Highland Humanist Weddings

James and Laura’s Humanist Wedding at the Waterside Hotel

November 15, 2014 | Author: admin | Filed under: Highland Humanist Wedding,Scottish Humanist Wedding

Laura and James were married in the Waterside Hotel, and I was very glad to make its acquaintance! The weather doesn’t matter much for an indoor wedding, but it’s still lovely when the day turns out bright and sunny, especially in November, when you least expect it. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed the sunshine with their drinks, […]

Laura and James were married in the Waterside Hotel, and I was very glad to make its acquaintance! The weather doesn’t matter much for an indoor wedding, but it’s still lovely when the day turns out bright and sunny, especially in November, when you least expect it. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed the sunshine with their drinks, while the photographer took the new Mr & Mrs across the road to pose by the River Ness (it made everyone smile when a passing stranger stopped to watch and didn’t seem to understand that he was in the way and spoiling the shot).

But what about the ceremony itself? Well, there were some personal elements, including James and Laura’s ‘Three Things I Love’, which they’d kept secret from each other until then, a first class reading, and several symbolic gestures, including warming the wedding rings, candle-lighting, handfasting, sharing a loving cup (in this case a quaich), and of course their vows and exchange of rings.

There were two candles representing James and Laura as separate, individual people, which their mums lit on their behalf – a lovely way of acknowledging the importance of the James and Laura’s families and the coming together of the two families through their marriage. Later, when they’d made their vows, James and Laura used the flames from their individual candles to light a third candle together, symbolising their union in marriage.

Their dads had important parts to play, too, Andy giving his Affirmation to Laura’s choice to marry James, and Dave reading ‘My love is like a red red rose’ by Robert  Burns – one of the best readings I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.

Talking about hearing, Laura’s granny has none at all, and they’d booked Helen Farrelly to sign for her so she’d feel included in everything. What a wonderful idea! And Helen was wonderful to work with – she’d prepared by getting to know the ceremony script, and the only accommodation she asked me to make was to pause for a moment the first time I mentioned a name, so she could spell it out letter by letter (using just the initial thereafter). She was discreet, too, making sure she wasn’t distracting the other guests, and to be honest I hardly noticed her during the ceremony.

Because every couple chooses what to include, humanist ceremonies are always personal. I explained to guests what Laura and James had said about what marriage means for them: merging their lives together, sharing the good times and the sad times, loving and supporting one another through everything; knowing they can talk to one another about worries and troubles, knowing they’ll always have a shoulder to cry on; having someone to laugh endlessly with, and enjoy making memories with; seeing themselves being together until they are old, grey and wrinkly. They demonstrated the importance of these in their ‘Three Things I Love’, and in another reading they’d chosen:

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And these are the hands that, even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Soon, they’d handfasted and stated their commitment to one another in marriage, given each other rings and signed the marriage schedule, and they were ready to drink from the Quaich. Sharing a cup is an ancient tradition found in many cultures across the world and there’s a powerful symbolism attached to it: drinking from the cup represents engagement with life and the experiences it brings. In marrying, two people are agreeing to drink from the same cup – to share their lives and offer one another mutual sustenance. First, Laura and James drank to one another from the Quaich, and then, in the spirit of friendship, and in recognition of the power and love of family ties and friendship, they shared the cup with their parents and witnesses.

We ended the ceremony with a traditional well-wishing for the happy couple: May you have walls for the wind and a roof for the rain, and drinks bedside the fire, laughter to cheer you and those you love near you, and all that your hearts may desire. Then applause for the new Mr and Mrs as they made their exit, and out into the afore-mentioned sunshine!

May the cup of your lives be full to running over, and many days may you sit at the same table and eat and drink together!

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