“The mountains whisper and we run to them, wild, free and tangled in love.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Thank you to Raini Rowell for the fun and the photos.