Liz & Al’s Humanist Blessing at Oakley Court

Every ceremony I conduct is informed by every ceremony I’ve conducted, and many of those ceremonies go on to inspire other couples in turn, but Liz and Al were the couple who changed the ‘homework’ into something much more exciting!

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 28: (L-R) Al MacCuish and Liz Matthews attend as BFC & Alexa Chung celebrate British Creative Talent in Paris at the Hoxton on September 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Getty Images)

LoveWork™️ It’s officially ‘a thing’.

Full disclosure… Al and I worked together in advertising. More than twenty years ago, he got his first job at the Edinburgh agency where I was the TV producer and we immediately became friends. A few years later, he invited me to produce some spots for Tomb Raider on PlayStation, and he did the same again when he was at one of this century’s most influential creative agencies, Mother, so when he asked me to conduct a blessing for his marriage to the equally gorgeous and talented Liz at Oakley Court in Windsor, I knew I was in for something very special.

When they first appeared, humanist ceremonies were very different and very unconventional, but inevitably, as they have become more and more popular, they’ve become more and more similar (a bit like advertising…)

So how do you make your ceremony unique?

You think. And then you share your thoughts so that everyone present recognises your voice.

That’s what Al did in his poem to Liz.

Love is

A doing word. 

When we say “I do” 

we both know that we’ve been doing it 

since the day we met. 

Action, motion, do you remember? 

We kissed in the ocean

And took, little still-soft bricks 

we’d formed from our rubble

And began to build a life together. 

We did brave things, crazy, unconventional things –

Convinced ourselves 

Our leaps and bounds know no bounds

A bond.

Let’s keep doing

All that we can to squeeze the pips. 

As Liz said, in this article by Kerry McDermott in Vogue, “Everyone should believe in second chances and magic.” 

Magic is what they created. The wedding “felt very personal and emotional,” says Liz. “Our friends and family were definitely a big part of creating that feeling and I looked around at the best dressed guests I’ve ever seen!”

As Al wrote when he and Liz sent me these great photos by Darren Gerrish, “When Liz and I met in 2017, it felt so improbable we took it as a sign. When any of us can’t explain how a situation occurred, we use fate as the explanation. And yet. When we take a moment to appreciate the life we’ve built, the positive impact it has on not just us, but those around us, it feels bigger than all of us.

Faith is, by definition, an idea that is bigger than us as individuals. And we both believe that profoundly. But we do that in our own way, independent of anyone else’s framework. We believe that the fundamental aspect of being human is in relation to other humans. We are social creatures. And that is what attracted us to Humanism. 

Love is elemental. It’s biological, psychological, social, and cultural: it drives every decision we make, conscious or otherwise. 

Love is the ultimate doing word, the vital verb, and to be able to express that, in our own words, on the day we chose to formalise our journey together, was hugely important to us. 

As is Tim.

When I think about fate and getting together with Liz, I also think about the extraordinary chances that a person who I met 25 years ago – Tim Maguire – a person who championed me for who I was as a young human, being the very person who would shepherd me to formally bind my life with that of my greatest love.

Tim’s genius is in his humanity – his wisdom in understanding that he’s simply unlocking and unfolding a story that is already happening; it’s in his humility – his talent for using that wealth of experience he has accumulated to carefully shepherd your unique story and truth to the fore – and it’s in his love for others and the privilege it is to be part of their most important moments in their lives.

Long live love, Al & Liz MacCuish.

Long live love indeed, Liz and Al! I am so moved by your words and so glad I got to be a part of the most important day of your lives.

I’m also glad to have met the wonderful Darren Gerrish whose beautiful shots illustrate this piece – and of course, the story in Vogue.

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