Beneath the ancient redwoods … a romantic Scottish wedding

A white opposite sex couple stand facing an intimate circle of their loved ones beneath two towering redwoods. They are dressed in wedding clothes. He's in a kilt and jacket and she's in a white dress. Their family sit on rows of wooden chairs. The celebrant stands to the left of the couple in a green dress sharing their story.
Loraine Ross Photography

Emma and Craig’s wedding was simple, authentic and loving. An intimate circle of their dearest friends and family gathered beneath the ancient redwoods at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to witness them making their Marriage declarations to one another.

During their ceremony, we spoke of how these two kind-hearted, generous people, who have known each other since primary school, reconnected in their twenties. We heard how, as students, Craig rescued Emma from subsisting entirely off crunchy nut cornflakes and jaffa cakes by teaching her how to make the essentials for survival – chicken curry and spaghetti bolognaise (which he says back then was pretty much his entire repertoire). And how, after settling into a fun sort of domestic bliss while living in two separate flats, it soon became clear to both of them that they liked each other as more than friends. And so it was that they fell into life, love and laughter together.

A white opposite sex couple hold hands facing each other during their wedding ceremony. She's wearing a white dress with long bell sleeves and floor length skirt. He's wearing a tartan kilt and blue jacket. She has long blonde hair and he has short brown hair and a beard. The celebrant stands between them holding a wooden folder with the words 'love is all' written on it. The celebrant is smiling. To their right a man with a grey checked suit, pink tie and white shirt with cropped blonde hair holds their Handfasting ribbons - a piece of tartan and a piece of white lace.
Loraine Ross Photography

We heard how brilliantly they work together as a couple, how they have complete trust in one another, and how they face any challenges together, in the same calm, thoughtful way, always striving to be kind to each other. Craig always ensures there is a stash of chocolate hidden somewhere in the house for when Emma get snacky. And in return, Emma helps Craig find things he has misplaced about the house – usually his slippers or coffee mug. In Emma’s words, “we really look after each other.”

Before Emma and Craig made their life promises to one another, circled by towering redwoods, we paused to take a moment to ‘be’ in that beautiful, peaceful place, to contemplate the loving and binding commitments that Craig and Emma were choosing to make to each other, to enjoy the birdsong and the gentle rustle of leaves in the trees as their friends and family sent silent well-wishing thoughts to them both.

Then Craig and Emma warmed their wedding rings in their hands as they shared beautiful, personal vows that reflected their twelve years together. And they gifted each other a ring.

Will you give each other the space to grow, embracing without enveloping, cultivating a partnership of individuals that will last a lifetime? 

“We will!”

They sealed their Marriage Vows with a Handfasting with two cords; Muir tartan for Craig’s family, and McKinley for Emma’s family, to symbolize the intertwining of their lives.

As the right hand is to the left, may you be forever one, sharing in all things at home and abroad in love and loyalty for all time to come. 

A white opposite sex couple face each other during their wedding ceremony. Their hands are bound with two Handfasting cords - tartan and lace. They are smiling.
Loraine Ross Photography

With the trees and their loved ones as witness, it was my honour and privilege to declare Emma and Craig legally married.

“If you wish, you may kiss!”

A white opposite sex couple kiss during their wedding ceremony. He is wearing a tartan kilt and blue tweed jacket. He has short dark hair and a small beard. She has blonde hair and is wearing a white dress with bell sleeves and long skirt. Their loved ones look on smiling and clapping.
Loraine Ross Photography

It was a beautiful day and we could all feel the love as we raised a toast to the newlyweds, wishing them well for all the many years to come before Craig and Emma stepped into their married life together.

A wedding party stand circled by ancient rewoods in a botanic garden. They are raising a toast to two newlyweds. Everyone is smiling.
Lorraine Ross Photography

Congratulations to you both, Emma and Craig. I absolutely loved being your celebrant at your joyful, romantic ceremony. Wishing you so much happiness in your lives together. Thank you for sharing these sweet details with us all.

Thank you to the wonderful Loraine Ross for these beautiful photos.

A white opposite sex couple stand on a stone staircase in a garden. They are flanked by trees and shrubs and wearing wedding clothes. She is wearing a long white wedding dress and holding a spring bouquet of flowers. He is wearing a kit and tweed jacket. They are smiling at each other.
Loraine Ross Photography

A glorious Scottish countryside wedding

Rachel and Tonie Photography

Duncan and Emmie’s sunny September wedding took place at Pratis Barns, a stunning 18th century converted cattle court set in the stunning Fife countryside overlooking the Forth of Firth.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

It was a day of laughter and light, blessed by birdsong as a family of swallows flew overhead. Perfect for celebrating these two high school sweethearts who fell into life and love together when they were teenagers and who have been together ever since.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

Duncan and Emma-Jayne’s ceremony was a celebration of their twelve years together and brimming with personal touches. We heard the story of how, on seeing Emmie for the first time, 14 year old Duncan remembers being struck by how beautiful she was with her dark side fringe and big smile. In his words, “I instantly wanted to get to know her!” Emmie remembers Duncan’s cool hair and festival wristbands and how he made her laugh. How he would share his favourite music with her by letting her borrow his CDs and how they always came with sweet handwritten notes. 

Eventually, after a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle matchmaking by friends, Duncan plucked up the courage to ask Emma-Jayne to be his girlfriend. Emma-Jayne was delighted as she’d been hoping something would happen for some time … she also found it quite funny that Duncan’s reaction when she replied with a “Yes!” was to put his arm around her and say “Safe!”  They were young …

Rachel and Tonie Photography

With their permission, I shared some secret words that Emma-Jayne and Duncan had written for each other bringing joyful tears and laughter to the barn.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

We spoke of love and Marriage and what it means to them both. Duncan and Emmie warmed their wedding bands in their joined hands while committing to personal vows, including a couple of entertaining ones. Then they gifted each other a ring as a symbol of their wish and intention to share in life’s adventures forevermore.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

Emma-Jayne, do you promise to never complain about watching the highlights of Hearts games, no matter how many times you’ve seen them ?

“I do!”

And Duncan, do you promise to help Emmie fill in the blanks after she inevitably falls asleep during the film she spent ages choosing?

“I do!”
Rachel and Tonie Photography

I declared Emma-Jayne and Duncan married to the whoops and cheers of their family and friends. Both their mums poured them a dram to share in their wedding Quaich and Duncan and Emmie shared their first toast as a married couple.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

Then we all raised a test tube toast (a nod to Emma-Jayne’s science background) in honour of them both as they walked hand in hand into their married life to the sound of birdsong and the joyful cheers of all who love them.

Congratulations Emmie and Duncan! May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the delicious food, awesome travels, great gigs and happiness you could wish for. Thank you for sharing these sweet details with us all.

Thank you to Rachel and Tonie for the beautiful photos.

Rachel and Tonie Photography

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

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 sunny mixed faith wedding in the heart of Edinburgh

As we mark the Winter Solstice this week, and the tilting of the earth back towards the light, it feels a lovely time to share a few highlights from Camille and Stewart’s surprisingly sunny September wedding.

Natalie Holt Photography

Their ceremony took place on the iconic Blackford Hill, overlooking Camille’s favourite view of Edinburgh and with a clear view to Fife, where Stewart was living when they first met. In their words, their wedding day was a time of “significant commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy.” Their dearest family and friends travelled from afar to join them, including many from Australia, Camille’s home country. And they definitely brought the good weather with them as, despite the weather warnings that week for wind and rain, their ceremony was blessed with glorious sunshine.

Natalie Holt Photography

When I first met Stewart and Camille we met for a chat on a bench in the Meadows in Edinburgh. It was clear from that first conversation that their ceremony would be incredibly personal. Camille’s family and many of their friends are Catholic, and Stewart’s family and friends are non-religious. We talked about the importance of their ceremony reflecting and celebrating the shared and varied beliefs of all involved and how, by choosing an Agnostic ceremony, we were able to hold space for them both in this way.

Natalie Holt Photography

We began with the ancient tradition of ring warming. As Camille and Stewart’s rings were passed around the gathering, from elders to children, each person was invited to hold the rings in their hands, or close to their heart, as they made a silent prayer, blessing or well-wishing thought for Stewart and Camille, to wish them well in the years ahead.

We heard a reading by a friend of Stewart’s and fellow sailor, A Gift from the Sea  by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which spoke beautifully of the evolving and enduring nature of a lifelong loving partnership.

“The only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Natalie Holt Photography

I shared the story of of how these two brilliant, independent people found each other: how Camille thought the “enigmatic and mysterious” Stewart was a spy for the first six months of their relationship (after all, what other job could explain the long periods away, and his very ambiguous responses when she asked him what he did on the ships for all that time?); how Stewart braved the intense heat of an Australian summer for Camille (and the friendly interrogation by all Camille’s family and friends); and how they both agree their complementary natures is what makes their relationship work. In Camille’s words, “our love is about individuality and is stronger because of it.”

Natalie Holt Photography

When we were planning their ceremony, Stewart and Camille had shared some secret thoughts with me when I asked them about their love and connection. With their permission, I shared their secret thoughts – the funny, the poignant and the heartfelt – as a lovely surprise for them both during the ceremony, giving sweet insight into their partnership for those present.

Natalie Holt Photography

Camille and Stewart made joint vows to each other then we invited everyone present to continue to support, love and encourage them them in the years to come.

And to all of you dear families and friends of Camille and Stewart, will you support and uphold them in their Marriage now and in all the many years to come?

“We will!”

In an emotional exchange of personal vows, Camille and Stewart shared some loving words with one another then gifted each other a ring.

It was my honour to declare Stewart and Camille married to the joyful whoops of their loved ones.

Natalie Holt Photography

That’s how to do a wedding! So personal … so loving.

The whole event felt like a hug. After the ceremony, one of Camille’s relatives came up to me and said “that’s how to do a wedding! So personal … so loving.” I couldn’t agree more. It really was beautiful.

Congratulations to you both, Camille and Stewart. I loved being your celebrant – thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. Thank you for sharing these details of your day with us all.Wishing you a magical 2023 and so much love and happiness for the years ahead.

Natalie Holt Photography

Thank you to Natalie Holt Photography for the stunning photographs.

Shout out to the amazing suppliers:

Flowers – Pollination

Cakes- The Pastry Section 

Dress- Trelis Cooper 

Headband and Jewellery- Forever Jems 

Makeup- Flamboyant Makeup

Grooms jackets – Kingdom Kilts 

Signs- The Little Dressing Company 

Reflections on a busy year and a sweet gem of a Scottish wedding

It’s been a wild and wonderful wedding season with ceremonies up mountains, in historic castles, on beaches and by riversides, in boutique hotels, cosy homes and magical family gardens. Some have been grand and elegant, laugh-while-you-weep-funny, some quietly romantic, some gentle and loving. We’ve heard music, sang songs, sipped toasts, blessed rings and read poetry. We’ve shared stories, mixed petals, tied ribbons, placed stones and lit candles. Every ceremony has sung of the personalities, beliefs and wishes of those involved.

As I coorie in towards the winter months, I feel so grateful to be invited to help shape these moments, to be trusted to hold space in this way, and to be able to enjoy time with wonderful families. Now that the season is slowing, I’m looking forward to sharing, with the kind permission of the couples involved, some of the details of this year’s ceremonies. Starting with Laura and Phil’s sweet gem of a May wedding …

When I was on my way home the other night, I saw an elderly couple walking along eating ice creams together. It was such a small thing but it made me realise how I wanted that for us both –  and not just because I wanted ice cream! You are the one I want to share these lovely small moments with because with you they feel like big moments in which we can share.

Laura and Phil
Solen Collet Photography

Laura and Phil’s ceremony in the heart of Leith was romantic, funny, and thoughtful. Their wish was for a “no fuss, simple, romantic” ceremony with a close circle of their friends and family that spoke of their love and togetherness.

Solen Collet Photography

The ceremony took place in a beautifully decorated room at the No11 Brunswick Hotel close to where they live. We shared the story of how these two unassuming people had been enjoying each other’s company so much that they fell into life together. We heard how they complement each other brilliantly and share the same outlook on life, both valuing the small, everyday things that bring them such joy.

Solen Collet Photography

Two of their dearest friends read a poem and played gorgeous music. We were all held by the simple intimacy and quiet authenticity of Phil and Laura’s ceremony – it was beautiful.

Solen Collet Photography

There wasn’t a dry eye in the gathering as Laura and Phil exchanged personal vows then gifted each other a ring.

Solen Collet Photography

They made their Marriage Vows to each other with a traditional Handfasting with two woven cords that held important symbolism for them both. The purple cord representing the Highlands where Laura grew up and a special place for them both. The teal cord presenting their love of holidaying by the sea.

Solen Collet Photography

As they tied their Eternity Knot, it was my pleasure to declare Phil and Laura married to the delighted cheers and happy tears of their family and friends.

Solen Collet Photography

So much love and congratulations to you both, Laura and Phil. Thank you so much for trusting me to be your celebrant and for sharing these gorgeous details of your day with us all. May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the beautiful walks, tea and cake, and happiness you could wish for.

Solen Collet Photography

Thank you to Solen Collet Photography for sharing these lovely photos.

A Wedding Celebration in the heart of East Lothian

A wedding is made up of so many beautiful moments. Emily and Steven’s ceremony at Colstoun House in East Lothian was a perfect blend of quiet reflection, deep connection, hilarity and sentiment. Being of different faiths, it was important to them both that they make their life promises to each other in a shared ceremony that reflected and respected their combined beliefs and values. Steven and Emily had chosen to make their legal Marriage declarations to one another in a Catholic ceremony the following day. Their gathering amidst the flowers in the garden at Colstoun was a celebration of their love involving all those closest to them. And it was gorgeous.

Claire Fleck Photography

As the ceremony began, just before Emily walked up their wedding aisle, two butterflies fluttered about the guests seated on the front rows. We all delighted as the butterflies landed softly on the chairs, the song sheets, the guests. It felt poignant that these two kind-hearted people who care so deeply about the environment should be blessed by nature on their wedding day. And, as the ceremony progressed, we were held by the gentle hum of the bees buzzing about the polytunnel and the occasional gust of birdsong from nearby trees.

Claire Fleck Photography

We heard the brilliant story of how Emily and Steven first found each other. We reflected on all that had brought them to be standing together on their wedding day. A friend gave an excellent speech which made us all laugh and cry.

Claire Fleck Photography

We sang a hymn to gather everyone into the space and we talked about love. We heard the magical story of Steven’s proposal to Emily on a boat in the Mediterranean under a sky full of stars. We spoke of their hopes and dreams for the future.

Claire Fleck Photography

Emily, I promise to always look at the moon with you when you shout “WOW LOOK AT THE MOON!” 

To always take time to dance with you in the kitchen 

You might not be the best at directions but you are always there to navigate me through life and support me in everything I do. It doesn’t matter about the destination because being with you feels like home. 

Steven, I promise to be there for you in times of sorrow, including when you’re sobbing hysterically at Christmas movies

I promise to join you each time you break into dance

I promise to not only grow old together, but to grow together… and when the day comes that we’re old, I promise to look at you with the same eyes and same heart as I do right now.

Steven and Emily’s vows were personal, fun, heartfelt and unique. There wasn’t a dry eye in the garden as we witnessed them sharing their loving words and gifting one another a ring. It was my honour to declare these two brilliant people married to the whistles and cheers of their family and friends.

The ceremony concluded with a Quaich toast led by Emily’s cousin. It involved a healthy dash of Frangelico – a drink Steven and Emily both love and that they enjoyed during their dating days – and, of course, the best men all shared a sip too!

Claire Fleck Photography

Whenever I meet up with celebrant friends we often talk about the importance of the couple being truly present in their ceremony. It’s such an emotional day, it’s easy to understand how the hype and the logistics might become the focus. What really matters though is being present for each other, knowing you are surrounded by people who love and care deeply for you, being able to connect with the words and rituals shared. We all felt it at Emily and Steven’s ceremony: a relaxed lightness, their deep connection and so, so much love. It was an honour and a privilege to be part of their beautiful day.

Emily and Steven, thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. Here’s wishing you many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the great walks, sunset paddle boarding, and happiness you could hope for. Congratulations!

Thanks also to Claire Fleck Photography for these stunning photos.

Claire Fleck Photography

A peaceful, windswept Scottish beach wedding

“From the beginning, our relationship has felt right and peaceful and like coming home.”

Emily and Jo
Silvya Palladino Photography

Jo and Emily made their Marriage promises to each other close to the beautiful, windswept Lunan Bay in Angus. It was a day of tropical winds, poetry and connection, flowers and laughter. In an intimate gathering of their closest friends and family, we celebrated these two wonderful people.

To open the ceremony, a family member shared Mary Oliver’s timeless poem, Wild Geese; a poem that has special meaning to Emily and Jo as it reminds them of another beautiful day when they were walking at Lunan Bay, and they saw a huge V of geese flying overhead.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things

Mary Oliver
Silvya Palladino Photography

Emily and Jo chose to include an Oathing Stone ritual in their ceremony in honour of the ancient Celtic belief that vows made in the presence of water and stone are especially binding, and also as a nod to the windowsills full of stones that they have at home, having pocketed them on their adventures together.

Silvya Palladino Photography

Holding the stone in their joined hands, they reflected on the journey that has brought them to be where they are today. They placed the stone on the earth close to them, as is tradition, then Jo shared a reading she had chosen especially for Emily from “I like you” by Sandol Stoddart Worburg.

Silvya Palladino Photography

I like you because

I don’t know why but 

Everything that happens 

Is nicer with you 

I will go on choosing you

And you will 

Go on choosing me 

Over and over again 

An extract of “I like you” by  Sandol Stoddart Worburg

We talked of love and connection and the values Jo and Emily both hold dear to their hearts. We shared insights into how brilliantly they complement one another, and what Marriage means to them both. Then Jo and Emily made shared promises and, as they made their Marriage Vows to one another, they gifted each other rings.

Silvya Palladino Photography

As the tropical storm picked up around us, it was my honour to declare Emily and Jo married to the whoops and cheers of their family and friends. The ceremony closed with a reading by Emily’s mum, Liz; A Blessing for a Wedding by Jane Hirschfield. The whole event was gorgeous and so perfect for these two nature-loving, kind-hearted, creative people.

When I asked you what the spirit of your relationship is, you told me that your relationship is grounded and peaceful. Your love feels very simple, which makes your relationship feel simple too. It feels uncomplicated and natural. You have a good time together, whatever you are doing. 

So much love to you both, Jo and Emily. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. I absolutely loved being your celebrant. Wishing you many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the star-gazing, sea-dipping and picnics you could hope for.

Silvya Palladino Photography

Thank you to Silvya Palladino Photography for the glorious photos.

An elegant, romantic Scottish wedding

“This is it, this is what the entire world is after and you’ve stumbled upon it by chance, by accident – so take a deep breath, take a step forward, now run, collide like planets in the system of a dying sun, embrace each other with both arms and let all the rules, the opinions and common sense crash down around you. Because this is love.”

Beau Taplin
Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Fiona and Tim affirmed their love to one another on a sunny May day in an elegant, traditional ceremony at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. The gardens were resplendent in bloom. We filled the Caledonian Hall with love, stories, music and laughter.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

I promise to give you my all in everything we do, as you are the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Tim and Fiona made personal promises and gifted each other rings. They chose each other in Marriage to the delighted cheers of their family and friends. 

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Fiona shared with me when we were planning their ceremony that there had been a point, early in their relationship, where she was worried she and Tim had such different personalities that it could surely never work. They both realised very quickly that their differences are what actually make it work.

They’ve grown as people as they’ve grown closer. And they’ve expanded each other’s horizons. Or rather, to quote Tim, “Fiona’s more into sport now and I definitely watch more musicals.” Hearing the sweet, funny story of how these two brilliant people found each other and fell into life together was so heartwarming.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

After the ceremony, Tim’s dad told me “that was really special.” And it really was so personal and fun. The joy was palpable as we all witnessed Fiona and Tim, who met on the dance floor, dance into their married future together. 

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Congratulations Tim and Fiona! Wishing you a future filled with musicals, Percy Pigs, road trips and all the happiness and adventure you could wish for in your lives together. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for choosing to share these sweet details with us all.

Thank you to the wonderful Nikki Leadbetter for the beautiful photos.

“We Still Do!” A romantic Scottish Vow Renewal

You have my heart and soul and I’m so happy to share the rest of our lives together. 

A lifetime to love and hold you is my only wish, my love for you is forever.

Shawnie and Dan

When Shawnie and Dan first contacted me to plan their elopement Vow Renewal ceremony it was immediately clear that theirs would be an incredibly special day. Scotland had been a place Shawnie had longed to visit for most of her life, for “the beauty, the tradition and the romance.” It took overcoming her fear of flying for her to brave the long journey from California with Dan by her side. In Shawnie’s words, “it was worth it to visit the most beautiful country in the world.”

Dan and Shawnie’s Vow Renewal was a celebration of 15 years of marriage, 20 years together, and many joyful years of family life. Their ceremony, in a quiet room at the historic Shieldhill Castle, was gentle, loving and relaxed. It was such a pleasure to hold space for these two high school sweethearts who have been through so much together and who clearly have a great time whatever they do.

Dan and Shawnie first met when Shawnie was in Sophomore year and Dan was just out of high school. It was at a memorable high school dance that they fell in love, and they have been together ever since. Now they live in their beautiful home together in Fortuna by the river and the redwoods with their four children and two sweet dogs. Over the years, they’ve supported each other through life’s challenges and made the most of their time together, treasuring the small everyday moments with their singing, trumpet-playing, roller-skating, hilarious, thoughtful children and the happy chaos of their home. In their words, “We wouldn’t ever change a thing.” 

We opened the ceremony with an Oathing Stone ritual with Dan and Shawnie both placing their hands on the stone as they reflected on all that had brought them to be where they are today. In ancient Celtic belief, vows made by stone and water are said to be more binding. They placed their Oathing Stone close to them as is tradition – next to their handmade “We still do!” sign.

We reflected on memorable moments of their time together – the fun, the hard, the beautiful and the brilliant. I made up scrolls for Shawnie and Dan to share heartfelt words with each other that they had kept secret until the day. They gifted each other a ring.

Shawnie and Dan affirmed their love with a traditional Handfasting, the plaited ribbons symbolising their love and connection and their family.

Do you affirm your commitment to your constant friend, your partner in life and your one true love? 

Do you promise to love them without reservation,

Honour and respect them, 

Protect them from harm,

Comfort them in times of distress, 

And to grow with them in mind and spirit

For all your many years to come?

It was my honour to affirm their commitment and to declare them again as life partners.

There are so many reasons to consider renewing vows. Perhaps it’s an anniversary, a chance to honour the completion of your family, a moment to celebrate overcoming hardship, or an opportunity to declare your love in the presence of family and friends. Whatever the reason, a Vow Renewal ceremony is a beautiful opportunity to pause, to reflect on your journey as a couple so far, to acknowledge all that you have achieved together, and to renew your Marriage vows and set your intentions for the coming years. 

Witnessing Dan and Shawnie slow dance after the ceremony – just the two of them dancing together overlooking the beautiful South Lanarkshire countryside – made me appreciate again how important it is that we savour these moments, that we remember to pause, to reflect, to give thanks for all that we have and all that we are. Dan and Shawnie’s Vow Renewal ceremony was gorgeous and I am so happy for this wonderful couple and their lively, entertaining, joyful family.

Congratulations to you both, Dan and Shawnie! Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for sharing these lovely details of your day. It was a pleasure and an honour being your celebrant and I look forward to welcoming you to Scotland again in the future.

It was super to meet Jonathan and Claire from Love Weddings and Film. Thank you for these stunning photos.