Mhairi & David’s Humanist wedding at the Balmoral Hotel

Or the story of how a small town boy met a small town girl and realised they’d grown up just around the corner and never met…

Mhairi and David did that rare thing these days: they met at work.

To be more precise, they met on a training course for new starts at the company they both worked for, and that was how they came to realise that they knew lots of the same people from the aforementioned small town near Stirling.

David knew he was hooked from the start. Every five minutes of the course, he found himself looking in her direction but then, inexplicably, he decided to play it cool so when Mhairi told him she was off to Belfast for a work placement, he just said, ‘Enjoy Belfast – see you when you get back!’

Now it’s not unusual to have a piper at a Scottish wedding, but until I saw these great photos from Martin McLellan, I had no idea that David was actually planning to play at his own wedding.

Not least because the first person I saw when I arrived at The Balmoral Hotel was my old friend Pipe Major Iain Grant. It turns out that David had a plan…

He wasn’t going to pipe Mhairi down the aisle – he was going to give her a wee surprise later.

As he told me, ‘I was planning to surprise Mhairi by piping her into the room for the first dance and the cake cutting. I had been practicing in secret for the weeks running up to the day.

I’d arranged with the MC for him to call everyone through and I was going to strike up and start playing. However, in all the excitement of the day, I somehow lost the reed that sits in the chanter, and without a reed, you can’t play.

As you can see, the pipes were in fine working order in the morning before the wedding.

In the thousands of times I’ve set up my pipes I’ve never managed to knock the reed out of place: it remains lost somewhere in the Balmoral!

There is a photo of me standing proud as punch next to the cake, moments before I strike up and realise that something is wrong. Fortunately I was out of sight of the guests so it remains a funny little part of the day that only the bridal party now know about.

Until now of course!

As our national bard Robert Burns once observed, ‘The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley’ but it didn’t diminish the joy of Mhairi and David’s big day one bit!

Apart from the missing reed, the rest of the day went perfectly, not least because David and Mhairi had chosen to have a rehearsal the day before. As David said, ‘The rehearsal was useful for us: it allowed us to ask the “daft” questions, and for me helped me to know when and how to direct the groomsmen.’

We really value the work that we all put into the day.

‘Having watched the video, it’s clear that we enjoyed the ceremony despite the excited nerves. I think that the rehearsal helped us to not worry about the small stuff.’

That’s exactly why I recommend rehearsals. Your wedding day is the most important day of your life, so of course you’re going to be nervous: but you shouldn’t be worrying about what you do with your bouquet, or where the bridesmaids are going to stand.

A rehearsal allows you to work all that out – and to make last minute changes if you need to, but what no rehearsal can prepare you for is how you feel when you’ve spoken your vows.

If you think you might find a rehearsal useful, have a look at this post which will tell you more. If you don’t think you need one, have a look at this useful checklist of all the things you should bear in mind instead.

I know you’re all wondering what tune David was going to play for Mhairi?

For the non-piper, this is the tune of Mhairi’s Wedding – thanks to Bagpipe Lesson for the sheet music!

I don’t think it could have been any other do you?

So it’s a big ‘Slainte Mhath, Slainte Mhor’ from me to David and Mhairi, and of course a sincere thank you both to the fabulous wedding team at The Balmoral and ace lensman Martin McLellan for allowing me to use these great photos: time to get your dancing shoes on!


  1. David McMahon left a comment on April 30, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Thanks Tim, you’re unique Celebrant style made for a truly memorable service for the guests. After attending a service you conducted for a couple of friends eighteen months ago, we knew that you were the good fit for us.

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