Kelly & Grant’s Humanist Wedding at Prestonfield House

Sometimes when you meet a couple you just know their ceremony is going to be a lot of fun!

That was certainly the case with Kelly and Grant.

They came to see me one sunny morning and we sat in the garden and had a great chat. I could tell they were going to be a wee bit different – and I was right!

So that was kind of what I said when I spoke to their guests at Prestonfield House before the start of the ceremony.

Humanist marriage has been legal here in Scotland for more than 18 years now, which means there are lots of people who’ve never been to any other kind of wedding.

Everyone knows it’s going to be personal, which is the whole point, but humanist marriage is beginning to fall foul of the law of unintended consequences, and sometimes – or so I am told – humanist weddings can be a bit cookie cutter…

That’s why I like to make it really clear whenever I meet a couple that they are going to write their ceremony – not me.

Humanists campaigned for more than twenty years in Scotland to give couples the freedom to make their promises in their own words, and that’s a huge privilege. Humanists in England and Wales are still campaigning for that right even now, and that’s why only you can decide what you want to say – and equally importantly, what you don’t want to say.

Grant and Kelly were definitely up for that challenge, and everyone loved it when I told their story, just as they wrote it, and I thought I’d share some of it because I think you’ll love it too.

I started with Grant’s version, and this is what he said.

“Kelly first caught my eye when she kept popping up in “people you may know” on Facebook. Which I’ve been told, means she’d been looking for me, first!”

Kelly said, “that’s complete rubbish! But it’s true to say that after I accepted his friend request, meeting Grant was like a shock to the system – in the most unexpected, adrenalin rushing, breath taking, way. 

His sparkly eyes immediately grabbed my attention (his self-proclaimed excess sweating in uncomfortable situations, less so!)

but his energy and zest for everything he spoke about, induced the same feelings you get watching a romantic film, the same feelings a song can create with words and emotion; a feeling you think only exists in dreams – the hope that one day you’ll find that perfect love that loves you back.”

Grant said, “Since our first date, it’s been magical. Even now almost 4 years on, that amazing feeling is still very much alive, like when we were going on our first dates. We have known each other almost our whole lives – without actually knowing each other. 

I passed her house daily when I visited my school friend almost every day during primary school. We went to the same dentist, doctor, nursery, primary and high school and we are so similar in so many ways. The same morals, values in life and the same outlook – how we treat people and expect to be treated in return. Total love and respect.”

Kelly said, “We laughed, retold stories, discovering the many alignments we hadn’t realised that intertwined our lives – from when we were kids. The familiarity, the sense of knowing, the comfort and mirrored recollections of our nursery teachers, primary school memories, doctors and dentists, all entwined, just… felt like home. It was relaxed, unassuming but with a magical sparkle that I certainly never expected.”

Grant said, “We met just before lockdown, but soon my amazing kids, and Kelly’s amazing kids, became one big, active, fun, family.

Kelly organised several days out and trips away, exploring the beauty of Scotland, with my two dogs included. We had some crazy nights out, meeting each other’s friends and getting to know each other’s lives and we’ve made memories that will last forever. Kelly is the most loving, thoughtful and kind person I’ve ever met. She is my soul mate and I’m so glad she searched for me on Facebook! 😂”

That took us all the way up to where you would expect Kelly and Grant to exchange their vows, but they decided they didn’t want to do that.

What? I hear you say.

Yes. You don’t actually have to do that. As it says on the Registrar General of Scotland’s website, “There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to ‘marriage vows’ in Scotland.”

“But in a Mixed Sex Marriage, the ceremony must include: a declaration by the parties, in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they either accept each other as husband and wife or accept each other in marriage or make both declarations; and a declaration by the celebrant, after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then husband and wife or are then married, or make both declarations.”

I explained their reasoning, which was that Grant had enough to worry about with his speech later on, and they both know they’re in this together for life, so they simply spoke the few words that Scots law insists upon as they exchanged rings.

Something else they did was a handfasting. They commissioned a single ribbon with their Lindsay and Mackay family tartans stitched together, which was a nice symbol, because it means they will always have each other’s back!

And even though they didn’t make any promises of their own, they asked their guests to make some promises to them – which again is something I love, because it allows everyone to feel part of the ceremony. I call them the Guest Vows and you can read about them here.

and then – just before they headed off, I got all the guests to join me in speaking an old Scots blessing.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve already seen how much fun Grant and Kelly had in their ceremony, and they had even more fun directly afterwards with father and son team, Tony and Alfie Marsh who shot these fantastic photos – and this brilliant movie!

Tony’s a great photographer with a real gift for capturing the joy of the moment – when I had to choose the photos for this article, I was grinning all over my face and I hope you are too! Alfie’s definitely inherited his dad’s eye, energy and easygoing charm, so he’s one to watch.

Kelly and Grant’s wedding was last September, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for ages because they hadn’t even gone on honeymoon before they sent me these kind words.

Ahhhhh we are still in the bubble of a truly magical day and night. 

It was just the best vibe, people and party!

Thank you so much for your very personalised and fun ceremony ❤️ 

Thanks too for planting a tree for us! How special! We must make an effort to go visit the forest.

Your reassurance and friendliness put our minds at ease, ensuring a smooth and magical transition to married life!

It was my pleasure, Kelly and Grant. How could anyone not enjoy a wedding like yours?

Thank you so much for choosing to work with me – and thanks again to Tony and Alfie for their great images!

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