I am proud to be able to say I have been working as an Independent Celebrant in Scotland since 2015 and everyday I find my love for this role grows stronger and stronger. To be able to share in some of the most significant days with couples and families is a privilege that I am truly grateful to experience.
One thing I need to emphasise is I conduct the ceremonial aspect of a wedding; in Scotland, Celebrants who are affiliated with recognised Faith Groups, as well as Registrars, are able to conduct a legal marriage. As I am not linked to any such group, nor am I a registered Registrar, I cannot. What I can do is create a ceremony that is completely unique to the couple in question.
Many couples prefer this option as there can be restrictions to what they want to address in their ceremony when working with either a Faith Based Group or a Registrar. They make wish to include religious or spiritual aspects that cannot be included with other officiants. Some require a complete absence of any religious or spiritual content, others may have certain requirements the couple must include regardless of whether they are in line with their wishes.
Couples I work with generally have an intimate, relaxed service with only a couple of friends in attendance at the registry office, this only takes a matter of minutes. It can occur before, or after, the day of the actual celebration. Then it's time to start planning the Big Day!
In Scotland you can marry anywhere; if it is on private land you do, naturally enough, need the land owner's permission, however, if you wish to marry in a Castle, on the beach, on a mountain or by a ruin I will work with you and support you in achieving the day you have envisioned. Whether you wish to incorporate religious or spiritual aspects or keep everything totally secular, regardless of gender, my guiding principle is: " Your Day, Your Way". If you live in Scotland, have Scots Heritage, or simply love this incredible country and wish to embrace all it can offer, get in touch and, together, we will bring the magic to your day.
Naming Ceremonies can be an intimate occasion or even incorporated into a wedding celebration. Again, families have different reasons for having ceremonies but, at the heart of it, is the enfolding of a child, or children, into the family and community. Location is where you wish and again, the content can be wholly secular or as spiritual as the family wishes. The same principal still holds; "Your Day, Your WaY;
Funerals, Celebrations of Life, Memorials; again, the family's wishes dictate the content of the day. No matter the venue, if there is a need of religious content, or a completely secular ceremony, the family have absolute control. It is a special honour to be able to work with families at what is the stressful of times, and I never forget how much trust is being placed with me. One again, it's Your Day, Your Way.
I am proud of my Scottish Heritage and, as a result, the Weddings, Vow Renewals and Naming Ceremonies I offer tend to incorporate traditions that go back to time immemorial. Whether you live in Scotland or not, the ceremonies I provide will embrace your vision and definitely ensure you, and your guests, will have an experience to last a lifetime.
The chords used in a Handfasting Ceremony were known as the "Banns" and were generally seen as a declaration of intent that in a years and a day a the couple would, all being well, be married. It was viewed as an important act within the community and when couples I work with incorporate it in their ceremony, it has the same value.
The same goes with Jumping the Besom. In the ceremonies I perform it signifies a clean sweep in a relationship - indeed that is viewed as a possible origin for that phrase. The past is behind; it is something to learn from, then move on. To that end I give my couples the besom, or broom, they "leap" over, entwined with their bands if used, to take home with them. It is a tangible reminder of their vows to one another and, as such, incredibly personal to them.
These same rites, along with sharing a quaich containing whisky - or whatever their preferred drink is - to toast their good health and happiness for the future, can be easily embraced as part of a renewal ceremony, often with the coupe reprising their original vows. Every couple have their own reasons for having such a ceremony and, again, it is their individuality and unique visions that have overall impact on how the ceremony evolves.
The ceremonies are very inclusive; they are generally held "In the Round" which is to say, the guests encircle the couple - or the family if it is a Naming Ceremony - and all have a real engagement with the day, regardless of whether they are actively involved with aspects of the ceremony or not. As a result it is very rare for anyone to simply be an observer - age and infirmity may mean they need to sit, however they can still be very much included in the proceedings.
As for funerals; I meet with the family and will take as long as need be in order to get the information needed to really shape the funeral to meet with their vision, and, perhaps, the vision of their late family member who may already have instructions in place. I have conducted funerals ranging from what could easily be described as a full church service for families, including hymns, and readings from the bible to ones with absolutely no spiritual or religious content whatsoever.
That, however, does not mean one service has more or less love and respect in it's make up; it simply means every family and every individual around whom the service is being formed, is created to celebrate the individuality of that person and, when there are smiles mixed with tears at the end of the funeral, regardless of location, I know I have done all I could to support the family in what is a challenging experience.