Friday, April 25, 2008

Channings Wedding

Big weddings often create a fantastic atmosphere but small, intimate ceremonies have a charm of their own. Susan and John got married in the cosy, luxuriousness of Channings Hotel in Edinburgh and had only their closest family and dearest friends there.

John and Susan mentioned in the ceremony that they love good food and wine but they also love running, which is why they both look so svelte and gorgeous! There was lots of laughter in the ceremony, because they are people who don't take themselves seriously and all their guests felt comfortable enough to really enjoy being with them and laugh along.

Susan's brother's partner Emily sang the Norah Jones song, "Come Away With Me", which she did beautifully and brought a tear to a few eyes.

I think she may be a star of the future and you can check out a couple of her Myspace pages, Emily Burden Music and her band Stella66

And here is John's sister Yvonne, who did a reading, and bridesmaid Beth, both looking fabulous.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wedding music

Every time I hear 500 miles on the radio it reminds me of a wedding, as it must be the most popular tune for a wedding sing song!

Pipers, harpists and string quartets are all lovely ways of bringing music into the ceremony, but I like to reassure couples that if they either don't want or can't afford musicians, then CDs or an ipod with some of your favourite music work just as well, if not better.

Music can also be a way of getting people involved in the ceremony either by asking a friend to sing something or having everyone on their feet, belting out a song! When people sing solo or as a duet they can be accompanied by a guitar or keyboard but I have also heard some lovely songs being sung without accompaniment, often traditional love songs such as the Eriskay Love Lilt.

If you fancy some communal singing at your ceremony be sure to choose a song that everyone knows really well and has an easy melody to sing along to, otherwise I find myself having to lead the singing and that you definately don't want! This is great fun to do and goes down a treat.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ten things I love about you - a guide to humanist wedding vows, part two

In my last post we worked out how the vows can be said and that it doesn't have to be a frieghtening experience!

As you can see from the picture above, I usually ask couples to stand close together and hold hands when they say their vows, as this helps with their nerves!

But what can be daunting is working out exactly what you are going to say in the wedding vows, after all, it is the one chance you have to make this public commitment and you are going to want to make it special.

When I first meet couples I send them away with a little excersise to do. They each write a list of ten things that they love about the other person. These lists are useful for expressing why they love one another in the ceremony and also for the vows.

Usualy when couples swap lists there are a few surprises. Although we know we love someone and accept that they love us, we may not articulate why. Perhaps because questioning someone's love for you is percieved to be a negative act. But doing it this way is great fun, very romantic and you may just find out something about yourself that you never knew before!

When couples swap these lists they often see things that they love about one another that are similar. For example, both might have written that they love each other because they are both supportive, generous, love to laugh and look at the fun side of life. Then there may be reasons that are different. Say, for exaple the groom loves the bride because she is grounded and down to earth and she always focusses on the positive things in life and challenges the way they both see the world. She might love him because he is adventurous, up for trying new experiences and encourages her to fulfill her dreams. Taking these similarities and differences into account, their wedding vows could go something like this:

Jane and Duncan, do you both promise to be supportive partners to one another even when times are difficult?

Jane and Duncan:
We do.

Do you both promise to be generous to one another and to those around you materially and with time, care and attention?

Jane and Duncan:
We do.

(these vows are repeated in short phrases, not all at once!)
Jane, please repeat after me: Duncan, I promise to help us keep our feet on the ground and focus on the positive things in life. I promise to be understanding to you and continue to approach life with an open mind and challenge the way we both see the world.

Duncan, please repeat after me: Jane, I promise to continue to bring adventure into our lives and encourage us both to try new experiences. I promise to respect you as an individual, encourage you in your dreams and invite you to share in mine.

Jane and Duncan, do you both promise to try to continue to see the fun side of life and enjoy laughing together?

Jane and Duncan:
We do!

I hope you can see that these vows would be special to this couple as they are promising to endeavour to keep the attributes that means so much to their partner. It is also a good way of showing their similarities and differences because some couples do have quite different personalities.

Although this is a good way of approaching your vows it isn't the only way. Going with the more traditional vows: "For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health", is also great and acknowledging that marriage isn't always easy is a positive thing to promise on your wedding day.

The most important thing to remember is that your celebrant should encourage you to be comfortable with every aspect of the wedding and as the vows are the most important part, you should work with your celebrant if you have any doubts at all in what you are going to say or how you are going to say it. Did you notice that in the last vow above I asked them to promise to 'try to' see the fun side of life? I think it is important to make promises you can keep!

"I do!" A guide to humanist wedding vows, part one

My spinning instructor at the gym mentioned to me that she was thinking about having a humanist wedding but didn't like the thought of saying vows she had written herself. This is a subject that often comes up in the initial meeting I have with couples. As soon as I say, "And in a humanist ceremony you can write your own vows!" someone often looks completely terrified.

When I used to come home from school and was supposed to be doing my homework, I often watched Neighbours and whenever there was a wedding the vows were always absolutely cringeworthy!

BUT - it doesn't have to be this way. in fact, creating your own vows can be the best part of the process. A humanist wedding should reflect your personality, not mine or Charlene and Scott's (aka Kylie and Jason). If you are a 'call a spade a spade' kind of person, that is the way you should approach your wedding vows. Similarly, if you are very creative and poetic, you should reflect this in your wedding vows. Just because you are saying something in front of other people, doesn't mean you can't talk the way you normally do. Here's an example of a vow that I would ask a groom to repeat after me phrase by phrase:

"I Steven, take you Sheila to be my wife. I promise to be the best husband I can be. To be a good father to any children we may have in the future, to approach our future with an open mind, and to love and care for you for the rest of my life."

Or you can say very little. Instead of repeating the vow after me I can ask it as a question. For example:

"Sheila, do you promise to be the best partner you can be to Steven, to support him through happy and difficult times, to bring fun and laughter into his life and be true to him and yourself throughout your life together?"

"I do!" says Sheila.

I can also ask the question to both the bride and groom at the same time:

"Steven and Sheila, do you both promise to be loving and caring to one another through good times and bad, to encourage one another in your dreams and ambitions and to be faithful to each other throughout your life together?

Steven and Sheila: "We will."

I find that once I've explained this to most couples it really puts their mind at ease and they can start enjoying creating their vows.

This picture is of Nicole and Stephen saying their wedding vows. He had just promised to always try and bring laughter into her life. She immediately started laughing and that got us all going. I think he was off to a good start!

The next post will be A guide to humanist wedding vows, part two: what to promise!