All you need is love…

Love, love, love

Love, love, love

Love, love, love

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game

It’s easy

Nothing you can make that can’t be made

No one you can save that can’t be saved

Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time

It’s easy

All you need is love

All you need is love

All you need is love, love

Love is all you need

The Beatles

It seems the perfect time to hold on to these wise words given the challenges people all around the world are currently facing. When these gorgeous photos from Vivienne and Donald’s Wedding Ceremony popped into my inbox this morning – thank you so much, photographer extraordinaire, Rachel Hein – I felt a welcome pang of reminiscence for the time when we could all gather in groups, hug each other and spend the whole day outside if we wanted to. It’s hard to believe the speed at which we’ve all had to adapt and shift our lives and working practices around the current global world crisis. So, in a bid to cheer us all up… I’m sharing these beautiful photos of a wonderful, if a little stormy, and very romantic day in January.

Vivienne and Donald exchanged their marriage vows in the gorgeous Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. Viv arrived in a beautiful vintage MG, which her Dad had restored over a number of years and completed just in time for her wedding.

Rachel Hein Photographer

The Dovecot Studios building was once a victorian swimming bath and has since has been transformed into a beautiful and totally unique gallery, event space and tapestry studio in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town.

Rachel Hein Photography

The ceremony was held in what is usually the weaving floor and the beautiful reels of thread in the background definitely added to the vibrant atmosphere.

Rachel Hein Photography

Vivienne’s sumptously dressed and impeccably well-behaved niece and nephews accompanied her up the aisle.

Rachel Hein Photography

And the grey skies outside did nothing to dampen the spirits of the joyful gathering of family and friends who sang their heart out to two excellent songs – ‘Love is All you Need by The Beatles and ‘We’ve Only Just Begun by The Carpenters’.

Rachel Hein Photography

Vivienne and Donald exchanged their vows with these beautiful vows:

I take you my heart

At the rising of the moon

And the setting of the stars.

To love and to honour

Through all that may come.

Through all our lives together.

Then they sealed their promises with a kiss.

Rachel Hein Photographer

All guests were then invited to sign the Wedding Book, following the Quaker tradition – a gorgeous way to invite everyone attending to be witnesses.

Rachel Hein Photography

Two of Donald and Vivienne’s relatives then read a beautiful Celtic blessing in both Gaelic and English:

Mìlefàiltedhuit le d’bhréid,
Fad do ré gun robhthuslàn.
Móranlàitheandhuit is sìth,
Le d’mhaitheas is le d’nìbhifàs.

A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage.
May you be healthy all your days.
May you be blessed with long life and peace,
May you grow old with goodness, and with riches.

The whole day was relaxed, informal and laughter-filled … exactly as Donald and Vivienne had wanted it to be.

Congratulations Vivienne and Donald. It was my great pleasure being your Celebrant. Thank you! Wishing you all the very best for your many years to come.

Rachel Hein Photography

Being kind to one another…


A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

Amelia Earhart

I can’t believe it has only been a month since the normality of a joyful, room-packed Naming Ceremony in the heart of Edinburgh. I’ve been remiss at posting over the past month because it’s been – as it has for so many – a herculean few weeks transitioning to life in lockdown.

My heart goes out to those who are facing illness at this time, and to those who are shielding and unable to leave their homes. My thanks goes out to all the key and NHS workers who are doing their best to keep us all safe and well.

Just before the social distancing measures were in place, I was delighted to lead Rio’s naming and welcome-to-the-world ceremony at The Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh. It was such a joyful day. We even appointed a real life Fairy Godfamily!

As part of Rio’s ceremony, Rio’s mum, Kate, wanted there to be a beautiful ritual about giving back to others and to the planet. I think this sweet ritual feels even more poignant now, in the midst of global lockdown.

All the guests were invited to choose an act of kindness from one of three bowls – one for adults, one for children and one for babies. They could then choose to undertake their act of kindness at any time in their life going forward.

When the guests perform their act they were invited to consider the responsibility that all of us have in giving back and supporting others to pave the way for future generations. And how being kind is one of the simplest, most beautiful and least costly ways to make a difference in this world.

So, here’s to being kind to each other – and to ourselves – going forward. Wishing you all love and I hope you stay safe and well in the coming months x

Love is realising that every hour, every minute, & every second was worth it because you did it together…

“Love isn’t always perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or a storybook. And it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on & never letting go. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define, & impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, Love is realising that every hour, every minute, & every second was worth it because you did it together.”

Unknown

In this week of crazy-shifting wild weather, I’m so happy (and just a wee bit relieved) that we stole an almost-sunny slice of the day for Leanne and Alex’s Elopement Vow Renewal Ceremony last Saturday. We didn’t even need the special ‘wedding brollies’!

In the iconic and magical Sequoia Circle at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, this super-lovely couple celebrated 17 years together, 10 years of married life and 15 years of family life with their three children. They exchanged beautiful laughing-weeping vows and toasted their love with a sip from the Quaich (filled with chocolate liquer… ssshhh!)

It was a heart-singing pleasure to create and lead this funny-sweet ceremony and I’m still buzzing from the joy of it all. It was so poignant that my friend who works at the Botanics, and who offered to take these photos for the couple, said she almost had to stop snapping for her happy tears.

Leanne and Alex, Happy Tenth Wedding Anniversary. Here’s wishing you and your beautiful family many more magical adventures to come. In the words of another of your favourite quotes:

Everything is possible… Even the impossible…

Mary Poppins

And thank you also to Soph for these super snaps.

A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage…

First wedding of 2020 yesterday at the beautiful Dovecot Studios… the perfect retreat from a stormy day. A sweet ceremony between two culture-loving, tandem-adventuring souls
🚲🚲
The bride was raised in the Quaker tradition so the couple honoured the Quaker custom of inviting all guests, young to elder, to sign their Wedding Book. So lovely!
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Huge congratulations to the newly married couple. In the words of your Gaelic wedding blessing:
Mìlefàiltedhuit le d’bhréid,
Fad do ré gun robhthuslàn.
Móranlàitheandhuit is sìth,
Le d’mhaitheas is le d’nìbhifàs.
A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage.
May you be healthy all your days.
May you be blessed with long life and peace,
May you grow old with goodness, and with riches.
It was a great honour being your celebrant – thank you!
Such a pleasure also to meet the friendly, super-efficient Dovecot Studios Events Team and swapping ceremony chat with ace photographer Rachel Hein. I look forward to working with you all again.

 

Love in the hills…

This year is brimming with Elopement Ceremonies and I can’t wait!

For a closer look at what a Scottish Elopement involves, check out this super guide and stunning photos by photo-wizards and Elopement Photographer experts Sean Bell / Photographer and Justyna Maria. Wedding photography.

I’m so proud that Agnostic Scotland offers an additional option for couples when choosing what type of ceremony they wish to have, alongside Humanist, Registrar and Church weddings.

There really is something beautiful about creating a fully personalised ceremony for a couple that reflects their own individual and shared beliefs, values and wishes … add to that a majestic view and WOW.

If you weren’t considering a Scottish Elopement, you may well be after drinking in the views in these epic photos:

How to Elope to Scotland by Sean Bell

I had the great pleasure of being Celebrant at this gorgeous Elopement Wedding Ceremony last July, which was also captured by Sean Bell and Justyna Maria. The ceremony took place on the banks of Loch Bad a’ Gaill near Ullapool, overlooking the iconic Stac Pollaidh 🗻 🌿

L&I Ullapool Elopement

A tree to celebrate you…

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”

William Shakespeare

Happy Hogmanay, Everyone! Thank you to all the incredible individuals, families and communities I have been so lucky to work with this year. There is now a native sapling tree growing in a beautiful part of Scotland in honour of you all.

To start the New Year as I mean to go on, I have decided to support an important rewilding project run by Trees for Life in Glen Affric, Scotland. Rewilding action is something that is close to my heart so I feel soulful-happy to be gifting a tree for every ceremony I have conducted over the years, and will conduct going forward.

Every time a couple are married, exchange vows, or express their life commitment to one another I will plant a tree to celebrate their union. When babies are welcomed by family and friends, and formally given their chosen name I will plant a tree to celebrate their arrival. When families gather to celebrate the life of a loved one who has died I will plant a tree in their memory.

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To all the families I’ve had the joyful privilege of working with so far, I hope you will enjoy thinking of your tree sprouting happily and forming part of a stunning wild forest in Glen Affric as you journey through 2020. Take a peek at the grove here.

And to all the super-talented people I’ve met this year who work so hard behind-the-scenes to make ceremonies beautiful, and to those who capture that beauty on film and in photos, it’s been lovely to share time with you and I wish you a magical and rewarding 2020.

A wish for you two…

Earlier this Autumn, I had the pleasure of revisiting the gorgeous Carlowrie Castle, ancestral family home to the inspirational female Arctic explorer, Isobel Wylie Hutchison. The fun-loving wedding of travel-seekers, Kira and James, was a stunning and romantic blend of both Scottish and American traditions.

Sweet touches chosen by the bride and groom included an American-style line up of bridesmaids and groomsmen to each side of the couple…

A good deal of hilarity as we shared the story of how these two fab people got together…

Not a dry eye in the room as they surprised each other with the ‘secret’ reasons why they loved one another…

Before exchanging rings as a promise of their everlasting love…

An adaptation of the traditional handfasting where James and Kira chose a swathe of white lace to represent Kira’s family and a swatch of tartan to represent James’ family. These symbolic cloths were laid over their joined hands as they made their Marriage vows to one another…

Kira and James then quite literally tied the knot together and held it up for all to admire (a first for me!)…

And they sealed their Marriage declaration with a kiss…

Before enjoying a sweet Sharing of the Quaich ceremony with their favourite whisky…

And a gorgeous Chinese Love Poem read in both Cantonese and English by Kira’s mother and grandmother. Beautiful!

A wish for you two,

zhù nĭ men

May you respect each other like honored guests.

xīang jìng rú bīn

May you always see heart to heart.

xīn xīn xīang yìn

May fragrant flowers bloom and full moons shine over your life together.

huā hăo yuè yuán

May your joy and happiness be forevermore.

băi nián hăo hé

Chinese Love Poem

Congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Maclean! I loved planning your ceremony with you and it was an honour to lead it. Wishing you many more magical adventures to come, boundless laughter and happily ever after.

Super also to see Ailsa, Cassandra and the ace Carlowrie Events Team whizzing about. And a pleasure to meet photographer couple Johnnie and Garett – thank you for these epic photos – and videographer, Hannah from Gione da Silva.

Meet my colleagues and the fellow founders of Agnostic Scotland…

Every now and then, you cross paths with people who are meant to be in your life. I feel this way about my two fellow Agnostic Scotland founders, Linda Keys and Andrea Taylor. I’d love to introduce them to you.

Here we all are at the Agnostic Scotland Launch in November 2019, next to the Clootie Tree. Linda, Andrea and me.

I first met Linda when she was expecting her eldest child and she attended a birth workshop I was running at KnotStressed Therapies. Linda is remarkable. She’s someone you remember – even years after a fleeting meeting. You can spend time with her for such a short time and feel like you’ve known her forever. I have already learnt an enormous amount from Linda in the year that we have been planning Agnostic Scotland. She is principled, generous, kind, confident and one of those rare people in life who brings out the best in everyone. I am more excited than I can say to see how our plans unfold and to be working with Linda on this journey.

Over the years in my work supporting families through pregnancy and chilbirth, I have heard Andrea’s name again and again. She is a wonderful and inspiring midwife, birth educator, yoga teacher and all-round-creative genius. From my first cup of tea in Andrea’s gorgeously decorated, plant-filled home it was obvious to me that we share a similar ethos in our approach and values. She is calm, heart-centred, wise, thoughtful and funny. Andrea has recently embarked on her journey as a Celebrant – although really she has been honouring life transitions for years, both in her own life and the lives of those around her. I feel deeply honoured to be working alongside her at Agnostic Scotland.

On 28th November 2019, after a year of planning, Linda, Andrea and I officially launched Agnostic Scotland, a not-for-profit organisation offering Wedding, Naming, Funeral and other Life-Transition Ceremonies. All three of us firmly believe that families should be able to decide how and where they choose to mark the momentous occasions in their lives, however big or small, religious or secular, traditional or unconventional. We are now able to offer these beautiful, people-centred ceremonies, including legally recognised Wedding Ceremonies, through Agnostic Scotland. It feels great as a celebrant to say “Yes! Let’s do what you want to do… it is your ceremony!” 

Our beautiful leaflets feature couples and families we have worked with over the years and who have generously agreed to let us use their gorgeous photos.

I am so proud of what we have already achieved and can’t wait to develop our plans to provide affordable ceremonies across Scotland through our Agnostic Scotland Community Fund, to bring communities together through our donations-based Community Connection Gatherings, and to launch our Celebrant Training Programme and establish a network of fabulous, principled Agnostic Scotland Celebrants across the country. Watch this space!

The three of us tying our cloots onto the sweet apple Clootie Tree at the Agnostic Scotland Launch.

We’ve been blown away by the positive reception to Agnostic Scotland, from interested individuals to clients and celebrants. Our Launch Ceremony on 28th November was a joyful, community-spirited event and we were delighted to welcome many friends, clients, fellow celebrants, photographers, wedding suppliers, councillors and funeral directors to the event. Thank you to all those who joined us. For those who missed it, feel free to have a read of our Launch Ceremony speeches on the Agnostic Scotland blog.

The Agnostic Scotland Clootie Tree at home in Portobello with everyone who attended the Launch Event’s cloots attached.

Linda, Andrea and I look forward to being in touch with you. Thank you so much for your interest and your support.

Photos by Laura Kate McLean – thanks so much! And thanks also to all the incredible people who volunteered their time and help on the launch night. We are so grateful! ❤️🌿

If only we were all of us greeted into the world this way…

Petit coeur little heart we are where we are meant to be, you fit like a glove, skin to skin, heart to heart on a course flying free, now as three

[extract of a beautiful poem written for Bo by Bo’s mother]
Onie Tibbitt, Agnostic Scotland Celebrant, conducts a beautiful Naming Ceremony in East Lothian.

All the uniquely personal elements in Bo’s soul-nourishing welcome-to-the-world ceremony today made my spirits soar. A special candle was passed from friend to friend as the beautiful Karine Polwart song, ‘Beo’, played. As each person held the light, they were invited to hold in their mind and hearts a loving thought for Bo and his parents. A song was sung to acoustic guitar and a poem recited with love – both written especially for Bo by close family friends.

Rose petals gathered from a bouquet that had been gifted to Bo’s parents on the day of his birth were shared among the gathering and gently showered around the little boy as his name was declared to the world.

A Native American ritual to greet the cardinal points, North-South-East-West, invited everyone present to set their own unique and personal intentions as they become Bo’s teachers, guides and mentors. Bo’s parents lead a gorgeous ritual to honour the Earth and all her elements and to request their protection for Bo as he grows.

And a glorious a capella song was sung by all, ‘To you we sing and happiness we bring to celebrate your birth, an angel here on Earth’. All centred around a gorgeous handmade blessing wreath to which everyone was welcome to attach their own written words of blessing for Bo throughout the day’s celebrations.

Bo’s wonderful doula, who was present at his birth, said to me after the ceremony, “If only we were all of us greeted into the world this way…”
I couldn’t agree more ❤️

May the moon softly restore you by night…

When you make your mark on the blossoming Cherry tree, Elsie’s parents invite you to hold in your mind and your heart, a positive thought for Elsie.

A gorgeous ritual at Elsie’s Naming Day celebrations last weekend. Her ceremony took place in a beautifully decorated marquee in the garden of the family home (Elsie’s siblings had been busy!). It was a fun and heartfelt morning. Elsie’s older sister was very brave and read a sweet poem, individual promises were made by Elsie’s parents and ‘Guide’ parents, and the whole gathering sang their hearts out to a fantastic acoustic rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ (thanks to the super talents of Elsie’s Dad and a family friend).

Welcome to the world, Elsie. I so enjoyed being your Naming Day Celebrant and meeting all the wonderful family and friends in your life. In the words of the sweet blessing shared during your ceremony:

May the sun bring you new energy by day, 
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your worries,
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all the days of your life may you walk
Gently through the world and know its beauty.

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