bedecked with flowers and the obligatory red carpet.

The string quartet played as we awaited the bride and her father, who followed the flower girl and bridesmaids across the bridge.  One of the readings used in the wedding was written by Jill's great grandfather over one hundred years ago to his bride and the words were still very relevant today.  After speaking about how they cemented their relationship while castrating and dehorning cattle (both are vets) I read "thoughts in a Garden" by R Gerhardt before we exchanged their vows and exchanged rings.  Another friend then read one of Jill's favourite poems, Robert Louis Stevenson's "I will make you brooches." The bride and groom then made their way back over the bridge, stopping in the middle for some photos. Other highlights of the wedding were Jill's mum primary school choir singing, the Moray string quartet and a jazz band playing as the guests were sampling some champagne while the photos were taken.  I'm sure they appreciated that as they were in full sunlight throughout.

All in all, a quite spectacular venue and wedding.  Mingling with the guests afterwards, for many it was their first experience of a Humanist wedding which they found very personal and deeply meaningful.  Everyone said how much they enjoyed it

Joanna and Stephen 19 May 2012

Joanna and Stephen - 19 May 2012

This lovely couple’s wedding took place in the recently restored Callendar House, which is in Callendar Park, Falkirk.  The ceremony was held in a wonderful room on the first floor, overlooking the pond and garden. 
After the initial welcome of their guests, they placed a rose each onto two empty chairs to honour Stephen's mum, who died when he was very young, and his gran who died fairly recently but who had been so looking forward to their wedding.  I have to say, it was a very touching moment.

They had met at work and it wasn’t long before they began to realise they had feelings for each other.  They have very realistic views on marriage and there were several readings, including one by Joanna's brother who read, "Oh the Places you'll go" by Dr Seuss.  The works of Dr Seuss seem quite popular for readings at weddings although I must confess, before I started conducting ceremonies I was less familiar with the books than with Dr Seuss Land at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida!!. 

A traditional hand fast preceded the legal vows and only after the exchange of rings did they make their personal vows.  The ceremony concluded with a Celtic Blessing from the guests to the bride and groom for their future happiness.

After I sent them off as husband and wife, they exited the room via a beautiful external stairway to the ground level where a lot of photographs were taken!

It was one of the very few fine days we have experienced this year, so I hope their photographs have come out well.   I think they have!!

(photographs courtesy of Bob Dougal Photography) (

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Claire and Alan 12 May 2012

Claire and Alan 12 May 2012

For their wedding, Claire and Alan had chosen the setting of the splendid and newly restored Castle Fraser near Inverurie.  It was a beautiful day and as I arrived, I encountered a number of guests who had arrived before me.  For one heart stopping moment I thought I must have made an error about the time of the wedding and I was late, but no!  I was right on schedule and the guests were just taking the opportunity to admire the beautiful building and gardens beforehand.

One thing that National Trust for Scotland properties are highly praised for is their tea rooms – but what comes in for even higher praise is the scones they serve in those tea rooms!  So, as it was a lunchtime wedding, I managed to fit in a cup of tea and a scone before the wedding started.  Good planning, eh?  (Just had to be very careful about the jam!)

During the wedding we told the story of how the couple met, of an almost disastrous first date but mostly of how their love for each other has grown since then.  They had opted to include hand-fasting in the ceremony, during which they said their personal vows to each other.  Alan's sister then read the passage "These are the hands" before the legal vows and exchange of rings.  After the signing of the Marriage Schedule, Claire's brother read the poem “Our Great Adventure" by Steven Reiser.

After we closed the ceremony, it was off to have photos taken by Paul Mackie who skilfully used the four old Rolls Royce's' that had brought the wedding party to the location, as a backdrop.  He had to stand on the roof of his Ute vehicle to manage this feat.  He appears one of these photographers who go that bit extra to get "that picture".  ( (These are my phone photos as I forgot my own camera)

 It was during this activity that I not only ran into the son of very good friends of mine, but also met two more of Claire and Alan’s friends, who just happen to work with my daughter and son-in-law in Grangemouth.  It's a small world.

My abiding memory of the day will be the smile on both the bride and groom especially knowing how nervous he was before we started.

Again many guests sought me out to congratulate me on a lovely, personal wedding ceremony which was just "them".  Well they do the hard part, I just put it together hopefully in a manner which they and everyone will enjoy.

Jaqueline and Cameron 6 April 2012

Jaqueline and Cameron 6 April 2012

This was my first wedding this year and definitely the first couple from Kazakhstan I have married.  Well, that’s not quite what it seems - they were originally from Nairn! While neither is in the first flush of youth, they were childhood sweethearts when they attended Nairn Academy a few years ago.  Unfortunately, circumstances intervened and saw them part, but chance came back into play some three decades later and they were reunited.

The wedding location was to be on the shores of Loch Meig in Strathconnon, Ross-shire.  All the work in drawing up the wedding ceremony itself had been conducted by email and the script had been finalised.  However, when I first met them on the Sunday prior to their Friday wedding, they had yet to pick the exact spot for the ceremony and were planning a reconnaissance trip around the shoreline on Tuesday before choosing the perfect setting.  The area holds special memories for them and together, within its tranquil and beautiful scenery, they experience a feeling of being spiritually connected; of being at one with nature.

On the day of the wedding, the wedding party, guests and I, were to assemble at Muir of Ord before travelling in convoy to the location. Some eleven miles later, we arrived, having driven over the River Orrin which is co-incidentally named after my new grandson!.  All the way to Muir of Ord and then on to Loch Meig, it had been raining hard.  As we drew up it stopped and we were able to scramble down and set everything up for the wedding by the shore.

The ceremony was a very traditional affair - apart from the sharing of water from Loch Meig, rather than the amber nectar normally seen on such occasions.  The ceremony over, Jaqueline and Cameron managed to pose for a number of photos before we headed back to the cars.  As we were doing this, there came the gentle patter of raindrops and, just as we finished stowing the wedding table and the last of the chairs back in the cars, the pitter-patter became a hammering deluge.

It was a beautiful location for a lovely couple.  The ceremony was the first Humanist one many of the family and guests had ever encountered, but all thoroughly enjoyed it, saying how very personal and appropriate it was to Jaqueline and Cameron.

 (My photos do not do the location justice.  It would be spectacular with even a little sun)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Review - Wedding of the Year 2011

While I really enjoyed all the weddings I conducted in 2011 as all the couples were delightful to deal with and brought so many ideas to their weddings, I think I can be forgiven for having a particular favourite.  When you read about this wedding which took place before the start of my web site and blog (probably before I knew what those were too), I'm sure you will understand why. 

This is the story of Leanne and Alan.(which has also been submitted for consideration to be included in the Humanite magazine.

Article for the Humanightie Magazine

The Wedding of Leanne Smith and Alan McDonald on 4th April 2011. 

Celebrant: George Caldow
One of the best parts of being a Celebrant is that I meet so many lovely people, some of whom have a very different outlook on life and in their way of dealing with adversity.  This is the story of Leanne and Alan who are one such couple.
During May 2010 I was first approached by Leanne and Alan to conduct their wedding.  The initial e-mail gave the clue that this was to be no ordinary wedding.
“We would like to have a Humanist wedding ceremony and have you conduct it.  We are both mature adults and I am a divorcee of more than twenty years.  We do have a special request that our five dogs and four horses and another owned by a friend are in attendance.  The horses would be in a paddock next to the back garden.”
On our first meeting, I quickly realised that I was dealing with a couple who had a different attitude about what was important in life but who were very happy in each other’s company.  In addition to the several dogs in the house, beside their home was a large paddock, stocked with horses and various fowl.
During the meeting it was apparent that both were “free spirits” who were in tune with nature and also very down to earth.  As we talked about a Humanist wedding they were clear that they were not religious and wanted a ceremony with which they could express themselves about their love for each other, their friends, and their animals – though not necessarily in that order!  Their initial idea surrounding the ceremony was to include their animals as “guests” as the marquee would be in the paddock and their horses would have their own vantage point to witness the ceremony.  There would also be a mini fun fair, bouncy castle and pony rides for the guests.  The wedding meal was to be provided by burger and ice cream van!

As we discussed the various elements of the wedding ceremony, they expressed their desire for it to be personal and about them, which, as we all know is easier said than done.  The date was to be the 16th of May 2011 as it was the birthday of the first foal Leanne had bred called Faith.  I then asked the question of how the bride would arrive and the dress code for the day.  Leanne indicated that she would like to make her entrance as Lady Godiva on her horse!
At this point I also realised that this was no ordinary couple.  Alan had not so much as raised an eyebrow at this suggestion – and I had yet to learn the dress code for everyone else, which information I awaited with trepidation!  However, in the end, the discussion never quite got that far.
In January 2011, when I contacted them to begin the drafting of their ceremony, I learned that Alan had a new position within his firm and was now going to be working overseas.  This meant he could no longer guarantee being in the UK on the proposed date, so it was decided to postpone the wedding till the 16th May 2012. This was not a problem for me as it wasn’t a Saturday.
Consequently, you could have knocked me over with a feather when, on the 16th of March, Leanne contacted me asking for advice.  Alan had been diagnosed with cancer of the throat and was to undergo immediate treatment.  They now wanted to have their wedding as soon as possible.  Based on the 15 days’ notice required by the Registrar, the earliest possible date was April 1st.   Leanne requested Monday 4th April as that was her birthday, to which I agreed.
We met the following Sunday to go through the design of their ceremony and I was quite surprised to see how pale and gaunt Alan had become since our original meeting.  They hoped to have the wedding at their new home in Drybridge, near Buckie, but that would depend on Alan’s treatment schedule.  He was to be admitted to hospital in Aberdeen the following day and they did not know whether he would face surgery, chemotherapy or both.  That was a decision yet to be taken by the surgeon.
Leanne then laid down the law for the dress code on the day.  As they did not know how well Alan would be, she wanted almost everyone to wear their pyjamas!  That way, Alan did not have to worry about the possibility of being unable to dress up, as originally planned, in his highland outfit, and he would not feel out of place.  Most of the guests were happy with this, though a few had reservations.  To add a bit of formality to the occasion the Piper and I were to be in Highland outfits, but everyone else was to be in their PJ’s.  Both were adamant that despite Alan’s illness, it was to be a fun and relaxed day.
Alan’s son, Ross would be in charge of the catering - a themed Breakfast with cereal, fry up, black pudding, kedgeree, croissants, jams and marmalade.  There would also be three cakes; one traditional three-tiered,  and two large ice cream cakes, one of millionaires shortbread and the other of lemon meringue ice cream.
In the event, Alan’s treatment commenced with radiotherapy and chemotherapy and the hospital carefully worked out the dates so that Alan could be at home for the wedding.
In traditional manner, the bridegroom stayed away from the bride on the eve of the wedding and his so-called friends arranged a surprise stag night which left him in a bed covered with pine cones and clutching a teddy bear.  This all happened despite him being sober, so what would have happened otherwise we can only speculate.
On the day the weather wouldn’t play ball for an outside ceremony so we had to settle for an intimate indoor wedding by the roasting fireplace.  Alan had prepared for an outside wedding and had his thermals on under his pyjamas.  As we waited by the fire (slowly cooking), for Leanne to arrive, I asked Alan if he knew what she would be wearing (a sensible question, I thought, given her previous suggestion of wedding attire).  Alan said he had left it to her whether classically sexy or funny, like his.
The wail from the drones, as the piper prepared to play, heralded her imminent arrival from next door.  Leanne appeared, in funny PJ’s, accompanied by the dogs - also suitably attired in their very own PJ’s! 

Leanne and Alan on their wedding.

“The wedding may not have been as we originally thought, but it was a great success.  Despite my illness, we both wanted a relaxed and fun ceremony, as that is us.  The guests had no idea it was going to be so relaxed or as much fun.  The Mexican hug took everyone by surprise and broke down any potential barriers and, from that moment, we could see them relax.  When it came to our story - our wedding vows, the important words about us, our friends and the way we care about each other and them - we could see those words register with them as it reflected in their faces. There were even a few tears.
After the ceremony we were able to get out to the garden for the photos and everybody was so positive about the ceremony and how they had enjoyed it immensely.  Everyone then joined in helping to make the meal, and the party began.  About 8 o’clock some decided to take the dogs for a walk and headed towards the village, tinnies in hand, and still in their PJ’s - as were the dogs.
All in all we had a great day and when the last guest left at 11 o’clock, we just sat and relaxed with Ross, his partner Fatima and Alan's twin brother, going over a perfect day.
We still laugh about it now.  Our friends have been warned that if they liked the wedding they should wait for the next part.  We were really pleased at the number of family and friends who made the effort to attend and had such a good day, even if one had to run off for a while to help his father with a calving.  His father said to him “I thought you were at a wedding, what’s the PJ’s about?  He couldn’t believe the answer”
What they did not say was that Leanne had heroically accomplished in seventeen days the organisation of exactly the wedding they wanted while Alan was undergoing his treatment and she was rightly very pleased with herself, as she is more of an animal than a people person.
I was immensely delighted to meet up with them again recently to find Alan looking really well and actually looking forward to returning to work in April.  My only worry now is - what is in store in the ‘next part’ they promised their guests?
I’ll leave the final word to Leanne:
“My wedding attire will be the most worn wedding outfit in history - especially when the winter hits!”

Danni & Bob Millhouse Hotel, Tynet by Buckie 10 December 2011

Danni & Bob Millhouse Hotel, Tynet by Buckie 10 December 2011

Danni & Bob's wedding was a quiet family affair at the venue in which they had had their very first date after Danni had gone fishing on "Plenty of Fish .com" after having been single for a number of years.  Happily, Bob, who is no tiddler,  filled all the right boxes (astrologically) and over a period of time they fell in love.  Well, both admit it was love at first sight but they wanted to be sure.

A few months later, while on holiday in Cyprus, Bob insisted they visit the "Baths of Aphrodite" where he went down on his knee and asked her to marry him.  After they climbed out of the Baths, Danni was breathless - have you seen the sides you have to climb!  But really it was the proposal.
For the wedding itself, they included Danni's son Harley who read "What is Love?" by the prolific author Anonymous.  Both wrote about what they had found in each other and were quite emotional reading them out. Following a ring warming, they exchanged their vows during a Hand Fast and after that, the rings were cleaned by Danni's son Aston.  Well so many grubby hands had held them, before they were placed on their fingers.

As you can see we also included a Hand fasting. 
The wedding was completed by the guests saying a traditional Celtic Blessing for their future.

All in all, a fitting climax to the 2011 wedding season, even if they were going home to a house without central heating, but they have each other to keep themselves warm.

(photos provided by John Starlite -photographer who also did the disco)