April and Colin’s Dunscaith Castle Elopement Skye
Canadians April and Colin first contacted me because I photographed the wedding of their friends a couple of years ago on the Scottish island of Mull. April and Colin, who not only love Scotland but actually have family links back to the area they were married, went just a little bit further north and planned their own Dunscaith Castle elopement on Skye.
The one thing they couldn’t plan for, of course, was the weather. In typical Isle of Skye fashion, it was grim. I drove up northwards through the island to Portree to meet everyone at their cottage, right by the harbour, and passed through just about every type of weather you could imagine. About half of my photography equipment is weather-resistant, and that’s more than enough for your typical wedding, but photographing in the wind and rain still poses some difficult challenges.
I’ve photographed so many wet weddings and elopements over the years that I can’t even guess an actual figure but, as a result of my regular soakings, I have learned how to work in these conditions by trial and error. As I was driving along I was mulling over the equipment I would take with me. Even though my cameras are resistant to the rain it is always a terrible idea to try and change lenses outdoors because a single spot of fine Scottish drizzle on a digital camera sensor will refer it practically useless for the rest of the day (you can’t clean it off without special tissue in a clean and dry space). Still, it was a fair old drive up from Glasgow so I had plenty of time to discuss my plan of attack with my dog, little Chip, who was accompanying me that day.
My own weather concerns didn’t seem to have bothered April and Colin as when I arrived at Harbour Cottage in Portree they were still 100% set upon their outdoor ceremony at Dunscaith castle and were in great spirits. After a few pictures of the hair and makeup (Sophie from the team at Bonny’s Wonderland), a first-look and a quick photoshoot by Portree harbour in the sunshine that miraculously appeared as were leaving, we packed the cars and headed south to the Sleat peninsula to find the ruins of Dunscaith castle.
After driving through apocalyptic wind and rain it was something of a miracle to arrive in the teeny hamlet of Tokavaig to find that it was actually dry! We met up with Humanist Francesca Leigh and walked together along the winding farm track that led to the ruins of Dunscaith castle in the distance. The castle was build around 1100 so the fact that there is anything there at all is something of a miracle but, even without the ruins of the ancient historical wonder, this was an absolutely breathtaking spot for a wedding ceremony on the Isle of Skye. In so many ways the dark foreboding sky and distant squalls of rain across the Black Cuillins only make the setting more magical. Somehow Scotland isn’t quite the same with clear skies and sunshine.
We found a slightly sheltered spot in a dip behind a large rock but the 50 mph winds still made for some dramatic hair photographs. It actually got me thinking about whether it would be a good idea for brides to have both a good weather and a bad weather hairstyle? April said that she wasn’t really worried about her hair whipping around in the pictures (good job eh!) and was more concerned with the amount of it she had eaten that day.
I can’t write about this wedding without mentioning how incredibly wonderful it was to see two people so comfortable and happy in each other’s company. I have photographed literally hundreds of weddings and elopements and am pretty used to the couple standing next to each other, barely holding hands or even looking at each other. For me that’s pretty normal. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, maybe it was the drama of our location or maybe the combined weight of two people was safer in the gale force winds but April and Colin cuddled each other the whole time and seemed to be lost in each other’s arms. It was as though they were in a little bubble of happiness with their four friends in that moment and absolutely nothing was going to break their spell. It was, honestly, genuinely beautiful.
Folk are always asking me whether I like being an elopement photographer and the answer is absolutely yes. There are no crazy formalities, there aren’t a hundred friends ands family watching you and there are no rules. You can truly be yourselves without having to focus on anything else at all. I think elopements are perfect and this was a brilliant example to photograph. To be so close to everything and to be able to have the freedom to move around and photograph the ceremony, their tears, their happiness and the epic views is, for a photographer like me, what makes the job worthwhile.
Colin and April’s wedding was the first Dunscaith castle elopement I’d ever photographed but I would definitely recommend it as a truly epic place to get married on the Isle of Skye. I love an adventure and am very used to photographing in all the wild and remote locations Scotland has to offer, all year round. If you’d like me to come along with you and capture the story of your own wedding or elopement without any fuss just let me know.