I'm Andy and I've been a celebrant since January 2011.
I was born and brought up in the east-end of Glasgow. My educational background was firstly in Electronics then later Law. I have served in the Army where I completed two tours of duty in Bosnia in the 90s, been a civil servant, worked in investment banking in the City of London and spent some time as a commercial diver mainly in the murky, freezing depths of lochs in the North of Scotland. I am now a full-time celebrant and my experiences enable me to relate to and connect with people from all backgrounds. My personal interests include reading, messing about with computers, spending time with family and friends and watching the football on the television.
A Humanist Ceremony gives you the freedom to really put your stamp on one of the most important days in your life. The nature of the ceremony is dependent entirely on what you feel comfortable including. It can be short and simple, or it can be more expansive. It can be formal or informal, or a mixture of both; for example the light-hearted telling of the story of how you both came to be standing there on the day, contrasting with the solemnity of the vows.
What will be apparent no matter what, is your love for each other; the affection and friendship that you share and the deep and the binding commitment that you are making to each other, in the company of those you love the most; your family and close friends.
If you are considering asking me to conduct your ceremony, you may find it useful to have an appreciation of how I would work with you from first contact right up until the big day itself.
The first stage is contacting me to confirm availability, having a chat on the telephone then, if you are happy to proceed, confirming your booking.
Once we have done that, I would send you some ideas for the content of the ceremony, in order that you can begin the process of personalising the ceremony to your requirements.
When you have had the opportunity to decide on the content (some brides to be even include their partner in this stage!), even if it is only rough ideas, we can then meet up and discuss how the ceremony will unfold. This would normally be 2 to 3 months before the date (this timescale can be adapted to suit the circumstances).
Approximately 2 to 3 weeks before the big day, I would send you a draft ceremony and you can advise of any changes. Once we have the final draft, all you then need to do is:
For families, it's an important part of the grieving process that their loved one has the type of funeral which is in keeping with the way in which they lived their life.
Everyone has a story to tell and my job is to get as much of that story as possible from family and friends. Some stories are quiet and gentle. Some are more- shall we say- eventful. All are equally valid and deserve to be told with respect, warmth and often a touch of humour. Each person's ceremony is unique because they themselves were unique.
Families often tell me when I visit that that their loved one was "a quiet wee man/woman so there won't be much to say". Often, with a bit of gentle prompting from myself and more than an hour later I am still furiously writing notes.
The reason for this is it's the little things that are important. It's the little things that you remember about someone that makes them special. The nights at the bingo; the days at the beach; the pint in a local while putting the world to rights; their favourite sayings; these will be the abiding memories you have of someone who played such an important part in your life.
Families have told me that it brought them great comfort to celebrate their loved one's life in such a way and I have received some very moving and heartfelt expressions of thanks:
"I have childhood memories of my mum enjoying those seaside bingo games. You know those ones at seaside fairs where you flipped the numbers over. Again Mum wanted to be a winner. Anyway a little thing. Look forward to hearing the eulogy on Thursday. Chatting with you has already got us into a better frame of mind to celebrate her life". R.M. Edinburgh
"Thanks again for making a very difficult day less so, and I wish you all the very best for the future. You have a gift, and you are able to put it to very good use - there's not many of us that can claim that." A.M. Glasgow
"I knew I would cry but I honestly didn't think I could smile that day, but through your words myself and others actually laughed out loud during the stories you told – amazing…
… our hearts are broken and I wonder if they will ever mend but you helped us give B the most moving tribute possible and we will always appreciate that." J.M. East Kilbride
"… we are all truly grateful for the service that you provide for leading up to the day of the funeral and especially on the day of the funeral. We were able to remember G with a wry smile upon our faces as well as a tear in our eye. Your attention to detail was exceptional and was greatly appreciated." G.B. Moodiesburn