Written by photographer Christopher Lewis
As photographers ourselves finding someone to photograph our wedding was something we needed to get right. Our own style is very informal and based around storytelling, so we wanted to reflect that. We decided that as we have photographed a lot of venues in and around the north west of England, our big day had to be different. Knowing that ceremonies can take place ANYWHERE in Scotland (meaning no venue is needed) we wanted to first find a suitable location to tie the knot. Instagram was a good source of ideas for Scottish elopements, and as we searched for ‘where’, we also found ‘who’.
Our hearts are in Scotland, and we love that the Highlands represents majestic beauty and history in the mountains, and amazing views. Glencoe was only 6 hours away from our home in Bolton, so it was a fair drive, but completely do-able. Deciding on a photographer was the hard part for us, as we wanted to make sure we clicked with them, as well as respecting and loving their art. Photography is a big part of our lives and who we are, and wasn’t a decision we could take lightly. Neil Thomas Douglas’ images kept popping up as having shot in the area, and his ‘wee wedding’ package suited us down to the ground, as there were to be no guests, just us and the celebrant. Neil’s style is exactly what we were looking for, so we arranged to meet up with him in Glasgow while we were having a trip up there. After a chat about the kind of weddings he has done, we were certain about booking him.
The next stop was a celebrant for our wedding. As there would be no venue, we elected to have a humanist to conduct our ceremony. This is someone who was as important to our wedding as the photographer, as we needed to have things completely our way. Writing our own vows and keeping that personal touch was necessary, and through Facebook we found Claire. She had conducted many weddings before ours, and her Facebook page gave us an insight into the kind of couples who had hired her; she was daft as a brush, and right up our street. We had a Skype conversation with Claire once we had booked her, so we could get to know her a little bit more, and let her in on a few of our quirks too! She sent us ‘homework’ to complete so that she could write our ceremony.
The rest of the planning seemed simple; we needed to dress ourselves. Victoria chose her dress with only 11 days to go! Due to the time restrictions, she chose her dress off-the-peg and used an alteration shop to tailor it to make sure it was perfect. My suit was from Marc Darcy, and suited my style and the mood of our wedding. We wanted a fuss-free wedding, and we know that brides and grooms can get a little lost in the planning, but our advice is to do what YOU want to do, don’t succumb to traditions and trends because its expected. The fun of our wedding was to keep it personal and do what we wanted to. The planning was really easy for us; our Manchester reception would prove to be a lot more difficult.
The week before the wedding we had to drive to Fort William to collect our paperwork to allow us to get married. This was the local government who would be registering our marriage and making it legal. It also gave us opportunity to check out the place we had chosen, which was a short drive away from Fort William. The setting for our wedding was a movie set too, for the James Bond film Skyfall – but it was the backdrop of the mountains that stole our hearts. The sun was shining when we saw our ‘venue’ for the first time, and, unluckily – the road was being resurfaced, and with it being the only road through the area, we knew that if the work was to continue, this might put a stopper on this being the wedding location. After some investigation, we were confident that our wedding would go ahead without a hitch.
That week took an unexpected turn; Neil called and asked whether we would like to have videography as part of our day. Having recently started working with our own videographers at Sky Weddings, we knew that having a movie of our day is a modern necessity. The boys from Cinemate films in Glasgow got in touch with us and told us their ideas for what they could contribute to our day. Following a very similar style to Neil and ourselves, a storytelling approach to our wedding was very important, as well as capturing the beautiful Scottish mountains.
We couldn’t wait to have our day filmed.
We drove up to Scotland the day after I had shot a wedding, and the day before ours. A nearby hotel gave us our bed for the night, and a lovely steak in the restaurant next door. It would be an early start for us the next day! I sipped my all-time favourite whisky that night; The Macallan Gold.
The following day Victoria was awake super early, which made a massive change! After a morning cuddle, we had showers and set about getting ready. Neil and Fiona, ourphotographers (and witnesses), and Simon and Gregg gave a knock on the door. After a quick introduction, I got my suit on while Victoria did her own make-up. The morning was super relaxed and as we chatted away between ourselves, Neil captured our smiles. I know its traditional to not see the bride on the morning of the wedding, but we wanted each other to be involved with the morning, even down to lacing up the dress for her. When she turned around to show me, it all became real. I had never seen her look so beautiful, and the dress was epic. Perfect for our Scottish elopement, the dress didn’t reach the floor, and she was able to wear the ‘wedding wellies’ I had gotten her; I knew she needed them on this drizzly morning. The team went ahead of us to meet Claire the Humanist while we finished our last minute preparations.
Claire was as lovely as we imagined. After a couple of quick snaps involving the local stag, we headed off through the mountains on our adventure. The winding roads led us to our ceremony, and the beauty of the mountains had us in silence while driving to the ‘Skyfall’ spot. Arriving at the destination was exciting, overwhelming, and just perfect. The ceremony was everything we planned, the words and the tone were spot on. We’re glad we had the wedding video too, and every time we watch the sneak peek it brings back Claire’s words to me. It rained, tipped it down in fact, but it added to the emotion. It was so different to the sunshine of the week before, but we preferred the realness and raw quality to our day, if it rains, it rains. We knew that heavy rain may stop us from standing outside for a long time, but breaks in the rain and an awesome little pub for our wedding breakfast meant that we could dry off and go back out shortly after.
Neil’s photography was breathtaking, and he shot with us right up until the light died. It was everything we needed it to be, from the locations we chose, the ones we found by accident and the adventure we went on that day. I loved our wedding because it’s not a carbon copy of anything else I have ever experienced, it was just ‘us’, and just perfect. We have since received our images and we’re now planning our wedding album. Having something printed means a lot to us, it’s not just on an online gallery, but it is something we can look at every day, and re-live every single moment.
My advice to planning brides and grooms is to do it your way, and not stress over the tiny details. Your wedding day is yours alone, and if you’re an adventurous couple, consider an elopement – experience the raw emotion of getting married, then celebrate with your friends and family afterwards. Initially my mum, and Vic’s dad were sceptical, but they came around to the idea and knew that our wedding needed to be that way. It was beautiful, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Thank you to Neil Thomas Douglas Photography
(www.neilthomasdouglas.com) for supplying these stunning images.