Posts Tagged ‘fun’

A lovely thank you for a Humanist wedding

Friday, August 18th, 2017

A thank you is always welcome, soon or long after a ceremony. This lovely one arrived on 1 August 2017 (uploaded with permission of the bride):

Hi Joe,

I am almost embarrassed how long it has taken me to write this email to you. This is also the hardest thank you as I don’t know where to start and I don’t know how to put it into words just how amazing you made our wedding ceremony. I will give it my best shot though!

Our ceremony was by far our favourite part of our wedding day. It was everything we had dreamed of and more. A relaxed setting and a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Your ability to make people laugh, cry and feel at home still amazes us. The way you pick up on any mistake we or our readers had made and turned it around to make it funny and as if it was supposed to happen was what made the ceremony even more fun.

In our video, after the ceremony the guests are congratulating us, absolutely everyone who approached us made comments on how it was the best service ever, that was the best craic ever, such an emotional ceremony, that was great idea, that Joe lad is some craic, I want to do that for my wedding, I wish I had that for my wedding, I will never have a church ceremony after that…… The list goes on.

We had Thank You cards and endless texts and emails from our guests saying it was the best wedding they had ever been to and their favourite part was the ceremony, this to me says it all as when do you ever hear that? Normally people see the church part as the formal bit you need to get out of the way before you can start having fun, I myself dread going to the church part of a wedding!. As myself and James say, it wasn’t us that made it the best day ever, it was Joe Armstrong and Bellingham Castle. The only thing we done was make the two best decisions, to have Joe Armstrong as our celebrant and to have Bellingham Castle as our venue.

I remember on the day, making my way to the ceremony, forgetting I had to breathe, my mind panicking and feeling like I might just collapse, you came out and cracked a joke and from there I was relaxed and ready for the day!

So Joe, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for giving us the wedding we have always wanted.

– Grainne and James – Humanist wedding conducted at Bellingham Castle 15 April 2016

You can see a video of Grainne and James’s Humanist wedding below. For many more examples of unsolicited praise received for Humanist wedding ceremonies click here.

HUMANIST WEDDING CEREMONY of Grainne and James conducted by Joe Armstrong,  Friday, 15 April 2016, at Bellingham Castle, Co. Louth. Video edited by Liutauras Kepenis (www.liutaspictures.ie Email: info@liutaspictures.ie 0857288202) and John Armstrong (johna.artstation.com Email:johnarmstrong3@gmail.com)

Still loving conducting Humanist weddings

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

I still love conducting Humanist wedding ceremonies. Each one is different. Each couple is different. Every gathering of relatives and friends is different.

Ironically, it’s great when something goes wrong! Everyone relaxes and realizes the burden of it having to be ‘perfect’ is a myth. It’s always great once that first thing happens that puts people at their ease. A baby cries. A song goes wrong. A little ring bearer runs off with the rings. The parents can’t light a candle because the air conditioning keeps blowing the candles out. Someone has a fit of the giggles.

Once, at the very end of a ceremony, the bride was trying to say something to me but the music was loud and she was on the far side of a table and it was hard to catch what she was saying.

Eventually I heard her, ‘He didn’t kiss me!’

‘Stop the music!’ I cried. ‘The groom didn’t kiss the bride!’

And the music stopped and the audience watched and the groom kissed his bride and everyone cheered and clapped and roared with glee and the music resumed and the couple processed down the aisle and there was great merriment, excitement and fun.

And yes there was a little lad who blew out the candles and ran off with the wedding rings just before the exchange of rings. He was rugby tackled by his dad – well, OK, not rugby tackled – but brought back into the ceremony room, and the rings restored to the Best Man just in time.

And yes once a guest dropped the wedding rings early in a ceremony and they were a hair’s breadth from dropping down a gap between floor boards in an ancient stately home.

It’s great when the couple, especially the bride, relaxes and enjoys every moment; realizing that it isn’t about external things at all. It’s about living the moment, cherishing the important things, celebrating the love the couple share for each other and the commitment that they are making publicly to their partner. I think of the bride who decided, when I met her outside the chapel, that she’d be far more comfortable in her boots than her wedding shoes and decided to go up the aisle in the boots instead. She asked my view. I suggested comfort first. ‘I like your style,’ she said.

And once the bride is chilled out and relaxed and living the moment it’s much more likely that everyone else will enjoy themselves too.

Happily, I’ve encountered very, very, very few bridezillas! But, unlike the deities, they do exist – perhaps just one per hundred brides. You can spot them by the state of panic of the unfortunate groom, who might remove something beautiful a florist or decorator did because ‘she’ would see red. Or I’m told confidentially by the venue manager that they’re all on tenterhooks because of the unreasonable demands of the bride. Or the musicians might agree with a small last minute amendment I propose but they wouldn’t make the change because they’re terrified of Zilla, lest the improvement incur her displeasure. Or I spot something that I know won’t work for the ceremony, fix it and come back moments later only to see that someone playing watchman for the bride has changed it back to the way that I know won’t work.

The exceptions might make the good stories but the greatest stories are the ordinary, lovely, gorgeous, hopeful, committed couples who just want a personal ceremony that is about them and who want to show their families and friends their loving commitment to one another. They want to feel relaxed and they want their guests to enjoy their wedding. I think of all the couples that I have met, wonderful people, who have found love and hope and joy, and whose lives have joined together in a union of trust and encouraging mutual acceptance. And they want to celebrate that love by getting married.

Often they may have their children there and we include the children in the ceremony. Often the kids make the ceremony. We might have planned to stand for the vows but junior decides he’s crawling up on his mother’s lap and we adjust and do the vows sitting down. Or up come the kids to pour sand or tie ribbons or have candles lit for them.

I love my work – being with people at such important turning points in their lives.

Leaving safety

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Taking a risk is what keeps us alive. Leaping – leaving behind the familiar – may not come natural to us. But a wise guy I know told me that he never met anyone who regretted making life-changing decisions such as moving from one job to another, one career to another, when it was only fear which kept them where they were.

I am fascinated by the process of decision-making in such situations. What keeps someone in an unsatisfying situation for years? The fear of making a mistake? The fear of the unknown? The fear that faraway hills are green and they will be just as dissatisfied elsewhere? It can be easier to stay and complain than to take the leap of faith in oneself, take responsibility for one’s own life and head into the unknown. It can be hard to believe that security is only real when it relies on oneself. Giving up the security of a role, income, etc. often leads to excitement, adventure, an expansion of consciousness and a life better lived.

‘Time, gentlemen, time’  as they may cry in pubs when it is time to clear the premises. Knowing the time to go, to move on, to leap into the dark.

Having lept, of course, things will not necessarily fall into place right away. You have left behind one synthesis for another – but the other may still be barely born. Financially you may take a hit – after all isn’t it that which so often keeps us in dissatisfying situations to begin with. But remember your resolution: if you only had a short time to live, you wouldn’t have spent it doing what you were doing. So do now what you want to do, see, explore, be, achieve before you die. Today is the day for that.

You have stepped up to the plate. You have risked failure. Whether you succeed or not doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that you are alive. You have leapt. You have trusted yourself and the universe.

Creation can be a messy thing. Form takes a while to take shape. The world wasn’t built in a day. But create. Create something true and beautiful and worthwhile and fun. Dance. Express. Sing. Write. Focus on what you want. We’ll be pushing up daisies sooner than we think. Laugh. Detach. Be thankful.