The New ‘I Do’

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few months writing the ‘Man at the Back’ column for the stylish ‘Hood Magazine’

In case you can’t read the small print, here’s what I wrote…

‘Let’s get married’, sang The Proclaimers back in 1983. It’s off my playlist right now, as more and more couples put their wedding plans on the back-burner. In years past, my inbox overflowed with emails from couples excited about their future; this year it’s overflowing with emails full of fear and uncertainty. With a maximum of two on your guest list, who wants to get married?

The most important lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic is that love is something we need to share. We want our family and friends around us. That’s even more true when we celebrate love at the end of life, which is why this last year’s been so hard. Twenty max at the ceremony. Wear a mask, don’t shake hands, don’t hug; it’s been really tough, especially on families prevented from visiting their loved ones in the last precious days of their lives.

The reason people call humanist funerals ‘a celebration of life’ is because we focus on the glass half full, and despite all the restrictions, there has been an upside to the pandemic. Thanks to technology, hundreds of people can now attend a funeral if it’s being webcast. This morning, people joined us from as far away as Oman, along with several dozen others who stood outside in the freezing cold, clapping the cortege as it passed before watching the ceremony on their phones.

You can’t postpone a funeral, but you can postpone a wedding. The upside, if you have to do that, is that you already have each other. If you can’t, then the upside is that what once took a satellite link and a fleet of broadcast trucks is now available to anyone with two cameras and a vision mixer; Monique and Jamie proved that recently when they shared their wedding with their 150-strong guest list that stretched from Vancouver to Vietnam. It wasn’t what they’d planned; everyone was devastated by the changes, but they rose to the challenge.

The day before, Monique previewed ‘the dress’ to her mum and granny and they drank a toast together, which Dean Howie of Pinnacle Films shot for a trailer which was played out just before the Live. Formerly a chic little cocktail bar, the annex of the Pompadour Suite at the Waldorf Astoria was the perfect size for Monique, Jamie, maid of honour Ailsa, best man Calum, two remote cameras and me. Better still, Ailsa and Calum use their phones to shoot close-ups of the action that Dean spliced into the final cut. The guests absolutely loved it, decorating their homes, dressing up to the nines and sending goodwill video messages to create the vibe. As Monique said, “We were delighted; we really didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmed with love, so all’s well that ends well!”

The lesson is simple; love will find a way. The day will come when 150 people can once again drink, dance, and make long and very boring speeches at your wedding, so if you can wait, do. If you can’t, go Live!

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