It must be every couple’s worst nightmare – they’ve arranged to have an evening handfasting ceremony, they and their friends have arrived for the celebration, and then they receive an early morning email to say the celebrant can’t manage due to illness, and no replacement is offered.
Ellen and Blair from Australia had been in Scotland on a working visa for a few years and had come up to the Highlands specially, as they wanted a lasting and very special memory of their time here before heading back home to be married. Despite being en-route to conduct a full wedding ceremony 100 miles away on the West Coast, there was absolutely no way I could have refused the plea to help them out when I received their call at 9.45 that morning.
So how did we manage to pull this off between us? Over the course of the morning, I sent them questionnaires about what they meant to each other, asked for stories about their life together, set them tasks to write vows, wanted photographs from them, and colour choices for their handfasting ribbons. They were as busy as I was about to be and, by the time I arrived home again at 3.45 that afternoon, I had everything I needed from them and it was time to lock myself away in my study for a pretty frantic few hours indeed whilst hubby made the dinner and looked after our pup.
Sometimes, everything is just meant to be, and it was easy for me to choose readings for this gorgeous couple as I read through their personal responses and crafted a ceremony which truly reflected their clear love for each other. Two and a half hours later, with everything finally printed off and 45 minutes to go, the next step was to make their handfasting ribbons in record time. They’d chosen green and left everything else up to me, so I created these with green and ivory satin, interwoven with tartan (what else!) and finished at the ends with some little silver Scottish thistles.
The couple had chosen a pebble beach on the edge of Loch Ness as the location for their ceremony and a 7.30 handfasting meant the sun was setting as they made their way onto the beach, with Ellen in a gorgeous lace dress and Blair adopting our Scottish national dress. The evening couldn’t have been more beautiful – it was warm, the light was soft in the setting sun, there was barely a ripple on the loch, and our resident Nessie decided not to steal the show!
Ellen and Blair made their vows to each other with their four friends looking on and with Ellen’s mum on Facetime from Australia; by the time those ribbons were over their joined hands, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was an incredibly emotional and moving ceremony with lots of laughter as well as the tears and we were all so wrapped up in the moment that we hadn’t realised so many people had stopped on their evening walk to watch the goings-on and the place erupted in applause as the happy couple kissed.
It really was magical and, as an added bonus, it was all captured by their friend, Campbell Donaldson, a real up and coming photographer. What a joy it was to be part of this and help send Ellen and Blair back to Australia with some incredible memories of a very special evening in the Highlands.
Many thanks to Campbell for sharing the photographs. https://bio.site/campbelldonaldson