Choosing Poetry and Readings for Your Humanist Wedding Ceremony

I often get asked about readings and poems and whether or not couple’s should have them as part of their ceremony. The answer is pretty simple to me – if there is a reading or poem that really stands out to you or a person that you would like to do a reading at your wedding then YES! It’s a great way to involve people in your ceremony and they will feel privileged that you have asked.

Equally, if you choose not to have any poems or readings that’s fine too – your ceremony will be personal and meaningful regardless. Its whatever is right for you.

There are absolutely loads to choose from – you can choose yourself or get the person reading it to choose it (or choose 3 and you pick from them). Here are a few of the favourites:


On your wedding day- unknown author
The places you’ll go – dr Seuss


The art of a good marriage – Wilfred Peterson


A lovely love story – Edward monkton


He never leaves the seat up by an unknown author


He’s/she’s not perfect by Bob Marley


I carry your heart by EE Cummings


The One – unknown author


Wedding Day by Sarah Ritchie

Hope you like them……



The Beautiful Wedding of Lisa and Stevan at the Signet Library, Edinburgh

What a beautiful location and a beautiful couple. Absolutely loved doing Lisa and Stevan’s wedding at the beautiful Signet Library. And what a great couple!!!!

And I just loved the story of when they met…..when they were just 11. It takes a special kind of couple to grow up together through all life’s changes and still be perfect for each other years later:

Lisa and Stevan met for the first time when they were just 11 years old and in their first year at high school. Lisa sat behind Stevan in maths class and they used to have a good laugh together. This often resulted in Stevan getting into trouble with the teacher but never Lisa! He still doesn’t know how she never managed to get in trouble.

They would speak all day at school and, as if they hadn’t done enough talking, they would then talk on MSN when they got home. They quickly became close friends and part of the same big group of friends, many of who I believe are here today! They would all meet up every night at ‘half 6 sweet spot’ and also hung out at the weekends and it seems all their friends saw them becoming a couple way before they did and kept asking them when they were going to become more than just friends.

And they chose to do a handfasting as part of their ceremony too, and Stevan incorporated one of his other loves in life, Chelsea football club!


Before we move on to the legal vows, Lisa and Stevan are going to exchange their promises in a traditional manner of hand fasting and I will be tying ribbons around their joined hands as a way of confirming their union. They have chosen to use the Sutherland family tartan and Stevan has chosen a Chelsea blue ribbon as they are his favourite football team. Hand fasting is an ancient Celtic marriage ritual and if you ever wondered where the expression ‘tying the knot’ came from, now you know!

Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with me and to the amazing Kelly at Speedlight Photograph


The Wonderful Winter Wedding of Rachael and Vince at Dalhousie Castle

What a fabulous venue for a winter wedding and a wonderful couple! A perfect day.



And they did and handfasting with a lovely touch of their mums handing over the tartans.


Before we move on to the legal vows, Rachael and Vince are going to exchange their promises in a traditional manner of hand fasting and I will be tying a tartan ribbons from each side of the family around their joined hands as a way of confirming their union. Hand fasting is an ancient Celtic marriage ritual and if you ever wondered where the expression ‘tying the knot’ came from, now you know!

If I can now ask both the mums, Catherine and Julie, to handover the ribbons please?



We will now move onto the most important part of the ceremony where Rachael and Vince will exchange their legal vows and rings. And today we have a very special helper to deliver the rings today – the lovely owl here at Dalhousie, Snowy.

What a wonderful day, thank you so much for sharing your fabulous pictures with me and thank you to GWS Photography.

The beautiful wedding of Kevin and Errin at Balbirnie House Hotel!

Had the pleasure of marrying this wonderful couple in June last year at the fabulous Balbirnie House and what a great day it was. They both did a great job of keeping calm and relaxed.

I loved their proposal story –

Although they had always talked about getting married it was on a trip up to Scotland back visiting the parents when they were living down south, that Kevin thought the time was right to ask Errin to marry him.  They had often gone on long walks around Balfarg together, even in the times when they were just friends, and so it held very special memories for them.

So in June 2014 Kevin took Errin for a walk there to the spot where they had their first kiss and got down on one knee. Of course her answer was yes and here we are today!

And they had a lovely reading from Stardust by Neil Gaiman –

“You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable and unbearable.

My heart feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”

And they chose to include a lovely handfasting:

The first knot is for the bride’s love for the groom. And the second knot is for groom’s love for bride. These knots symbolise the strength of your love and commitment for one another. 

Errin & Kevin today on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other forever; you are holding the hands of your best friend. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you will build your future. These are the hands that will love you & cherish you through the years. These are the hands that will give you strength and support when you need it. And as your hands are joined together now, so may your hearts always be.


What a great day for a lovely couple! All the best in your married life together and thank you for sharing your fabulous pictures with me and special thanks to ASP photography!

The amazing wedding of Karen and Allan at the Dalmahoy Hotel!

Loved working with this wonderful couple to create their ceremony. There was always lots of laughs in our meetings and they definitely wanted a relaxed ceremony just right for them. Luckily they had lots of great stories and ideas to make the ceremony perfect at the fabulous Dalmahoy Hotel. I love it there – fabulous surroundings and fabulous staff!

I particularly loved the story of the proposal, Allan certainly has to put the work in:

It was in April 2014 that Allan felt the time was right to ask Karen to marry him. He had it all planned and had her ring hidden in his rucksack. However, as he was going straight from an exam to their few days away, he had to explain to the examiner that he would need to keep his jacket with him during the exam and thankfully, on seeing the ring box, she understood. He then became very attached to his rucksack for the next few days. They went away to Stonefield Castle to stay and it was amazing. And on the 8th April they went to Inverurie Castle where Allan had decided he was going to propose in the gardens there. But upon arrival they found out the gardens were shut for maintenance.

And so Allan decided they would drive to Loch Fyne for a photo. However, 45 minutes later Karen was bored and frustrated but thankfully Allan found the place for a perfect ‘photo’. As they got down to the loch, Allan asked Karen to take a photo with his phone and as she did he got down on one knee and got the ring out of his rucksack. However, as Karen was determined to get this ‘perfect photo’ it took her a while to turn around but when she did Allan was down on one knee asking her if that view was any better and asked her to marry him. Of course her answer was yes and here we are today!


And they wrote the most amazing, genuine promises and vows for each other.

Allan if you would please place the ring on Karen’s left hand and repeat after me:

Karen I promise to tell you I love you at least once every day. I promise to make you laugh at least once every day. I promise to share everything with you and to ensure we meet our dream of seeing the world while growing old together. I promise to dry your tears when you are sad, and to listen to your rants when you’ve had a bad day or someone has made you mad. I promise to be your conscience and your sounding board, as I know you do for me. I promise to keep you safe, secure and to show you as much of this wonderful world as I can. Most importantly I promise to be the best father I can be to any future children, while knowing that being the best that I can be will still only be a fraction of how wonderful a mother you will be. In front of our friends and family here today I Allan accept you Karen in marriage as my wife.

And now onto you Karen. If you would please place the ring on Allan’s left hand and repeat after me:

Allan I promise that I will always love and support you and to always put you and our family first. I promise to always be your best friend, your comedy duo, your voice of reason and to never lose sight of all the little things that make us us. I promise to always work together and consider you in everything I do and always make the decisions, to counter your indecisiveness. I promise to always make it easy for you to mock me through my clumsiness or lack of recollection, to mock you at every opportunity and to have pizza waiting for you after nights’ out. I promise to work hard to make the best future possible for us and to be the best mother I can be to any future children we have together. In front of our friends and family here today I Karen accept you Allan in marriage as my husband.

And they did a Quaich to toast their married life together – to celebrate their promises and vows of commitment As they both love whisky that’s what they used.

What a fabulous couple and a great day! Congratulations Mr and Mrs Smith!

The beautiful wedding of Soffia and Paul at Dunglass Estate!

I had the pleasure of conducting Soffia and Paul’s gorgeous little girl Layla’s naming ceremony in January last year and so it was even more special when I got to be part of their wedding too at beautiful Dunglass Estate.

 They wanted the ceremony to be relaxed and they chose to involve Soffia’s little sister Olivia and she did a lovely reading:

‘In That Still And Settled Place’ by Edward Monkton

In that still and settled place

There’s nobody but you

You’re where I breathe my oxygen

You’re where I see my view

And when the world feels full of noise

My heart knows what to do

It finds that still and settled place

And dances there with you

He’ll be more than just her husband

He’ll also be her friend

And she’ll be more than just his wife

She’s be his soul mate – till the end.

I particularly loved the story of when they first met and it certainly wasn’t love at first sight:

Soffia and Paul met for the first time in 2012 through their work, although it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. Soffia’s first impression of Paul was that she thought he was an arrogant footballer who liked to think that he knew it all.  Paul’s first impression of Soffia was that she was a stuck up daddy’s girl who got everything she wanted and she certainly came across as a confident lady. However, in the run up to the Christmas night out they started talking to each other more and they got to know each other better. And it was at the Christmas night out that they both started to have feelings for each other. After that they spoke constantly and realised their first impressions weren’t completely correct. Soffia realised Paul was actually quite shy and a very caring and romantic person. Equally Paul realised how kind, thoughtful and caring Soffia was.


And it was clear that they had come to love and understand each other’s differences. This is what they wrote about what they love about each other.

This is what Paul wrote about Soffia …

I love that Soffia and I can be ourselves and that we are not only getting married to be Mr and Mrs but we are best friends.  I love Soffia because she is kind, thoughtful and caring.  Soffia will also put others first and I like that she get on really well with my parents and family.  I also LOVE Soffia’s bum.  We have had some amazing holidays together already – New York, Bahrain and Mexico and we both love travelling so we will have many more trips together and make even more memories.  I love knowing that we have started our own little family and that we will hopefully have a brother and or sister for Layla.  When we are not together I miss my cuddles at night and not wakening up next to her each morning.  

This is what Soffia wrote about Paul…..

 I love how romantic Paul can be and that he doesn’t get annoyed that I am not. I love that he always puts me first and would rather I have everything and he has nothing. Without him I wouldn’t have our gorgeous little girl Layla and the memories we have made over the past 3 1/2yrs. When we are apart I miss his warm cuddles at night and his little notes he leaves me in the mornings when he goes to work. I love how he always has confidence in me and tells me I can do whatever I want. He supports me in my decisions and always pushes me to do better. I also respect Paul’s honestly, although sometimes he is a little too honest.

What a fabulous couple and a beautiful wedding, thank you for sharing your photos with me. Congratulations again Mr and Mrs Bestford!

Choosing your wedding songs and music – a quick guide!

Apart from the very important choice of your first dance song, during your wedding ceremony you are likely to need 3 pieces of music – one for the entrance, one (or two) for the background music while signing the register and one for the exit (usually quite upbeat). The one in the middle isn’t essential but is good to have some background music. Ceremonies outside, in particular, don’t always have music for this bit and also ceremonies which have a piper often just use the piper for the beginning and the end.

In a humanist ceremony you can have whatever music you want (as long as its not religious) and this is really a chance for you to choose the music that reflects you as a couple. Some couples choose romantic songs some choose their favourite artists or a song that just means a lot to them. Its whatever is right for you. Couples always ask me for ideas and although I strongly encourage them to choose an artist or a song that just stands out to them sometimes its hard to know where to start.

So here I have highlighted some of the most popular choices from this year (and a couple of my personal favourites):

A thousand Years – Christina Perri/Piano Guys

All of Me – John Legend

A moment like this – Leona Lewis

Canon in D – Pachelbel

Highland Cathedral -Piper

Maries Weddiing – Piper

Greatest Day – Take That

Lifting me higher – Jackie Wilson

Ain’t no mountain high enough – Marvin Gaye y Tammi Terrel

Better Place – Rachel Platten

How long will I love you – Ellie Goulding

Signed Sealed Delivered – Stevie Wonder

Love me like you do – Ellie Goulding

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

Overwhelmed – Tim McMorris

Say you wont let go  -James Arthur

With or without you – 2 cellos

Braveheart – Piper

There are also some lists on Spotify for the top music globally that might also help

Sarah and Scott’s fantastic wedding at The Vu in Bathgate

Loved this couple. Sarah was one of the most organised brides I have ever met so we definitely got along great from the very first time we met. They both had great ideas for their ceremony and were just perfect for each other.

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Loved the story of how they met and their first date…..

Their first date was on the 25th July 2013, almost 3 years ago to the day, at Murrayfield Ice rink to skate and then ordered in dinner. They felt comfortable the whole date and Sarah couldn’t stop smiling because she couldn’t believe such a perfect man existed. The following week they were inseparable and they both met each other’s families. Things progressed very quickly from there and they knew they were in love almost immediately.

And they wrote their own promises and kept them a surprise until the day to do with their handfasting with Scott’s grandad handing over the ribbons (one of the very few couples to do this but it certainly added to the emotion of the day):

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Sarah, I never thought it was possible to fall in love with someone I had just met. Then you came along so unexpectedly and proved me wrong. Yes in a traditional sense we moved fast, but to me true love doesn’t have a time scale. I have never stopped loving you and that is why I make the following promises to you:

I promise to show you every day how much you mean to me and how without you my life would be empty.

I promise to be your partner in all things, not possessing you, but working with you to overcome all of life’s challenges.

And finally, I promise to always support and protect you, being the investment that you hope for and deserve.

I make these promises to you today as a pledge of my commitment to our future and our family to come. I am so excited to begin the next chapter of my life and I am so happy it starts with you.

This WILL be the start of something good…


Thank you.

And Sarah if you will now please read your promises to Scott:

When we met I knew there was something special about you and you still continue to amaze and surprise me. On our first date I fell in love with you and I knew from that moment that my life wasn’t complete without you. You make me happier than I could have ever imagined and make me feel more loved than I ever thought possible. You are not only my best friend but you’re my inspiration and I admire everything that you do.

I promise to trust and respect you and to always be open and honest with you
I promise to share your dreams and ambitions and to stand by your side through all of life’s ups and downs
I promise to listen to you, support you and to love you today, tomorrow and always

I feel truly blessed to be a part of your life which as of today becomes our life together. I look forward to us growing old together but more importantly I look forward to us growing stronger together as husband and wife. 


Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for your lovely pictures and to Gareth Owen at Go4 productions. And thank you for letting me be part of your fabulous day Mr and Mrs Gilmour!


Top tips on involving your children in your special day!

CarlyInvolving your own children and relatives/friends kids’ can make them feel part of your special day. For younger children this can often be quite a strange experience for them as it is nerve wracking for you. So here are some of my top tips for your big day with little ones:

  • Bride and groom- let your kids see you before the ceremony if possible. Unless you dress up like prince and princesses every day its quite odd for them to see you all dressed up and sometimes they can get a bit scared. If your anything like me your kids are used to seeing you in jeans and a t-shirt and a wedding dress and suit/kilt is far from what you ‘normally’ look like to them.
  • At some point it is very likely they will come and join you at the front whether it be part of the vows or just during the ceremony. They want to be part of it! I even did one wedding where the couples 1-year-old was going in and out my legs in a figure of eight during their promises and vows – she was super quiet and amused though so I just went with it.
  • No doubt at the time in the ceremony where we talk about your children and how lovely and smiling they are and how much joy they have brought to your lives this will be the moment they act up or cry. It just makes it all the more amusing.
  • If you are getting young bridesmaids/flower girls hair done get them done last – they are usually super excited and run, bounce on beds and climb on things and their hair needs retouched (I only know about this as this is the reason a few of my weddings have started late)
  • Bring distractions – you know your children best and what will get their attention and keep them quiet. Some couples even choose to get their guests and me to blow bubbles at the end of the ceremony which is a real hit with children!!!!
  • And my top tip is ‘just go with it’ – if they want to walk down the aisle with you great if they totally freak out just let them do what suits them. Let them walk around if you/they are comfortable with that, involve them where you can/want to and just enjoy it!


Involving kids in your Wedding Day!!

There are lots of ways you can involve children in your wedding.  A lot depends on the age of the child and how much they want to be involved and obviously how much you want to involve them. Here are just some ideas –

Involve them as part of the wedding party – Bridesmaids, Flower girls, Paige boys (they can even have special signs to carry) There have even some little ones jumping for high 5’s at the bottom of the aisle at my weddings!


Kids blog harper and lilyRory daddy here comes mummy!

Readings – depending on the age of the child they could do a short reading. Younger children do shorter readings and often learn them off by heart (which still amazes me to this day!) I have had a few very talented children definitely at the weddings I have done.

Rings – they can be involved in handing over the rings for the vows (I would usually recommend that someone else is in charge of the rings until this point for safety reasons) and they can hand them over at that stage. They can also help out with a ‘wedding band warming’ where your wedding rings on a ribbon are passed around your guests for a moment of well-wishing for your marriage – with help they start it off in the front row and collect them at the end of being passed around.

Harper heloing with rings

Family Handfasting – tying the knot is often done at the time of the bride and grooms promise with 2 knots with grooms love for the bride and brides love for the groom but with couples with children I often suggest a knot also for their love for each child. They can also hand over the ribbons – this is easy to do whatever age they are. You can also use this to add to should you have any further children after you are married – I have done a few naming ceremonies where they have tied an additional knot to the knot tied on their wedding day and use a blue or pink ribbon for their new addition.

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Flower gathering – as part of the ceremony as the guest s come in the children give a flower to every guest. As part of the ceremony these are then collected in by the children and put in a vase. The flowers represent all the people at your wedding and the unique qualities and memories they have brought to your relationship and the arrangement in the vase symbolises all the love of the guests as part of your wedding. This is particularly popular with outdoor weddings but is easily done inside too.

Bubbles – bubbles are always a hit with kids and instead of confetti some couples use bubbles coming out of their ceremony. Depending on the age of the kids they can blow the bubbles or get the bridal party/ some of the guests closest to the aisles to do so.

Jack bubbles