Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

How to use this blog

This blog is structured as a series of questions and under each posting, I've provided what I hope will be helpful advice for you in planning your humanist wedding. All of the posts are on one page, but each one has been condensed in size, so to read the full details, just click on the post title or 'read more'. When you get to the end of the post, just click on 'home' to get back to the full page of posts (or on older/newer posts). If you're interested in a particular subject, you can also click on the list to the left or you can do your own search by using the box below.

Happy reading and happy wedding planning!

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What will help to calm our nerves?



The first thing to say is that almost everyone feels a bit nervous on their wedding day - it goes with the territory! You're excited, you want to look your best, you want everything to go well.... And there are a lot of things I can do to help! Here are a few of my top tips for dealing with nerves:
  • One thing that will help a lot is that I'll be drafting everything for you and sending it to you well before the big day, so by that time you'll be very familiar with the content and structure of the ceremony. Knowing what's coming really helps.
  • A rehearsal can help too if you're very nervous. I always leave it to you to decide whether you need a rehearsal or not. I have to say that the majority of couples don't bother with one because they've seen the script beforehand and because I'm always there an hour early on the day to go through the practicalities, to liaise with readers, musicians or hotel staff and to make sure that everything is set up as it should be. By the way, I almost never conduct more than one wedding in one day, so that I can really be there for you rather than nervously clock watching!
  • Before the ceremony, I'll be chatting to the groom and helping to calm any nerves. One groom took the time to email me after the big day to say, "I really appreciate the way you calmed me down before the ceremony - I was a little nervous (to say the least!) but chatting to you really did help. Thanks for all the advice and help beforehand too"



(picture by Keath Bank)

  • Some guys are really relaxed about everything of course (aye, I'm talking about you Grant!)

  • And speaking of nerves, girls, don't be too late will you? It's one sure fire way to make your groom really panic! 
    Steven waits for a very late Lynne (photo by Pete at Duke Studios)
    (she did turn up by the way!)


(Don't leave the poor lad with his fingers crossed will you?)


  • Up to 20 minutes late is fine, but try not to make it any later if you can help it. And if your time keeping is notoriously bad, appoint someone else (mum? chief bridesmaid?) to act as a time keeper for you. It won't matter so much to me (I almost never conduct more than one wedding in one day, so that I can really 'be there' for you rather than nervously clock watching!), but it's not a great idea to leave your guests waiting if you can avoid it.
  • I'll be chatting to both of you before the ceremony to help calm any nerves by the way.
(photos at Venachar Lochside by Ali Cleary)

  • Don't drink too much before the ceremony will you? One drink can steady the nerves of course, but don't forget that I can't marry you if you're under the influence. So keep it at one beforehand and then you can knock it back afterwards!
(Thomas swears that he was only holding the bridesmaids glasses while they were having their photos taken! Aye, right....) (Glenbervie House near Larbert)
  • I always greet the bride outside the ceremony room before we start and it'll really help to calm any nerves. 

(A very late Lynne finally arrived and everyone agreed that she was worth the wait!)(Photo by Duke Photography)

I'll make sure that you're completely ready by the way and if you've got lippy on your teeth, your hair is mussed up or your bra strap is showing, then you can rely on me to tell you!
(Karen needed a wee bit of help with a wardrobe malfunction!)
  • If you're concerned about being the centre of attention, just keep your focus on your partner. I never have couples with their backs to their guests as you often see in church because that's to do with facing the altar and being married in the eyes of god. Most couples who choose a humanist ceremony want to involve their guests and facing them rather than turning your back on them is one way to do that. But if you're nervous about it, you can stand either side of me, but turn towards each other. Or you can stand together for the whole ceremony with both of you on one side of me, so that you can hold hands and support each other (I'm not suggesting that either of you might keel over of course!)
 (photo by Seppi Preston at Lighthouse Studios in Stirling)


  • I almost always have you standing together after the signing anyway (on the 'never come between a married couple' principle!), so that you're ready to walk back down the aisle together.

(Kev and Gem pictured at Doune Castle by Paul at Toast Photography)
  • If you don't want to say very much yourselves during the ceremony, don't worry because you don't have to. Your personal vows and promises can be phrased so that they're in the form of a question that I ask and you each say "I do" (or together "we will"). I usually phrase the legal declarations in a 'repeat after me' format and in that way I can guide you through them and take the pressure of you. And although I often use the term "solemnly and sincerely" in the legal declarations, we don't actually have to. The words "solemnly" sometimes trips people up and if you'd prefer not to say it, that's no problem at all!
  • Music can help if you're worried about awkward silences, for example during symbolic gestures such as the lighting of candles.
  • When I pronounce you husband and wife, I'll invite you to kiss and if you're nervous about public displays of affection, don't forget that practice makes perfect! I have been known to set homework by the way and on one occasion suggested that the bride drag her shy fiancĂ© into Tescos a few times before the big day to kiss him in the middle of the frozen food aisle!
(Lindsay and Phil didn't actually need any practice!)
  • When we get to the signing of the Marriage Schedule, some people worry about using a fountain pen and you can have a wee practice before the real thing. I'll also guide you carefully so that you sign in the right place.
(Making sure that you're signed, sealed and delivered!)
 
  • I hate the thought that any of my couples might see their wedding ceremony as an ordeal that they've got to get over before they move on to the party.

(Karen and Scott on their way to celebrate after their wedding at Gean House in Alloa)
  • Sure, you'll want to celebrate afterwards but in my book, the ceremony is part of the celebrations. So I'll do everything I can to help you to enjoy it and to guide, reassure and support you. And if all else fails, I'll just make you laugh! 

(Caishlan and Keiron enjoying a good laugh during their wedding ceremony)
(pic by Alan Peebles)
Laughter helps to break the ice for everyone and I don't think I've ever conducted a wedding where there hasn't been something to laugh about! 

 (Hayley gets the giggles during her marriage to Steven)
(photo by Tom Collins)


And girls, if all else fails, we can always find some way of teasing the groom to make everyone laugh on the day!

(Sarah and Michael at Airth Castle by Duke Wedding Photographers)


In fact I'm sorry guys, but grooms are often the brunt of a funny story or two on the day!


(photo by Nadin Dunnigan)


  • There is often a welcome distraction too, such as this wee one who kept everyone entertained at the Glenskirlie House wedding of Rachael and Anthony:

(picture by Martin Pettinger) 

  • They say that music is the food of love - well I disagree, I reckon it's laughter!

(Birdeen and Carl have a good laugh at their Doune Castle wedding)
(picture by Whyler Photos)

  • Never forget the last bit of this lovely wedding well wishing will you?!
(photo by Ali Cleary)


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