fuze ceremonie callanish stones
Gretchen and Alex made the journey from Texas to the Isle of Lewis to renew their wedding vows on their 10th anniversary
Photo credit: @quietlandscapes by Margaret Soraya

By Kay Falconer, Fuze Celebrant

A Midsummer Vow Renewal

At midsummer this year, June 21st 2022, I had the very great pleasure of conducting my first Renewal of Vows ceremony for Gretchen and Alex Hanner who travelled 4478 miles from Texas to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary at the Callanish Stones, a very well known historic site here on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

The History of The Stones

For those of you who have yet to visit the area I’ll give you a little summary of some of the theories associated with them. They are obviously of such an age that no one knows for sure but many ideas have been mooted over the centuries. One suggestion was that they represented the ‘supreme court of the Hebridean monarch’, a resting place of the illustrious dead, or an ancient gothic court. It was described by many as ‘the great Druidical Cathedral of Scotland’ although it is unlikely that that cult reached Scotland.


In the early 19th century there was some thought that it was a ‘rude astronomical observatory’. More recent research suggested there may have been a connection with a range of hills to the south of Callanish known as the Sleeping Beauty, or Cailleach na Mointeach- the old woman of the moors. At significant times of the lunar cycle, the moon rises from this part of the southern horizon.

Certainly the early inhabitants and builders of this site would have been much more closely linked to the earth than many of us are today. It was against this ancient backdrop that our ceremony took place with many onlookers who were there specifically to enjoy the stones at midsummer but I think enjoyed our special ceremony also.

Kay’s Texan visitors, Gretchen and Alex

The Couple’s Journey

In preparation for their renewal of vows ceremony, I asked Gretchen and Alex to send me details of their lives together and what had been experienced together in their first 10 years of marriage.  They were both very honest in their account, from which I wrote their script. Here’s their love story journey extract, warts and all.

“You were both very honest about the ups and downs you have had over the years and I‘d just like to pick up on some of the things you have both said. I’d particularly I’d like to express my admiration for Gretchen who I believe installed a sink when she was 7 months pregnant. Respect!

Alex, you found life very awkward when you joined Gretchen, Irie and Azure, as you had little experience of being around children and despite these challenges continuing for some time, you persevered, working together and being supportive, going on long trips, passionately researched by Gretchen, sharing your family lake house with them in Massachusetts (your special place) and growing as a family when you welcomed Aurora and Gaia.

You have recently developed a great relationship with Irie when you recruited her to work with you on your new record label, and happily you and Azure have also reached a better place.

‘He is a fantastic father to our girls…funny, goofy, witty, and stern when he needs to be. I couldn’t have asked for a better dad for them’

Not only have you worked hard at your relationships within your family, in nearly every aspect of your life you work for others. I imagine being a teacher in an under-resourced elementary school is no picnic but you persevere out of a need to help the children there.

You then started a record label to get more people listening to lesser- known talented artists and helped to raise funds through this for local groups who are often ignored. It is little wonder that Gretchen respects and loves you as she does, the feeling being entirely mutual as Alex describes you as being an incredible mother to all 4 children, the smartest person he knows and his voice of reason in all things. ‘My love for them all grows and I would do anything for them.’

Gretchen, a mutual love of The Grateful Dead is as good a jumping off point for a relationship as anything else and music has continued to be an important part of your lives. Family life wasn’t easy with young children to look after, being in nursing school and trying to maintain a relationship, all at the same time. You both acknowledged the initial difficulties in your family, even after you married 10 years ago, but you have now reached a whole new chapter in your relationship. Your annual travels have helped to bring you closer together, something I hope has continued with your trip to Scotland.

You have an intense, highly stressed job as an obstetric nurse and are kept going in that career knowing that you have a loving and secure place to come home to.

‘We really have something very strong and special to celebrate for our 10 year anniversary, almost like a whole new wedding of different people than we were in 2012. I love him more today than ever before.’

What does come shining through in your stories is your immense love and respect for each other.

Renewing Their Vows

That seems to me an appropriate place to proceed to the renewal of the vows you took 10 years ago. The vows you took that day, July 7th 2012 in Big Sur, California have stood you both in good stead and you are in a better place together now than you were even then so I think it is appropriate to stick with these vows and renew them here today.

Alex, will you look into Gretchen’s eyes, and into her heart, and repeat after me?

I, Alex, choose you Gretchen as my wife, /my equal, my life partner. /I promise to love, honour and cherish you./ I will comfort and care for you /for better, for worse, in plenty and in want,/ in sickness and in health,/ for as long as we both shall live.

Gretchen, will you look into Alex’s eyes, and into his heart, and repeat after me?

I, Gretchen, choose you Alex as my husband,/ my equal, my life partner. /I promise to love, honour and cherish you./ I will comfort and care for you /for better, for worse, /in plenty and in want, /in sickness and in health, /for as long as we both shall live.’

At their request we included a Handfasting gesture as they had done this at their wedding. The ceremony then concluded with a Celtic Blessing, in both Gaelic and English.

Celtic Blessing

Guma fliuch an t-uisge gu min ur mala

May the raindrops fall gently on your brow

Guma tog ospagan aotrom ur cas

May the soft winds freshen your spring

Guma soilleir a’ ghrian ur cridhe

May the sunshine brighten your hearts

Guma laighe uallach an latha gu h-aotrom oirbh

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you

Guma laighe uallach an latha gu h-aotrom oirbh

And may you each enfold the other in the mantle of your love.

Add our smiles to yours

No two couples are the same so no two ceremonies should be the same. At Fuze we work alongside our couples to make their humanist wedding ceremony script is unique, personal and bespoke. It’s your day your way with us, so let us add our smiles to yours. To check Neil and all of our amazing celebrant’s live availability for your special date click here!


by Kay Falconer,
Celebrant at Fuze Ceremonies


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