SCOTTISH WEDDINGS .UK

 

 

 

Account of Siusaidh Clark's Wedding to Karina Freyjudottir.

Siusaidh Clark is a registered nurse, an author, and a lover of the Scottish Highlands. She also loves cooking and football.

Karina Freyjudottir trained in philosophy in Iceland and Latvia, and works in IT. She loves gaming, industrial music, and cats.

THIS IS THE STORY OF OUR WEDDING:

On 27th January, Angie Alexandra - an Interfaith Minister - married Karina and me in a beautiful ceremony in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. The wedding took place in a remote cottage up a lonely little side-glen, with the great snow-capped mountains towering above us, and it was everything we could have hoped for: personal, sensitive, moving and kind.

 

 
     
 

 

Karina and I had been together for 6 years, but because my church cannot legally marry us, we decided to head to Scotland and get the legal bit done there. We didn't just want it to be a legal signing of a piece of paper though. Our love is so sweet and meaningful for us: and so I started a search to find someone who would sense our relationship, get a feel for it, who we are, our lives, our interests, and our desire to make the moment of marriage precious, a sacred moment in time, unforgettable.

 
     
 

 

We wanted a service of givenness: our giving of ourselves to one another; and the 'giving' of all of us present to one another.

The choice of Glencoe was mine, because it had very emotional connotations. My ancestors were Jacobites, and Glencoe had its own history of Jacobite sympathy and repercussions. In addition, the Scottish mountains ran deep in my heart, and over the years I had climbed most of them. I especially loved the Highlands in winter. Finally, the sweet woman I had first been engaged to had been killed in an avalanche in Glencoe, along with a friend, 39 years before. Although I chose Glencoe for positive reasons, as our planning developed (with Angie's help) I realised that in a way perhaps our present joy would complete a cycle of time and offer some closure for an incredible sadness in the past.

 
     
 

 

Karina, like me, loves the snow, the ice, the north. She did a philosophy degree in Iceland and her temperament and outlook is northern. She draws on Asatru spirituality, and she has travelled widely in Scandinavia, and grew up in the Baltic. For myself, I had enjoyed an unforgettable three months climbing in Greenland, surveying Viking ruins, ascending unclimbed mountain peaks, sitting out in the evenings by fires and watching the aurora flicker and flare. My own family tree traced back to those Vikings - I can trace every single generation - as well as more recent descent from the Stuart royal family. So anyway, Scotland in January was our decision, and Glencoe was where we chose to tie the knot - literally, as it turned out, in a traditional Highland Handfast wedding, just as some of my ancestors had done.

But first we had to find a celebrant!

 
     
 

 

Our celebrant: Angie Alexandra (Interfaith minister)

Telephone: (landline) 01309-673751 (mobile) 07940-735555

https://gettingmarriedinscotland.org and http://www.gaymarriagescotland.org

http://www.facebook.com/GettingMarriedScotland

Email: angiealexandra@icloud.com

We recommend Angie wholeheartedly for her kindness, her diligence, her friendliness, and her bright spirit: for her this is a vocation and not just a job.

 

Our photographer: Will Russell (also an Interfaith minister)

https://www.gettingmarriedinscotland.org/alternative-or-traditional-wedding-photography

https://www.willrussell.photography

Email: stayingonthepath@icloud.com

We loved Will's calm friendliness and excellent photos - very much recommended.

 

Our hosts: Johnathan and Alison Napier

Telephone: 01855-811827

http://www.glencoemountaincottages.co.uk

We highly recommend the location and the cosy cottage, but especially we recommend the hosts, who are decent, considerate and lovely people.

 
     
 

 

I did what almost anyone does these days: I googled. And the first name I came across was Angie Alexandra. Something about her immediately appealed and somehow connected with me - but when I wrote to her, I got the email address wrong, and so when no answer came (it couldn't, because Angie never received the email) I wrote to about ten other people, several of whom kindly offered to marry us. But I'd really wanted Angie - some simple intuition - and on re-sending my email, this time to the correct address, I got an almost immediate cheery and friendly reply. Our shared adventure had begun!

 
     
 

"I could see that, for her, marrying two people was a kind of sacred and precious privilege."

 
     
 

 

From the outset I got such a good vibe from Angie. It was clear this was not just a job for her: it was a calling. And if she was going to do this special thing for us, she was going to do it well, she was going to be emotionally invested, and she was going to do it with diligence and care. What followed was a process of phone conversations with both Karina and me, as Angie tried to 'get' who we are as people, and sense where we'd come from, how we'd met, what we wanted. Very quickly, she had managed to inspire trust in us, and the sense that here was a person who saw this coming ceremony as something very special and precious. This must apply to every couple who Angie marries. She was so attentive to detail! She wanted to know the things we wanted - we wanted a private wedding, with just us and her, her lovely husband who took photographs, and two witnesses; we wanted a Handfast ceremony (with Royal Stuart tartan ribbon to tie us), and we wanted to share very good whisky from a quaich.

 

 
     
 

"From the outset I got such a good vibe from Angie. It was clear this was not just a job for her: it was a calling. And if she was going to do this special thing for us, she was going to do it well, she was going to be emotionally invested, and she was going to do it with diligence and care."

 
     
 

 

Equipped with all the background information, Angie guided us through what we had to do to get our marriage ready for legal registration; she provided us with a structured service, which we then edited, and worked on together with her. And then January came: I made a trip to the registrar at Fort William to confirm what we were going to do, and collect the necessary paperwork to give to Angie. And then we set off for our secret 'elopement'. (We would later have a large public celebration in church with 100 guests, but that was the public event three months later: this little group in Glencoe was our actual wedding.)

 
     
 

 

And so we set off, on the old Caledonian Sleeper, blasting north through the winter night. On hearing we were getting married the next day, the lovely staff team arranged for us to have adjoining berths, where we placed our packs, and climbing gear and ice-axes, before heading for an evening drink in the lounge carriage, falling back into the comforting, well-worn leather chairs - the light sparkling in our whisky glasses, like sunshine on a highland burn.

Then sleep. Outside the night was deep. The train made its way towards Scotland, passing Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow. As dawn broke we stirred, to find the Highlands outside our window. At breakfast, in the lounge again, we were given a complimentary bottle of prosecco to begin the day: because it was our wedding day. What a lovely team of staff on that Caledonian Sleeper! That train has so much tradition, and they really own that tradition: friendly, hospitable, and that gift was such a thoughtful touch.

 
     
 

 

At Bridge of Orchy we disembarked, travelling by arranged taxi, across the skirts of Rannoch Moor, and down the familiar road to Glencoe. At the Clachaig Hotel, that famous haunt of mountaineers, we waited for our celebrant Angie and her husband to arrive, and then suddenly they were there: smiling, full of empathy and excited anticipation for our wedding. We had spoken plenty with Angie over the phone in the preceding weeks, but it was our first encounter with Will - who we'd arranged to take some photos of us - and what a lovely guy: half Scottish, half Australian, he was laid-back, considerate, and very good company. We had a drink together.

 
 

"It was our first encounter with Will - who we'd arranged to take some photos of us - and what a lovely guy... laid-back, considerate, and very good company."

 
     
 

 

We had rented a remote little cottage up a side-glen of Glencoe: Gleann Leac na Muidhe. It is off the main tourist haunts, less frequented, and almost hidden from sight (though as you look back down the glen you can see the Pap of Glencoe, and the teetering, serrated ridge of the Aonach Eagach). This cottage was owned by Johnathan and Alison Napier, and they fetched us from the Clachaig and took us up the lonely glen along a landrover track. On all sides the mountains rose steeply, and a little burn wound its way down between the hills, tumbling past the cottage. And so we arrived for our wedding.

We'd chosen a small and private ceremony: just the 6 of us. It was intimate, personal, calm, gathered. Angie regularly does much bigger weddings, but what we wanted was more secluded. On entering the very comfortable cottage, we saw fresh flowers on the table, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a card: everything about the Napiers, our hosts, was so kind and considerate. In the main room, Will set up his camera, and Angie prepared the ceremony: the papers for signing, the words to be spoken, and the music we had chosen.

 
     
 

"On entering the very comfortable cottage, we saw fresh flowers on the table, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a card: everything about the Napiers, our hosts, was so kind and considerate."

 
     
 

 

Because she had put so much effort into it, Angie by now knew us well. She had gained an impressive feel for who we are, and it was interesting now to see her kick into action. For her, as an inter-faith minister, sympathetic to humanist values, or each person's spirituality, this was a calling for her and not simply a job. She was calm but focussed and I could see that, for her, marrying two people was a kind of sacred and precious privilege. She signalled reassuring smiles, and the ceremony began, Will taking photos, Johnathan and Alison (our kindly hosts) looking on and acting as witnesses.

 
     
 

"Because she had put so much effort into it, Angie by now knew us well.

She had prepared some words about us: about our families, our lives, our interests, how we met."

 
     
 

 

Angie had prepared some words about us: about our families, our lives, our interests, how we met. Across from me, Karina stood and smiled back: caring, sweet, my faithful friend of so many years. Our eyes sparkled. It was time to be married. Angie invited us to join our hands together, and then she unfolded the Stuart ribbon and wound it once, twice, three times around our wrists: the Highland Handfast, just like my ancestors were recorded to have married in the Western Isles. With each turn of the tartan, Angie invoked a kind of prayer or intent - an invocation of blessing on our marriage really.

 
     
 

 

The setting was resonant with history. We were getting married in this lonely side-valley, on the very site of the MacDonald chief's homestead, where in 1692 men, women and children had been ruthlessly murdered or had fled up the glen in an attempt to escape over the wild winter mountains. That might sound a bit gruesome, but as a successor and a Stuart, it felt somehow appropriate in that remote little place of sad memories, to be re-affirming Jacobite presence, and the resilience of love, tenderness, and all the domestic happiness Karina and I would share together.

 
     
 

 

Face to face, we said our vows to each other, and at this point I cried. We both did. The sweet tender love of this woman opposite me, her given love for me, her vulnerability. Glancing aside, I saw that our hosts were crying too. It was that moving and personal - a moment somehow trembling with feeling, a moment in time that seemed like it would exist forever. I think it does.

Angie, clearly also moved, unwound the ribbon to release our wrists, and then invited us each to step back from each other and pull the ends of the tartan strip. Where the bands had been coiled around our wrists, it tightened to form a knot in the middle. 'You have now tied the knot!' she said, and the service continued, and our witnesses signed the registration document - the marriage schedule as it's called - and we were now legally married!

 
     
 

 

In line with our plans, we now came to the sharing of whisky from a quaich we'd had inscribed in gaelic. 'As your first act of hospitality as a married couple,' Angie said, 'I will now invite you to share whisky with everyone present.' Johnathan brought out the whisky - it was a 1936 Mortlach whisky that had been 50 years in the cask - and handed it to Karina, as I held the quaich and she poured the golden liquor into it. Then we joyfully served our guests and each other, the smoky whisky that had been set in cask 83 summers before. The years flow by, with the turning of seasons. And there is still time to be alive, and to love!

 
     
 

 

 

Throughout the whole ceremony, Angie had been so professional and so calmly immersed in her responsibility, and yet she had done the whole service with love and human kindness. Seeing her in action, I could see that for her, this was a vocation. My instincts in wanting her to be our celebrant right from the beginning, had turned out to be so true.

It had been raining when we arrived, but now it was easing off, so we went outside and Will took photographs, some of which you can see on this page. The we headed down to the Clachaig where Burns Supper was being celebrated that night. We said our farewells to Angie and Will, and we felt so grateful for their emotional maturity - the sensitive way they had made our day special - but more than that, grateful for their friendship.

 
     
 
"Angie was so professional... and yet she had done the whole service with love and human kindness. Seeing her in action, I could see that for her, this was a vocation."
 
     
 

 

Johnathan and Alison stayed on to eat with us, and the haggis was piped in, and addressed and cut open in the traditional way. And Karina (who loves haggis even more than me) ate to her heart's content, and we drank successive whiskies from the selection of hundreds of malts on the Clachaig shelves. I had first visited Glencoe 47 years before, as a member of the St Andrews University Mountaineering Club, and I would return many times in the years after that, doing old classic routes on Bidean and the Buchaille, and later with parties of school children.

By lovely coincidence, the young undergraduates of the STAUMC were in Glencoe that very weekend, and came traipsing off the winter mountains into the climbers' bar where we were sitting and the musicians were playing. Speaking to them, I found them so young and endearing - and yet that had been just like me all those years before. The evening grew vague, with whisky, glowing happiness, closeness. It had been a wonderful day. Close by my side, Karina was relaxed, loving the vibe of the bar, happy, affectionate, sweet.

 
     
 

 

The next morning we woke late, had a huge breakfast, and then an old friend Andrew Stevenson showed up. I hadn't seen Andrew for over 40 years. He was our climbing club president and had led me on my first climbs in Skye. He was also my 'academic father', as they call senior students at St Andrews who take responsibility for first year students. And here he was! I was now in my 60's, Andrew possibly in his 70's, and isn't it strange… how after so many years, you pick up the interaction as it was so long ago, and knowing each other, and so much about Andrew was still like the young man I'd known 40 years or more before… and in the resumption of our friendship it seemed like only last month.

 
     
 

 

The snow was coming, the wind swinging round from the north, and we went for a walk at the head of Glencoe: the air fresh and cold, the winter mountains vast, unchanging. Later we drove down Glen Etive, then returned for quiet conversation, whisky, food. It was now Sunday evening, and in the Clachaig on Sundays anyone is welcome to join in the music. I pulled out my accordion, and played the old folk songs of years gone by. On our last day, the snow fell heavily. In the little cottage in Gleann Leac na Muidhe, it felt so cosy. But I know all too well that out there on the Scottish mountains in winter, the weather and the elements can be savage and wild.

Karina and I snuggled up with a duvet, and watched a couple of films, the snow falling outside the window, in the dark of the night. Johnathan and Alison had been so friendly and hospitable, and the remote little cottage was so pleasant to stay in. Angie and Will had been so kind to us as well. Now we were married, and we felt the loving kindness that had been given us, and had made our wedding special and timeless.

 
     
 
"Johnathan and Alison had been so friendly and hospitable, and the remote little cottage was so pleasant to stay in."
 
     
 

* * * * *

 
     
 

 

Three months later, a day before our much more public wedding celebration, to which we'd invited 100 guests for church service, reception and party… a letter arrived through the letter box. It was from Angie and Will.

They wished us much happiness on our 'other' wedding day - and it was a wonderful day with our friends and families. But it was not our actual marriage. That we had done in seclusion, up the beautiful glen, and it was our intimate time of privacy with Angie, Will, Johnathan and Alison. Yet how kind, that three months later, they had thought of us: it showed an integrity of care. It meant a lot.

 
     
 

"Three months later, a day before our much more public wedding celebration, a letter arrived through the letter box. It was from Angie and Will...

How kind, that three months later, they had thought of us: it showed an integrity of care. It meant a lot."

 
     
 

 

Our Scottish wedding could not have been better. It is something we have forever, which can never be taken away from us. I am writing this record, in part because I want to tell people what a lovely celebrant Angie is, so others may choose to enjoy her reliability and sheer decency; and in part because I haven't put our wedding in writing before, and we have now been married six months, and we are so happy. I am quite femme, and Karina is one of those large, mischievous, deeply protective butch women: we fit each other and we have a relationship of kindness, trust, and fun. She is always teasing me. I love her so much.

For us, the wedding in Glencoe was perfect. It's brilliant that in Scotland you can get married almost anywhere, and it's such a bonnie country, beautiful and wild. But the most treasured moment of all was there in the little cottage, the six of us, giving kindness to each other, drawing together, and acknowledging that love is so precious, so decent and fine.

 
     
 

* * * * *

 
     
 
"I am writing this record, in part because I want to tell people what a lovely celebrant Angie is."
 
     
 

"The snow was coming, the wind swinging round from the north, and we went for a walk at the head of Glencoe: the air fresh and cold, the winter mountains vast, unchanging."

(photo taken the day after our wedding)

 
     
 
"On our last day, the snow fell heavily. In the little cottage in Gleann Leac na Muidhe, it felt so cosy."
 
     
 

Three months after our wedding in Scotland,

we held a celebration for our friends and family.

This is Karina (left) getting ready beforehand,

 
     
 

We had a church service, followed by a reception

and then an evening dance.

 
     
 

Karina and Siusaidh at their reception.

We shared some more of the 1936 Mortlach

from the Quaich.

 
     
       
  Author of this article:  
Siusaidh Clark, with help from my wife Karina
  Our celebrant: Angie Alexandra (Interfaith minister) - https://gettingmarriedinscotland.org  
Telephone: (landline) 01309-673751 (mobile) 07940-735555 Email: angiealexandra@icloud.com
  Our photographer: Will Russell (also Interfaith minister) - Email: stayingonthepath@icloud.com  
https://www.gettingmarriedinscotland.org/alternative-or-traditional-wedding-photography
  Our hosts: Johnathan and Alison Napier - http://www.glencoemountaincottages.co.uk  
Telephone: 01855-811827
     

 

~ credits: top 27 photos by Will Russell; lower 11 photos by others ~