Reflecting on a year of weddings with COVID restrictions

March 24, 2021

Photography Credit: Regenweibchen Photography

While this past year has been incredibly difficult – that has not stopped many amazing couples from deciding to celebrate their love anyway – going ahead with their weddings, despite coping with ever changing restrictions. As we look back on the past year, some of our celebrants, and the couples they married, share their thoughts on weddings with restrictions in place.

 Photography credit: Wills Pix

Philip and Victoria told us; “After having our plans cancelled twice we made the decision to elope, but still wanted to make the most of the opportunity. We travelled together to Dalmellington and up the craziest road I’ve ever been on to reach the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. It was more than worth it when seeing just how beautiful and magical both the venue and the hosts were. Our wonderful celebrant Karen was there waiting for us, and married us under the Northern Lights in the observatory. 

Our plans to be married outside, under the stars and the Halloween full blue moon were scrapped when a huge storm blew in for 24 hours. Despite this, it ended up being even better and more magical than we could have imagined. It was so easy and carefree. No sweating the small stuff. No stress over dresses or hair. No arguments over seating plans. Just us, two witnesses who we love and our excellent and patient photographer who we brought along for the adventure. Karen gave us a perfect ceremony and our hosts at the venue were welcoming and couldn’t have done any more to help us. They even gave us a trip through the solar system. We booked the important things and then went with the flow of whatever happened and it couldn’t have worked out better. We had a fairytale of a wedding, on top of a mountain in Scotland, under the stars – for basically the same price as a wedding dress.”

Celebrant Marilyn Jackson told us; “Rosie and Jonathan had to postpone the beach wedding they had planned for June to next year, but didn’t want to wait over a year to be legally married – so it was a delight to do that for them at the top of Dunsapie Crag in Holyrood Park – with just their witnesses and a handful of local friends in attendance.”

Photography Credit: Regenweibchen Photography

Celebrant Marnie Roadburg was delighted to marry Jake and Cassie in front of their 8 guests at Riddles Court in September. She told us; “Cassie’s family are from Australia and so couldn’t be there, but the ceremony was live streamed and it felt like they were all in the room. I think being laid back and very flexible was key to them having such a successful day.  Nothing phased them and they always found a way through any problem that presented itself.” 

Marnie was touched to receive this lovely note from the couple; “Thank you so much for being part of our wedding, for the amazing emotional ceremony you put together and for all the work in the lead up to the big day too!  Your warm energy and spirit shone through; the whole event was perfect as a result.  Even despite Covid doing its best to derail us!”

They also shared some advice with anyone else planning their day; “We would recommend having a small wedding to anyone. We had the most amazing day! We asked ourselves what was important about a wedding to us – and what we could live without, and work around that.

The pandemic definitely made it hard: we were missing some very important loved ones overseas on the day and had a smaller guest list overall. We were also required to think outside the box and be flexible, not usual for a wedding! But in the end, this led to a wedding that was truly unique to us, and so special as a result.

The people around us could not have been more helpful in this. Riddles Court arranged for our family to attend via Zoom, and my sister organised a video with a speech from my Dad that brought the house down in tears.

Janie and Chris were another couple whose plans were dramatically altered. They told us; “Like many others, when we planned our wedding, we could never have predicted how much the world was about to change. We had originally booked our wedding in Las Vegas but due to the pandemic, it was cancelled and we had to make new arrangements. We spoke to Karen a number of times in the run up to the wedding and we could not have asked for better support! 

Karen provided the most beautiful, personalised ceremony, the words captured our story perfectly which kept ourselves and our guests entertained! As we were originally going to Vegas, the number of guests didn’t really cross our minds, it was up to our friends and family if they wanted to attend – so when it came to a wedding in Scotland where rules and numbers were being changed a matter of weeks before the big day we were surprised at just how much stress it caused us. But we would not have had it any other way. Although there were restrictions in place, it was a beautiful intimate wedding that was brought to life by Karen’s words.”

Celebrant Maggie Kinloch also had the great privilege to be able to marry her nephew Stewart to his partner Rebecca – who told us; “Going from 150 to 19 people present, we thought our special day was being destroyed by the necessary rules and regulations imposed due to the covid-19 pandemic. It turned out to be such an amazing and very special day.

The humanist ceremony was made so personal and inclusive by our Celebrant (Stewart’s Auntie Maggie), that even our guests (family and friends) on a live streaming service told us after that they had felt so much part of the ceremony. The Handfasting was slightly adapted to include active input from our three children and the personal touches by Maggie all helped in making our wedding so special for us all.

With the help and support of the venue staff on the day and the special guidance and support, from the outset, of our very special Celebrant, our beautiful wee wedding was one to be remembered forever.”

Hannah and Paul may have had to push their wedding date back due to lockdown, but they told their celebrant Karen McLaughlin; “Just like a lot of people, we ended up with about a fifth of the guests at our wee wedding in Portpatrick than we had originally planned! 

Although not through choice at the time, we absolutely loved the way our day turned out and wouldn’t change it for anything. A smaller wedding allowed us to add personal touches which wouldn’t  have been possible with a larger wedding, as well as spend lots time with our closest friends and family on the day. It was just great, we would so recommend it to anyone!”

Mark and Kirsten are planning to go to their original venue of Fortingall Village Hall for big celebrations in the future, but as being married was the most important thing to them, they changed their plans to a tiny wee wedding.

Their celebrant Jane Bechtel told us; “We gathered in the sun on the Pentland Hills. It was frankly blissful to be out there, windy, sunny and autumnal, with the amazing view north over the Firth of Forth. The ceremony was simple and heartfelt, with readers from either end of the guests age range. It wasn’t what they planned. It wasn’t what they had imagined. But it was perfect. and it was perfect not because of where we were, or who was there or not there, or what I said, or what they said.

It was perfect because Mark & Kirsten love each other and got married to one another.”

The couple told Jane; “We absolutely loved every minute of our wedding day and both agree that the ceremony was the highlight. Although we both started out imagining a big party, our forced change of plans now feel like a blessing in disguise as the intimate ceremony just felt so personal and perfect. So, thanks for all your effort in helping make it so special!”

Photo credit: Crear Photography

Kirsty and Dan had intended to marry in Canada, but 3rd time lucky and with a further reduction in numbers they finally went ahead. Their Celebrant Gail Brack told us; “It was them, the splendid piper Iain and Fiona the photographer, who were their witnesses for their romantic ceremony on the beach. We repositioned ourselves at the start to avoid the waves of the incoming tide!  They wanted a really relaxed day, so they waited until during the ceremony to choose a stone from the beach to use as their oathing stone for their personal promises which was a lovely moment.” 

Gail also added; “This last year we have all learned what matters most, which is human contact and love. The size of your guest list, and normal add-ons to the wedding ceremony are less to the fore as it’s more important who is with you than anything else.”

The couple added this advice for others planning their wedding; “Because of the Covid laws in place, if we wanted to marry sooner, we had to accept that we had to elope, just us and our dog. As dreamy as this sounded, it is still hard to have to face the fact that your nearest and dearest aren’t there to celebrate one of the most significant moments of your life and that they couldn’t witness our love. 

However saying that, we personally couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful, personal, and deep and meaningful ceremony. In the end, what mattered was our love and by making our vows to each other, in front of Gail, and our two witnesses from Crear, we were able to just take in everything about each other, with no other distractions. We are eternally grateful that our wedding day was tranquil, and celebrated our love. 

To whomever reads this, if you’re dreaming of an elopement but worried about what your guests may think, our only advice is to do it for you – you can always party later. You will never regret running away to celebrate what’s important… your love.”

Thank you to all the couples who shared their stories with us, and to everyone who has allowed our celebrants to be a part of their special day. Thanks too to our celebrant body, for working so tirelessly this year to provide support and guidance for so many couples. 

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