Hannah and Neil were very lucky. Their wedding happened just as we were emerging from lockdown, and it was such a simple joy to be able to see people’s faces again!
Neil and his groomsmen, Craig, Ben, Lee, Oli and David were all lined up and ready to roll.
The guests were enjoying a pre-wedding drink as they listened to the sweet sounds made by Cat & Craig of Sedona Park
While upstairs, Hannah and her retinue were putting the last touches to their preparations.
As they wrote in their ceremony, “This day has certainly been a long time coming… after insisting that they didn’t want a long engagement, Covid had other plans. Hannah and Neil have been together for almost eight and a half years, and a quarter of that was spent in lockdown sharing a small one-bedroom flat together.”
Their story started on the 31st of August 2013, when Hannah began her first shift at the Dundee University Student Union, behind the bar in Mono VIP nightclub. That night was also Neil’s first ever team-leader shift. He had to choose 5 random names to work with him on the bar, and Hannah’s was one of them.
I quote Neil directly here when he said: “When people ask me “was it love at first sight?” I always have to be honest and say the small brunette that could barely see over the edge of the bar was cute, but I couldn’t possibly at that moment in time think, “yea I could see myself in eight years living in a flat in London with this little hobbit.”
Hannah and Neil had their first proper conversation at the next staff drink Sunday where Hannah claims that “Neil’s drunken banter was questionable to say the least”, but the following morning Hannah accepted Neil’s friend request on Facebook so it couldn’t have been that bad.
After a couple of weeks of texting, Neil took Hannah on their first date where he ate pizza with a knife and fork to try and make a good impression. He sealed the deal by taking Hannah, with brother Craig in tow, to see the world-famous Dundee United, as he’d read somewhere that women loved lukewarm scotch pies and freezing cold Scottish football. It clearly worked… as a few weeks later they were officially a couple.
They survived living and working on opposite sides of the world by writing long letters and early morning/late night FaceTimes, and after graduating they spent six happy years in London before, as the sun set one evening in September 2018 at their favourite bar in a small, whitewashed hilltop town in the south of Spain, Neil got down on one knee, forgot everything he’d planned to say, and holding the ring box upside down, asked Hannah to marry him.
And then of course, the pandemic happened and everyone’s best laid plans were put on hold.
It was time to hear another voice, so Hannah’s Uncle Duncan gave us our first reading, which was “Everything I know about love”, by Dolly Alderton.
I talked about the meaning of marriage, which for Hannah and Neil is remembering always to make time for each other, no matter how busy life gets, and always savouring the little things, like their morning coffee walks around Olympic Park, improving a KD ratio on Call of Duty or being able to make caramel without breaking down in tears.
Then it was time to hear from Neil’s Uncle Ian who gave us his very personalised version of Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog, by Taylor Mali.
Neil and Hannah then spoke their very personal vows directly to one another
Before exchanging rings and making the all-important ‘Legal Declaration’ – “I accept you in marriage”. At Celebrate People we use that phrase because it explicitly states what we know to be true about marriage in the 21st century. We’re all equal, and we’re in this together!
The wedding party then made their way to the table so we could sign the Marriage Schedule, but we weren’t quite finished yet.
There was still a handfasting to do.
There are many ways to do a handfasting. Some couples choose to have their wrists bound together, others want to ‘tie the knot’ and the hand fast can be made using multiple ribbons of any kind. Hannah and Neil decided they’d keep it simple and just use a single length of MacPherson tartan cloth, as it was the closest one to their married name they could find.
It worked a treat!
When Neil & Hannah sent me Nikki Leadbetter’s great photos, they said, “we just wanted to thank you for making last Saturday truly the best day of our lives.”
The way you helped us tie the knot made it 100x what it could have been without you.
We had so many compliments from friends about you and how they loved the Humanist wedding ceremony as it added so much more than what they’re used to before. One couple even considered cancelling their current plans and enquiring into your availability instead!
Hopefully as the years go on we bump into you at more weddings but for now it’s a massive thank you and wish you all the best for the future.
It certainly looked like the best day of your lives, Hannah and Neil – what a great job Nikki Leadbetter did of capturing the atmosphere of the day – and the evening! Thank you so much once again for choosing me to be your celebrant – and thank you for allowing me to share your inspiring story here as well.
See you soon I hope!