We have been up north for 4 days now and it’s been glorious every day. Barely a drizzle to dampen our mood. But obviously we have been checking the forecast for today for a long time and as it’s gotten closer it’s been more consistently saying it will be constant rain all day… and then, of course, the week following today is going to be glorious sun again.
Sure enough, as we rose this morning and had a little kiss, we could see the misty rain pouring down on the loch outside our window. Oh well, the house we are staying in is glorious so I’d not be disappointed to be married here. Then Aimi kicked me out of the bedroom.
She has been very (and rightly) secretive about the dress, so I’ve been banned from the bedroom. We aren’t doing a traditional wedding so we aren’t worried about seeing each other the night before. I much preferred to hold her close as we woke that morning, but we are both looking forward to the dress reveal.
Aimi has been really careful not to let me look at her phone in case I accidentally stumble across something she’s sent to the dressmaker. So I’ve no idea really what it will look like, other than I know there will be purple involved. Also I think maybe the front might be higher to allow easier walking in boots up the hill. I could have searched for Lubi to see the styles of her dresses but I’ve been very disciplined not to as I don’t want to ruin the surprise.
I went to the bedroom across the hall to get ready and took Buddy with me for company. Getting in the shower I put on some music and the first song that came up was this, which I think was rather serendipitous.
Of course it took me about 1/8th the time to get ready, compared to the girls. Their stylists arrived with cases and stands and all sorts of materials that scared us men away. We stuck to the kitchen and scoffed croissants, chatting with Ashton, the celebrant and Anna the photographer.
I’m not joking about the length of time the girls took. I’m sure they were having a great time, I could hear them giggling behind the bedroom door. Hannah turned up in the kitchen occasionally, with increasingly complex hair and makeup, fetching glasses of wine.
I wasn’t feeling nervous or worried, I just wanted the weather to clear and to get on. I had dropped a little gift for Aimi outside the door on the floor. It was a little brown envelope with a letter and a tiny mountain engraved bracelet inside. Along with some other mushy stuff, the letter basically said “hurry up, I want to get married today”.
Aimi had also arranged a gift for me. Us lads were hanging out, up in the big lounge, having a few photos with Buddy and a beer. Hannah came up stairs with a button hole for me to match the bouquet. It was made of dried flowers like thistles and heather and other (purple) Scottish flowers. And then she held out a small, intricately embroidered badge of Haku’s face. This made me choke up. I wish he could have been here with us as he has been such an important part of Aimi’s and our lives. I couldn’t see properly so Casey pinned it to my lapel in pride of place.
Not long after it was time for what was probably the 2nd most important part of the day, the dress reveal. Aimi went to the top floor so she could come down the stairs to the entrance hall. This was because I knew if she came up, her face would come around the corner first, I’d lock eyes with her and I would probably cry and not see anything of the dress. The bedrooms were in the basement so there was some faffing around while we came down to the middle floor and she went to the top, all without us seeing each other. Then we all lined up like a gameshow and waited for Aimi’s nervous entrance. And it was glorious. She looked spectacular, I just couldn’t express myself in the moment. The dress was just incredibly detaíled and fit her beautifully. She looked like some sort of dreamy scottish flower nymph, like a fantasy piece of art! And her eyes, the gorgeous deep eyes I fell in love with, were there looking deep and soulful at me with a nervous giggle perched in her chest. I think all I could do at the time was smile because all words were lost. My beautiful bride had arrived and looked more stunning than I ever could have hoped.
Now we were all here and dressed up, we spent some time around the house getting some photos. With Aimi on my arm, I am a rich man. the fancy house and clothes can only begin to show the world how rich I feel right now.
As we were messing around with the photographer we could see outside the rain had paused. We took this opportunity to get some photos down by the loch and had great fun pretending to walk along the banks casually. We’ve only seen a couple of taster photos from Anna so far but already these are some of my favorites.
It had stayed dry long enough to get these photos. We’d only been touched by a couple of drops of rain, so we decided to take the risk (and the umbrellas) and drive to Dun da Lamh. As we came around the end of the mountain range and head over towards Lagan it rained pretty hard and we were all worried that we would be getting drenched. But as we got closer we could see some sunlit patches of heather across the valley. By the time we had reached the forest gate it was completely dry. We all piled into the land rover and Ashton’s Mitsubishi and we bounced our way slowly to the top.
From the parking spot there was only a very short walk to where we would be getting married. It was quite a steep incline to start with and we all felt very strange in our Sunday Best climbing a hill. But the rain had passed and as we arrived at the top we were greeted with the most amazing view we had wanted for our special day. It could not have been better. From here you can see up three different valleys and in each there was a different weather system. We could see the rain to the northwest rolling over the hills, overcast clouds to the south and beautiful open blue skies with the occasional clouds to the east. We set up quickly in case the weather changed its minds and the ceremony began.
This was all a bit of a blur for me as I’ve never been able to control my emotions when they are fully charged. I do remember a couple of surprises. Firstly that my parents and in particular my father restrained themselves from writing a 40,000 word essay when they provided a blessing.
The other was that Aimi definitely “won” the vows. I like to think I can write quite well but here I was blown away by how honest and naturally she spoke of how she felt. I had tried to keep my sentences short so that through my teary eyes I was able to get them out without stuttering too much and in the process it might have seen a bit formal. But other than the kiss, my favourite part was where Ashton was talking about the metal that forged our rings was created in a supernova. Without this one defining event the heavy elements would not have been created and could not have come together to create these rings we now wear. The rare conditions that are needed and the myriad of coincidences that have to happen to create something so wonderful mirrors how I feel about the start of our relationship and the beautiful thing we have together.
The last part of the ceremony was the drinking from the quaich as we listened to Ashton read a quote by Carl Sagan. We chose to mix coffee and hot chocolate because neither of us fancied photos of us grimacing down whiskey. We passed it around everyone at the ceremony so we could all share some.
Now the rite is duly done, Now the word is spoken, And the spell has made us one, Which may ne'er be broken; Rest we, dearest, in our home, Roam we over the heather; We shall rest, and we shall roam, Shall we not? Together. (Winthrop Mackworth Praed)
Now married we strode off across the hill hand in hand, Anna snapping photos of us and the landscape around. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to look like. We even got a couple of photos with kayto sitting on the bonnet of the land rover, and us driving down the rocky track. Ashton had said he had a 4×4, but we were told later that it had struggled on some of the rocks and made a worrying scraping noise a couple of times. I don’t think anything was damaged and we’re very grateful he was able to drive our party to the top. Being able to drive made life a lot easier avoiding a 45 minute hike in a suit and probably meant we got to enjoy the full weather window.
We now took a short drive to the coffee bothy where we would be having our wedding breakfast. Kevin and Sonya had reserved us a table, put out decorations and even provided a surprise cake! Such lovely people going so far above what a normal coffee shop could be expected to produce. The food was absolutely 5 stars.. It was a Scottish take on tapas all brought out on big sharing plates. There was venison carpaccio, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, lamb koftas with mint tzatziki, tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, chicken and pork chops on fruity spiced couscous, amazing bruschetta, and the most exquisite was black pudding topped with pea puree the most succulent scallop and crispy bacon on top. Unlike normal wedding finger food there was so much of it! Kevin described them as Scottish portions! Now about 16:00 we hadn’t eaten since 10:00 we were all really hungry so dove in and very quickly filled up, so we felt guilty not being able to finish everything.
Lastly we enjoyed a surprise wedding cake made by their friend Shirley. We had thought that because the cafe serves lots of different types of cakes everyone in our party could just choose from those what they fancied. But this was much better. It was an absolutely huge Victoria sponge with butter icing and was incredibly tasty. We were still eating it 3 days later there was so much!
About halfway through our meal we noticed that the weather had changed outside. It was absolutely “hosing it down” as Sonya would say. We had plans that evening to walk up the hill behind Kingussie for some sunset photos. But the day and the weather had gone so perfectly, and now it was raining anyway, there was no need. We were also also stuffed that any talk of walking up a hill was met by reluctant groans.
We were all very happy to go back to the house and have a few relaxed drinks and party games. Hannah turned out to be a shot bully. Having made jelly vodka shots she laid down the rule that we weren’t allowed to use names. So during our games every now and again the room erupted with pointing fingers and shouts as someone forgot and was forced to do a shot.
Nearing the end of the night and now being quite drunk we made our way down to our bedroom. Here we found that someone had secretly set up some decorations. Some banners that read “just married” had been draped across our room with twinkling fairy lights. There was also another surprise cake here. But being so full, we packed that one up for the next day.
It was such a perfect day with everything going exactly to plan neither of us could have asked for any more. Sometimes I feel people say quite conceitedly that their wedding day was the best day of their lives, mostly because they have to. But for me I can honestly say this is true. Today I had the most beautiful bride in the most stunning dress on top of the most wonderful Hill in the most beautiful place with the most glorious weather and the most delicious food with the best people in my life.
Mr Matthew Snell & Miss Aimi Hawtin
Wed today and became,
Mr & Mrs Shawtell