A Wedding Wander in the Scottish Highlands

“The mountains whisper and we run to them, wild, free and tangled in love.”

Raini Rowell Photography

Kate and Steve, you spoke of the feeling of familiarity you had when you connected all those moons ago at the crossroads between your two Leith homes. A feeling of comfort and ease between you both, it was as though you were meant to be together. You have since shared a deep knowingness in the rightness of your connection. Today, you are choosing to affirm your love and connection by making eternal vows to one another.

It was an absolute joy to accompany Steve and Kate on their wedding adventure in the North West Scottish Highlands. We met at the foothills of Stac Pollaidh on a day of fleeting sunlight and blustery clouds. Their wish was to savour every moment of their ceremony as it unfolded on a hike through the Assynt landscape; an enchanting wilderness of water and rock with mountains among the oldest in Scotland. Their wedding party was intimate: just the two of them, their two brilliant photographers, Raini and Dave, and me.

We set off at noon ascending steadily through heather and mixed woodland to reach open moorland. The stony path to the summit curves beneath the towering flanks and spire pinnacles of the mountain and it wasn’t long before the wind buffeted us as we climbed.

Raini Rowell Photography

Pausing on a rocky outcrop, we took in the spectacular views of Sgùrr Tuath across Loch Lurgainn below and of Cul Beag to the east. Then we began the ceremony with an Oathing Stone ritual.

Raini Rowell Photography

It is an ancient Celtic belief that vows made in the presence of water and stone are especially binding. Today, you have chosen to include an Oathing Stone in honour of this ancient belief. This is a very special stone as it is one that has come from Germany. This stone brings to mind memories of a loving family home, long woodland walks, getting lost in the forest and listening to the many jokes and colourful language of your grandfather. This stone is a blessing, a connection to Germany and Kate’s roots, and I invite you to both place your hands on your Oathing Stone now. 

As Kate and Steve held their Oathing Stone, they reflected on the journey that had brought them to that place and that moment. I shared an Apache blessing that had special meaning for them both. Then they placed the stone on the earth close to them, as is tradition.

Raini Rowell Photography

It was important to Kate that their wedding ceremony include honouring the memory of her beloved dog, Toby, who had been her close companion for eleven years. In the wide expanse of that beautiful place, Steve and Kate released Toby’s ashes into the wind, so that he may always be a part of their special day.

Raini Rowell Photography

We climbed again to a plateau on the north side of Stac Pollaidh, overlooking the mighty Suilven, where we heard stories of Steve and Kate’s time together – the highs, the lows, the hilarious, the loving. I then shared secret thoughts that Kate and Steve had shared with me when I asked them about their love and connection.

As we reached the summit, the five of us took shelter from the wind to enjoy delicious snacks and revel in the peaceful surroundings. Then Kate and Steve made their way to a rocky outcrop to make private, personal vows to each other and gift each other a ring.

Raini Rowell Photography

The wind carried our words and the storm light shifted as we spoke of Kate and Steve’s love and of what Marriage means for them both.

Raini Rowell Photography

In that elemental place, Steve and Kate made their Marriage declarations to each other with a Handfasting, sealing their life vows with two eternity knots.

“As I give you my hand, so I give you my heart. Anywhere, I will follow you. My heart is your heart, my soul is your soul, now and forevermore.”

Raini Rowell Photography

I can’t think of a more perfect way to honour a life commitment than along a relaxed wander through a wild place. To be invited to share in Kate and Steve’s day was a great privilege and it was my absolute joy to declare them both married with the mountains and lochs, and Raini and Dave, as their witnesses.

We celebrated their marriage with a whisky toast from the Quaich in a peaceful spot on the wander down the hill. Then Kate and Steve danced together into their married future before heading to enjoy a wedding feast in Lochinver.

Raini Rowell Photography

Sending so much love and congratulations to you both, Kate and Steve. Thank you for trusting me with your wedding adventure and for sharing these details of your epic day with us all.

Raini Rowell Photography

Thank you to Raini Rowell for the fun and the photos.

A relaxed wedding in the Scottish Highlands

Maddy and Mike affirmed their love and made their life promises to each other on the banks of Loch Garten in the Scottish Highlands.

Maddy and Mike, ever since your first visit together, all those years ago, you have loved sharing time here in the Cairngorms …. hiking, splitboarding, biking and adventuring. So, I know it means so much to you both that you are able to make your life promises to one another here, beneath these rocky mountains, next to this beautiful loch, in summer, in Scotland, in the place that means so much to you both.

Simone Smith Photography

An intimate circle of Maddy and Mike’s closest family joined them for a relaxed weekend of wedding celebrations. On the morning of their wedding day, the whole family enjoyed a mellow time getting ready together in a beautiful house outside Aviemore before heading on a short drive to their chosen ceremony location.

As Mike stood with his back to the mountains, flanked by three generations of their families, Maddy walked between the tall pines, up their wedding aisle, to join him at the lochside.

Simone Smith Photography

To open the ceremony, we all shared a peaceful moment drinking in the scents and sounds of that special place, listening to the chattering of the birds, the gentle lapping of the water and considering the importance of the moment.

We shared stories of some of the epic adventures Maddy and Mike have enjoyed in their seven years together. How they met during ski season in Revelstoke, Canada, where they were both working at the time. How they bonded when Maddy cracked a joke that no one else found funny but Mike thought was hilarious. And how, once they got chatting, it quickly became clear to both of them that they shared a similar outlook on life, as well as the same sense of humour.

Mike and Maddy, today is a celebration of seven years together and many wonderful adventures. It’s clear from our conversations that you live life to the full and that the cornerstones of your relationship remain the same after all these years – travelling, laughter, family and fun.  

We heard about Mike and Maddy’s time together, how they gradually fell in love one adventure at a time. And how, over the years, they have built a treasure trove of incredible memories. We heard how, when Mike proposed on a glorious day on a snowshoe hike in Canada, it wasn’t unexpected but it was a lovely surprise – to everyone, including Maddy! But, like so many decisions that this brilliant, laid-back couple have made together, Mike and Maddy knew what felt right to them both at the time.

Simone Smith Photography

When we were planning their ceremony, Mike and Maddy had written secret words for each other which I shared during the ceremony, with their permission, to the surprise and delight of everyone there.

Simone Smith Photography

We spoke of love and what it means to them both. How they live life by the day, making the most of their time together. And how, even though they have quite different personalities, they complement each other brilliantly, and they bring out the best in each other.

We heard how Maddy helps draw Mike out of his comfort zone, encouraging him to have more fun out and about with friends. And how Mike helps to ground Maddy, bolstering her confidence and encouraging her when needed. Like the time they both took a particularly difficult route up the mountain and Mike pushed Maddy just a wee bit too far, resulting in her actually breaking up with Mike right there on the mountainside … but then once they were down the slope and the anxiety effect had worn off, they both found it hilarious and they went back for another go! 

Simone Smith Photography

As the wind rustled the pine trees, Maddy and Mike made their Marriage promises to each other and gifted each other a ring. It was my pleasure to declare Mike and Maddy married as their families clapped and cheered. Then we all wished them well as they stepped into their married life together.

Mike and Maddy, now that you are married, go forward in your life together with the heartfelt good wishes of those of us here today. May all your hopes be fulfilled and may you always be each other’s dearest friend and greatest love. In the words of this sweet Celtic blessing: 

“We wish you always;

Walls for the wind

A roof for the rain

Coffee beside the fire 

And the love and laughter of all those you hold dear.

May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come, with all the bluebird powder days, epic travels, endless talks and happiness you could ever wish for.

Maddy and Mike’s “no fuss, laid back ceremony” was perfect. Being in nature, nestled between the trees, and overlooked the mountains they both love, felt so right for these two brilliant, nature-loving people. It was such a joy to be a part of their sweet day.

Congratulations to you both, Mike and Maddy. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for sharing these gorgeous snippets of your wedding adventure with us all. Sending all the love and adventures to you both!

Thank you to the wonderful Simone Smith for capturing these moments so beautifully. Thank you to the wonderful Sarah and Garry at Wild Weddings Scotland for organising their gorgeous day.

Simone Smith Photography

An autumnal Scottish wedding ceremony

As we fast approach the September equinox and all the gilded beauty that autumn brings, it’s been a joy to look back over a very busy time of weddings and family ceremonies. It’s been almost a year since I moved with my family to live in the Scottish Highlands, in the remote and windswept hamlet of South Erradale just south of Gairloch. These past twelve months have been an unfolding pilgrimage of journeys across Scotland to honour long-planned ceremonies in beautiful venues and wild places. Now that the wedding season is easing into a steady thrum it feels good to have time to pause and reflect and to share some of these beautiful moments with the kind permission of the couples and families involved.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

It was an absolute honour to be invited by Elliott and Siobhan, friends of dear friends of mine, to be part of their autumnal celebration of life, family, love and togetherness at the eclectic Netherbyres House in the Scottish Borders. Theirs was a day of vibrant colours, soulful harmonies, booming laughter and gorgeous affirmations.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

To gather everyone into the space, to joyfully connect, we began their ceremony with a song.

‘Round the corners of the world I turn
More and more about the world I learn
And the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me

And it’s from the old I travel to the new
Keep me traveling along with you

One More Step by Daniel Sheills
Nikki Leadbetter Photography

We heard the story of how Elliott and Siobhan met on a tropical, paradise island in the South Pacific. How Siobhan’s first impression of Elliott was that he was rather rude, not listening to the tour guide explaining where they were going when in fact, Elliott had been concentrating – but mostly on Siobhan – as he had immediately noticed her and clocked her Scottish accent. How together they stayed up all night under the stars talking about the deep and meaningful things in their lives. And how they have been together ever since.

We reflected on all that Elliott and Siobhan have shared in the years they have been together. We spoke of their hopes and dreams and how brilliantly they complement each other.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

I shared some secret thoughts that Elliott and Siobhan had written for each other when we were planning their ceremony – the sweet and funny, poignant and insightful – bringing laughter and tears to the gathering.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

We heard how buying their first home together was really just an excuse to get a dog and welcome their beloved Penny into their lives. And how, even though she keeps her cards close to her chest, Penny means the world to them both.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Friends shared wise words and beautiful readings:

1. Tell love you are going to Junior’s Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.

  2. Tell love you want a memento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a moustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.  

3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be alright. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.

Extract from Who Knows How to Make Love Stay by Tom Robbins

Elliott and Siobhan spoke personal words to each other that they had written and kept secret until that moment.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

We all paused for peaceful reflection and grounding while two of Siobhan and Elliott’s friends played a stunning piece on the fiddle and piano that they had composed especially for Siobhan and Elliott.

Then Siobhan and Elliott made their life promises to one another.

To make this commitment to you, today, in front of all our loving family and friends is the greatest achievement of my life. I can’t wait to continue in our great adventure together as husband and wife, filling our lives with happiness, love and dogs.

You are my shining light, my unfaltering north star and I love you fully with all my heart.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

I can’t wait to spend my life with you, share my love, happiness and joy with you, laugh with you and watch you grow older and grumpier, explore new places, travel to new countries, eat delicious food and meet more dogs,

I feel so lucky to have met you and that I get to spend every day with someone as kind and loving as you.

It was a great pleasure to declare Siobhan and Elliott legally married to the whoops and cheers of the people they love most in the world,

Elliott and Siobhan sealed their vows with a kiss, as is tradition.

Nikki Leadbetter

To toast their marriage, the newlyweds shared a first sip from their wedding Quaich.

Today, Elliott and Siobhan have chosen to share a drop of Macallan in their wedding Quaich. This bottle belonged to Siobhan’s paternal grandfather, Walter, who loved to enjoy a wee dram with Siobhan’s maternal grandfather, Gilbert. This is in honour of both Walter and Gilbert, who Siobhan and Elliot are holding in their thoughts today. 

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

We invited everyone present to toast Siobhan and Elliott with whisky miniatures. Then we closed the ceremony with a blessing before Siobhan and Elliott walked hand-in-hand into their married life.

Siobhan and Elliott, now that you are married, go forward in your life together with the heartfelt good wishes of those of us here today. May your home be a haven and your relationship be truthful and honest. May all your hopes be fulfilled and may you always be each other’s dearest friend and greatest love. May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the beautiful walks, great talks, delicious food, awesome travels and happiness you could wish for.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Congratulations to you both, Siobhan and Elliott! Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for sharing these sweet details with us all. I smile every time I think about your wedding celebration. Sending so much love to you both and to Penny.

Thank you to Nikki Leadbetter for these beautiful photographs.

A romantic elopement by Loch an Eilein in the Scottish Highlands

Eve & Art Stories

Ever since your first visit to Scotland together, all those years ago, you have loved sharing time here in the Cairngorms … picnicking, hiking, swimming, and adventuring. I know it means so much to you both that you are able to make your life promises to one another here, beneath these snow-capped mountains, next to this beautiful loch, in winter, in Scotland, the country where you have made your home.

Lina and James – February 2023
Eve & Art Stories

James and Lina’s elopement on a frosty day in February was gentle, beautiful and loving. We gathered in a secluded spot between the ancient Caledonian pine forest on the shores of Loch an Eilein, a stunning freshwater loch in the heart of the Rothiemurchus Estate in the Scottish Highlands. Their ceremony unfolded to the sound of water lapping and birds singing, and we all of us felt held by the stillness and tranquility of the surroundings.

There’s a relaxed ease that comes with an elopement; the ceremony unfolding at a pace that feels right in the moment and the quiet solitude to be authentic and true to the emotions of the day. For James and Lina, their elopement was an opportunity to affirm their love for one another in a way that felt personal and natural to them both.

Eve & Art Stories

We opened the ceremony with an Oathing Stone ritual to honour the ancient Celtic belief that vows made in the presence of water and stone are especially binding. As James and Lina placed all four hands on their Oathing Stone, they took time to reflect on all that had brought them to be where they are today, in this place, in this moment. Then, when they were ready, they placed the stone on the earth close to them, as is tradition.

One of the most lovely parts of planning a ceremony is getting to know the couple so that the words shared on the day are a thoughtful reflection of their time shared, the adventures they’ve been on, the support they’ve given, the ways in which they complement and balance each other’s personalities, and their hopes and dreams for the future. While I had met Lina before at weddings (she’s a brilliant wedding photographer … check out her work here), it was so lovely to get to know her and James in the months leading up to their ceremony.

Lina and James, today is a celebration of 10 years together and many wonderful adventures. It’s clear from our conversations that you live life to the full and that the cornerstones of your relationship remain the same after all these years – travelling, laughter, photography and fun.  

Eve & Art Stories

It was my pleasure to share the story of how James and Lina met; how their love of photography brought them together; how, on their first meeting, they almost disappeared under a rogue wave while photographing the sunset at an Australian beach; how they were so soaked by the wave that they dried off at a local cafe; how romance snuck up on them when they were least expecting it.

During their ceremony, we reflected on how Lina and James road tripped across Australia, falling in love one weekend adventure at a time. How they are as happy chilling at home, playing board games by the fire as they are on their outdoor adventures in remote places. And how, while they don’t tend to plan too far ahead, preferring to focus on the next six months or the next year, they have always known that they are each other’s future. In their words, “we can’t imagine life without each other.” 

Eve & Art Stories

As James and Lina held hands and gazed lovingly at each other, I shared some secret thoughts that they had shared with me when planning their ceremony – the sweet, the poignant and the funny – as a lovely surprise for each other. We spoke about Marriage and what it means to them both, and how in choosing to make their life promises to each other they were celebrating their deep and loving commitment to one another and giving thanks for all that they have brought each other so far, and will continue to bring to one another as they journey through life together.

James and Lina, Marriage is about finally making official what you have both already felt and known for a long time. And I know you are so excited for all that the future will bring … continuing to see each other grow into your new roles, experiencing more adventures and seeing the world together, making a home, growing vegetables and flowers, and chilling by the fire.

Eve & Art Stories

Their dear photographer friends and I then gave Lina and James some privacy as they exchanged heartfelt personal vows that they had written for each other. They read their vows from two beautiful handmade books, then gifted each other a ring as a symbol of their deep connection and their enduring love.

James and Lina chose to seal their Marriage vows with a traditional Handfasting, a beautiful ritual that symbolises many of the values they hold dear in their partnership: love and loyalty, hope and trust. By binding their hands together, Lina and James declared their love and their intention to share their lives together. A Handfasting binding symbolises the coming together of two individuals and two families. It was an honour to declare James and Lina married.

Following these declarations made before me and these beautiful mountains, this loch and these trees, James and Lina, it is my happy duty to pronounce you husband and wife.

Eve & Art Stories

It is always an honour to be invited to lead a ceremony, and an even greater honour to be invited to be celebrant for a lovely colleague in the wedding sector. Thank you, Lina and James, for trusting me with your ceremony. I am so glad it was all you wished it to be.

So many beautiful blessings to you both, and in the words of your chosen blessing by Robert Sexton:

May every dawn bring you joy.

May every sunset bring you peace.

May all your days be blessed and brightened 

By the love you’ve come to share.

Heartfelt congratulations! Thank you for sharing these gorgeous details with us all.

Thank you also to the wonderful Evelina and Artur at Eve & Art Stories for these stunning photographs.

Eve & Art Stories

A Romantic Scottish Vow Renewal Ceremony

GEEBZ Photography

The woods were alive with birdsong and dappled sunlight on the day Anita and Adrian reaffirmed their love for one another in the heart of Roslin Glen in the North Esk Valley.

We gathered beneath the ivy-robed ruins of a 19th century mill, cocooned by the gentle hush of the river and it was hard to believe we were only thirty minutes from the bustling festival atmosphere of Edinburgh’s city centre.

Anita and Adrian’s Vow Renewal ceremony in August was a celebration of 20 years of Marriage, 22 years together, and many joyful years of family life. It was a chance to reflect on their journey so far, to acknowledge all that they have achieved together, to renew their Marriage vows, and to set their intentions for the coming years. 

Planning Adrian and Anita’s ceremony with them was an absolute delight. It became quickly clear during our conversations that they make the most out of their time together and they have a great time whatever they are doing.

From their wedding adventure where Anita and Adrian exchanged Marriage vows on a private wildlife reserve in South Africa in a ceremony blessed by two love birds chirping, to their tenth anniversary where they renewed their Vows in Las Vegas, with not just one but three Elvis’s officiating, Anita and Adrian live life to the full.

GEEBZ Photography

It was Adrian and Anita’s wish to celebrate their 20th anniversary in an intimate gathering with their son and two of their dearest friends. Their ceremony reflected their cheeky sense of humour and their deep and supportive connection.

We reminisced about their time together; from the early days when Adrian joined “the most expensive dating app on offer” in the hope of meeting more ‘eligible women’ to Anita clearly being won over by the cheeky chap who wouldn’t take no for an answer. And how, after months of weekly, banter-filled phone calls from Adrian, Anita agreed to a first date. The two of them had such a great time bonding over their love of adventure, Latin dancing, food and culture, they have been “inseparable ever since”.

We heard beautiful readings, shared words about their thoughts on love and Marriage, and we spoke of all that is at the heart of their partnership and how it is clear to all who know them that Adrian and Anita are soulmates.

“Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, intimacy, friendship… The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to introduce it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.”

J. Allan Peterson

Adrian and Anita shared some words with each other that they had written and kept secret until the day then they gifted each other a commitment ring. We were all caught up in the emotion and romance of the moment. It was especially lovely to pause between the trees, to take time to honour all that they had shared. Then, when they felt ready, we ambled down to a sheltered area by the river for their Handfasting.

GEEBZ Photography

Anita and Adrian affirmed their Marriage Vows and their love for one another with a traditional Celtic Handfasting. Their Eternity Knot was made up of ribbons symbolic of their international lifestyle and heritage.

Adrian and Anita, these cords are a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. The two fabrics have been chosen by you to symbolize the intertwining of your lives.

A plaited ribbon of black, yellow, white, green, red and blue to symbolise the colours of the flags of the countries that have meaning for you both.

Red, white and blue for the Australian flat, the country were Anita was born and where you now live as a family. The red and white of the English flag where Adrian was born.

The black, yellow, white, green, blue and red from the flag of South Africa where you were married. And the red, white and blue from the American flat where you renewed your vows after 10 years.

The second swathe is a Spirit of Scotland tartan to represent today and renewal of your vows after twenty years of being married. 

As these ribbons are tied together, your lives –  your pasts, presents and futures – become intertwined in thought, word and action. This cord may stretch but will always remain strong; it connects you throughout life.

Anita and Adrian
GEEBZ Photography

It was my honour to declare Anita and Adrian life partners to the joyful cheers of their son and friends. Then they celebrated with a shared drink from the Quaich in a sunny spot encircled by the river before cracking open the fizz.

Anita and Adrian, wishing you both so much love and happiness for the future with many more exciting adventures, and all the fancy dress parties, family board games and fun you could hope for.

Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. Yours was a day that makes me smile every time I think about it. It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be your celebrant – and thank you for bringing the Australian sun in your suitcase!

Thank you to GEEBZ Photography for these splendid photos.

GEEBZ Photography

A uniquely beautiful Scottish Marriage celebration

After twenty one years together, and many years already referring to each other as husband and wife, Judy and Jeremy’s celebration of love and life was not your average wedding day.

Two of the coolest, most laid-back people you could hope to meet, Jeremy and Judy are not only partners in life but also in work. Their shared passion for music, design, film and pop culture has carried them through many wonderful and obscure experiences. In their time together, they have travelled across the globe and have built a thriving business that grew from a humble office, where they entertained their first client with lunches of homemade grilled cheese and canned soup, to having four different Manhattan offices over the years with employees from over twenty countries.

“We are friends, lovers, adventure buddies and business partners. Rather than finding satisfaction in the comfort of the known, we try to see things with an open mind, with fresh eyes, like beginners. Our wedding day was no exception. It was a celebration of our love.”

Judy and Jeremy

It was immediately clear when chatting with Jeremy and Judy that they live life to the max and they are never not planning their next adventure. From dogsledding and camping in minus twenty degrees centigrade on Svalbard; to kitesurfing in six foot swells in St Maarten; to eating the best steak frites in Montmartre after the opening of their art show at Collette, the ‘trendiest store in the world’; they’ve had some epic times.

It was their wish that their Marriage ceremony be a reflection of the passions they share, the choices they have made, and the creativity, curiosity and wonder that is at the heart of their partnership. Importantly, they wished to invite the people attending – their dearest family and friends – to share some words during the ceremony. So, we invited everyone attending to share a memory, anecdote or reading that spoke of times enjoyed with Judy and Jeremy, reflections on their love and partnership, adventures they’ve had, and their wishes for their future. It was my pleasure to liaise with Jeremy and Judy’s relatives in the lead up to their wedding, to weave their thoughts into the ceremony, so that their words would be a loving surprise for them both on the day.

On a tranquil day in August, twelve of us gathered on a semicircle of wooden benches at The Free Company, an idyllic farm and seasonal restaurant in the foothills outside Edinburgh. As bees and butterflies flew lazily between flowers on the nearby vegetable plots, Judy and Jeremy’s ceremony took place in a sheltered stone courtyard.

In a heartfelt and emotional exchange, their relatives surprised them both with their personal reflections, bringing laughter, tears, warmth and hugs.

We spoke about Marriage and what it means to Jeremy and Judy; how their hopes and dreams perfectly align; how they will always give each other the space to follow their hearts; and how they are each other’s home.

“Marriage is about being fluid and growing with each other. It’s about making space for each other and helping each other to remain fearless, to be brave and to experience all that we hope to as we journey through life together.”

Judy and Jeremy

Judy and Jeremy’s relationship began with a spark at an industry party in New York where after a few caipirinhas they ended up tying their shoelaces together, so it seemed entirely apt that they should affirm their life commitment to one another with a Handfasting. Their beautiful ribbons, which they had handmade from Scottish felt and wool, were gifted by each of their siblings Each one represented the shared passions that have bound them together over the past twenty one years, and the intentions they wished to weave into their partnership going forward.

The first ribbon symbolises adventure, something that will always be at the heart of your partnership. May you have many more elemental, ‘feel alive’ experiences as you continue your journey together, living life to the max.

This second ribbon represents curiosity that you may always be interested in the world around you, learning and deepening your knowledge and understanding, growing together both as individuals and as a partnership.

The third ribbon symbolises nature in all her beauty and power. May you always feel grounded and peaceful, appreciating the wonder of the mountains and the thrill of the sea, the shifting moods of the sky and the tranquility of the trees. May you always find perspective in the immensity and intricacy of the natural world.

The fourth ribbon represents creativity which runs like a thread throughout both your lives. May you always be playful, seeking solutions, exploring possibilities and most of all having fun together as you journey through life. 

And the fifth ribbon stands simply for love.

Judy and Jeremy made their life committment declarations to one another and it was my absolute privilege to declare them both legally married to the whoops and cheers of their loved ones.

They shared a sip of champagne from their beautiful handcrafted Quaich then we closed the ceremony with a blessing for their future.


to the wind always filling your kites

to bluebird days of champagne powder

to the sound of hooves carrying you across open moors

and to the beauty of endless ribbons of gravel ahead of you. 

 To Jeremy and Judy! Slàinte Mhath!

Judy and Jeremy’s ceremony was authentic and loving. It was an absolute pleasure to be their celebrant and share in the magic of their day.

Congratulations to you both, Jeremy and Judy. Thank you for sharing these gorgeous details with us all. Sending so much love and happiness to you both.

Thank you to the wonderful Tamar Hope Photography for the beautiful photos.

Traditional Scottish Highland Castle Wedding

Samantha Clyne Photography

There was so much to love about Vivienne and Brent’s Marriage ceremony at the historic Cluny Castle in Aberdeenshire. Set among 200 acres of beautiful landscaped parkland, this 14th Century crenellated mansion has it’s own magnificent chapel.

Samantha Clyne Photography

For Vivienne and Brent, their wedding was a chance for everyone they know and love to come together to celebrate their love. Family and friends joined them from all around the world, including Australia, Brent’s home country and Singapore, where they first met. And while their two beloved dogs, Floki and Odin, weren’t part of the actual ceremony (for fear they may jump on all the guests and eat the decorations) they were very much a part of the day.

Samantha Clyne Photography

Brent and Vivienne’s day was light and joyful, romantic and poignant. Their wish was for a traditional Scottish ceremony with their story at the heart.

From the moment they first met at the restaurant Brent managed and where Vivienne was immediately struck by Brent’s outright Aussie charm and Brent was taken in by Vivienne’s quick wit, humour and, as he puts it, “her big ol doe eyes”, they immediately hit it off, exchanging banter and, as Viv says, “quite a lot of teasing.” 

Brent took the epic decision to move to Scotland to be with Vivienne, exchanging the bustle and bright lights of Singapore for the remote beauty and tranquility of the Scottish islands. Within two weeks of being on the island they returned from a visit to a remote croft with an excitable collie puppy – and Floki joined their family. And it wasn’t long before Odin completed their family unit. In their words, “everything felt so right, it has always been easy being around each other and we have a lot of fun.”  

Samantha Clyne Photography

During the ceremony, with Brent and Vivienne’s permission, I shared some secret thoughts that they written for each other resulting in much hilarity and quite a few happy tears among the gathering.

A friend gave an excellent and uplifting rendition of Pam Ayres’ wonderful poem, He Never Leaves the Seat Up – apt considering Vivienne’s love for order and Brent’s cheeky sense of humour and, as Viv puts it, “his inability to tidy things away”.

Another dear friend sang beautifully, her voice carrying across the chapel and allowing for a moment of peaceful reflection, before Vivienne and Brent made beautiful loving Marriage Vows to one another and then gifted each other a ring.

I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side.”

Vivienne and Brent

They sealed their Vows with a Handfasting; Scott tartan to represent Vivienne’s family and Johnston tartan to represent Brent’s family.

Samantha Clyne Photography

It was my happy honour to declare Brent and Vivienne married.

I would ask you now to please show your love and congratulations one more time as Aberdeen, Scotland, the world and I give you Vivienne and Brent! 

We then took a moment to sign the Marriage Schedule – that little piece of paper that says “I love you” – with both mums as witnesses. As they were returning to their seats, Brent and Vivienne’s mums both swiped hands to symbolise the letting go of responsibility for their children – a wonderful Aberdeenshire custom!

Brent and Vivienne shared a sip of  Lagavulin 16 in their wedding Quaich. The only whisky that Viv likes and the same whisky that they both enjoyed when Viv was trying to get Brent drunk when they first met! 

Samantha Clyne Photography

We drew the ceremony to a close with a toast to the newlyweds.

Samantha Clyne Photography

There is something timeless about making your Marriage Vows in a Scottish castle and Vivienne and Brent’s October day of crisp light and frost was magical.

Congratulations to you both, Brent and Vivienne. Thank you so much for sharing these sweet details with us all. Here’s wishing you many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the great talks, epic walks, exciting travels and happiness you could hope for.

Thank you to Samantha Clyne Photography for these glorious photos.

A sunlit, garden wedding in the heart of Scotland

We had our first sunny days in a while this week in Wester Ross and, after the wild and windswept winter months, it’s making me long for the easy, sunlit days of summer. So, it’s been lovely to reflect back to Kenyah and Kevin’s “no fuss”, gentle ceremony in Kenyah’s mum’s most beautiful garden last year.

Elliot Caunce Photography

When I asked Kenyah and Kevin what kind of feeling they wanted for their wedding ceremony, they were clear that they didn’t want a ceremony that was too wordy, or overly long, or a ceremony that was “too lovey-dovey”. Kenyah made it clear that – being quite limelight-shy – Kevin really hates being the centre of attention. And Kevin even admitted that he’d rather not be mentioned at all! 

So, we honoured these two kind-hearted, thoughtful and by their own admission “geeky” people in a shared ceremony that entirely reflected their own unique personalities, the love they have for each other, and their views on Marriage.

The sign on the door to the garden reflected them perfectly and Tolkien fans would have recognised the symbolism.

Kevin and Kenyah walked hand-in-hand down their wedding aisle together, as a symbol of their equality and shared commitment to one another. While we celebrated their love with stories from their time together, their wedding rings were passed among their friends and family so that each person could hold them and imbue in them any wishes, prayers or blessings they had for the newlyweds.

Elliot Caunce Photography

Their ceremony was sweet and simple with so many loving touches. As the birds sang and the butterflies danced around us, we heard how these two naturally shy people first met when working together in a restaurant, and how when Kenyah was complaining about not having anyone to see the new Star Wars movie with that evening, and Kevin offered to chum her, neither of them really knew if it was an actual date.

Well, date or no date, it’s clear that night brought them closer. By the end of the evening, they had made a plan to have an official date the next day watching Frozen 2 and they both knew they had found someone special.

Elliot Caunce Photography

A whirlwind two years later, when Kenyah asked Kevin if she wanted to get married on the 16th September (because 169 is his favourite number), Kevin didn’t miss a beat. And they planned to make their life promises to each other amidst the flowers and trees the following summer.

Elliot Caunce Photography

We spoke of how Kenyah and Kevin complement each other perfectly, how they both bring each other a feeling of safety and security and how they have a great time together whatever they are doing. We heard a beautiful rendition of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII in both English and Spanish by one of Kenyah and Kevin’s dear friends.

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, topaz, 

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. 

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, 

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet XVII
Elliot Caunce Photography

Kevin and Kenyah exchanged rings and personal vows, then sealed their promises with a Handfasting. I was delighted to pronounce them both married to the cheers of their family and friends.

To close the ceremony, Kenyah and Kevin enjoyed a first sip as newlyweds together from their wedding Quaich. Then we toasted them with a blessing and a dram of fine whisky.

It was such a beautiful, uplifting day and I was honoured to be a part of it. Sending so much love and congratulations to you both, Kevin and Kenyah. May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the great talks, epic games, and happiness you could wish for.

Thank you to Elliot Caunce for these lovely photos.

A soulful elopement in the Scottish Highlands

Raini Rowell Photography

On an icy day in December, Cheyenne and Caleb, accompanied by a small group – all three generations – of their closest family, set off along a short, steep walk amidst the rugged mountains of Ballachulish. We reached a cairn outcrop close to the spectacular waterfalls at The Meeting of the Three Waters and overlooking sweeping mountain views.

Raini Rowell Photography

I opened the ceremony by inviting everyone present to take a moment to connect, to ground ourselves in this tranquil place, to reflect on the loving and binding promises that Cheyenne and Caleb were choosing to make to each other on that day, in that moment. As Caleb and Cheyenne placed their hands on each others hearts, their family also took time for their own peaceful reflection.

While Caleb and Cheyenne are Atheist, Caleb and Cheyenne’s families beliefs range from Christian to Agnostic. It was beautiful to be able to hold space for everyone in a shared ceremony in which their varied beliefs were welcome and respected. Some sent a silent prayer or well-wishing thought to Caleb and Cheyenne. This moment to pause and connect brought a stillness to the gathering, a peacefulness that gave Caleb and Cheyenne the opportunity to ‘be’ with each other, before they made their life declarations to one another.

Raini Rowell Photography

Family is really important to Caleb and Cheyenne. To gather everyone into their ceremony, they chose to declare their love and commitment to one another with a traditional Handfasting, with each of their family members gifting one of the Handfasting ribbons.

Their words were unscripted and loving. Every person who stepped forward to share their blessings gifted a colourful plaited ribbon, each with it’s own symbolism and meaning. And, as two self-confessed geeks, Caleb and Cheyenne invited me to slip in some Tolkien references before they tied their eternity knot.

The individual ribbons entwine together, lending strength to one other, just as each of you do in your partnership together. Your Handfasting cord represents your unending devotion to each other and your promise to remain bound to one another through all that life brings. To borrow from Tolkien and quote you both, “this is the one cord to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.” 

Raini Rowell Photography

Caleb and Cheyenne, do you both choose to bind your lives together so that your individual stories, hopes, and desires for the future will be forever entwined?

“Yes, we do!”

As a group, we reflected on the journey that Caleb and Cheyenne had shared and on all that had brought them to be standing together on their wedding day. From those early days of Cheyenne first secretly admiring Caleb at high school to Caleb being the only person to break through, in their good friend’s words, “Cheyenne’s anti-man facade,” to Cheyenne being surprised to discover she was actually enjoying Caleb’s attention. In her words,“I knew immediately that I felt comfortable with Caleb.” 

It wasn’t long before Caleb declared his love to Cheyenne in the midst of them both playing Pokemon Go together, and despite the unexpected timing of this meaningful and poignant declaration, Cheyenne realised she felt the same.

“We are both geeks, we are each other’s best friend, and we make each other happy. We’ve grown as people as we’ve grown together.”

Cheyenne and Caleb
Raini Rowell Photography

With the mountains and their loved ones as witness, in an emotional exchange of personal vows, Caleb and Cheyenne made their life promises to one another.

Raini Rowell Photography

At the beginning of their relationship, Cheyenne imparted to Caleb, the importance to her of pinky promises; a sacred vow that could never be joked about, taken lightly, or broken – sealed with a stamp. So, to seal their promises, Caleb and Cheyenne, made shared vows with their pinkies entwined and sealed with a thumb stamp.

Will you continue to laugh together every day, embracing life’s great adventure, creating a life that you love as much as you love each other, and a home filled with love and happiness while facing the obstacles in life knowing you have your one true friend by your side?

“We promise!” *stamps thumbs*
Raini Rowell Photography

They gifted each other a ring as they made their Marriage Vows to one another and it was my honour to declare Caleb and Cheyenne as wife and husband.

Raini Rowell Photography

We closed the ceremony with the sharing of the Quaich – all of us enjoying the warmth and celebratory feeling of sharing a wee dram to toast Cheyenne and Caleb’s love.

Raini Rowell Photography

A thousand blessings to you both, Caleb and Cheyenne. It was such a pleasure planning your ceremony with you and sharing in your gorgeous, windswept day. Thank you for sharing these details with us all.

Thank you to the wonderful Raini Rowell Photography for these glorious photos.

Raini Rowell Photography

Jumping the besom in a beautiful Scottish wedding

Karen and Kenny’s Handfasting ceremony last August represented a first for me with the inclusion of the Jumping of the Besom. While this is a controversial ritual for many due to its historic links with slavery, for Kenny and Karen it felt important to include this ancient ritual in honour of Karen’s deep and long held connection to Wicca.

It was important to them both that their Marriage ceremony respect their shared and varied beliefs. Kenny is non religious and Karen spiritual with a deep respect for Wicca. It was my pleasure to craft a ceremony with them both that entirely reflected their own unique personalities, wishes and beliefs.

Their ceremony took place in the historic 17th century Old Kirk at Glencorse House near Edinburgh and, as was their wish, it was so much fun – with a fair bit of hilarious and welcome banter from their loved ones.

We shared the story of how these two brilliant people met at the time when they least expected to in life. How Kenny was so quiet, almost shy, in that first meeting that according to Karen, “trying to get a chat out of him was like trying to get blood out of a stone.” It came as a surprise to her then that several months later on a night out with friends, when they happened to meet again, Kenny was so chatty and funny that, in fact, as Karen says “he didn’t stop talking!”

We heard how they hit it off immediately, bonding over their shared outlook on life and their similar quick wit and sarcastic sense of humour. It wasn’t long before they were spending most of their time together, and as Kenny says, ““it just felt so comfortable. Like we had always known each other.”

During their ceremony, I shared some secret thoughts that Karen and Kenny had written for each other – the beautiful, loving, poignant and funny – which resulted in happy tears and laughter from them both and their loved ones.

We were all weeping happy tears as they both shared their personal vows then gifted each other a ring.

Do you promise to always love each other in good times and in bad, when life is peaceful and when it is disordered, when you are proud of one another and when you are frustrated until the end of your forever? 

“I promise!”

Karen and Kenny made their life promises to one another with a traditional Handfasting and it was my great delight to declare them married to the whistles and jubilant shouts of their friends and family.

Over the months preceding their ceremony, Karen and Kenny gathered birch on their walks together. They used these birch sticks to create their own besom. Birch is symbolic of new dawns and new beginnings, hope and the promise of what is to come. Some believe the word birch comes from the ancient Sanskrit word, bhūrjá, which translates as “tree whose bark is used for writing upon.”

To close their ceremony, Karen and Kenny jumped together over their birch besom into their married life and the promise of all that is to come; a shared future where they will write the stories of their lives together. Then they enjoyed some fizz in this excellent VW van before celebrating with their family and friends.

I loved being Karen and Kenny’s celebrant at the historic Glencorse House near Edinburgh. It was such an effervescent day of love, laughter, friendship and family and I smile every time I think about it.

Heartfelt blessings to you both, Kenny and Karen. In the words of this Apache Blessing:

Karen and Kenny,

Now you will feel no rain,  

for each of you will be shelter for the other.  

Now you will feel no cold,  

for each of you will be warmth to the other.  

Now there will be no loneliness, 

for each of you will be companion to the other.  

Now you are two persons,  

but there is only one life before you.  

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead  

and through all the years,  

may happiness be your companion  

and your days together be good and long upon the earth.  

Thank you for sharing these gorgeous details with us all. Thank you to Edinburgh Photographic for the wonderful photos.