Time for another ‘Magic Seven’ feature today - in which I select my favourite seven images from a wedding from the archives. Today it’s all about Gill and Ben’s humanist Scottish beach wedding in North Berwick. Instead of my usual write up, I decided to call upon the couple to tell the story themselves - exactly as it was read out on their wedding day too.. It’s quite a story..
'And so our romantic tale begins… in a grimy, sweaty techno club – no longer of this world – which once squatted in the shadows of an M8 flyover in Finnieston, Glasgow.'
'Some of you here today were lucky enough to have known the Soundhaus well, and Gill and Ben were lucky enough for some of you here to be present on that fateful night. In fact, without the intervention of these close friends it is unlikely that Gill and Ben would ever have developed the 8-year-old loving bond they now cherish. Ben, you see, struggles with a social phobia and was particularly shy in his approaches with women. In any normal situation Gill would have walked away, but Kev and Dom were adamant that – despite avoiding her and refusing to make eye contact – Ben did like her. Instructed by Kev to “just do it” Ben found himself waiting outside the toilets for Gill to reappear. Mumbling something along the lines of “I’m not very good at this…”, Ben couldn’t finish his pre-prepared garble before Gill did the honourable thing and kissed him.'
'Gill and Ben properly met and talked for the first time in Milano, months earlier, on a 21st birthday excursion for Kim. Gill was immediately drawn to the sophistication of a man choosing to buy fine
cured meats and cheeses over the cartons of cheap plonk others on the trip were stocking up on. Always eager “for a taste”, Gill was quick to propose going ‘halfers’ on the goat’s cheese and red wine Ben was
eyeing up. Ben, always eager to save a few pennies – and for someone to help him obtain good food, was quick to accept. On that day, from their shared love of good wine and cheese, the seeds of a companionship were sown.'
'Gill and Ben continued to develop their relationship in and around Glasgow for the next 3 years and in that time they encountered innumerable unique and character building experiences together. While Ben was still studying for his first Masters degree, Gill began her first of many oversees volunteering ventures in Sri Lanka – working at an orphanage and helping with the rebuilding effort after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2006. This was the first long distance relationship test. Owing more to Gill’s resilience than Ben’s communication skills or ability to buy a long-distance calling card, the first test was passed, though not without its scars.'
'In the summer of 2007 they were fortunate enough to be able to spend 5 weeks backpacking around Eastern Europe, the stories from which still form a bedrock of the B&G team relationship experience. Experiences such as dancing all night in a derelict hospital in east Berlin; getting trapped in dusty backwater town in no-man’s-land on the border of Hungary and Croatia with no money to get a train back to civilisation; or watching the sun come up atop a fortress overlooking the River Danube having been almost crushed to death in a panicked crowd the same evening.
Later that year they moved out of the city to a country estate, growing their own vegetables and helping to raise some chickens. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, fresh air and produce they soon realised that no one but their mums and dads were visiting them, so they moved back to the city.'
'Tired of having her quality of life trampled on by her employers, upon becoming a qualified solicitor Gill quit her job and became a cook. Tired of having her quality of life trampled on by her employers Gill went to Uganda to work for UN WOMEN.'
'Shortly afterwards Ben was made redundant for the second time in two jobs and moved back in with his parents 9 years after leaving the nest. Dark days followed and the second long distance relationship test was stretching the endurance of their bond to the limit. Ben was unable to muster the resources to visit Gill in Uganda and 6 months passed in separate realities. Gill, returning to find her life in Glasgow disappeared and her unemployed, uncommunicative boyfriend living with his parents, moved back in with her parents too.'
'Unhappy with their career directions and prospects at the time, both Gill and Ben independently decided to go back to university. Ben went to London and Gill went to Essex University. Gill and Ben made it through their Masters courses invigorated with a new sense of purpose with Ben securing a PhD and Gill getting work with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague. Displaying his knowledge of the errors of his previous ways, Ben visited Gill in The Hague several times, developing his love of cycling, pancakes and other Dutch specialities.
'Gill got work with the Civic Coalition in Palestine. Ben visited the West Bank, took a trip to the Jordan Valley to protest while Gill was at work, and birthed some of Lisa and Jo’s kittens. At this point they decided that it was rubbish living apart and that they really ought to be living in the same place at the same time from now on. In summer 2012 Gill moved in together with Ben in London. It was the first time in almost 3 years they had lived together in the same house.'
'In November 2012 Gill got a job in a London based Human Rights firm, (HOORAY!), but the very next day they sent her to Kenya. Thankfully Gill now comes back every now and again – like this week for her wedding – and Ben gets to live with her for half the time and, displaying his knowledge of the error of his previous ways, has bought a long-distance calling card for the other half.'
'Tired of having her quality of life trampled on by her employers, Gill is now waiting for Ben to finish his PhD so they can move back to the countryside and Gill can open a café, be her own boss and bake cakes for a living. Ben likes cake and is happy for Gill to provide him with a living.
…and they will both live happily ever after.'