emily & rob’s converted church home wedding

We were lucky enough to meet Monika, not through the usual google search for a potential candidate to conduct a wedding ceremony, but through a house sitting web page. Monika and her family love to travel and what better way than to look after other people's homes whilst you explore the local terrain? Monika was intrigued by our listing of a converted church, perhaps drawn by the history and link to her chosen career. And so we got onto the subject of our wedding, our desire to have a humanist ceremony with the entire congregation involved, free speech,no fuss, lots of fun but a serious side to it too, and above all, for all of our friends and family to feel totally included.

Had it not been for Monika, we would have struggled at the first hurdle. She was able to guide us up, down and sideways along the many paths a wedding ceremony can take when all you have is a concept of an event without ever having experienced anything like it before. Monika was able to talk us through all the various ceremonies she had conducted over the years, pulling out and matching the items to what she thought we were looking for. Many online meets later and a few emails and the scaffolding for the ceremony was up, all we had left to do was populate the church with fun, laughter, and guests which we managed to do comfortably.

The end result was a ceremony that had everyone laughing, crying, laughing again, and so on. Monika had grasped the energy and concept of the day with a light touch that made the ceremony flow with ease. Her attention to the Pictish history of our building's location enabled her to tie in the Pagan and Christian heritage of the site by introducing the concept that wedding ceremonies had been happening here for potentially thousands of years. She captured the essence of our relationship and family ties in a moving speech about building futures, homes, and lasting friendships.

So would I do it all again, absolutely not, I've married my soul mate and certainly do not intend to be a groom again, but if I had to recommend someone to conduct a personalised ceremony that draws in and captivates a gathering of friends and family, I could not, hand on heart, recommend anyone more highly than Monika.
Thank you for everything Monika.

rob & emily
rob & emily
How do couples find me? Well, there are many ways and how I crossed paths with Emily & Rob was rather unusual as we met via a house & pet sitting website where I expressed an interest to look after their stunning converted church home in Aberdeenshire. While this unfortunately did not happen (yet) we got chatting about my role as an Interfaith Minister and when a few months later Emily & Rob got engaged we started talking about wedding  in earnest! 
Being asked to conduct their summer wedding ceremony in their amazing home with all its history still feels like a real privilege. The church which was lovingly renovated by them and their family over the last few years was built in the 17th century on the site of a former Pictish stone circle and extended in 1801. It means 50-60 generations of people gathered in this location for worship. What an amazing place to celebrate your commitment to each other!
The luxury of time allowed for a leisurely pace in co-creating the ceremony over many months, with regular check-in via video call but also a lot of thinking and mulling over time in between. From the beginning Emily & Rob were full of ideas, keen to bring their personal style to their big day and intent on making their ceremony and the celebrations a good fit for their children, family & friends. Our shared goal was to truly honour the church that is now their home and its spiritual and community tradition, without trying to create a ‘church wedding’ which would have been at odds with what Emily & Rob were looking for.
Another aim was to not be overly guided by any traditional order of service, but create a seamless experience of celebrations and ceremony blending into each other. And last but not least we wanted to find a format that allowed for their children and closest friends to genuinely participate with their own voices, rather than just deliver the words of others. Marriage for this lovely couple was always about creating a bigger family through bringing both their relatives and circles of friends together and their wedding day was going to be a representation of this with literally everybody being at the very heart of it.
Fast forward to July and a beautiful sunny day in Aberdeenshire. Knowing that there will be a roof over your head is always reassuring and yet sunshine always lifts the mood! The day’s celebrations were structured so that guests arrived to a wonderful selection of food & drink in the late morning, served in a light & airy marquee just outside Emily & Rob’s home. Cheerful mixing and mingling and no rush to get the ceremony out of the way as everyone is hungry – a fabulous recipe for building up to the excitement of the ceremony! 
As our working relationship had been a remote one this was my first opportunity to see the couple’s home beyond video tours and get a sense of the space and… WOW! There was a sense of modern and yet also a strong sense of history and tradition. Dwelling for a bit on the history I spent some time taking in the Picitish symbol stone set into the wall at the entrance – a moving moment to get myself into the right mindset for holding space for the ceremony that would soon unfold.
After gathering everybody inside what ensued was a lovely ceremonial flow of joy and celebration. Emily & Rob welcomed everybody to their big day, which made total sense for a wedding in the couple’s home and after briefly introducing me I had the privilege of not just talking about the history of the building but also the story of Emily and Rob’s journey to the day of their wedding. Friends and family sharing their very personal thoughts and well wishes for a couple usually has to wait until the more informal part of wedding celebrations, but there is no real reason for this! For this ceremony we had decided early on that the voices of contributors should be their own, sharing heartfelt (and entertaining) memories and hopes for the bride and groom, and so the next step in the ceremony was for two very close friends of the couple and then their children to take centre stage. What this added was a true sense of family, and community.  There was an air of true connection that carried everybody on a wave of profound connection to the very sacred moment that is at the heart of every ceremony – the vows, words to take each other in marriage, and rings. 
Given the history of renovation that turned a beautiful church into an even more beautiful family home it had been clear for a long time what I would choose as the final reading of the ceremony. It was not the first time ‘Scaffolding’ by Seamus Heaney delivered just the right message to a couple – that once the walls are built (or renovated) it’s time to confidently take down the scaffolding and trust the walls, and each other.
Thanks Emily & Rob for letting me be part of your wonderful wedding day! 
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