I love brave couples: the ones prepared to go the extra mile to make their day unforgettable, and Yann and Virginie definitely fall into that category!
What could be more romantic than running away to the Highlands of Scotland to get married in the depths of winter?
As you might guess from their names, Virginie and Yann are French. They contacted me through a very specialist wedding planner, Gabrielle Plasman, whose company is called French Weddings in Scotland: the clue is in the name…
She knows how much the French love the romance of wind, rain, cloud, smirr and haar: Outlander has a lot to answer for!
That’s why I found myself setting off before the dawn one December morning to conduct their wedding at the famous Three Sisters of Glencoe
It was a beautiful drive
The first snows of the winter had dusted the tops and the wind was keen.
Getting married in the middle of a wilderness takes a bit of organisation. I love walking the hills, and I’ve conducted several weddings now on top of some our most iconic hills, but finding a place where a bride can wear her wedding dress isn’t easy.
Luckily, the spot chosen by Yann was ingenious. Only a ten minute walk from the main A84 that runs through Glencoe to Fort William, there’s an old path that runs up the side of the hill to a plateau where road is entirely hidden from view. It’s the kind of place film makers love because it looks like the middle of nowhere, but there’s a car park not too far away.
That’s where we all parked up before setting off for our wild walk.
Before then though, Yann and Virginie had taken a few minutes to reflect on the promises they wanted to make one another.
Those last-minute thoughts that distill your relationship into a few key phrases.
Virginie’s parachute boots were well chosen…
I was giving my new Scarpa boots their first outing: my old pair fell apart when I was marrying Ana & David on Ben Nevis earlier this year and I was really impressed that Scarpa very generously sent me these as a replacement: that’s what I call brilliant customer service!
Yann and I were waiting on the hill as Virginie made her approach.
And they created a wonderful ceremony: en français bien sûr
Thanks to Gabrielle, I get a chance to speak French several times a year now, and of course I can legally marry people in any language as long as we all understand what’s being said.
c’était intensément romantique, mais c’était aussi très amusant
Not only did I tell their story, but Yann surprised us all by singing a Gaelic song to Virginie.
You can tell from these shots that Sean Bell loves his work. He floats silently from here to there, getting long shots and close-ups that really tell your story – and he clearly knows and loves Scotland’s wild places.
After Yann and Virginie spoke their promises to one another, and exchanged rings, we incorporated another famous Scots tradition – a handfasting.
Virginie and Yann had woven their cords themselves.
This is one reason you need a wedding planner when you’re marrying somewhere remote: you may not have a maid of honour to hold your bouquet!
Our fingers were still just warm enough to allow us to sign the all-important Marriage Schedule – Sean and Gabrielle were our witnesses –
And then it was time for Sean to take Virginie and Yann to meet Grant McLeod, The Munro Bagpiper, who was waiting to greet the happy couple as they came off the hill. No highland wedding is complete without a piper and Grant loves to go to the places that other pipers can’t reach!
J’ai été très touché de recevoir ces mots de Yann et Virginie l’autre jour
Notre mariage suivis de notre voyage dans le nord de l’Ecosse fût merveilleux, nous avions même du mal à le croire une fois rentré à la maison, et même maintenant est-ce que ça c’est réellement passée?
Un regard à nos alliances nous le confirme.
Nous tenions à ce mariage seul, et même si un petit doute d’être loin de nos proches persistait, il s’est très vite envolé, et si nous devions le refaire je n’hésiterais pas une seconde.
La cérémonie nous a réellement permis de nous confier l’un à l’autre, par des mots sincères, des souvenirs que nous n’avions pas l’habitude d’évoquer au quotidien. Au vu des larmes et des rires pendant la cérémonie, c’était sincère.
Depuis un mois nous sommes soudé, serein et complices comme jamais, une vrai équipe face à la vie.
Nous préparons la chambre de notre futur petit garçon, lui était là aussi avec nous, il fait partis de notre histoire ce jour là aussi.
Yes: the wonderful news is that they’re expecting a baby: as they wrote, ‘We are preparing the room for our future little boy, he was there with us too, he is part of our history that day too.’
It was worth getting up early for that one…
merci beaucoup Virginie et Yann: ce fut une joie absolue de faire partie de votre journée la plus spéciale et je vous souhaite, à vous et à votre enfant, beaucoup de bonheur dans les années à venir! Thanks again to Sean Bell and to Gabrielle Plasman – may we have many more such romantic adventures together!