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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.