Wild weddings – marrying in the Scottish countryside
In Scotland, unlike other countries, we’re blessed with the opportunity to get married just about anywhere, from a totally dreamy snow-topped mountain to a remote beach where white sand stretches for miles.
All you need is the love of your life, 29 days’ notice (more on the legal bits later) and the dream team that’ll bring your idea to life.
Talking of suppliers that are totally here for adventurous nuptials, Joy Story’s photographer Sarah Craig is part of Wee Wild Weddings, a collective with everything you need to say ‘I do’ in the quirkiest of places.
We’re talking celebrant, hair and make-up, live streaming and even the option of a fully styled luxury picnic – ideal if you’ve had a bit of a hike to get to your ceremony spot!
“I love that people can get married literally anywhere in Scotland. It’s what makes us so unique,” smiles Sarah.
“There are so many spots to choose from but I always say the background and the weather (there are always breaks in the rain and places to shelter) are never as important as a positive mental attitude.
“Just enjoy yourselves and whatever happens, go with the flow.
“I had an outdoor elopement in sideways torrential rain once, and the couple and their kids laughed the whole way through it.”
At Fern Photography (where nothing is too much to ask and they’ve even been wild swimming in the North Sea to capture a couple’s big day) Matt Dale loves photographing wild weddings because they give a couple the opportunity to say ‘I do’ in the place they love the most.
“If they have a special place they like to take the dog, went often as a child, had a first date or proposed, they can continue to remember it as their wedding venue too.
“The outdoors is unpredictably wild and wildlife such as deer, eagles or peacocks may turn up at your wedding!” he adds.
Meet just some of the couples who’ve opted for a wild wedding….
Just you, your celebrant and your promises
USA-based Megan Schmidt and Dustin Campbell eloped in the snows of Glencoe in a ceremony conducted by Tim Maguire of Celebrate People and photographed by The Kitcheners.
“We knew early on that we wanted it to be just the two of us – romantic, intimate and some sort of adventure.
“Scotland was on our bucket list, Dustin has some Scottish ancestry and we learned we could legally marry just about anywhere in the whole country!
“In our meetings with Tim and our photographer, Dylan, we knew Glencoe would be the secluded venue of our dreams but, even on the day, we didn’t know the exact ceremony location.
“We trusted in them when they said to keep climbing and it was worth it. The spot at the Three Sisters was gorgeous.
“The sun was shining, the mountains were pretty with snow and there were wild deer running below us.
“We incorporated a handfasting poem, read our own vows and got photos in some of the beautiful spots.
“For dinner we had a spectacular meal and unique experience at Michel Roux Jr.’s Seasgair restaurant in Inverlochy Castle before returning to our rented home in Glencoe.
“It was such a beautiful, carefree day.
“Many couples who have traditional weddings say it goes by in a blur but that wasn’t the case with our elopement.
“We remember every second and that’s exactly how we wanted it.
“For others planning a destination wedding like ours we’d recommend not scheduling the ceremony at the start of the trip (in case of sickness or travel delays) and making sure you have all the paperwork in place as soon as possible.
You, me and a puffinry
Gem Smith and Pete Townsend told Gail Brack of Humanist Society Scotland they wanted to marry amongst puffins on one of the uninhabited Treshnish Isles. Photos by Mairi Fleck Photography
“The pair of us are quite private – ask us a question and we will be happy to talk your ear off but we don’t like shouting for the world to hear.
“We both completely avoid social media and while we enjoy a party, we dislike being centre of attention.
“For this reason (and the fact that we feel traditions are largely outdated) we quickly realised we wanted a small, intimate elopement.
“We struggled for a long time to find something that felt right – a castle was a bit OTT and being on top of a mountain didn’t really have any connection for us.
“We got this idea when we were visiting Pete’s very-good-for-93 grandfather.
“He was telling us about his travels and adventures, highlighting a boat trip to the Isle of Staffa where he saw friendly puffins who waddled around and played with his shoelaces.
“As nature lovers with a particular fondness for puffins, we glanced at each other and realised he had just provided us with our perfect venue for our runaway wedding.”
Snowy Scottish scenes
Lancashire couple Emma Coster and Karl Eastham braved the 12-hour drive to say ‘I do’ with Paul Browett of Fuze Ceremonies at Eagle Brae log village resort, near Struy.
“We wanted an intimate, fuss-free day with no rules or expectations and invited 20 guests, which included three dogs.
“At one point, though, we thought it would be just us due to the weather.
“But that really wouldn’t have mattered as we were prepared for a largely unplanned, go with the flow-type wedding.
“We booked for December (after the locals telling us it never snows at that time of year) and, travelling up to Scotland three days before to register our intention to marry, it snowed!
“The track to the cabins was undriveable so we were collected – complete with luggage, outfits and a big golden retriever – in the back of a John Deere truck, and our food, alcohol and guests arrived the same way!
“The morning of the wedding everyone sledged while we added poinsettia to the cabin steps and fairy lights to the stairs inside.
“We didn’t need any other décor because the scenery, snow and wildlife spoke for itself.
“Paul hired a 4×4 to get to us then walked a mile up the hill, appearing like a vision through the foggy snow to marry us – what a star!
“Our ceremony was out on the cabin decking overlooking a river and mountain with deer at the side.
“Afterwards, food was served in another cabin so it was back in the John Deere for the grandparents with everyone else trudging through the snow to get there – and later stumbling, slipping and falling en route back to their homes for the night.
“It turned out wildly magical.”
The love boat
after falling for Scotland, French couple Camille Welfringer and Yannick Granjon chose to say their vows at Loch Coruisk on Skye. They sailed there from Elgol with Alan Barr of Independent Humanist Ceremonies and photographer Penny Hardie.
“We decided to have the celebration on Loch Coruisk and drinks at Eilean Donan Castle (it was amazing to have such a beautiful castle just for us).
“We knew it would be very different from a ‘regular’ wedding but this is what attracted us – getting married in Scotland was, for us, the best expression of liberty.
“Everything was possible; the only limits being our own dreams.
“The idea to have a ceremony outside on the shore of a loch was special to us and taking a boat to get there added some magic to the moment.
“Sharing this with our families and dog, surrounded by nothing but nature, was truly what we were dreaming of.
“If we were to give advice to couples who would like to do the same, we would tell them to dream big and dare to do it because it is truly an unforgettable experience.
“It is also important to have a good team to make it all possible.
“Alan prepared a lovely, meaningful text for the ceremony; Penny Hardie took amazing pictures we will keep forever; Grant MacLeod (The Munro Bagpiper) played our favourite music and Gabrielle Plasman organised all of it perfectly.
“She gave us precious advice and found everything we needed – there was no challenge that couldn’t be overcome.
“We are so happy with the way our wedding took place.
“It was perfect for us and will remain one of the happiest days of our lives.”