A gorgeous hilltop wedding in the Scottish Borders: “Like the river, love always wins …”

When Aliya and Ori were planning their beautiful family ceremony on a hill in Hawick, where Aliya spent many happy times as a child, the forecast was for thunderstorms and heavy rain. Ori’s family assured us that all would be well; his mother had predicted clear skies and she was always right about the weather. Besides, they had brought the sun with them from Israel.

Sanne Gault Photography

And so it was, that on a surprisingly calm and sunny day in July we all made our way up the hill wearing sandals and carrying picnic baskets to their chosen spot. Aliya and Ori both come from big, loving kitchen families – they love to spend time cooking together – and the whole day was infused with an intimacy and joy made even more poignant by the personal elements woven into the ceremony.

We began with a gorgeous Handfasting. Each of the twelve people present placed a colourful ribbon onto Ori and Aliya’s joined hands; the ribbons each representing something important that they wished to bring to mind and weave into their shared commitment for the future.

Sanne Gault Photography

The first four ribbons represent the four elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water, which Ori and Aliya believe are present in all of nature and in all of us, and whose energy determine and shape so much of our lives. The next four represent Joy, Partnership, Communication and Trust – values and qualities which they hold particularly dear. The ninth ribbon represents their past; their ancestors and their own personal histories, everything which has brought them to this place and this moment. The tenth ribbon stands for Aliya and Ori’s friends and family, and the important role each person plays in their lives.The eleventh ribbon represents the unknown; the mystery and hidden secrets of life. And the final ribbon stands simply for love.

We spoke about love and connection, and trusting your heart to guide you in seeking what is right. Aliya wanted to acknowledge her relationship with the Amazon and her connection with the forest and the river. Like the river, love is completely unpredictable and mysterious. And like the river, love always wins.

Ori’s brother and Aliya’s sister gave heartfelt readings and we shared stories of the many wonderful adventures Ori and Aliya have enjoyed on their travels through Ecuador, the Sinai, the Mediterranean and the Amazon. And, of course, their greatest adventure of all … raising their sweet little one, Amaya.

I shared some secret thoughts that Aliya and Ori had shared with me when I asked about their love and connection. They exchanged emotional, personal vows after which Aliya’s sister played some soulful flute music for us as we each took a moment to contemplate the commitment Aliya and Ori were about to make, and send a well-wishing thought, prayer or blessing their way.

Sanne Gault Photography

Then Aliya and Ori exchanged rings and Marriage Vows and it was my absolute pleasure to declare them married to the loving cheers of their family.

Sanne Gault Photography

Aliya shared some Israeli sweets – Ori’s favourite – as a surprise for everyone. Then we celebrated their beautiful little one, Amaya. We heard that Amaya means ‘night rain’ in Japanese, which is apt as it rained all night when Amaya was born. And how her middle name means ‘snowdrop’ in Welsh which is also apt as snowdrops were in bloom when Aliya and Ori found out they were expecting Amaya.

Sanne Gault Photography

Aliya and Ori spoke some thoughtful, wise words to Amaya to wish her well in her journey as she grows. And it was my honour to declare Amaya’s full name and welcome her to the world in the presence of those who love her.

Sanne Gault Photography

To honour Ori’s Jewish heritage and in lieu of the smashing of glass for luck, Aliya and Ori had gathered some shells from Scottish and Israeli beaches. They enjoyed crushing the shells under their flip flops as they walked through the pathway of shells and into their future together.

Sanne Gault Photography

After the ceremony, Aliya’s brother-in-law told me this was the most loving, beautiful ceremony he had ever experienced. I couldn’t agree more … everything about Ori and Aliya’s day was gorgeous and unique to them. And a big thank you to Ori’s mum for holding back the weather!

Wishing you all a thousand blessings in your lives together, Aliya, Ori and Amaya. Thank you so much for sharing these details of your day with us all. It is so helpful for others to read these kinds of personal details when planning their own ceremonies. Thank you!

Photos by the wonderful Sanne at Sanne Gault Photography.

Reflections from an Edinburgh Celebrant: “Love is Love For Life”

I’m delighted to have just contributed to sponsoring the next LGBTQ+ Equality Weddings Guide. The work that this community-led, community-funded, community-accountable and community-focussed organisation does is so incredibly important.

Last month, I was invited to be celebrant for an awesome couple who were choosing to exchange their Marriage Vows on top of a munro. It was a magical, love-filled, epic day but also symbolic of the long and challenging life journey the two brides had experienced in order to be true to themselves and find each other. Their story, like so many others, shines a light on the urgent need for a more open-hearted and inclusive attitude towards love and gender, sexuality and Marriage.

When we came to sign the Marriage Schedule for the couple – on the car bonnet in the drizzle after our gorgeous hike – I was ashamed to see that the official document produced by the local Registry Office stated ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ as the two partners getting married (something that I had not seen on other Marriage Schedules where it usually lists ‘Partner 1’ and ‘Partner 2’). Needless to say I scribbled out ‘Groom’ and wrote ‘BRIDE’ in strong, capital letters.

This absolutely shouldn’t happen.

Everything about our role as individuals working in the wedding sector should be inclusive. Language should reflect the dedicated and heartfelt commitment that so many businesses and individuals are making towards equality in the wedding sector.

Love is Love For Life. And we want to celebrate that.

It can be challenging getting it right. Knowing how to ensure that all our forms and websites, words and actions are signalling equality and not simply adding to the discrimination so many feel when planning their wedding.

That’s where the Eqaulity Weddings LGBTQ+ guide comes in.

If you haven’t already, I would urge you to request a copy here. If you believe that all people have a right to love and be treated equally then do consider supporting their next guide here.

Read it, use it to guide and inform your practice, then shout about the importance of this guide and LGBTQ+ Equality Weddings on your SoMe accounts so others do the same.

Let’s all be a part of something important and essential and beautiful to effect meaningful change. Love is All.

A uniquely personal Wedding at Edinburgh Zoo: “I want to be your personal penguin …”

“I like you a lot. 

You’re funny and kind. 

So let me explain 

What I have in mind. 

I want to be your personal penguin. 

I want to walk right by your side. 

I want to be your personal penguin. 

I want to travel with you far and wide.”

Sandra Boynton
Siobhan Stewart Photography

When E and O first met at Regent’s Park in London, E was standing holding a beer in one hand and her phone in the other as a rounders ball slowly rolled towards her shoes – which were falling apart. O remembers thinking this was quite funny, as everyone else was at least pretending to pay attention to the game while drinking.

As it happens, E’s obliviousness to the match was fine as their team went on to win all the games, then heading to the pub to celebrate. E & O shared some chips and bonded over a love of pop music, the environment and travel. They quickly realised they had met someone incredibly important.

Siobhan Stewart Photography

This summer, in a room overlooking the Pentland hills within the lively surroundings of Edinburgh Zoo, E & O affirmed their commitment to be together forever.

To declare these two funny, kind-hearted and, by their own admission, quirky people married was a complete joy. Their ceremony was a wonderful and eclectic mix of personal touches.

Siobhan Stewart Photography

They shared some loving words with each other before exchanging rings. Then made their Marriage Vows to one another with a traditional Handfasting. To honour their shared love of Glastonbury and as a symbol of all the fun and adventure still to come in their lives together, their handfasting cords were made up of their music festival wristbands. The mother-of-the-groom tied the cords and it was my great honour to declare these two wonderful people wife and husband.

Siobhan Stewart Photography

O & E chose to start their married life together with a toast to each other – a shot of tequila with lime and salt – in their wedding quaich.

As you both hold onto this cup, reflect on how your love for each other makes you stronger. Your marriage is a bond forged between the two of you to weather a lifetime, supporting each of you, both individually and together, as you sail through the sometimes stormy and often glorious seas of life.

Siobhan Stewart Photography

The whole event was such heartwarming fun and I’m over the moon that these two fabulous people could finally get married after such a very long wait, and so many postponements. Congratulations, O & E! Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for sharing these lovely details of your day.

Siobhan Stewart Photography

Thank you to Siobhan Stewart for the beautiful photographs.

Thanks to the team at Edinburgh Zoo for being so warm and welcoming.

Gorgeous flowers by Stems.

Lovely also to meet John, The Pickled Piper, for the first time.

A funny, sweet East Lothian Wedding: “It’s about knowing you’ve found the love of your life …”

“Marriage is about being trusting, giving and willing to change. It’s about working together, and being stronger together. It’s about knowing you have security and that you have found the love of your life.”

Lara and Charlie
Lockstock Sporting

What a treat this summer has been! After such a very long time waiting for restrictions to ease and ceremonies to restart, the past three months have been such wild and gorgeous fun. I’ve absolutely loved travelling all over Scotland to lead a beautiful diversity of ceremonies in grand hotels and on beaches, up mountains and by rivers, in woodlands and private gardens.

Last week, it was an extra special honour to be able to declare Lara and Charlie married at the lovely Maitlandfield House Hotel right next to where I live in East Lothian.

Lockstock Sporting

When I met with Charlie and Lara to plan their ceremony, they told me they’d like an unfussy, short, meaningful ceremony with a light, joyful vibe that reflected in their words, “their goofy sense of humour.” They wanted the ceremony to be the start of a fun, relaxed day with their closest friends and family.

Lockstock Sporting

Leading Lara and Charlie’s sweet, intimate, funny ceremony was an absolute pleasure, and while they didn’t bring their eight chickens, Kelly the hamster and Spike the cat to the ceremony, it was great that their much-loved and very important dog, Troy, could be there.

Lockstock Sporting

Happy one week married, Charlie and Lara! Thanks for inviting me to be a part of your day. It was a lot of fun planning your ceremony with you and I am so glad it was all you wished it to be. Wishing you so much love and happiness, and many wonderful adventures, for your future together.

Lockstock Photo

Thanks to Murray at LockStock Sporting for these beautiful photos.

Super to meet Stacey and all the team at Maitlandfield House Hotel. Thanks for all your excellent organisation and warm welcome.

A beautiful, relaxed and intimate Wedding in the Scottish Highlands

When I met with Emil and Lucy to plan their ceremony, they told me they wanted a “beautiful, relaxed, intimate ceremony” and that’s exactly how it felt. There were so many gorgeous personal touches …

The bride and groom’s parents blessed the marriage in Polish and English at the start of the ceremony, which got us all weeping happy tears before it had even begun.

Kris Soul Photography

We heard the entertaining story of how Lucy and Emil got together (involving some heroic matchmaking efforts by their mutual friend).

I shared some of the lovely things Lucy and Emil had told me in secret when I asked them individually what they would like to say to each other about their love and connection.

Kris Soul Photography

The mother of the groom sang a stunning Polish love song which blew us all away.

Kris Soul Photography

Lucy and Emil exchanged emotional personal vows and rings.

Kris Soul Photography

They then sealed their Marriage Vows with a unique triple knot Handfasting. The mother of the bride did a fantastic job tying three knots; symbolising the bride and groom’s individual and shared vows, and the joining of their families and countries.

The whole event was absolutely glorious and utterly heart-warming and I’m so incredibly happy for these two brilliant people.

Wishing you so much love and joy for your future together, Lucy and Emil. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for generously sharing these photos. It was an absolute pleasure being with you on your wedding day and spending time with all your lovely family and friends. Congratulations!

Kris Soul Photography

Stunning flowers and arch by family friend, Deborah.
Sweet photographs by Kris Soul Photography.

A family Wedding in East Lothian: “We make each other happy …”

“We make each other happy, and we want to keep making each other happy.”

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott’s wedding at the beautiful Restoration Yard in Dalkeith in June was wonderful. These two super-chilled, adventurous, whisky-loving people exchanged their Marriage promises to each other and to their gorgeous little girl, Bea, in the glorious sunshine.

It was an extra special honour to be invited to lead today’s ceremony as Scott and Elaine came on my birth course four years ago when they were expecting Bea. Bea did a beautiful job as flower girl on their wedding day.

Family is really important to Elaine and Scott and their wedding was a joyful gathering of their closest family and friends. It was such a personal, beautiful day.

Elaine and Scott wrote a secret poem for each other, which they shared on the day. Then they exchanged rings that they had made themselves, after panning for gold in the Scottish Highlands!

I shared some of the lovely thoughts that Elaine and Scott had shared with me in secret when I asked them about their love and connection. And after exchanging Marriage Vows, they shared a sip of Ledaig in their beautiful Quaich, a fine whisky and a great choice from these two self-confessed whisky geeks. 

Then they drove away in a stunning blue 1955 Ford Lincoln Capri. The first of many adventures as a married couple.

Elaine and Scott, here’s to lots of fun travels around the world in the years to come with delicious food, fine whisky, great culture and all the happiness you could wish for. Thank you for trusting me to be your celebrant. It’s been such a privilege to be a part of your family journey.

Thanks to Tara, Laura and the good folks at Restoration Yard for welcoming me back for the second time this month – and for lending me sun cream! It was also lovely to meet wedding photographer couple, Betty and David at Tub of Jelly, also expecting a little one very soon 🙂 Thanks so much Elaine and Scott for sharing these glorious photos.

If anyone wishes to go sustainably panning for gold in the Scottish Highlands then Jacqueline and Edward will be glad to hear from you.

A sweet Wedding in East Lothian: “It’s about valuing the little things in life …”

The key to a happy life is equal respect and admiration. It’s about listening to each other and valuing the little things in life; like a hot water bottle in bed after the night shift, cheese on toast after a heavy night on the beers. It’s about the small surprises that we do for each other, and lots of hugs.

Jade & Calum

What a joy it was to declare Jade and Calum married on a stunning April day. After such a long wait and so many shifting plans, it felt even more meaningful to witness these two kindhearted, adventure-loving, wonderful people make their vows to each other.

Their sweet, joyful ceremony took place outside the stunning Orangerie at Dalkeith Country Park with two of their close friends as witness, and all other family and friends very much included through an online recording.

It was glorious.The sun shone as Calum and Jade exchanged personal vows and rings then sealed their Marriage Vows with a Handfasting, each ribbon representing their two families.

The nearby picknickers all gave a gentle round of applause as they were declared married. So lovely!

Congratulations, Calum and Jade! It’s been such a pleasure planning your ceremony with you these past months. Wishing you all the very best for your future together. Thank you so much for trusting me with your ceremony.

Beautiful photos by Paul Maguire Photography. Stunning silk bouquet by Gigha at Meadow Isle Floral Studio. Many thanks to Tara and the team at the Restoration Yard for being so welcoming and helpful. Thank you, Jade and Calum, for your kind permission to share these lovely photos.

A fun, relaxed Elopement in Edinburgh: “Let’s Get Married!”

Massive congratulations to Zoe and Trevor who said “We Will!” on Arthur’s Seat exactly one month ago. Such a fun, relaxed ceremony with these two incredibly laid back and super lovely people.

Photographer: Brenna Nyznik

When Trevor and Zoe first got in touch to ask if I would conduct their elopement ceremony, Trevor told me,

“We’d love to be at the bar, drinking a G&T, and having a laugh, and then at some point during that drink, we’ve got married.”

Well, we may not have been at a bar (their original ceremony at the Kimpton Hotel had to be postponed due to Covid-19) but the panoramic view and the hipflask toast more than made up for it.

In a secret, intimate, simple ceremony brimming with personal touches, Zoe and Trevor declared their love for one another overlooking Edinburgh. They exchanged unscripted vows and rings with their dog, Popcorn, and two of my good friends, Brenna and Pete, as their witnesses.

Photographer: Brenna Nyznik

In lieu of the Wedding Quaich, Zoe and Trevor enjoyed their first toast – G&T of course – as husband and wife. The sun shone, and we all enjoyed listening to Let’s Get Married! by the Proclaimers, and Wedding Day by Tori Amos.

Photographer: Brenna Nyznik

At a time when life is just beginning to open up again, it was pure joy to part of this incredibly life-affirming, love-filled day. Thank you so much, Zoe and Trevor, for trusting me with your ceremony. I loved being your celebrant.

Wishing you all the very best for your future together. Here’s to all the happiness, fizz, cats, dogs, hot tubs, adventure and love that you could wish for in your many years together. Congratulations!

Photographer: Brenna Nyznik

Agnostic Scotland Celebrants: Bringing beautiful, person-centred ceremonies to Scotland …

We are delighted to announce that we are looking to invite six new Life Celebrants to join our Agnostic Scotland Life Celebrant network this year in order to help us respond to the growing demand for Agnostic ceremonies across Scotland.

Since our Agnostic Scotland launch in November 2019, we’ve been humbled by the response from people across Scotland wishing us well, enquiring about working with us, and asking about how to support our Community Fund and join our Community Connection Gatherings.

The Wandering Wildling Photography

We are so excited to be welcoming in this new phase in the development of Agnostic Scotland, and ultimately working towards our goal of providing beautiful, person-centred, affordable ceremonies that reflect the beliefs, values and wishes of the families involved.

As one of our ambassadors says:

“In today’s Scotland, there are fewer formal rituals. But our souls still need them. Today, we need a safe space for our rites, our ceremonies. Somewhere where there are no stipulations on God. Or Gods. Or no God(s). Or on gender binaries. Or on what a family looks like. Or on what music you can and can’t sing, or play, or listen to. I am excited that Agnostic Scotland can hold those spaces, perform those rituals, celebrate those ceremonies. Everyone deserves a safe place to mark life’s milestones.”

Raini Rowell Photography

If you are someone who has always held a deep fascination for life transitions, who loves to honour rites of passage through ritual and ceremony, who enjoys bringing individuals together in celebration, and who has a heart-centred and open-minded respect towards the many varied, sometimes contradictory, and often complicated beliefs, values and wishes of others, then becoming an Agnostic Scotland Life Celebrant could be the perfect role for you. No prior celebrancy experience is necessary, although experienced celebrants are also welcome to apply.

To find out more, please see the latest blog on our Agnostic Scotland website, or contact us to let us know if you’d like to be sent the application form on 1st June 2021. Thank you, and good luck!

A traditional Wedding in East Lothian: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also …”

Morris-Jones Photography

It’s such a challenging time for anyone planning a ceremony just now; having to navigate all the shifting restrictions. So, I hope it’s a perfect time to share these beautiful details from Kirsten and Grahame’s December wedding ceremony. Hopefully, reassuring others that it absolutely is possible to have a glorious wedding day, despite the global situation.

“Seems silly, doesn’t it? A wedding. Given everything that’s going on.”

“Maybe that’s the best reason to have it. Because of everything that’s going on.”

Conversation between Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter

Kirsten and Grahame had planned to marry in Florida but, like so many this past year, their plans were forced to change. That didn’t stop this adventure-loving couple from planning their ceremony in less than seven weeks, and having the most wonderfully festive and magical day.

Morris-Jones Photography

Twenty of Grahame and Kirsten’s nearest and dearest gathered at the sumptuously decorated Archerfield House. Kirsten is a Christian and a devout follower of Harry Potter, and Grahame is non-religious. So, it was a great pleasure to lead a magical and incredibly personal ceremony for them both; one that fully respected their individual and shared beliefs, values and wishes.

Morris-Jones Photography

During the ceremony, they both shared some words with each other that they had written in secret, before exchanging rings as a symbol of their loving and binding commitments.

Their wee boy stole the show by dancing around the room, and we all witnessed Grahame and Kirsten make their Unbreakable Vows to one another. It was perfect.

Huge congratulations to you both, Mr and Mrs Newman. I’m so excited for you and wish you a magical future together. Enjoy your Florida honeymoon when it comes!

Heartfelt thank you to the lovely Dionne at Morris-Jones Photography for sharing these stunning photos.