It occurred to me that there’s a need for some basic information that couples need when they start to plan their wedding, so I’ve started the page you’ll find above. Just click on the Basic Information (faq) tab at the top of the page and you should find the answers to some of your questions. If there’s more stuff you think should be there, leave me a message and I’ll try to add more detail as time goes by. It’s been a busy year for weddings and it’s not finished yet;still a couple to go before Christmas and another one before the New Year. There’s something quite nice about a wedding at this time, bright lights, cosy warm rooms and everyone’s celebrating your happy time!
This is turning out to be the year of the French.
- In a couple of week’s time I’m flying out to the Limousin area of France for the week-end to conduct a wedding for a Scottish couple. Being France, of course, this will not be a legal wedding, that is going to take place at the Town Hall (Mairie) in the early afternoon, performed by M. le Maire complete with his sash of office!
A humanist ceremony will follow at the couple’s home – outside if the weather is good. This should work out well, as the venue is only about 45 minutes from my own home in France, so I’ll have a whole day to myself before I fly back to Edinburgh. To be fair, it’ll be almost two days, as the Ryanair flight doesn’t leave Limoges until about six in the evening.
- Later in the year – just happens to be July 14th – France will come to Glasgow when I’ll conduct a legal ceremony for a couple who live in Paris. The Groom is French, the Bride, Scottish.
- Arrangements seem to be going ahead for a third wedding with a French connection – this time it’s planned for next year, and again the Groom is French and the Bride, Scottish. All three of these ceremonies will have French guests attending, so I’ll need to include a fair bit of French for the ceremony to make the guests feel welcome, so I’ll have to prepare that carefully so that I don’t commit and gaffes, or I should say faux pas! Fortunately I have a French colleague at the University, so I think I’ll try to enlist her help to check over my French text just in case.
As I’m preparing to meet a number of couples over the next few weeks, I thought it might be quite useful to make a list of things to think about when you’re starting to construct the ceremony. We’ll add to the list as time goes on.
- Think about the ‘where’ of the ceremony. As humanist celebrants we have great freedom to conduct a ceremony virtually anywhere, as long as in my judgement it’s safe and dignified. So far I’ve conducted ceremonies in a garden, on an island, on a pier as well as in a huge variety of hotels and castles around Scotland. Remember that for a legal humanist wedding the venue doesn’t have to be licensed for marriages (as is the case where a Registrar is conducting the marriage). Remeber though that if the ceremony is to take place outdoors, what do you do if it rains? If you retreat indoors (carefully planned in advance of course) then that’s fine, as long as it’s at the same address. If you need to go down the road to the local village hall or pub, then we’d need to clear this arrangement with the Registrar in advance. This is because the Registrar needs to know where as well as when the wedding is to take place.
- I usually supply every couple with one or two ‘templates’ to work on. These aren’t recommendations of how your ceremony should be but examples to react to, to pull apart, change or to throw out!
- Think of who’s going to take part – maybe you have friends or relatives who might do a reading, or who want to say a few words, this is fine, but it’s usually best if it’s scripted beforehand so I can get everything into the ceremony beforehand, including the names of those who’re taking part. And that way, you have a complete souvenir of everything that’s taken place, too keep alongside the photographs!
- Readings, poems and the vows and promises are the main ingredients, and apart from the legal bits which I have to say, can be pretty much what you choose.
- Where are you going to stand? Because we’re not in church, and this is a non-religious wedding you don’t have to stand with your back to your friends and family. As Bride and Groom you can be standing side-by-side where your guests can see you.
I’m asked many questions by couples enquiring about legal humanist wedding ceremonies. Of course I’m always please to answer the questions, but it occured to me that it might be worth writing about them in a blog which could act as a kind of FAQ sheet. In addition, I’ll try to start posting photographs and interesting snippets about actual weddings (Bride and Groom permitting of course!) I recently received this email from a couple I married just before Christmas……..
We just wanted to email you to thank you very much for everything you did for us for our wedding. By far and away the best part of the wedding for us was the ceremony and that was down to the friendly, relaxed and informal way you conducted it whilst also taking on board all of our views and making it a really personal ceremony. All day of the wedding, and since the wedding, other guests have commented on how nice the ceremony was. We know that we can be quite demanding and particular customers (!) so we were truly grateful for your time and patience in the lead up to the day and delighted with the way everything turned out. It is also great to have the ceremony, and all the emails you were sent etc all written down for us to look back on – so thank you for the time you spent in preparing that too.
I’m not really sure how things work but, if you have a “boss” at the Humanist Society, or if there is a general place for thank yous to be logged etc please copy this email to them/ save it etc because we believe that you are a great asset to the Society and are very grateful indeed.
Wishing you all the very best for the future.