Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Humanist weddings up 64%!

I'm a bit past being excited about the pop charts these days (or the 'hit parade' as my dad calls it) but one chart we humanist celebrants have been looking forward to is the annual Registrar General of Scotland's marriage statistics.

In the year of 2007 The Humanist Society of Scotland married 710 couples last year, up from 434 in 2006. This figure puts us at number 4 in the wedding charts. The Church of Scotland are still at number one, the Catholic Church at two and the Episcopalians, with only 38 more weddings than us at number three. We still have a long way to go - this chart is for the 'faith' groups and registrar weddings are by far the most popular of all.

The press coverage in the last week has been awesome. My favourite piece of coverage is a thoughtful article by one of my favourite philosophers Julian Baginni in The Herald. I was interviewed by Craig McQueen in The Daily Record and Shan Ross in The Scotsman.

Of course, not everyone is pleased that our weddings are becomming more popular...

On Tuesday's Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Scotland, contributor Alistair McIntosh, a Quaker said that he felt our ceremonies were 'missing something'. I think Alistair Mackintosh himself missed an important point when he said:

"Marriage poses fundamental questions about what it really means to be in a profound relationship with another human being."

In a humanist wedding we don't give couples reasons for getting married but ask them to work out why is is they feel marriage and commitment are important to them. Humanists think that marriage is a choice not a necessity and don't think that a couple who choose not to marry would be living in sin. Therefore couples who marry in a humanist ceremony are making a commitment for reasons that are, deeply considered and 100% positive.

Alistair Mackintosh goes on to say that Humanist weddings have no 'spiritual element'. It is true that humanist weddings do not focus on spirituality but that doesn't mean some humanists wouldn't describe their thoughts on the world around them and their feelings towards their fellow man as 'spiritual'. However it is described, we think that being thoughtful about the world and open to new ideas is a more positive lifestance than accepting dogma.

The Registrar General defines Humanist Society of Scotland weddings in its faith group for statistical purposes. It is ironic that if Alistair Mackintosh was criticising any of the faith groups in those statistics they would have a chance to answer him on Thought for the Day, but we don't because we think rather than believe.

Of course Alistair wouldn't talk about any of the others because their marriage figures are falling or at best stagnant. Perhaps with more people choosing humanism as a positive way of life, it is time for the BBC to rethink its Thought for the Day policy.

I will look forward to tuning into Thought for the Day in 2010, because we estimate that by then we will be a more popular wedding provider than the Catholic Church. I wonder what their contributors will think of that and whether there will be a humanist on talking about it?

Hey, its better to be criticised than ignored, don't you think?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dirleton Castle Wedding

Only the lonely...dum, dum, dum, dummi-doo-waah...

Sometimes a piper's place is outdoors as they will be too loud in the actual venue. This piper was great and the sound coming through the open spaces of the vault in Dirleton Castle was haunting and atmospheric.

What a setting! This vault looks amazing as it is but with all the tea-lights is was so romantic. I personally lit at least 20. I really like helping out that way - it is nice to get another job and be useful! Though I got told off later by the photographer for looking the wrong way when he was doing a group shot, so I'm not good at everything.

And here is the happy couple Janine and James. They expressed in the ceremony about how much they wanted to BE married, not just to GET married and as a celebrant I can't ask for more than that.

Personally, I prefer the vault for a wedding but you can get married on the roof and as it was a nice day we all went up there for a toast. Here are the lovely bridesmaid Anne and usher Kevin who both did a reading.

Dynamic Earth Wedding

There's nothing I like chatting about more than weddings but when I met Marjorie and Adam all they wanted to talk about was their families because that's the most important thing to them. So we made their love for their children and grandchildren a big part of the ceremony and that made it extra special. Young love is a beautiful thing to behold but marrying a couple who are in the 'late summer' of their years was an especially lovely thing to do. I am so happy for them! They are a very much loved couple and when they walked in together they made all of us feel in love too.

I'll have to get more photos of this ceremony. Their grandchildren were at their feet as I pronounced them to be husband and wife, which was so great as they wanted to be part of the proceedings. The piper is what we call in the trade: 'a character' and the wedding coordinator at Dynamic Earth and I had quite a laugh with him before the ceremony.

Point Hotel Wedding

I've been to many a fancy function at the Penthouse Suite of The Point Hotel but Natalie and David's wedding was the first nuptuals I had officiated at in this dramatic setting. These photos (sweetly taken by one of the coordinators for the venue) just don't do it justice (not her fault - my camera!). Here, you can get married in a modern setting with a fabulous view of Edinburgh Castle in front of you. It is incredibly romantic in a rather groovy, ecclectic way. David and Natalie had a very special ceremony and there was a very warm, intimate atmosphere in the room.

Here we are signing the paperwork.

We all sang 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. This was what we sung at my own wedding and it made me so happy to sing it again. This is the band! Unfortunately the lovely Heather isn't in this photo because she also sang 'In My Life' and she is very beautiful and a lovely girl so I'll see if I can get them to send me a photo of her.

This cake is awesome! Before the ceremony began I asked David where they got the cake, thinking it would be the most expensive cake shop in town. His mother made it! Every inch is flawless and all in those lovely boxes... What I like about it the most is that it is so fitting for the setting: cool, simple and sophisticated.