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Wild elopements and basement bar weddings

One of our favourite things each week is catching up on the wedding antics of Claire Digance, aka Claire the Humanist, over on Instagram. It could be the greyest of Mondays, but her stories always make us smile. So what better way to kick off the week, we thought, than by catching up with Claire and finding out just what goes on in the world of a Scottish wedding celebrant…

What led you to become a Humanist Celebrant?

I was a Funeral Director for many years and Humanist funerals really resonated with me.   I liked how personal and warm they were, telling the story of the person and the life they lived.  I looked into Humanism and the more I looked, the more I thought, ‘This is me’ and, when I had my daughter and was looking for a cheerier occupation, the opportunity arose to become a Humanist Society Scotland celebrant. A year later, I completed my wedding training and BOOOM!  I haven’t had a Saturday off since….

What do you love most about it?

I love being a part of all the happy!  Couples are happy because they are getting married in a way that feels relevant and right for them, their guests are happy because Humanist weddings are full of love and warmth. I’m happy because how could I not be?  I spend every weekend in fancy hotels, marrying beautiful people and working with some brilliant and talented suppliers.

And then I have to leave.  Just you remember that.  You guys are all giddy and excited, cuddling your guests, quaffing champagne, having sparkly pictures taken.  Me?  Cleaning my bathroom. Crushed.

What’s been the highlight so far?

There have been many. Beautiful elopements, surprise weddings, huge fancy-assed spectaculars, little teeny tiny vow renewals- imagine being part of these fantastic days!  That’s my life!

And sometimes, I get to share that life with my friends and family too.  My pals have been witnesses which they LOVED, but I think one of my favorite days was when I took my mum and dad to be witnesses for a couple eloping from Germany.  That was really special.  My mum used to teach languages and when Melanie and Heiko made their vows to each other, in German, Ma Digance just crumpled.  This is the woman who never cried at my wedding or my sister’s wedding and yet, there she was, on a little beach on Loch Lomond, totally absorbed in this incredible moment and she was a wreck.  My daughter was their self-appointed flowergirl, my dad read a Scots toast and manfully handled a quaich and then my parents invited the newlyweds to come and stay with them on their next visit.  How cute is that?  My mum wistfully talks of their wedding as the best she’s ever been to. A wedding of two strangers.  Not either of her daughter’s weddings.  She’ll keep.  We know where she lives.

When I started doing weddings, I didn’t appreciate that the people I would marry would become pals. I get to meet the babies!  Aaaaaaargh!!!  I marry their sisters and brothers (not to each other), I marry their friends, we get coffee and talk about how fab their wedding was and how he cried and oh, how she laughed and it’s the best fun.  Do job, have fun, make friends, have more fun.  I am So. Freakin’. Lucky.

Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed a ceremony?

I married two boys on a boat. How many gals can say that?

Because Humanist weddings can take place anywhere and I am a sucker for an unusual location, I’ve married people on islands, in the middle of a forest, up a mountain, in the wee cinema of the GFT, on beaches, in the wilds of Glencoe and then there was that time that I married the most gorgeous couple on the Highland Fling bungee platform above the River Garry. They jumped, I jumped.  It was all very terrifying and beautiful and exactly what Hannah and Ross wanted.

One of my favourites from last year was when two awesome ladies decided to elope to Glasgow and get married in the downstairs bar of Nice N Sleazy’s.  Them, me, their two best pals and the very best words ever read by two human beings.  Their vows were… extraordinary and utterly them.  We all cried.  For quite a long time.  Then we had Jager shots, a little bit of fizz and I left them to their post-wedding pub crawl, stepped into that bright light that only ever seems brighter after shots and ‘secco and stole some pizza off a man on the train.  Result!

If you weren’t marrying couples, you’d be…

Nope.  What did you say that for?  You’ve made me sad!  I love what I do, it’s the very best job in the world and I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything else. That said, I love the work I’ve done with Humanist Society Scotland to support Women’s Health and after speaking outside the Scottish parliament and attending the Women’s March in London, I think a career in campaigning and lobbying would be my alternative choice.  Love a little bit of noising up the opposition! Or maybe I’d sell cake or win an Emmy as Lead Scriptwriter on Empire (all hail Taraji P. Henson) or live the best life as Queen Dolly Parton’s assistant/sister. Any of these would be very satisfactory.

On a day off, where will we find you?

On a spin bike.  In Costa.  Not at the same time.  If it’s a proper day off, I love to rollerskate at Rollerstop in Kinning Park.  There’s nothing more alarming than a middle-aged woman careering round in circles, cackling with joy. If I’m not skating, I like to fill up baskets and never buy anything on ASOS, stare at dust and try to move it with my mind, and, whenever I can, I hang out with my most excellent family, preferably in Paesanos.  Dammit, their pizza is good.  Between that and spending hours on Instagram staring at tattoos I’m too scared to get and gently trolling my easily annoyed best pal, Phil, that’s my day done.

Anyone else downloading the job application right now? Christina x

Photos courtesy of Harper Scott Photo (first three) and Jo Donaldson Photography (last three)