Where to even begin….sheesh! I have gone through all the BEAUTIFUL moments of our wedding day in Scotland and spent hours meticulously deciding which ones to share. Now…to try to put into words all the feelings and meaning these images hold for us!
Fairytales aren’t always full of the level of depth and emotion that comes with real life, so I use that term loosely. When I grew up, I was just like most of you lovely women in the world, dreaming of the day I would get married. Yet, being a wedding photographer that image was never fully painted and there was much of the picture to still be drawn in….the man, the setting, the dress, the details, the feelings, etc. In the end, the word “fairytale” (used to describe so many weddings), evolved to be something more beautiful than I could have imagined, encompassing so much visceral emotion. How you ask?! Let me explain!
After getting engaged in Iceland (see story : How He Asked // Green Wedding Shoes ), we packed up our life in San Francisco, got a puppy, drove up the coast, and unpacked in Seattle :). Our next exciting adventure was planning our wedding!
Deciding where to have the wedding was no easy feat, as Kevin and I are both from Texas and have family and friends all spread out from east coast to west. All we really knew was that we wanted something very intimate; centered around people we love, good food, and being in a beautiful remote place. Italy, France, Greece, Patagonia and many other destinations were discussed. Eventually, Scotland was thrown into the mix. Kevin loved the idea of Scotland and soon I fell in love with it too. DUH, I love the rain, and wanted a long sleeve wedding gown, so Scotland was more than fitting. My only hesitation was finding an airy/clean venue, as the Scots do love their flannel patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I love it as well, but my photographer’s eye leans toward well lit places that offer a timeless look.
I began researching venues and stumbled upon the most adorable white chimney Michelin-starred restaurant in the middle of Scotland’s Isle of Skye. It even had an attached house for guests and our reception. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and just open your french doors to rolling hills of green and mystical rock structures?! A few emails later, we had set a date with The Three Chimney’s! I will share more in another post about the process in picking our AMAZING vendors and friends/artists involved, aesthetic/planning, and behind the scenes :).
Fast forward to April, the count down to getting married in Scotland had begun! It had been a busy couple of months work-wise for Kevin and I. I think I crash edited 10 weddings in the month of May all while trying to juggle finishing our last minute wedding details. Work had taken Kevin back and forth from Seattle to San Francisco those last few months prior as well. We waved hello on passing flights as I flew to San Francisco to celebrate a bachelorette weekend with my friends Jamie & Sahra, and Kevin flew back to Seattle. Little did I know after that amazing weekend in Napa with the ladies, a series of hurdles health wise would unfold the month before we would get married. Remember when I said the word “fairytale” evolved and I’d tell you just how?! Well, as promised I am going to try to share how these hurdles made our wedding even more meaningful than I ever thought it could be.
Kevin began to feel ill and fatigued in the months leading up to the wedding. He and I have faced a lot of roller coaster moments together throughout the years of long-distance dating. He had become the other half of me in every sense of the word. So when your person hurts, you hurt. Blood tests, multiple doctor’s visits, and still answers were not super clear. Trying to handle health decisions together taught us A) how much we were terrified of life without the other person, and B) it’s freaking hard to agree on the approach to gaining health answers!
We had many after appointment breakfasts’ laughing while simultaneously crying and holding hands over the table. I toggled back and forth between helping him and trying to plan the rest of what I could so Kevin could focus on feeling more himself. Thankfully his mom, brother, and my mom came to Seattle to be with us. Their helping hands and support literally brought tears during that time, and still does when I look back. Kevin had never experienced anything like this before, and a month out we were still confused and entirely frustrated with the yearning to just be happy and enjoy this time! Somewhere in the whirlwind of the days that unfolded, I found out that I needed two moles removed. I think my capacity to handle anything more had dissipated, so I opted to just get them out that day ;/. We became quite the pair as they did not heal properly, and I had open wounds that I was now treating as well. FUN TIMES, right?!!? Emotions were running on all cylinders. During these days, we questioned whether certain health issues would prevent us from getting to our own wedding. Mine was obviously not the crucial one, but who ever dreamed of being in their wedding dress while covering up their wounds too? Not this girl! Facing all these hurdles had become an emotional feat we were utterly determined to crush. Life ensued all around us, and our friends loved us so well during this season. We celebrated, cried, held hands through it all…no words can describe how much we are thankful for each person that walked through it with us. I remember a tearful late-night conversation when Kevin said, “We will make it to our wedding, Babe. Don’t worry”. We both felt a bit alone, him with his health and me with planning things solo. I began to hate that this was happening and felt robbed of joy. I never imagined this as part of our story. The days leading up to our wedding had been fast and furious with finishing up errands and packing up. My dress alterations were perfected and completed the night before leaving the country at 1 am, so I packed and repacked and checked and rechecked Kevin’s packing too. Of course, what is a good woman if not to check their man’s packing too ;). Two hours of sleep later and finally the day to fly out had arrived.
After a much needed layover relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, we landed in London and proceeded to try our hand at driving UK style straight through downtown London. Thankfully we made it out alive and unscathed. Terence & Derryn, our videographers who became good friends, hopped in with us from London and we made the incredible journey to Skye. I will have to recap the before images I took to give you more detail on just how mesmerizing the scenery was around us. I fell asleep on the winding roads, while the rain drops trickled down the windows and awoke to the castle of Eileen Donan. The history, fog hanging low, and the friends surrounding us….we knew then and there that we did not F this one up (sorry mom, but you get it now too huh?!?! 😉 ). It was even more beautiful in person than we ever imagined. Suddenly, the things we faced didn’t sit in the forefront of our minds, it made us appreciate where we were and the beauty before us all the more, because holy crap “we are getting married by a castle, babe” and “in a fairy glen”. Fog and sunset gently took over as we continued on to The Three Chimney’s. Houses upon houses of white appeared and disappeared over the rolling hills, lush inlets, and green landscapes. No matter how tired from travel and the 8 hour difference, my eyes and heart were at peace and taking in everything before darkness ensued. Alas, we had made it to the land of Scottish accents, and to the most enchanting room at The House Over-By (part of Three Chimneys).
The light in Skye hangs for around 17 hours in the month of June. It is golden, a natural softbox, and incredible. Can you say photographer’s heaven?!?! I about died even thinking of not having a camera on me in this beautiful place. Shhh don’t mind me in my wedding gown just snapping some photos….cue hidden compartment in my dress lol. Just kidding- I promised Kevs I’d let our talented people take over on photos and just be there. The days of celebration with our friends and family were the most joyous days and moments of my life thus far. It was not perfect in the way of no hitches went off, as GPS is very necessary to finding “7 Greep” and not getting lost on your wedding day lol. But it was the best kind of perfect. Our friends held us up, made breakfast for everyone, steamed my dress, brought comedy relief, and just transformed into whatever role needed to make our day memorable. The love we felt and the way they displayed it still makes me get teary writing this. I’ve never felt more loved, so THANK YOU for being in our lives and making our story a part of yours!
Kevin and I getting to see each other in our wedding garb for the first time in the secluded glen with sheep wandering the hills, the double rainbow appearing during shooting our photos with friends atop Old Man Storr while simultaneously passing around the wine bottle, and being in a place that stole our hearts. The rain even held off all day on our wedding day, until our vows! It was so magical! No longer did we worry about imperfections, pains before ect. because this was about us….him and I becoming our own family.
Scotland, with people we loved was all we could’ve imagined and dreamed! We loved the simplicity of life, exploring it all, the unpredictable weather, architecture, and remote untouched feel. The staff of The Three Chimneys and all the people of Skye were so welcoming it made our wedding feel like home away from home. All this to say, I felt like I lived a fairytale….the real kind of fairytale. Hardships taught us to love harder and to be ridiculously thankful we found the person we love no matter what life brought. That is my kind of fairytale.
I could go on and on about how amazing each moment was but like a true photographer I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
THINGS MOST IMPORTANT TO US:
- Authentic vows, written by us and for us.
- A ceremony & wedding that felt like US. We took the time to actually write out every word spoken and what traditions we wanted to add or take out.
- Involving others in the day! We had friends and family speak at our ceremony, play music, officiate, ect.
- Setup events and time for everyone to get to know each other! The men went to Talisker Distillery and the women went downtown Dunvegan for lunch and hangs before the welcome dinner.
- Choosing venues that have a good atmospheric element and vibe AKA our welcome dinner was in the most beautiful arboretum with 360 windows all around. The rain softly fell all around us during the dinner , followed by the most vibrant sunset EVER! We all ran outside to capture it!
- Making the day about everyone being a part instead of just the wedding party.
- Incorporated details of TRUE MEANING: my dad’s watch you see was something I grew up watching him pull in and out of his pocket. It is symbolic of him and the way he has loved me all these years!
- Images that are timeless capturing the people, love, and scenery.
Aesthetic/Design & Planning: Kara Mercer (wedding work) // All photos: Nirav Patel and Branch & Cole // Hair : Anne Marie McElroy // MUA: Amber Morgan // Florals: Myrtle & Bracken // Venue: The Three Chimney’s // Videographers: Orpen Films // Music: Abby Gundersen & Lerin Herzer// Caligraphy : Libby Tipton // Ring Designs : T. Anthony Jewelers
Want to know how I went about planning our wedding?! Picking all the details?! Check out the next blog post to read more about the process and behind the scenes :).