Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh Baby! Humanist naming ceremonies

As a result of Humanist weddings becoming increasingly popular Humanist naming or welcoming ceremonies are much in demand too. Unfortunately when I conduct a naming ceremony it doesn't mean I get to choose the name of the baby. Not fair!

The main part of a ceremony like this is to talk about the baby's personality and how he or she has had an impact on their mum and dads' lives. It can be lovely to involve the grandparents and friends of the family in the ceremony and often people do readings or make speeches.

We have 'guide parents' who are chosen by mum and dad to be an important part of their baby's upbringing. I like to bring these people forward and say a bit about each of them and why they've been asked to play such an important role. I love this bit because their faces light up when I talk about how special they are!

The guide parents and the parents make promises to the child that are meaningful to them, mainly vowing to offer love, friendship, support and guidance when needed.

At the end of the ceremony to build up to saying the baby's name I tend to use these words:

"This child’s name will be spoken, whispered, shouted, cried, sung, and written thousands of times, impersonally or meaningfully, by family, friends, neighbours, schoolfriends, teachers, doctors, colleagues, lovers, strangers, and maybe by children and grandchildren of her own. It will define her identity..."

It's nice to think of all the people and all the ways the name will be said before declaring it. Naming and welcoming ceremonies for children are often quite relaxed and friendly affairs, sometimes done in peoples own homes or gardens.

I've got a couple of these ceremonies coming up in the next few months and am really looking forward to them. If you have a baby you'd like to have a ceremony for, please take a look at all the celebrants on the HSS website. We're all more than happy to meet up with you and discuss your baby's ceremony.

Handmade Weddings

I've blogged before about why weddings don't have to be expensive but thought I'd share a couple of recent discoveries that might be of interest if you're thinking of letting your creative side loose.

First of all I've seen some great reviews on the web about this new book, Handmade Weddings. The projects here look really pretty, modern and stylish. This would make an ideal engagement gift for crafty types.

Another fabulous resource I can't recommend highly enough is One Pretty Wedding. On this site Rachel curates a wide range of wedding crafts and projects from around the web. It is truly inspirational and there's something here for every kind of wedding and level of ability.

I'd like to add some more links to useful resources so if you know of any I'd love to hear about them in the comments section.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Humanist Wedding Videos - fame at last!

Some recent wedding couples have remarked that they've already seen me doing weddings on YouTube and other sites. Like most people I find it quite cringeworthy watching myself on video and don't think most wedding videos can quite catch the atmosphere of the ceremony itself. However these are nice to watch and will give you some idea of how I conduct ceremonies. All my ceremonies are unique so these only represent the people getting married and not how I conduct every wedding.

Here's another video of me marrying a lovely young couple at Dundas Castle and one of my colleague Ivan Middleton conducting a wedding there too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Should you have a Humanist wedding?

I may be biased but I think Humanist weddings are simply wonderful. The opportunity to express your love for one another in a way that's personal and meaningful is incredibly special. However I do appreciate that Humanist weddings aren't right for everyone, so here's some questions you might like to consider before booking a celebrant.

Firstly, do you have Humanist values?

I appreciate there are many variants when it comes to personal beliefs but in your ceremony the celebrant is representing the Humanist movement and will want to express what Humanism is. Nobody is asking you to start calling yourself a Humanist at every opportunity but we feel our ethical code is positive and fair so ask you to show your support for it by joining the Humanist Society of Scotland for one year. You might find these Humanist Quotations interesting.

I plan to explore reasons why people who aren't Humanists may come to have a Humanist ceremony in a later post.

Would you like to work with your celebrant to create a ceremony that's both personal and thoughtful?

I imagine the answer to this would be a resounding yes. Your Humanist celebrant can help you create a wonderful ceremony but all the elements of it are led by you, therefore the more you put in the more pleasure you get from it on the day. The ceremonies I've conducted over the years have varied enormously. I've conducted some very formal and some almost horizontally relaxed weddings but the tone and feel of the ceremonies has always been influenced by the couple and their personalities. That's what makes it an interesting job for me and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Would you like to involve your family and friends in your ceremony?

In a Humanist ceremony we try to involve the people who are important to you. This could be by them doing readings or being witnesses. One of the points I make in my ceremonies is that everyone plays an important part in the wedding by being there to witness the promises the couple will make: they give the ceremony meaning by doing this.

If you've answered yes to the above and are keen to meet a celebrant the first thing you need to do is take a look at the celebrant profiles on the HSS website. Choose one you like and if they are free on your date you can either book them straight away or meet them for a chat before making a decision.

Good luck with finding a celebrant no matter what kind of wedding you're having. The ceremony is the one element of a wedding you can't do without so it's worth giving a lot of thought to.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wedding 'to do' list

So you got engaged last year and are setting the date for this year - congratulations! The first thing on many bride's to do list is invest in some wedding magazines, which make it all look very exciting! I completely understand the need for wedding magazines because they are an item that you just can't buy unless you are definitely going to get married!

However, planning your big day can be stressful too, particularly when you realise what it's all going to cost and how much organisation there is to do. Wedding magazines can be really helpful as they often have good planning and budget guides but to get you started here's how I would go about the initial planning.

Venue and Celebrant

These two are the most important elements and must come first, as booking them will allow you to have a definite date for everything else. When it comes to venues I would look at a few places of a different style but try to stick within your budget. The amount of times I've heard couples saying that they've gone way over budget because they went to see a 'mega expensive venue' just 'out of curiosity' then 'fell in love with it'. Please don't be disappointed if you can't afford castles and peacocks: you may be surprised at how special some budget venues can be.

Venues get booked up very quickly but if you're happy to have a non-Saturday wedding or get married out of peak season some of them will cut you a pretty good deal.

Humanist celebrants also get booked up far in advance, especially for Saturdays in the summer, however we often have the odd rogue day waiting to be filled so it is worth checking with individual celebrants if they're free. If not we'll help you find somebody else, so don't panic. The Humanist Society of Scotland trains new celebrants to meet the ever growing demand of our weddings and it's rare that we have to turn weddings away.

In my next post I'll have some questions you might like to consider if you're not sure whether a Humanist wedding is for you.

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great festive season and are looking forward to what 2011 has to bring. One of my resolutions is to post regularly on this blog!

2010 was a very busy, interesting and rewardable year for me as far as ceremonies and Humanism is concerned. Once again I got to go to some beautiful and unusual venues, work with other friendly and professional wedding suppliers and create thoughtful and beautiful ceremonies with lovely couples.

I've also had the privilege of being the Convenor of the Humanist Society of Scotland which has involved meeting many new and inspiring people within and out of the society as well as acting as a spokesperson on ethical and moral issues in the media.

I conducted two lovely ceremonies for same sex couples last year, one of which was in the city centre of Edinburgh in a very public place. It was especially moving to see tourists stop and watch the ceremony, smiling at the happy couple. It's not so long ago that gay couples could only dream of celebrating their love in such an open and public way. My biggest wish for the coming year is that we see a beginning of the process of same sex couples being allowed to legally marry in Humanist and religious ceremonies.

If you're planning on getting married this year in a Humanist or other ceremony I hope you will follow this blog, as I'll be posting some useful advise in the coming weeks.

The picture of me on this post was taken by Dom at Duke Wedding Photographers. The reason I have my file on my head is that the rain came on suddenly and we all had to run indoors!

All the best for 2011!

Juliet x