The more mathematically astute reader will have realised that, since I proposed to Alex on 4 November 2017 to mark us being together for 2 million minutes, that means today we have been together for 2,000 days. What better time to look back on our wedding, which took place on 16 February 2019 at the Cow Shed in Crail.
When people ask me how our wedding was, I say two things.
It was a very stressful day. But it was also the happiest I’ve ever been.
I’ll do the happy bit first.
The happiest I’ve ever been
If I ever had a plan for my life (which is questionable), getting married wasn’t part of it. I never imagined it would happen.
For one thing, I didn’t understand the appeal of marriage. But more to the point, I didn’t understand the appeal of a wedding.
It’s not that I dislike weddings. They are always great fun, and it’s always an honour to be invited to share anyone’s celebrations.
But, I always thought, this is not for me. As an introvert, social events at this scale sometimes fill me with fear. I tend not to throw parties for myself, and I’m quite uncomfortable about being the centre of attention.
Meeting Alex changed my attitude towards all that. Like all the good things that have happened in my life, it has involved some luck, followed by some work to ensure I make the most of it.
As I said in my speech, meeting Alex was the most important time of my life. I realised I had to change fundamental assumptions about how my future was going to play out.
When people asked me how our wedding was, I said I was the happiest I’ve ever been. I never thought I’d get married, let alone to someone as amazing as Alex. And I was so touched that so many people came to share our happiness.
As I stood in the ceremony room waiting for Alex’s arrival, I had so many moments of joy as I saw people arrive, thinking about the distances people had come, and the effort they had made to get to this slightly remote part of Fife.
One of the things that has always impressed me about Alex the most is the strength and depth of her relationships with people. I always knew this about her. But it struck me again and again as I talked to our guests throughout the day.
Alex cultivates friendships to the extent that one of our guests flew from Australia just for our wedding. She didn’t do anything else. She stayed with us, and we drove her up to Fife. She arrived in Edinburgh on the Thursday, and flew back on the Monday. What an effort to make for one person.
So many people had such warm words to say about how important their friendship with Alex is to them.
Alex is the fairest person I have ever met, with the strongest sense of right and wrong. She knows exactly where to draw the line. She has got a great heart. I’m truly lucky to have married someone as special as this.
Within weeks of meeting Alex, my friends were commenting on the improvement she had made to my attitude and outlook — and on how happy Alex was making me.
On the day, one person told me that during the ceremony he had seen me smile in a way he’d never seen me smile before.
I had come to expect that I would find the ceremony emotional. With that, plus the added stress of the morning, my brain was swimming.
When I first caught a glimpse of Alex in between people’s heads as she emerged into the ceremony room, I was overwhelmed. My mind left me. I think I didn’t look at Alex again for several minutes. Then I heard her telling me to look at her, and I snapped myself out of it. I guess I was trying to stop myself crying.
The ceremony was wonderful. We opted for a Humanist ceremony because neither of us is religious, and this gave us the flexibility to craft a ceremony that was to our taste, and meaningful to us.
We had lots of guests from England, many of whom had never seen a Humanist ceremony before. It blew their minds! We had so many comments about how great the ceremony was.
There’s a fine line between having a beautiful ceremony, and having to budget for a sick bucket for each guest. Our fantastic celebrant, Stewart Struthers, conducted (and helped us craft) a ceremony that had exactly the right tone.
The most stressed I’ve ever been
I often wondered why people talked about weddings being busy, stressful or nerve-wracking. After all, it’s not exactly a surprise event. In our case, we had well over a year to plan and organise it.
The truth is, things creep up on you. Things that you don’t think about until they’re about to happen. Especially when you’ve essentially organised a DIY wedding like we did.
True to the gender stereotype, my approach towards the forward planning was a little more hands-off than Alex’s. But as my pride in marrying Alex sank in, my determination to ensure our wedding day was as flawless as possible grew.
My stress began first thing in the morning. We’d booked the group of cottages adjacent to the venue. I got kicked out of our cottage early in the morning so that Alex and the bridesmaids could get ready.
I decamped to the cottage at the other end, where all the groomsmen spent the morning. My original plan was to get up, get ready, and get going. There was, after all, so much to do.
My friends laughed at me when I got the ironing board out at… whatever time it was. 8am, I think. They told me to relax and get ready later.
I wish I hadn’t listened to them! I spent an hour trying to simmer down. Then I spent the rest of the day feeling like I was playing catch up.
I needed to go and see the venue while Alex was getting ready. I had no idea how things were going there. So many questions flew around in my head. Had the caterers arrived? And had they remembered to pick up the fudge doughnuts? How was the bar getting on? Had the florist done a good job? What did the ceremony room look like?
Just as I tried to make my way to the venue to check up on things, Claire Fleck, our photographer, exited the cottage where all the bridesmaids were getting ready. She wanted to take photos of me and the groomsmen getting ready.
Bang went my plan. As much as I enjoyed getting the photos taken (and having a wee whisky while doing so), inside I was still stressing out big time.
By the time I finally made it across to the venue, it was well after noon, with the ceremony due to start at 1pm. I made my way, with my friend Rich Gordon bagpiping me across. On my arrival, it seemed like half of our guests were already there!
Thankfully, it transpired that everything was going swimmingly. Rachael Scott from Hedgerow, our florist, had waited for my arrival so that she could personally apply my buttonhole. She’d done such an amazing job with the flowers, without much direction from us. The ceremony room looked stunning.
Next steps. Find the other suppliers. The caterers had arrived. They’d brought the doughnuts. The bar were happy.
All that didn’t stop me stressing.
I’m not really a whip-cracker. But I had to be on our wedding day. To all of our suppliers, I promise you: I’m not normally that stressed out.
At one point I’d lost our good friend Cameron, who was due to be piping everyone through to dinner. He was significantly more relaxed than I was.
I’m also not normally that good a multi-tasker. But I seem to remember, for instance, having multiple conversations at once while setting up my laptop for the music playlist. I’m normally a strictly-one-task-at-a-time guy. But on our wedding day, I was on it.
Then, of course, was the speech. In many ways, your own wedding speech should be the easiest gig of your life. You’ve got plenty of time to prepare, and you should know exactly what you want to say. And most importantly, everyone is on your side. Everyone just wants to have a good time.
All that still doesn’t make it easy of course. But I enjoyed it very much, my gags seemed to go down well, and I don’t think anyone was too put off by the length of it.
Don’t worry. A lot of those sheets of paper are blank. Alex looked very concerned about how long my speech would be when I unfurled my lengthy scroll, but I reassured her I only did it for the gag.
It also gave me some satisfaction to know that I would be able to help celebrate Alex’s 30th birthday, which came a few days later, with a ‘surprise’ cake.
Afterwards, Alex told me she didn’t realise how much work I was doing behind the scenes. In which case, job done.
There are so many people to thank, and we have done so in detail on our wedding website, which is password protected for our guests, who should be receiving their thank you cards soon. However I would like to single out a few people in particular to thank here as well.
The staff at the Cow Shed were wonderful. We really chose the place for the physical space and the flexibility we had to adapt it. But Lauren from the Cow Shed in particular was amazing at pivotal moments.
The bar, Solid Liquids / the Phoenix, was superb. All the staff were fantastic all day. I feel like I was running around so much that I didn’t have time to show my appreciation for all their great work.
I should thank Martin from Solid Liquids in particular. He was handing over his wedding bar business to Kylie and the Blind Horse, so it was probably quite a busy day for him. But he said some very kind and calming words to me while I was running around like a headless chicken. I probably didn’t have time to show him how I appreciated that. But I always remember it and how it made me feel better.
Our caterers, the Pantry were also superb. We had so many compliments about the food, which tasted delicious as always. I think I stressed Ellen out, particularly with the shifting plans surrounding Alex’s surprise birthday cake. It all went smoothly in the end. What a great moment. Thanks for everything you did on the day.
I should also mention Claire Fleck, our photographer. She has of course taken most of the photos you see on this page. She was brilliant to work with, and I am in awe at the volume and quality of the photos she took!
There are so many things that we just didn’t think about until they were about to happen. We’d planned to get our photos taken on the beach at Crail. But we hadn’t thought about how we’d get there!
I had to run around the place frantically trying to find someone who could drive us there. Our friend Ross is the person who pulled it out of the bag. Thanks Ross!
I also can’t let this post go by without mentioning the absolutely amazing hand painted signs made by our friend Sophie. My jaw almost hit the floor when she showed me this mirrored Alex & Duncan sign. It now takes pride of place in our living room!
We also couldn’t have done any of this without the immeasurable help and support of our families.
Thanks also to our wonderful bridesmaids and groomsmen. They organised a brilliant hen and stag do for us, and helped in all sorts of ways in the run-up to the wedding and on the day itself.
But all that planning would mean nothing if it wasn’t for all of these people — our wonderful guests. It made us so happy for so many people to be there and share the celebration with us.