Like many of my couples visiting Scotland, Alison and Aaron initially came to me wanting a “quick photoshoot” to mark their time in Scotland (also their wedding anniversary). Little did they know that this would lead to an incredible all-day adventure session in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. And being part of some of Scotland’s oldest traditions in a beautiful Celtic handfasting ceremony.
The first part of this story is telling you about the hugely inspiring journey of Alison and Aaron to become debt-free. In November 2018, they finished paying off $125,000 worth of debt and they did it in a mere 28 months!! It was a lot of hard work – analysing and optimising every aspect of their life to get them to financial freedom. As a reward, they didn’t lift the foot from the money-saving gas pedal but trucked on ahead as they planned a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Scotland. They’d both fallen in love with Scotland – helped along a little bit by their love for Outlander (hello Sam Heughan, swoon!). It was also perfectly timed to celebrate 5 years of their marriage.
And so the Scottish adventure begins…
When they first got in touch with me, they wanted a simple quick photoshoot that would feel quintessentially Scottish as a memento to mark both their trip to Scotland and their 5th year anniversary. As we got to know each other and chatted back and forth about what this could look like, the plan began to evolve into a true adventure experience. What started out as a quick photoshoot, maybe in Inverness city, turned into a full day adventure roaming the Scottish Highlands.
Not only was the day becoming more of an adventure – but we’d also chatted about how we could mark their 5th year anniversary in a meaningful and memorable way. With their love for Scottish heritage, I had suggested they may want to consider a lovely Scottish celtic handfasting ceremony.
Used as a way to bind lovers together, a ribbon is tied around joined hands to mark a commitment to each other. Though typically seen on wedding days themselves – a traditional handfasting can be used in a variety of ceremonies at any point of your relationship (i.e. as a vow renewal, anniversary, commitment ceremony etc.). Wanting to feel immersed in Scottish culture, Alison and Aaron were so excited to include this as part of their day.
We started the day exploring Doune Castle just after sunrise – which was used as the seat of Clan Mackenzie in Outlander, the hit TV show.
No real adventure goes to plan
I kinda love it when things go a little wrong – those are some of the moments that make a day truly unforgettable. For this pair, their plan went a little awry from their first steps on Scottish soil. They had a bit of trouble with their hire car… meaning they found themselves now having to navigate public transport for the rest of their trip in late December. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it meant that we got to spend a fun drive all together for the day. And at the end, they were able to hop on a train to their next destination at the end.
Dave and I love being able to share a car ride together – there’s music, chitchatting, bad jokes and impromptu stops (which are a lot trickier to coordinate in different cars). For Alison and Aaron, it meant they could sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery (without having to worry about driving on the other side of the road and trying to tail us). It also meant that we were able to just take the day more casually – stopping anywhere that struck our fancy. This included a last-second emergency-stop to meet some Highland Cows, for which Dave has now earned the title of ‘Supreme Coospotter’.
Dreich rainy winter adventure session in Glencoe, Scotland
The other thing that we can never quite entirely plan for – Scottish weather. Alison and Aaron got the FULL Scottish wet weather experience. We haven’t photographed a session that has been as wet before or since. After a lovely dry morning stopping at Doune Castle (a popular Outlander filming location) it began to chuck it down. And it didn’t stop. The.Whole.Darn.Day. But to Alison and Aaron’s credit, they completely embraced every drop that Scotland threw at them – not letting the rain get in the way of having an amazing day.
It was SO wet that when we stopped at the Kingshouse Hotel for lunch, a lovely waitress came over and handed us all dry towels as we sat down. (PS. Kinghouse Hotel in Glencoe is also a brilliant place to stop and meet some deer up close. They have a couple of cheeky stags who love a carrot.)
Worried about the weather on your Scottish adventure session? Check out my blog here about how to prepare and make the most of a wet day!
Scottish handfasting ceremony at Lagangarbh Hut, Glencoe
After a lot of roaming and exploring around lochs and hills- we finally decided on performing the handfasting ceremony by Lagangarbh’s Hut (aka the Wee White Hoose) in Glencoe valley. The rain was (thankfully) a mere drizzle whilst Aaron and Alison tied the knot, drank from a quaich and read special letters to each other. Five years ago, the night before their wedding they had written each other letters which they had sealed shut – only to be read on their 5th year anniversary. A beautiful idea and such a privilege to witness their emotions as they read the old letters for the first time.
Read more about Scottish handfastings and celtic traditions here.
The last of the fading Winter’s light
After a glorious emotional handfasting, we raced the last of the Winter’s light to see more of Glencoe. We went down to the famous Three Sister’s viewpoint. And then raced back up to road to Glen Etive to take in the sights of the glorious Buachaille Etive Mhor mountain. This mountain is said to be the most photographed mountain in Scotland!
We were also lucky to enough another little deer who was only too happy to come from a wander as long as there were carrots involved!
It was truly an honour to help Alison and Aaron have these memories of Scotland. It’s an adventure we won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
How to have an adventure session in Scotland
If this has made you think about having an epic adventure session or handfasting in Glencoe or somewhere else in Scotland then this is how it all works.
Step 1: Get in touch + getting to know you
Contact me using my contact form. We’ll have a virtual coffee date so we can chat through your initial thoughts – it also gives you an idea to suss me out. If you’re happy to book me, we’ll get your date all booked in then the fun part begins! As we go through the planning, we’ll get to know each other so it feels like you have a wee Scottish buddy with you on your adventure session – no awkward small talk!
Step 2: Planning – location + timeline
This is where the real fun starts! We’ll chat through a whole bunch of options for where your session will be held – this will be based on the logistics of where you’ll be, what you want to see and how much time we have together. Then by getting to know you, I’ll create an epic timeline in that place to suit you perfectly.
Step 3: Adventure! + memories made
Adventure tiiiiiiiiiiime – we’ll have a magical day of exploring some of the most stunning parts of Scotland. Most of all, let’s have fun! It’s all about the experience of the day – you’ll just-so-happen to get some wonderful photos at the end of it all.