Michael and Emma only ever wanted an intimate wedding. Initial plans were for Scottish born Michael, and Melbourne girl Emma to fly with a handful of family and friends to the remote wilderness of lutruwita/Tasmania and spend a few nights together exploring beautiful Lake St Clair and its breathtaking surrounding forest.
But you guessed it… Covid.
So, after a couple of postponements – in the hope that others could join them from overseas and interstate – they decided that all that truly mattered was each other and celebrating their connection.
And celebrate they did.
Standing on freezing the shores of leawuleena (palawa for ‘Sleeping Water’) with only the photographer and a hotel staff member as witnesses, Michael donned his family tartan, and Emma stubbornly wore the dress she planned for the summer wedding they had hoped for. They laughed and cried, exchanged the most perfect vows, and shared warming Tasmanian whisky from a traditional Scottish Quaich or “friendship cup” before finally being declared husband and wife.
After the ceremony, while sitting by the fire in their retreat, their celebrant Rachael presented them with a handbound collection of letters and messages from their friends and family from around the world that she had been collating over the previous months.
It was simple, it was heartfelt, it was FREEZING, and it was absolutely bloody perfect.
Emma and Michael met on a sunny Autumn afternoon in Edinburgh, after they ended up at the same dinner. Michael was in town visiting family and friends and Emma was just recovering from a flu she’d picked up working long shifts at the Fringe Festival. After a few too many pints in the sun, they started to get cosy.
What struck Michael about Emma was that she is constantly curious, and he loves being surrounded by new thoughts, ideas and the interesting things that fill their home together. He admires her dedication to her family and friends, even when it is not reciprocated, and has always felt welcomed by her family and others after taken a huge leap of faith and emigrating to Australia.
“Michael has this wonderful attitude of not comparing himself to others, or wishing he had things he doesn’t, and I’ve always found that really inspiring. He’s also incredibly patient! And caring. There is always a hot cup of tea, a lovely meal, or a warm hug”.
Anything Emma needs it is there. He also took the plunge to leave his country (Scotland) and move to Australia so they could be together – and that was a great leap of faith.
The couple relishes slow weekend mornings, when they can decompress from the working week and know we have a couple of days ahead. They’ll often have some of Michael’s homemade bread, a coffee and sometimes do the crossword. These simple moments together are their favourite. It is this ethos that drove their elopement.
ELOPEMENT PLANNING – REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Emma referred to both the Less Stuff – More Meaning website and Mindfully Wed E-Guide throughout the planning process. She said it was great to find a resource that understands people still want to get married, but that they also want to go about it in a way that keeps the environment in mind. In particular, she found the vendor list helpful in bringing together a team with similar values, along with reading and seeing what other couples had done.
They used the Wedding Footprint Calculator and recommend that other couples do the same – the earlier in the planning process, the better as they might be able to find pockets of where there might be changes that can be made before everything gets bedded down. Their elopement’s carbon footprint was 298.62 kgCO2eq, which they are well on their way to offsetting through daily practises such as gardening and buying goods that are second-hand and sustainable where possible.
The couple tried to reduce the need for new things required for the wedding. Michael already had his kilt and decided to reuse his kilt jacket from previous events, as opposed to buying a new one. For Emma’s outfit, focusing on brands that had good sustainable practices was very important; she also wanted to be able to wear the items for years to come. She knew she wanted a dress that was very simple that reflected who she is. She purchased her dress from Toast, a clothing store with good sustainable goals where she buys many of her clothes from – this also had the added benefit of knowing it would fit, as she was familiar with the sizing! She added a pop of shine with vintage shell buttons she got on ETSY. In terms of make-up, Emma went cruelty-free where possible.
The decision to drive as opposed to fly, meant they could take decorations (which just included preserving jars and candles) and anything else we needed from home, including hiking gear.
Abigail from Wildly Abigail collected and dried foraged native flora for Emma’s simple, yet stunning, bouquet.
FROM THE COUPLE
What went to plan and what didn’t?
Originally nothing went to plan! Initially we planned a small wedding with family and friends, but as neither of us have family close-by (Michael is Scottish and I’m from WA), most people were having to travel. However, when things with Covid weren’t getting any better, we realised what was really important to us – and that was celebrating together, just the two of us.
We’d spent time at Pumphouse Point before and we both feel at home in Tassie, so it was an easy choice as to location. And as it was just us, planning was a dream (besides the several date changes due to various lockdowns).
The only thing we had to contend with on the day was the weather! But our fabulous celebrant Rachael and our amazing photographer Nina jumped on board with the 3-degree temperatures, and we simply went outside and did it anyway. It was wonderfully atmospheric and felt very much like we were back in Scotland.
Describe your approach to your elopement day.
We certainly approached the day as a team. We divided up tasks but then did most things together anyway. As we were eloping, to us it was vital we worked with people that were like minded. Meeting both Nina and Rachael via phone meant we could get to know them, and we couldn’t have done the day without them! In the end, really focusing on who you are as a couple, and as people, will mean the day properly feels like your own.
Why did you choose something smaller and more intimate and/or an eco-ethical approach?
The impact of Covid did mean we had to change plans, but even before this at the back of our minds (and although being social (-ish) people) we both knew that if the day ended up being only us, we would feel the most at ease. The agreement to spend a lifetime with someone is a big decision and making that decision privately has held so much meaning.
On the day Rachael gave us a book of collected messages from our loved ones and as we sat down by the fire to read them, it felt like they were all there sharing the day with us. I think there are ways eloping can still be something that can be shared – you just have to be creative! And for us, it was the right thing to do.
When you reflect on your day, what were the most special moments?
There was a weird moment where the weather was horrible so we were sitting in the Retreat but it was too early to get ready, and we both looked at each other and shrugged and laughed. It was strange to think we were going to be married in a few hours, but in that moment, we were in waterproof jackets.
When the wedding began, though, it was the ceremony for us that really stood out. The backdrop of the misty rain, standing by Lake St Clair alongside one another and knowing the other person would always be beside you, was special. To say our vows in such an intimate setting really bought them to life.
What does marriage mean to you?
It’s an adventure in every sense of the word! But an adventure that requires things like kindness, understanding, empathy and trust. Plus, humour and fun.
And finally, what does living purposefully mean to you?
Living purposefully is being authentic to your values and to the ones you love, including yourself.
Continue on for Michael and Emma’s full gallery below…it is utterly delightful.