A humanist wedding in Scotland in the aftermath of Storm Arwen

14 Mar 2022

Stephen George and Jodie Wilson fought various battles to get the wedding day they'd planned, and won the war against all odds

How did you meet?

I work as a police officer. I was in Tesco with a colleague grabbing lunch when I saw Jodie. She was working at the deli counter offering cheese samples. I was drawn to her but walked past and after some time pondering with my colleague, I decided to approach her. It went really badly as she handed us a cheese sample and this was followed by an awkward silence.

Fast forward a few weeks and my colleague and I were walking to work one morning when Jodie was walking towards us. As we drew closer, Jodie was staring at me and as we walked past each other, she tripped in a puddle and we burst out laughing. I actually turned to my colleague and told him "I'm going to marry her". A few weeks after that, we finally met on a night out and exchanged numbers.

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Tell us about the proposal

Bittersweet, as I had just received a phone call to tell me I had cancer (melanoma). Suffice to say we were both emotional wrecks, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life, no matter how short, with her. So sitting beside her on the couch crying, I asked her to marry me and thankfully she said yes.

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How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?

We had to cancel the wedding twice and in all honesty, were losing enthusiasm to book it a third time. We decided to book a wee break away with the dogs and then discovered the estate did weddings, so decided to try a smaller scale wedding of 25 guests. This was to minimise disruption, should we have had to cancel a third time.

However, we faced many other dramas such as having to replace our humanist celebrant at the last minute. Storm Arwen hit five days before the wedding, with our venue location being one of the areas worst hit. We were two hours in to the four-hour journey to the venue when we received a phone call from them, advising us we couldn't stay there and we may not be able to get married there as there was no electricity in the area.

If this wasn't enough, as we drove through the Cairngorms to get there, the snow worsened and snow gates were closed. We were forced to take another route, but became stuck in the snow and had to negotiate fallen trees on the road, at one point driving under a fallen tree which was perilously close to our roof. When we got to the village of Aboyne to get our marriage licence, we realised we needed to find somewhere to stay that took dogs.

We managed to book in to great lodges an hour away, which were luxurious and had a hot tub (much welcomed). However, when we got there, we found out they had no running water. It seemed like someone was trying everything to make it difficult for us to get married.

With family due to arrive from all over Scotland, we didn't know if the wedding was going ahead. With less than 24 hours left, we finally made an agreement with the estate to allow us to get married in one of their rooms which had a log fire. We used candle light as darkness crept in and it ended up being such an amazing day, against all odds. 

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme? 

A rustic Scottish theme, with an autumn/winter colour palette. 

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

Glen Tanar Estate. We chose it because it looked picturesque and secluded.

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How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?

Jodie: I saw the dress on Avorio Bridal's Instagram page the day before I was due to go to the shop and I loved it. I had been to other shops and tried various other styles, but didn't find the one. When I got to Avorio, I asked to try the dress I saw online despite similar styles not suiting me. The moment I put it on, I just knew that was the dress for me. The designer was Sottero and Midgley and the dress was called Judson.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

Jodie: My closest friends: Nicky, Laura, Chelsea and Jill. They wore maxi tulle bridesmaids' dresses in navy blue.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

The mother of the bride wore a silver dress and matching hatinator.

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Where did you find your suits?

The groom wore Ancient Caithness Tartan kilt outfit, sourced from a local kiltshop called Black Stairs Highlandwear.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Overjoyed and a little boozy.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our humanist celebrant, Neil Lynch, asked us to fill out a questionnaire to make it personal to us. We decided to do the oathing stone tradition. Weeks before the wedding, we were walking our dogs along the watefront where we had our first kiss and our labrador picked up a nice stone. We had it engraved with our initials and a dog paw print/love heart and used it as our oathing stone. The ceremony was beautiful and Neil made it so relaxed with humour thrown in.

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What was your most memorable moment?

When it snowed during the photographs.

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What was the most important investment for you?

The photography.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

The Pogues' Love You Til The End. We both love the song and the lyrics were very fitting.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

It was a two tier sponge cake. The bottom tier was a wood effect fondant with our initials carved within and a salted caramel flavour. The top tier was white fondant with stencilled detail, white chocolate and raspberry flavoured and decorated with dried flowers. 

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

For all the drama that came with it, we would change nothing at all. Against all odds and in the face of adversity, we somehow salvaged a day to remember.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Keep it simple, don't sweat the small stuff and an amazing wedding doesn't need to cost a lot of money.

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Steal their style: 

Photography: Danielle Leslie Photography
Venue: Glen Tanar Estate
Dress: Avorial Bridal
Hair: Michelle Reid Hairdressing 
Make-up: Caelin Reid Makeup 
Jewellery: The Fairy Workshop Boutique
Bridesmaids' dresses: Maya Deluxe
Kilt outfit: Blackstairs Highland Wear, Wick
Flowers: The Artisan Dried Flower Co
Cake: Evelyn's Cake Boutique
Accommodation: Hillhead Hideaways 

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