Images thanks to Lina Hayes
Vast dramatic landscapes, personalized country charm and the simple joys of community were the signature elements for Calum and Christine’s Scottish Highland wedding. Held at an ancient gathering place, surrounded by mountains, valleys and forests, this delightful couple’s nuptials were a fusion of modern relationship and environmental consciousness with traditional values and simplicities.
“For us it was important that our wedding was personal and showed our strong belief in equality and sustainability. We wanted our families and friends to experience the landscape we cherish to so much in the Highlands of Scotland where we spend our free time in the outdoors. We wanted the day to be relaxed and fun, so no fancy dress codes and a just big ceilidh [a traditional Scottish dance] to get everyone dancing,” said Christine.
Equality was a major driver for the couple motivating them to fearlessly questioned and assess their beliefs against the old tropes of a wedding. This gave them the brave to be willing to evolve their own take on things when something didn’t resonate or represent who they were. With every part of the wedding, Christine and Calum were conscious to assess if they were doing something due to tradition and social conventions, and if so, was there another, better, more economical way?
This was especially clear in two big, pivotal decisions for their ceremony and future identity together as husband and wife.
“For our ceremony we arrived and walked in together as equals in our partnership. It may seem a small thing but it was something very important to us. We also chose our new last name together. We wanted to make our wedding about us and stand up to conventions on tradition that often have patriarchal origins,” said Christine.
Deciding on and creating a new name was a huge decision and challenging process. Christine and Calum were sensitive to not hurting their families and rather emphasized that their choice was about joining them equally and creating something new together.
Having first met whitewater kayaking, the combination of Christine’s Norse (Danish) background, and Calum’s Scottish background to make their new name – Easain – was a perfect blend of meanings.
“We chose a name which symbolised us and how we met. Easain is Gaelic for little waterfall, and contains the Gaelic ‘Eas’ which means waterfall. ‘Ain’, is old Norse for river and Scots for own,” explained Christine.
Christine and Calum were always hesitant about having a big extravagant wedding, seeing them as expensive and wasteful. They considered every choice, checking in with a set of guiding questions. “Is this really necessary?” “Will anyone remember this?”, and if the answer was no, they either didn’t do it or looked for alternative options.
The aesthetic of the day was eclectic, natural, pre-loved and bespoke. Sustainability and low impact were important considerations.
“We didn’t have a zero-waste wedding but we reduced where we could and I felt like we achieved a good balance. That ethos was extended to our clothes which we already owned or bought second-hand. I didn’t see the need to buy something new for one day. We spent within our means, but did go slightly over budget, however, our first budget was very small,” she added.
Christine’s wedding dress was bought from a charity shop and she wore her own hiking boots for the ceremony and photos and a pair of sandals for the reception. The cream jumper she wore over her ivory dress was her own, and for the ceremony, she simply borrowed a woolen rug from the holiday cottage her parents’ had rented to keep her warm. The fabulous light blue and cream checked, retro blanket popped out spectacularly.
Calum wore a kilt that was made for his 21st birthday and his kilt jacket and waist coat were bought in a charity shop in Fort William. His shoes used to be his dads and were over 40 years old.
Central to the charm and magic of their day was its location.
Am Ploc is an ancient meeting place and open air church and set amongst the mountains in Torridon. The ceremony was nestled inside a craggily, rocky grove with the mountains, lakes and valleys behind them. It was a sunny and bitterly cold day, yet the atmosphere was warm with the love and joy of family and friends. The ceremony had bagpipes; a handfasting and their newly adopted dog in its red wooly jumper.
The ceremony was designed with their humanist celebrant, Laura, to focus on equality. Every word of the personalised ceremony was considered and specifically chosen and celebrated the story and journey of their love. Laura even involved the guests during the ceremony, asking everyone to write some advice for the couple as they entered, and at the end of the ceremony the bridesmaids and groomsmen each picked up a random note out of a hat and read it out loud.
“The notes ended up being so perfect and funny,” reminisced Christine.
The Christine and Calum love story began at University and grew amongst the incredible landcape – the mountains and rivers of Scotland.
“We first met in our second year of university through the canoe club. We were only friends at first and it wasn’t until the summer after second year that we got together. In the year leading up to that summer we hung out, studied, kayaked, climbed and partied together. Getting together seemed like the natural thing to do,” said Christine.
For Christine, love was first felt on the river. “The first time we were on a river together, he led me down hard sections, and I remember thinking how it was obvious he was having so much fun, laughing the whole way down and this feeling was infectious in the group.
“I love Calum’s joy and playfulness for life, he has a very happy energy to be around which is very contagious. It helps when we are doing scary outdoor sports and he often lightens the mood. He is very kind and respectful, I know he will always treat me well,” Christine said.
For Calum, his first thought of Christine was: “She’s pretty cool”. Now, after 8 years together, there is so much more to know and love.
“I love Christine’s ability to make my complete lack of organizational skills into something positive. I love being in the mountains with Christine and love that she matches my drive to explore. Throughout our relationship my values have definitely changed, I am more conscious of what I do and how it effects the world around me. I am also much less wasteful. I have learned when I need to organise myself, and to focus on what matters, and when to recognise when something doesn’t,” reflected Calum.
As a team, Christine and Calum combined their joy, energy and smarts – and enrolled many others with talent and enthusiasm – to create their day of love and celebration to be a very natural, organic, low-impact and spirited occasion.
The day was a special and powerful experience for all involved and one which lives in the hearts and memories of their family and friends in a unique and deep way, such was the collaborative and community experience.
For a start, everyone walked to the ceremony and then walked to the reception, both as a way to be low impact and economical, and just because it was so beautiful too!
The reception venue, Torridon Community Centre is beautiful community hall in the small village of Torridon run by locals. It was adorned simply with fairy lights purchased by the couple, which have since been reused at two other weddings of friends in Catalonia and Scotland.
For the tables a tree surgeon friend cut some disks of Birch, Beech and Scots Pine to make centerpieces. Each table was a different Scottish plant and the centerpiece had the plant in a glass vase (repurposed wine decanters from another friend’s wedding) surrounded by candles. All of the flowers and plants were sourced locally save for a few bunches bought from a shop on the way to Torridon.
In another beautiful and personal touch, each name tag was a watercolour of the mountains painted by Calum.
The food was delicious and sustainably sourced by another Torridon local who created mostly vegetarian dishes to be in line with Christine and Calum’s ethos. The only exception was one salmon dish, a locally produced food.
A dear friend made four special wedding cakes, and knowing her friends love of nature, she made each cake representing one of the different seasons;
Spring was a Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake
Summer was a Pear & Blueberry Cake
Autumn was a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
Winter was a Hidden Chocolate Cake
Family and friends contributed toward the honeymoon or a gift of something handmade. The couple received many beautiful gifts from very talented friends, including paintings, wood carvings, art works, a hard carved mortar and pestle and lots of other interesting things that will decorate their home for years to come. They even got one of Christine’s grandmothers painting of the family farm in Finland.
References to family history, legacy and heirlooms were pervasive throughout the day. Even down to the rings. Calum’s wedding ring was made by his dad Philip, a metalworker. Christine’s rings were also pre-loved items. Her engagement ring is an antique Victorian band and her wedding band is an art deco band from the 1920’s. The other jewelry she wore on the day was antique Flora Danica jewelry, which belonged to her Danish grandmother and one of her bridesmaids made a floral hairpiece on the day.
But most important for Christine and Calum was the collective experience all the planning and choices ultimately created. The joy and fun and intimacy were the standout result.
“At the reception we played a lot of games. In Scandinavian weddings this is very traditional, so in between speeches we had Snaps Songs (songs where lyrics were rewritten about us to known songs) and games about us and involving our guests. In one game our guests were asked to stand up if they fitted a category such as “kayaked with Christine and Calum” or “Not Scottish” and we had to guess what category they all shared. These got all of our guests involved, and made the day about everyone, not just us,” said Christine.
It truly was an epic party too, made lively by great music – a mix of ceilidh dancing songs as well as traditional folk songs. The musicians were friends of Calum’s dad, who had played at every ceilidh Calum went to growing up. Their first dance was to a song played and sung by the best man and best woman.
Perhaps one of the best decisions made was choosing photographers Lina and James who produced the most spectacular, natural, and beautiful shots of the day. Christine and Calum chose to spend their wedding morning together getting ready and prior to the ceremony and celebrations they went for a couple of hours with Lina and James for a location shoot. This gave them special time alone to just enjoy the day and each other.
Final words of advice from Christine to achieve a community-based, natural, low-impact and personal wedding;
- Worry less about how your wedding will look, and more about creating time and space to have fun with your guests. No one remembers a fancy flower arrangement, but they will remember laughing all night.
- Do not overload what you have to do in the days beforehand, minimize where you can pre-making as much as you can.
- Ask people for help, people love helping and feeling like a part of your big day. One of the best moments was when a lot of people gathered the night before to peel potatoes and drink gin/beer.
- On the day, if things go wrong just move on, there is nothing you can do and you might as well make the most of it.
- Embrace the weather, it is all part of your day. We got lucky with the weather but it was unusually cold for the time of year, some years it can be a warm summers day but this year it was snow and showers. But the sun came through for us and we had a little bit of every weather in the ceremony but that just made it funny.
- Also, spend as little as possible. I spilt some wine on my dress, but did it matter? No, because I didn’t spend a fortune. Make a full budget before committing to anything, it is all the little things that add up to make a wedding expensive.
- “Why try to make your wedding look like everyone else’s when it can look like yours,’ said Christine.