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Proudly Celebrating Love - How 'Tasha the Celebrant' Came to Be

Photo Credit: The Gibsons Photography.  Tasha, a Chinese-Scottish woman with long dark hair, and Lauren, a Caucasian woman with long brown hair, stand side by side in a garden, with their 7 members of their wedding party surrounding them.  Tasha is wearing a lace and tulle, champagne-coloured, strapless wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline and A-line skirt, and is holding her bouquet of light pink peonies.  Lauren is wearing a white, strapless, chiffon wedding dress with a bandeau neckline and A-line skirt, with a lace bolero. The women in the wedding party are wearing floor-length, light pink, chiffon dresses with a sweetheart neckline and an asymmetric strap.  They are holding bouquets of light pink and cream peonies.  The men are wearing dark blue kilts with black jackets.  Everyone is looking at each other and laughing and smiling.  In the background are sprawling trees and bushes.

I feel that it’s important to have a choice of celebrants that reflects the diversity of all the engaged couples out there.

The Beginning

You know that feeling when you find someone who truly accepts you for who you, 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 me and my wife, 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.

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.

Photo Credit: The Gibsons Photography.  Tasha, a Chinese-Scottish woman with long dark hair, and Lauren, a Caucasian woman with long brown hair, stand side by side in a bedroom, holding hands, smiling, and touching foreheads.  Tasha is wearing a lace and tulle, champagne-coloured, strapless wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline and A-line skirt and veil.  Lauren is wearing a white, strapless, chiffon wedding dress with a bandeau neckline and A-line skirt, with a lace bolero.

“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 thrust back into the closet, forced to relive a nightmare of coming out repeatedly, suddenly anxiety-ridden that we would be met with angry rejection, a la homophobic American bakery. It was not an enjoyable day.

Photo Credit: The Gibsons Photography.  A wide shot of Mar Hall, a mansion made of stone.  The sun shines upon it, while people can be seen mingling in front of the building in the gardens.

Thankfully, we had some stand-out, amazing experiences that balanced this out - seeing many, many live bands (a great excuse for a night out - we went with The Jets), tasting delicious cakes by Kim Gordon, and making genuine friends with our photographers, The Gibsons, and hairstylist Hannah Given.

We married in 2016, on the stunning grounds of Mar Hall – where we got engaged – and our wedding co-ordinator and the staff were more than happy to make our dreams come true. Our celebrant 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.

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 (as seen in the photo above!). 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!)

An ad for Tasha the Celebrant.  There is a fondant-pink background, and on the left are a small box wrapped in brown paper and a light pink satin bow, some loose light pink ribbon in curls, small pink flowers, eucalyptus leaves and Gypsophilia.  In the middle is the logo - the top is a jade-green, gradient, hexagon with a pink leaf motif in the centre of it.  Below that is the name 'Tasha' in pink capital typeface, and below that are the words 'the celebrant' in dark purple calligraphy.  On the right is a picture of Tasha, Chinese-Scottish woman with long, dark, wavy hair is looking into the camera, smiling.  She is wearing a dark blue, v-neck, shortsleeved jumpsuit, though only the top half can be seen, as she is sitting on an ornate chair.  She is wearing cat-eye eyeliner.  A blackwork tattoo is visible on her chest. In the background is a flower wall made up of cream roses and peonies.

A Spark Became a Flame

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 LGBTQ+ couples and help them proudly celebrate their love – to be exactly the kind of celebrant I would have loved to have had.

Photo Credit: Martin Venherm.  Michael, a Caucasian man with brown curly hair and a beard, and Billy, a blonde Caucasian man, stand side by side, smiling and looking at each other.  They both wear moss-green kilts and jackets.  Billy is wearing a matching tartan tie in a regular knot, and Michael is wearing a matching bow tie.  They are both wearing tartans over their shoulders, and boutonnieres.  In the background is a stone wall, with a mirror hanging over flowers atop a fireplace.

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 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 be such joy to feel the love radiating around the room!

Photo Credit: John McDermott Photography. A black and white photo of two brides standing, turned in towards each other.  Cheryl, a Caucasian woman with medium-coloured hair, is wearing a strapless, lace wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline.  Donna, Caucasian woman with light-coloured hair, is wearing a sleeveless, lace wedding dress with a v-neck.  They both have their up, with floral accessories.  They are holding their bouquets of roses, and smiling at each other.  Cheryl is holding Donna's face.  In the background is a tall bush.

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? Nowadays there are 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 (if you are looking for one that's LGBTQ+ friendly, these days it’s much easier to tell if they are - phew!). As celebrants get booked years in advance, it’s best to check if their availability as soon as you can to avoid disappointment…it’s never too early too book!

Contact the celebrant you're interested in and have a chat with them (any good celebrant LOVES a chat). They will be more than happy to explain what they can do for you and answer any of your questions. Could you imagine them standing at the end of the aisle with you? If so, book them! Easy peasy 😊

A photo of a wedding ceremony with two grooms at the end of the aisle.  Jamie, a dark-haired, bearded Caucasian man is standing opposite James, a dark-haired bearded Caucasian man by the waist.  They are side on to their guests, laughing.  They are both wearing light green kilt jackets.  James' dark red, yellow and green tartan can be seen over his shoulder.  He is also wearing glasses.  In the background, between James and Jamie is Tasha, Chinese-Scottish woman with long, dark, wavy hair.  She is laughing behind a lectern which has two tartans hanging of either side.  She is wearing a light blue satin top which can just be seen, and beige, wide-legged trousers and a black belt.  Behind her is a signing table covered with a white cloth, a wooden, square arch with large floral pieces of white roses and foliage in each corner.  Behind that is a wall covered with several long mirrors, and laughing guests can be seen in the reflection, and up the sides of the aisle.

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 celebrant-led 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 ringbearers. 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 guestlist.

Photo Credit: Ian Arthur Weddings.  Frank, a bearded, Chinese man wearing dark glasses, a dark purple kilt and black jacket, stands opposite Alan, a Caucasian man with brown hair, wearing dark glasses, a dark grey kilt and grey jacket.  They are standing side-on to the camera, and are holding each other's left hands.  Two pieces of matching tartans are tied around their joined hands.  Behind them, Tasha can be seen, reading from a black folder.  Tasha is a Chinese-Scottish woman with long, dark, wavy hair.  She is wearing a white blouse, with the sleeves rolled up, a black suit jacket with 3/4 length sleeves, and black trousers.  In the background is a dark wall with painted art deco roses by Rennie MacIntosh, over a fireplace.

One of the things I love about an LGBTQ+ 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’ or an 'I do crew'? 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 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.

Photo Credit: Half Light Photography. Stacey-Jo, a blonde Caucasion woman and Katie, a brunette Caucasion woman, are photographed walking outside their venue, hand in hand, while their guests throw colourful confetti over them.  Everyone is smiling, and some guests are waving rainbow flags.

Photo Credit:

- Tasha & Lauren's Wedding Day: The Gibsons Photography

- Michael & Billy: Martin Venherm Photography

- Donna & Cheryl: John McDermott Photography

- James & Jamie: Robert James Smythe Photography

- Alan & Frank: Ian Arthur Weddings

- Stacey-Jo & Katie: Half Light Photography

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