A Lesbian, A Bisexual, and A Kickass Wedding

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 isn’t it? 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 myself and my partner, Lauren, 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 countries in the world who 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 law, we soon realised that perhaps the wedding industry wasn’t quite ready for us… Going to a wedding show particularly sticks out in my mind. Lauren and I walked up to various suppliers, as you do, hand in hand, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

“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 literally holding hands, 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.

Luckily, we had some stand-out, amazing experiences to balance this out – seeing many, many live bands (a great excuse for a night out!), tasting delicious cakes, and making genuine friends with our photographers. We 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. 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.

Photo credit: The Gibsons Photography

I can quite honestly say, it was the best day of my life, and if I could relive it, I would in a heartbeat! I would, however, say my vows first – I was so overcome with emotion after hearing Lauren’s vows, 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, ha ha. 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!)

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 amazing as me and Lauren 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 exactly 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 feel that it’s important to have a choice of celebrants that reflects 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. I trained with the UKCAPSA (UK Celebrant & Professional Skills Academy – an extension of Fuze Ceremonies) and got my SQA Qualification which gave me the skills and knowledge needed to create and deliver truly bespoke ceremonies.

I absolutely 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! Here’s Dani & James Jasper who were the very first couple I married in Clashnessie. There wasn’t a dry eye on the…beach!

How to Choose Your Celebrant

You wouldn’t necessarily book the first venue or wedding outfit you saw, so why would you do so with your celebrant? One of the great things about Fuze Ceremonies is that we have lots of celebrants to choose from, and we all have different personalities and something special to offer, so you’re bound to find the perfect one for your day.

It’s important that you find a celebrant who you get on with and is on the same wavelength as you – after all, they will play such a big part in your wedding day, they will be intertwined with your memories. Have a browse through celebrants’ bios and social media, which is a great way to see what they’re all about (these days it’s much easier to tell if they are LGBT+ friendly – phew!). Check if they are available on your wedding day, as celebrants get booked years in advance, so it’s best to check to avoid disappointment…it’s never too early to book!

Make a shortlist of celebrants you are interested in and contact each one to have a chat with them. They will be more than happy to explain what they can do for you and answer any of your questions. Think about who you would like to stand at the end of the aisle with you, and then secure your booking with them! Easy peasy 😊

Photo Credit: Craig Johnson Photography

Create a Ceremony That’s True to You

When you close your eyes and imagine your wedding day, what do you see? Maybe a deeply romantic and dramatic affair?  Perhaps a pared-back, easy going day? Or even a loud, funny, lively celebration? The beauty of a Humanist Ceremony is that your celebrant works directly with you to achieve exactly the kind of ceremony you want.

There are no rules, apart from making your declaration and signing the marriage schedule – you can do whatever you want! You could live your forest fantasy and get married in the woods (think of the pictures!). You could have your furry (trustworthy) babies as ring bearers. You could even walk down the aisle to RuPaul’s ‘Sissy that Walk’ if you wanted to! The possibilities are endless. But if you don’t have a clear vision in your head, do not fret, as your celebrant will give you plenty of suggestions on how to make your ceremony meaningful and memorable, like symbolic gestures and readings, which can be a great way to involve the thespians in your guest list.

One of the things I love about a LGBT+ wedding is that you can easily toss ‘traditions’ out the window and create your own rules! In fact, I think everyone should if they want to! For example, instead of defining your wedding party by gender, choosing only bridesmaids or groomsmen (and snubbing your favourite people in the process), why not have ‘mates of honour’? The only requirement is, they have to be awesome.

Who comes down the aisle? Well, both of you if you’d like! You could make separate entrances, accompanied by whoever is deemed worthy of the privilege, go it alone (why are you all gagging so?) or you could walk in together, like the power couple you are.

Please do not feel like you have to do what people ‘expect’ you to do – this is YOUR wedding day, so don’t dim your shine to make anyone else feel comfortable (friendly advice – if anyone makes you feel like you should, maybe they shouldn’t attend!). Celebrate your love proudly, unapologetically, and make it a day to remember for all the right reasons. Relax, and enjoy every second of it.

Photography: The Gibson’s Photography
Tasha’s Dress: Bijoux Bridal
Lauren’s Dress: David’s Bridal
Hair: Hannah Given Hair X
Rings: Rox
Cake: Kim Gordon Cakes
Venue: Mar Hall

By Tasha Monaghan Leung

Journey of a Celebrant
Eulogy Writing