Mario and Sabine’s Castle Tioram Wedding
Wow, how things have changed since Mario and Sabine’s Castle Tioram wedding just a few weeks ago in March. It was just about a week before the Coronavirus lockdown started here in Scotland and whilst we were all aware of it on the day, I am not sure we fully appreciated the impact it would have in just a very short space of time. Early that morning, as I made the stunning 3 hour trip to the beautiful and remote Ardnamurchan peninsula I for one hadn’t given much thought as to how free I actually was at that point in time. I could literally have driven anywhere I fancied. Now, unable to travel much further than my little village here I will admit that I also feel blessed that I spent just those few hours up in the tiny villages of Dorlin and Salen with Sabine and Mario and their families and I have those beautiful memories to keep with me until we can all travel again. Castle Tioram has stood for around 700 years and it will still be there when all this is over which is probably a good thing as I have a few more elopements booked there this year!
Even though we were just a few days before the official start of spring the weather was dreich. That is to say, typical, very moody Scottish weather. Dark grey skies with gusty wet winds. None of this mattered as I arrived at Sabine and Mario’s accommodation in Salen (the stunning Tigh Na Mara cottage) though as the atmosphere inside could not have been warmer or friendlier. The very lovely Mario and Sabine had brought a few of their closest family members over for Germany and they were having a great time relaxing and doing a spot of sightseeing.
As the time to leave for Castle Tioram drew nearer the weather got steadily worse and, based upon my past experiences with other weddings I was absolutely sure that they were going to relent and have the ceremony indoors at Tigh Na Mara. But nope, I was completely wrong and everyone just decided to wear all the clothes they could find and go for the outdoor ceremony option. Very brave indeed…
I rarely get technical on this blog but I will say that even as a highly experienced wedding photographer of some 20 years, with around 1000 weddings under my belt, I found this wedding one of the toughest to photograph. I always carry two cameras – Fujifilm X-T2 and X-T3 bodies if you’re interested – and a number of lenses but only two of those lenses are weather proof. Whilst both of the lenses are fantastic they are not the ones I’d prefer to use in an ideal situation. I also couldn’t change lenses because the fine droplets of rain were blowing horizontally and as soon as just one tiny speck of that fine Scottish drizzle gets on the camera sensor it renders the £1300 camera useless until I can carefully wipe it off again (not something I could even think of attempting until I got back to the car). Fortunately experience was on my side as I had worked in these conditions many times before and also knew what to expect at the castle in terms of the type of photographs I’d like to capture. I decided to take everything with me in my trusty Billingham bag and have each of the cameras pre-mounted with each of the weather proof lenses that I had. Just in case the rain got worse and both of those bodies got too wet to function I brought along a third camera, tucked away safely as an emergency backup just to be safe. I read about less experienced photographers shooting with just one camera body and running into difficulties all the time – I couldn’t work that way. I am very much a belt-and-braces kind of guy. Wherever you decide to go on the day, in whatever weather, I know that I have to be there for you to take photographs.
Although the weather was quite nasty it was such a beautiful experience to be there. Just 8 folk plus humanist celebrant Paula Wilkinson from Fuze Ceremonies (I also work with her through our joint cooperative Bog Cotton Scottish Elopements) and the amazing Bonny. Bonny is a hairdresser and makeup artist who runs Bonny’s Wonderland but she also speaks fluent German. She is also apparently completely impervious to the rain and wind and wore the least practical clothes of us all and still survived. Since everyone there aside from Paula and I, and Angus the piper, were from Germany she did a brilliant job of translating the whole ceremony and delivering it in Mario and Sabine’s mother tongue. As my German is extremely limited it made for a slightly amusing ceremony because one minute I would be taking photographs of everyone smiling and laughing and the next people started spontaneously crying and I had absolutely no idea why.
During the ceremony the weather finally cleared up and the fast changing scenery metamorphosed once more and I could even risk opening my camera bag and changing camera lenses. We all walked back to the car park so that the necessary legal documents could be signed in the comfort of Sabine’s father’s fancy campervan before holding the traditional quaich ceremony (not quiche ceremony as spellcheck keeps insisting I write – that would be much less Scottish) in a little woodland dell nearby. Everyone except for the bride and groom and myself went back to the coziness of their cottage while we stayed out just a little longer to capture some less rainy pictures at the castle and the little bridge along the road.
It was a tough but very lovely day for me as a photographer and will be one of those weddings that I remember for a very long time. Thank you Sabine and Mario for letting me share your wedding photographs here on my blog!
If you’d like to see some other Castle Tioram Weddings take a look at Keenan and Kirsten’s wedding. For another very inclement wedding you can also check out Tami and Timothy’s wedding last year at Kilchurn Castle.