Let's run away to Scotland

10/05/2015 06:01:00 pm

All my friends are turning 30, and having children and getting married. A few months back, I decided that I also wanted to get married (not so much the turning 30 and having children part), and Rob agreed once I told him that yes, he could definitely wear a kilt. 

Sadly, he changed his mind about the kilt, but after I showed him some photos of the Isle of Skye, he was totally on board with the idea of eloping in Scotland. Outside, in the nature, far away from the stress of a Wedding. 

The road to Skye - Such nature - Wow!

I never imagined a white wedding. Actually, until Pinterest came along, with its insidious bouquet and cake porn, hay bales, mismatched country roses china, and the hashtags #vintage, #rustic and #dessertbuffet, I never imagined a wedding at all. Pinterest is a gateway drug.

Weddings generally come with things that introverted hermits such as myself and Rob do not enjoy. And also, I guess we're selfish? Things that are not enjoyable:
  • crowds
  • speaking in front of and/or walking in front of crowds
  • parties that drag on and on, with speeches 
  • awkward speeches
  • awkward family interactions, navigation of which require a degree of political delicacy that I lack
  • staged photos
  • big events 
  • spending huge amounts of money on one day which is all about other people and no one will be satisfied anyway
  • expressing emotion in front of other people
  • other people, for the most part

What I'm saying is, elopement was a Good Life Idea.

Things you need to elope in Scotland (essential items):
  • A visa (if you are not a UK citizen, or if, as in our case, one of you is a UK citizen). 
    • No sham marriages allowed. This does take some of the spontaneity out of it but the laws in Scotland have changed, and the UK in general has become more restrictive about overseas nationals marrying (though it makes little sense why two Australian nationals would require a visa, when marriage entitles you to nothing from the country). I had to supply a lot of documentation to convince Her Majesty's Department of Immigration that I was not intent on staying in the UK... even though in normal circumstances I would be able to enter and stay for 3 months with no paperwork at all. Six months' worth of pay slips and bank statements, some retina scans and two appointments at the visa processing centre in the city later,  my passport returned from its little trip to Manilla with an actual paper visa inside.  At least it's a nice memento?
  • A registrar or other suitably qualified person. 
    • I tried to organise a humanist or non-denominational celebrant on Skye, but they were both booked up already. They offered a couple of alternatives, but it was for people not located on Skye, so that would have meant paying for travel costs in addition to the ceremony and marriage fees. It turned out fine though, because the Highland Council has an office in Broadford, not far from where we stayed, and for a very small fee the registrar  came to us.  It would have been different if we felt really strongly about the vows, but we wanted basic, with no input required. We wanted a standard script, and that is what we got. 
  • Two witnesses. 
    • At first, we had thought to have witnesses from home, but it was too hard, and we decided later, that we were less likely to upset people if there was no one.  So our witnesses were our awesome photographer, and the manager of the hotel. Good decision us.
Tick tick tick. That's the sound of boxes being ticked. 
Things I wanted to have, if eloping in Scotland (non-essential from a legal perspective):
  • Amazing photos. I figured that if there was no one else there, and the photos were all we would have to show for it, then they should be awesome. Tick.
  • A great hotel, with a fabulous restaurant. It's pretty much the ceremony, reception and honeymoon in one, so we decided to go all out. Also, I was looking for somewhere remote, so when I found a place that is literally on the edge of a sea loch (with a Michelin starred restaurant), I was sold. 
  • Awesome dress, suitable for squashing in the bottom of a backpack. 
  • Good weather. Or bad weather. You know... photos. 

We left London Euston station on Tuesday evening, travelling on the Caledonian Sleeper. The train was much more comfortable than I was expecting, my only previous experience of an overnight train being the 16 hour trip, in a seat, in Sweden. We had a standard cabin, which has a little sink (it took us a while to figure out that it is actually underneath the table), two bunks, and was just wide enough to fit our backpacks. The only time I really woke during the night was at Edinburgh, when they change the engine on the train. There's a lot of clanking and banging, but the amenities pack comes with earplugs... It's an easy way to travel, I just wish I'd realised that, unlike in Australia, all the bus and rail prices in the UK increase dramatically as the date of travel gets closer. Live and learn.

Scottish Highlands
Thanks to jet-lag, early sunrise and pancreatitis I was awake at 4am. From about 6am, we parked ourselves in the dining car hoping to charge our phones and get a snack. Sadly, neither was to be as the power points were dominated by two entitled older couples charging about 8 devices each, and the dining car was completely out of bacon and egg rolls.

The view from the window was amazing though.

Some mountains and logging (lots of logging, everywhere, actually)
There's no wifi on the train, either. Not sure why I thought there would be, but lots of trains and buses we travelled on throughout the UK had free internet. I was unable to instagram, which..you know... how will my many followers know that it actually happened?

Another mountain. Maybe by Scottish standards just a hill. 

In Fort William we picked up our hire car and set off for Skye. Wow. More nature. More mountains and water and ancient monuments. It was starting to get overwhelming. For me at least. Rob was driving, and the road was windy with very terrifying overtaking sections, so he didn't see much. Sorry Rob!
Eilean Donan Castle - We didn't go in because it was PACKED full of other people, and per the above, we don't really like being around other people.

The Cuillins.. I think? I don't know. A big and prominent mountain range on Skye. 

We met the registrar and photographer, and made some plans for the following day, then drove out to Kinloch Lodge. We had some important stuff to do, like find a place to get married and pick some grass.
I made the silk flowers myself, because I have very little actual life and so have the time and inclination to do such things. We found a florist on Skye and I bought some filler, and some leaves, and then when we went for our location-scouting walk that afternoon I picked as much purple grass as I could find. Hilariously, by the following morning, the grass had dried somewhat, and so whilst photos of my dress were being taken in the bathroom (good light), I was standing over the bathtub, with my hair and my face all done up noice, thwacking the bouquet repeatedly to try and dislodge the seeds. The bath tub looked like the scene of a massacre of a million tiny bugs. 

The nature - Loch na Dal - Isle of Skye

We decided on the rock at the far end of a stony beach on Loch na Dal. It meant walking through some boggy ground in a floor length dress and ballet flats, but whatever. It was far from the main house, far from civilisation, and far out in the natures. Exactly what we had wanted. And something magical happened on those two days on Skye: no rain or midges! Magic.
Such foods. In retrospect, my pancreas was causing problems even at this stage of the game, and so I didn't enjoy gorging myself to the full extent. I am also someone who went to Quay and didn't eat a Snow Egg though, so it's not surprising that I didn't take full advantage of the experience. Rob is steak and vege man, so he just goes along for the ride. 

We ate (at the Chef's Table), we drank (bad for the pancreas), we slept in a giant puffy bed. And then the following day we got married and walked for 30 minutes through a valley and some peat marsh in our fancy clothes and stupid shoes to take awesome photos.

And it was great.

Photo by Love Skye Photography

A note about photos: all of the photos in this post, with the exception of the last one, are taken by me. Normally I wouldn't bother with a photo credit statement since the only time someone stole one of my photos it was a terrible picture and it was of gingerbread. It's more that I would like to give credit where it's due to Love Skye Photography who took our actual wedding photos, (ie. the good ones) , one of which is here, and the rest which I'm going to share in a later post. 

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