Can you imagine leaving it till the night before your wedding to write your ceremony? No, neither can I.
Alice and Jason did. Mind you, they’re writers. And therein lies the clue.
Writers work to deadlines. And even though we first met fully EIGHT months beforehand, it wasn’t until the morning of the ceremony itself that I got the final draft in my hot little hand because that they didn’t feel that vital sense of urgency until the very last minute.
Was I worried? Of course not.
As you can see here, Alice and Jason write a rather brilliant blog called David Reviews. It’s about the creative side of TV advertising (where I misspent many happy years as a producer and director) and Jason does a regular column for The Grauniad too, so I knew that come the hour, words wouldn’t fail them. Indeed they didn’t. I loved their ceremony, and I’m going to let them tell you about it in their own words. (Which have finally arrived a mere six months later but like their script, it’s well worth the wait).
It’s nearly six months since the rainy day in July when Alice May and I were married at our lovely house in Lenzie.
There were so many reasons why I thought I’d never marry. A lot of my friends thought – and still think – that I’d been married before. The existence of my beautiful daughters Lana, Eve and Sasha providing obvious proof that I might have been through all of this before… but I hadn’t.
I had never wanted to marry anyone until I met Alice. I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful relationships, some full of the love and laughter that I’d want as the foundation stones of a lifelong union but – in truth – none of them felt as though they were forever.
The restlessness provoked by a sense that these relationships ought to be have been better hasn’t always cast me in a good light. I haven’t always been as fair or as considerate as I should have been and I worried greatly that this search – such as it was – for something completely fulfilling was going to be in vain.
But it wasn’t and I pretty much knew that as soon as I met Alice. I was well into my forties by then and by the time we married on July 27th, I’d managed forty-seven years, three months and a week unsullied by matrimony. But the wait was worth it for she is my one true love and I know with absolute certainty that’ll I’ll only ever be married once and I was right to wait all those years.
It was a thoroughly modern wedding. During my years of prevarication, the rules had changed it a lot and you no longer have to opt for a dreary registry office if – as an atheist – you want to avoid the uneasy hypocrisy of a church wedding.
I knew my friend Tim Maguire had become a humanist celebrant and his name came up in the first practical conversation Alice and I had after we’d decided to marry.
We visited him in Edinburgh and he explained how a humanist wedding works. Tim’s showmanship was impressive, reassuring and a little unnerving. He is very much master of his domain and as much as he emphasised that we would be calling all the shots, we still came away with a slight sense that he’d make it his show.
How wrong we were. Tim Maguire was the humblest and kindest master of ceremonies it is possible to imagine. Humorous when humour was needed and sombre when sombreness was needed, he did exactly what he promised he’d do and allowed us to have exactly the wedding we wanted.
Even church weddings these days generally allow the bride and the groom to write their own vows (presuming they aren’t committing to support each others’ worship of the devil) but a humanist ceremony allows the participants to write the whole damn thing. And that’s what we decided to do.
We left it very late of course. We both write for a living and it’s customary in our world to leave everything until you can feel the deadline’s hot breath on the back of your neck (why do you think it’s taken so long for this piece to be written?)
But this backfired spectacularly when we received some terrible news just a week before the wedding. My father – who had been planning to come over from Australia – was diagnosed with an extremely serious illness and would be unable to attend. My brother and my father hadn’t seen each other for fifteen years and it was a matter of some pride that my wedding had provided the motivation for them to end this inadvertent drought. And now it wouldn’t happen. And Alice wouldn’t meet him. And – most of all – my dad was ill… very, very ill.
The task of writing the ceremony which lain before us in such an inviting way suddenly took on the appearance of a difficult chore. As did everything else that was yet to be arranged. But we muddled through and on the morning of the wedding, we finally completed writing the words we would speak in the afternoon.
When I emailed the final draft to Tim Maguire – a couple of hours before he was due to set off for Lenzie – I worried that he might think we had gone too far. We wanted to convey the idea that the ceremony itself was of no great importance – that it was the marriage that mattered – and we were determined to be quite subversive. There were jokes – quite a lot of jokes.
But as soon as Tim told me how much he liked what we’d written, I knew that everything was going to be all right. And it was.
Thank you, Jason and Alice, you’ve made my day!