Every summer when I was a child, my family used to make a long and arduous journey, all the way from Edinburgh over single track roads and three separate ferry connections to our holiday home in remote Glenmoidart where there was neither gas nor electricity and the drinking water came from a burn at the back of the house.
And when it wasn’t raining, the highlight of our holidays was driving over yet more single track roads all the way to Arisaig and taking the mail boat out to the magical Inner Hebridean islands of Eigg, Rhum and Muck where we might see shearwaters living up to their names over the rolling waves and if we were very lucky, catch a glimpse of a porpoise or dolphin.
All of which is a very long and roundabout way of explaining why I was ecstatic when Hannah & her fiance Albin asked me if I’d be prepared to conduct their wedding in the gardens of the Lodge on Eigg at the end of May. It meant a four day round trip, but it was worth it because the weather was Mediterranean, the location unique and the atmosphere magical, all of which made the ceremony quite the most romantic I’ve ever conducted.
When I say laidback, I’m not joking; Albin was so relaxed, that when the time for the ceremony came round, he wasn’t even dressed, so we started a record hour and a half late. But that was cool, because nobody was going anywhere else and Eigg time is very different from mainland time.
There’s an old joke about a Spaniard trying to explain the concept of ‘Mañana’ to a Hebridean Islander. The ould fella thinks about it for a while and replies, “No, there’s not a word in Gaelic that conveys the same sense of urgency.”
Hannah & Albin were staying with the lady who is also the island’s Registrar. We had a meeting in her house on the morning of the wedding and not only did she make a damn good breakfast, she also completed the Marriage Schedule by hand; I’d never seen that before and it added to the slightly other-worldly feeling of the day.
When she sent me some of these pictures, Hannah wrote, “we have had so many compliments that it was the most emotional yet upbeat wedding ceremony people had witnessed and everyone was raving about your skills as a celebrant! You made us feel very much at ease during our meetings and contact in the months before the wedding and reassured us on the day perfectly. Several of our friends have said that when/if they marry, then a humanist ceremony would now be the only way they would consider doing it!”
If you ever have the chance to go to Eigg, grab it with both hands. Once the plaything of plutocratic landowners, it’s now owned by the islanders themselves and you can read more about it here.
Before I went sadly homewards, I swam in the sea and climbed the Sgurr, the amazing column of volcanic rock at the Southern tip of the island, from which I could see all the way North to the Cuillins on Skye, South to Ardnamurchan and the island of Coll and even the Outer Hebrides, far out on the Western horizon.