In a former life, I was a producer and director working in advertising, and towards the end of my career, I finally got the brief I’d been dreaming of when Ian McAteer, Managing Director of The Union, commissioned me to make some ads for the Seychelles Tourist Board.
I know; into every life some rain must fall… it wasn’t the first time Ian had given me a creative opportunity, and it wasn’t the last either, because when he and Bridget (AKA Bebe) decided to get married, he got in touch again to ask if I’d like to conduct their wedding. Like all proposal stories, I think you already know the answer…
Humanist weddings are all about imagination and creativity. They’re also about self-expression. As I write this, we’re only a week away from the 18th anniversary of the very first legal humanist wedding in Scotland, and it’s no exaggeration to say that they have fundamentally changed the nature of marriage in this country.
If you follow this blog, you already know that I don’t write wedding ceremonies for my couples – I help them to do that themselves. You can read a longer explanation of my reasoning here, but in a nutshell, it’s because Humanism is a philosophy that asks you to think for yourself, and there’s no time in your life when thinking for yourself is more important than when you’re about to get married.
Ian and Bridget took self-expression all the way to its logical conclusion. Not only did they write their ceremony themselves, they also told their own stories and I loved the fact that for much of the time, like the guests, I was able to just watch, listen and enjoy it.
One of the first decisions every couple has to make is on the venue, and Bridget and Ian were particularly lucky because the Union’s offices on Inverleith Terrace were once a church and once I’d got the proceedings underway, they totally owned the stage.
Ian and Bridget describe themselves as ‘second-time rounders’. When they fell in love, twelve years ago, they quickly realised that while being in love is one thing, knitting two lives together is quite another. Not only did they have children, families and their own friendship groups, but they lived in very different cities; Ian in Edinburgh, Bridget in Glasgow.
Ian told us how nervous he was meeting Bebe’s friends who assumed he was ‘a posh Edinburgh boy’. As he said, “I don’t like to be pigeonholed, and I relish the opportunity to play on my eclectic cultural roots so I experimented with some diversionary tactics. My first curve ball was when I claimed I came from Possil. (My dad did, so there was a germ of truth…) It caused some disbelief, but my knowledge of the Sarry’s Heid, and the Celtic 67 team along with my exploits at the Seville Cup Final, soon had them thoroughly confused. Then for good measure I threw in my Seychelles and African roots, lobbed in a few stories about my encounters with the Tongs and the YC Toi, and before you could say ‘Rab’s your uncle’ I was one of the gang. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Bebe said, “the one difference between my friends and Ian’s was the level of debate. Ian would get quite animated and heated and he didn’t hold back, which was very different to the Glasgow banter I was used to. I’ve come to realise it’s just healthy debate in a safe space. It happens all the time, and no one ever falls out, but I coined the phrase ‘Mr Shouty Man’ for when I see Ian in full throttle. It’s taken in good humour though.”
Their vows reflected everything they’d learned about each other over the course of their relationship, but before they made them, they asked each other a series of questions. One of Ian’s was, “do you promise to remind me when I’m being Mr Shouty Man and help me keep my feet on the ground? And one of Bebe’s was, “do you promise continue to indulge my ‘hot soapy water being the cure of all ills’ theory?”
Although they wrote their promises separately and kept them a secret until the day, they echoed, which was very moving. Among other things, Ian said, “you are the kindest, most genuine, warmest person I know. I love that you are fearless, that you like adventure and living life to the full. Sweetheart, you give me confidence; you believe in me more than I do myself,” and Bridget said, “Ian, you quite literally swept me off my feet. Your sense of adventure and zest for life is contagious.You are a warm, kind, wonderful man, and I love that you are patient and generous of spirit.“
When they sent these photos, Ian wrote, “Tim, thank you for helping us create a wonderful wedding. The ceremony was perfect – and the way you helped us create it was so clever. We are very grateful.”
They also wrote me a lovely review on Your Scottish Wedding where they expanded on that.
“Tim Maguire of Celebrate People was excellent. He helped us create a very special day – with a truly customised ceremony. First of all, he was professional, organised and helpful. We knew what to do and when. Second, he guided us with his own formula – we had our ‘Love Work’ – and then our ‘date night’ – and then he provided us with the inspiration to create – like writing a play. This meant we had a ceremony which was 100% built around us both. It had the right mix of humour, solemnity and warmth.
We were able to involve our five children (we are both second time rounders) and everyone commented how sincere and enjoyable the ceremony was. Finally he managed the event brilliantly – with the right mix of authority and humour. It all felt wonderfully relaxed and natural. We are grateful to him and can highly recommend him. Well done Tim and thank you! Ian and Bridget.”
It was an absolute pleasure, Ian and Bridget! I’m so proud of you, not just for really embracing the Lovework process, but also for having the courage to stand there in front of everyone you love, and tell your story the way you did. It was a joy to behold, and I’m just glad to have been a part of it.
Thank you for choosing me as your celebrant and I hope the memory of your brilliant day continues to give you joy and happiness for the rest of your lives!
My thanks too, to photographer Lorna Brown (whose web address I don’t have), but she did a great job of catching the moments.