I don’t think I will ever forget the day I received the first email from Sophie. For months, I had told people my dream photo session would be a couple in the Scottish Highlands. And then I opened Sophie’s email right after a midday nap.
“My partner and I are eloping … and were not planning on having a photographer present but I’ve stumbled across your Instagram page and your portfolio and have fallen in love with the images that you create. I have checked your travel schedule and wonder whether there is any chance that you would be in Scotland on our wedding day? We haven’t finalized a location yet but we are outdoors-loving individuals and will be braving the Scottish winter weather to cement our partnership.”
My first thought: this is a scam. And my second: if it’s not a scam, I am still dreaming. It wasn’t till I got off the phone with Sophie and receiving an e-mail with the flight booking confirmation that I believed this was real.
About one month later I found myself at the Inverness airport being greeted by Sophie. ‘You’re so tanned!’ is the first thing she said, and that’s the moment I knew she’d become my friend (nobody had ever said that to me before, but winter in France does miracles for my tanning!). When driving to Sophie and Ross’ home, I was amazed at how much I felt like we already knew each other for so long. I got to spend the days before the wedding in the house of Ross, Sophie, and their young dog Victor and I loved getting to know them so well before the wedding day.
Sophie wanted to make her own dress for the elopement since she has a family history of dressmaking. I loved the idea and I was amazed by how she seemed to know just how to do that! The timing was a bit of a problem though… which did not seem to surprise her, Ross or their bridesmaid Karen and best man Steve. After Steve and Karen arrived we drove to a hotel near Fort William in the Highlands.
The next morning was the day of the wedding, and Sophie still had to finish the dress. In the morning there were just separate parts, which she still had to sew together. And then the dress needed to have a zipper and the bottom part had to be cut to make it more of a straight line. You can imagine, that was a bit of a stressful morning. In the end, Karen had to sew Sophie in her dress since there was no time for fixing the zipper, and Ross had to cut the bottom of the dress into a straight line (it turned out not too straight but hey 😉 ).
And then it was time to drive to the Glencoe valley, where we met with humanist celebrant Neil for the ceremony. He knew a nice quiet spot with amazing views on the three mountains called ‘The Three Sisters’. We saw wet weather coming, so Sophie put on the long raincoat Neil brought. No longer could we see the dress, which I found hilarious since all the effort she had done the previous two days. Neil had brought his dog, who Victor immediately decided was his new best friend. I am still not sure how happy Neil’s dog was with his puppy craziness around him.
Soon after the start of the ceremony, a snowstorm arrived, and it lasted the full length of the ceremony. Neil continued as if nothing happened and Steve and Karen stood behind the bride and groom to protect them against the harsh weather. Even though I was quite challenged by the snow hitting straight into my lens (leaving drops that I couldn’t dry quick enough before new drops arrived), I loved every little bit of the ceremony. It feels so special to be part of someone’s (secret) elopement, such a big moment in their lives. And then to be the one to provide these people with the pictures to remember this day forever… Love my job!