What’s a long engagement these days? Five years? Nine? Eleven? I’ve married lots of couples who’ve taken a long time to turn “I will” into “I do”, but Suzie and Jony set a record for me of 25 years…
It’s a long time, and as I told their guests, they might never have got married at all if it hadn’t been for the persistence and enthusiasm of their son Ronin. Had it been left to them, they’d probably have been engaged for another 25 years!
Jony and Suzie were doing something I call ‘reversing into marriage‘, and that’s kind of normal these days. Many couples start a family before they decide to tie the knot, and that’s a good thing because it means that when they finally do get married, they’ve already done the hard yards.
What made Suzie and Jony’s wedding especially special for me was that it all came down to Ronin, who’s a wedding co-ordinator at the multi-award-winning Carlowrie Castle.
I’ve always said that the greatest compliment a celebrant can be paid is to be asked to marry a wedding co-ordinator, because they have to sit through so many ceremonies, but I’ll have to stretch that definition now to include wedding co-ordinators’ parents!
What that meant in practice was that when I first spoke to Jony and Suzie, they already knew they’d have to write their own ceremony. If I’m being honest, I think I have to say that while Suzie was really excited about the idea, Jony wasn’t. He’s someone who prefers fishing to being around people, so the whole idea of being the focus of everyone’s attention wasn’t something he was comfortable about, but he rose to the occasion and I was so pleased that he asked me to say these words on his behalf.
“I am not an easy person to deal with, but Suzie gets me and understands the way I am, and whilst she prods, she never tries to change me. She gets my dark, dry and to the bone sense of humour and that I generally don’t like to be around people.“
“I am not big on words or socialising and if I could have had it my way, I have openly said I would have got married at a registry office; just Suzie, me and the boys, in my shorts and T-shirt then home again after for a take-away meal – I would maybe have stretched to a meal out!
“I knew it was very important to Suzie to have a bit of her mum here with us today in the form of her wedding dress, but she made it quite clear she was not getting married at a registry office with strangers gawking at her – she wanted privacy. I knew Ronin’s plan to get married here at Carlowrie Castle would give her that, so I reluctantly agreed to make her happy…”
Suzie said, “I’m sure Jony tells everyone – with a smile, I hope – that he was forced or pressured into marrying me here today! This dry and sarcastic sense of humour is something I have come to accept and love as a part of Jony, and I think I am now quite good at giving it back to him although he would probably disagree…
Jony may not be romantic or even full of compliments, but I know he loves me. He shows he cares in his own way, and he will do things to make me happy when he doesn’t always agree. He is always there to support me and give me confidence and reassurance, when I need him, and he has been my rock in difficult times; my supporter and my champion.”
I often say to couples when I first meet them that what makes humanist weddings so emotionally powerful is not flowery language, or ‘the promulgation of promises of eternal passion‘, as it says in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It’s when two people tell their truth in their own words, and I loved how Jony and Suzie did exactly that.
They had a lot of fun with the ‘Guest Vows‘ too. Almost everyone had a question to ask them to which they could say, “yes”, “maybe” or “Absolutely not!” So Jony’s dad George asked Suzie, “do you promise to continue to accept that fishing is Jony’s first love and to never develop an interest in fishing yourself?”
And Susan asked, “Jony, do you promise to get regular haircuts as this is when Suzie thinks you are most handsome – and not turning into your dad? – Sorry George!”
Even Harris got to ask a question, and he said, “Mummy do you promise to let Daddy buy me lots of sweeties?”
As Ring Security, he had another very important job to do only moments later when he helped mummy and daddy put a ring on it.
Their promises were perfect; simple, direct and heart felt.
When she sent me these lovely photos from my old friend Derek Christie, Suzie said, “It feels great to finally be married. We can’t quite believe we have finally done it and the truly magical day is over. We are still on a bit of high from it all and looking forward to our future and making lots more memories together.“
Thank you so much for helping make our special day; we definitely could not have done it without you and your guidance!
We have had so many lovely comments. Everybody said the ceremony was just so true to us.
They loved the promises, they loved the lighting of the candle for my mum and they all said how different an experience they found it to other weddings. It’s even inspired some of them to want to renew their vows – and I’ll send them your way if they do!
It was daunting doing the LoveWork, especially thinking about our 25 years together and what to include, but the process of creating the ceremony helped us to really think about who we are as a couple, our past life together and our future one, and about what was important.
In the end it truly reflected us, and it couldn’t have been any more personal if we tried! Thank you ❤️
What more could I ask than to read this, Suzie and Jony? I’m delighted for you – and delighted that I got to be a part of your long-awaited day. Thanks again to you for asking; thanks to Ronin for recommending me, and of course as always thanks to Derek Christie for capturing the moments and the emotion so beautifully!