You know that feeling when you find someone who truly accepts you for who you are, and you know that there is no one else you would rather spend the rest of your days with?
Everything has fallen into place, and you can’t wait to plan your future together – it’s just magic! Love is one of the most precious things you can experience, and getting married should be one of the happiest times in your life.
However, when my partner, Lauren, and I got engaged back in 2012, there was a slight snag; we weren’t legally allowed to get married… isn’t that wild?? So we bought a lovely house in the meantime and patiently waited until Scotland legalised same-sex marriage in December 2014 (now part of the
29 31 countries in the world that do so today).
Fantastic news – time to plan the wedding
We were so excited to get started. Although we were officially recognised in the eyes of the law, we soon realised that perhaps the wedding industry wasn’t quite ready for us.
Going to a wedding show mainly sticks out in my mind. Lauren and I walked up to various suppliers, as you do, hand in hand, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
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- Who’s the lucky man?
- Which one of you is the bride?
- Oh, is this your bridesmaid?
- Tell me about your hubby-to-be!
GROAN!! We were holding hands, and both engagement rings glittering in the light! All the signs were there, Henny!
What should have been an enjoyable experience left us utterly bummed out and frustrated. Having lived almost our entire lives as out and proud, it felt like we were being shoved back into the closet, forced to relive a hellish nightmare of coming out repeatedly, suddenly anxiety-ridden that we would be angrily rejected, a la homophobic American bakery. It was not an enjoyable day, to say the least.
Luckily, we had some stand-out, unforgettable experiences to balance this out – seeing many, many live bands (an excellent excuse for a night out!), tasting delicious cakes, and making genuine friends with our photographers.
We got married in 2016, on the stunning grounds of Mar Hall – where we got engaged – and our wedding coordinator and the staff were more than happy to make our dreams come true.
And our celebrant from Fuze Ceremonies listened carefully to our story and delivered a beautiful and touching ceremony. We proudly declared our love for each other, joined by our closest family and friends. As you can see, we were beaming with joy.
I can honestly say it was the best day of my life, and if I could relive it, I would say in a heartbeat! However, I would say my vows first – I was so overcome with emotion after hearing Lauren’s vows that I ugly-cried two sentences into my own! Seriously, she had to calm me down.
We laughed at how I’d set everyone else off, too, haha. Our guests told us how much they loved our ceremony and how personal it was; some even said it was the best wedding they’d ever been to! (Apart from their own, of course!)
So why I Became a Wedding Celebrant?
Eventually, coming down from the high of the big day, I reflected on the entire experience. I wanted every betrothed couple to feel as fabulous as Lauren, and I felt on our wedding day, and I wanted absolutely no one to feel the way we did at that wedding show.
Now, I LOVE a wedding, and Mahatma Gandhi was swimming around in my head, whispering, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” What a wonderful thing to be able to do.
What if I were to combine my freakish organisational skills, my creative flair and speaking skills (I worked in training at the time) with the ability to play a part in people’s most special day? How lovely to be a welcoming and understanding face for LGBT+ couples and help them proudly celebrate their love – to be precisely the kind of celebrant I would have loved to have.
Now please don’t get me wrong, our celebrant was lovely and did a fantastic job. But Lauren and I would have loved the option of having a celebrant who knew first-hand what we were feeling and had personally walked down similar paths in life. I think that it’s important to have a choice of celebrants that reflect the diversity of all the engaged couples out there.
Due to the trajectory of my career at the time, I put this idea on the backburner. But such is life, redundancy pulled it back into the spotlight, and this time it had my full attention. So I trained with the UKCAPSA (UK Celebrant & Professional Skills Academy – an extension of Fuze Ceremonies). I got my SQA Qualification which gave me the skills and knowledge needed to create and deliver genuinely bespoke ceremonies.
I adore getting to know my couples’ love stories, and being able to retell them to their nearest and dearest is an absolute pleasure and an honour. It just brings me such joy to feel the love radiating around the room! I still remember the first couples I married in Clashnessie, there wasn’t a dry eye on the beach!
But How do you Choose Your Celebrant?
You wouldn’t hire the first venue or wedding gown you came across, so why would you do the same with your celebrant? One of the best things about Fuze Ceremonies is that they have a large number of celebrants to pick from, each with their personality and something unique to offer, so you’re sure to find the right one for your big day.
You should pick a celebrant with whom you get along and who shares your values – after all, they will play such an essential role in your wedding day.
They’ll become entangled in your recollections. Look through celebrants’ biographies and social media to discover what they’re all about (it’s a lot easier to discern if they’re LGBT+ friendly these days – phew!).
Check if they are available on your wedding day, as celebrants are sometimes booked years in advance; it’s never too early to book!
Make a list of celebrants you’re interested in and get in touch with each other to chat. They will gladly explain what they can do for you and answer any queries you may have. Consider who you’d like to stand at the end of the aisle with you, and then make a reservation for them! It’s as simple as that.
Make a ceremony that reflects your personality
What do you picture when you close your eyes and imagine your wedding day? Perhaps a profoundly romantic and dramatic affair? Maybe a laid-back, uncomplicated day? Or maybe a boisterous, amusing, and lively celebration?
The beauty of a Humanist Ceremony is that the celebrant collaborates closely with you to create the ceremony you choose.
Apart from making your statement and signing the Marriage Schedule there are no rules – you can do whatever you want! You may live out your woodland fantasies and marry in the woods (imagine the photos!). Your furry (trustworthy) children could serve as ring bearers. If you wanted to, you could even walk down the aisle to RuPaul’s “Sissy that Walk”!
One of my favourite things about an LGBT+ wedding is that you can easily throw out ‘traditions’ and make your own rules! If they want to, I believe everyone should! Why not have mates of honour’ instead of defining your wedding party by gender and choosing solely bridesmaids or groomsmen (and snubbing your favourite people in the process)?
Who is the first to walk down the aisle? Both of you, if you want! You might enter separately, accompanied by whoever is thought deserving of the honour, go it alone (“Why are you all gagging so?”), or strut in together, like the power couple you are.
The options are limitless. If you don’t have a clear image in your thoughts, don’t worry; your celebrant will provide you with plenty of ideas for making your ceremony meaningful and unforgettable, from symbolic gestures and vows to readings, which can be a great way to involve the thespians in your guest list.
Please don’t feel obligated to do what others “expect” you to do — this is YOUR wedding day, so don’t dim your radiance to please others (kind advice: if anybody makes you feel obligated, then they shouldn’t come!).
Make it a day to remember for all the right reasons by celebrating your love openly and unapologetically. Relax and take in every moment.