People often say my ceremonies are not just so personal but they’re also so different and that’s no accident. Next month sees the 16th anniversary of the legalisation of humanist marriage in Scotland; everyone knows how popular they’ve become, but very few people know that Humanists campaigned for more than 20 years to make that happen. What we wanted was to give people the freedom to say in their own words why they are getting married, and what they want to promise one another.
That commitment to personal expression is the key to how I work, and I really love it when a couple takes that idea and runs with it, as Allan and Ros did when they got married way back in 2018.
They brought lots of imagination and humour to their ceremony, which picked up on their love of games, theatre and movies.
It didn’t lack emotional honesty either. Ros and Allan had originally asked me to conduct their wedding because I’d conducted the funeral of his beloved uncle, Graeme; that was a huge honour and it was lovely to be able to say that in my introduction.
I loved the way they involved all their nephews and nieces – and I think they loved it too!
Ros and Allan weren’t ‘High School Sweethearts’ but they had known each other from school. To Allan, Ros was just the “geeky little sister” of his friend Christina while to Ros, Allan was the slightly odd actor-type, who looked a bit like Shaggy from Scooby Doo and who kept everyone up late by singing every single song by the Barenaked Ladies at the end of Christina’s house parties.
15 years later, when Allan was a struggling actor in London, Ros gave him a place to stay and he never left.
Lots of couples I marry find inventive ways to involve their guests. Allan had been working in the gaming/puzzle industry for several years, so he and Ros decided to get them to play a game called ‘That’s What She Said!’ The idea was as simple as it was brilliant. They chose phrases they’d written in their homework, and I asked the guests, “who do you think said that?”
Under everyone’s seat, they hid speech bubble props. On one side they said, ‘that’s what she said’ and on the other… OK you’ve got it!
It was a lot of fun – and of course the guests had to shout out their answers too!
Then we had a reading called “I like you and I know why” from Allan’s family – all ten of them!
Readings were an important part of their ceremony, and they started with that one from The Princess Bride – “Mawwiage” which Hayley delivered brilliantly!
We then had a pause for quiet contemplation, during which Ros and Allan duetted on that Proclaimer’s anthem, “Sunshine on Leith”
Then it was time for Ros’s mum Jenny to give us one more reading before ‘vows time’…
Then – before Allan and Ros made their own personal vows to one another, I asked the guests to make some promises to them; I call those ‘Guest Vows’ and they’re a great way to make everyone feel a part of the ceremony.
And then it was vow time…
And then, having signed the Marriage Schedule with Val and Ally as witnesses, Ros’s aunt Rachel gave us our last reading, ‘For You Both’
It was a wonderful ceremony. Allan and Ros set out to involve all the guests from the very start, and it worked.
As they told me, “Writing our own wedding ceremony made a real difference to us in two ways. Firstly, we really felt that every aspect of the day was just what we wanted, and that we were able to say what we wanted to say without being bound by tradition or precedent. This was important to us as we’re not what you would call a traditional couple and we wanted something with our own stamp on it! Our friends and family had a great time, and many of them told us that they’d never been to such a quirky and fun wedding ceremony.”
“Secondly, and just as importantly, although we didn’t realise it before it happened, the questions Tim asked us in preparing for our ceremony gave us an opportunity to sit down together as a couple and talk about what we wanted, not just from our wedding, but from our marriage. So our “homework” with Tim helped us to prepare for not just the day, but for our lives together afterwards too!”
Thank you so much, Ros and Allan for saying that – and for sharing your wonderful photos too. I loved the wedding and the imagination you brought to it, and it’s lovely to be able to share your story knowing that it will inspire many other couples in the months and years to come!
My thanks also go to Euan Cherry, whose great photos really capture the mood and tell the story so well. You can see his website here.
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