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.

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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.

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