chris & rico’s achmelvich beach wedding

We were so lucky to find Monika. When we first emailed her about the possibility of being our celebrant, we were pretty clueless about the whole business. Monika was fantastic and, over many emails and Zoom calls, guided us through the process of creating our perfect day. She thought of everything and covered many things we had never even considered. After agreeing on the general outline of the ceremony and sending Monika the readings, our story and other information she requested, Monika began crafting the ceremony. Experiencing it for the first time on the day was fantastic. Monika had taken all the random snippets of our life and woven them into a story linking everything together. The ceremony surpassed all our expectations and was truly perfect.
chris & rico
chris & rico
For me, the story of Chris & Rico’s wedding starts and ends with two lovely tales. The first one: when Chris emailed from New Zealand in early March 2022 to ask if I was able to support his wedding to Rico during a family holiday in the area, he shared that he had come on holiday to near Lochinver every year as a child and that he had great memories from that time. Such a connection is always a great starter! He & Rico had expected to have a registry office wedding until they realised all the freedom that Scotland offered with regard to outdoor weddings. A small, intimate wedding ceremony at the little beach at Achmelvich Bay was now their favourite option, and they were delighted to have found a local celebrant. As it happens this very beach is what my family call’s ‘grandad’s beach’ as it’s on my parents-in-law’s croft and it has long been a dream of mine to conduct a wedding there! 
It might seem short, but three months can be a perfect amount of time to plan a wedding ceremony. It’s short enough to require a real focus, and long enough to still allow for some proper time to explore and consider options. Once we had established that necessary extra steps like a marriage visa (Rico is a US citizen) were doable, our discussions quickly tuned in to the heart of a wedding – the ceremony. ‘Small and intimate’ is often mentioned when I first hear from a couple and it’s always a pleasure to get a better understanding of what that means to individuals. During several zoom calls on Scottish mornings and Auckland evenings and vice versa and many emails we discussed various possibilities, from readings and rituals, to the vows and the role different family members would play on the day. And we talked about the weather, and footwear… I always hope for the best weather-wise and yet I usually have an honest talk with all my couples about the prospect of inclement weather and where their tolerance levels are. The same goes for the terrain, because being local I know that what looks like just a bit of rough ground on a map could well be tougher for some members of a wedding party. Chris assured me his family was used to the outdoors AND would opt for sensible footwear!  
As it happened the two week forecast showed perfect conditions, the one week forecast was still positive about sunshine and as we got closer to the wedding day – we knew Chris & Rico had indeed hit the weather jackpot!
On the day sunshine, warmth and a perfect light breeze welcomed the wedding party at the car park, where I met Chris & Rico, the wedding guests and Allan the photographer. A somewhat different wedding processional followed, along the track and then down the path, laden with blankets, flowers, buckets and spades, pies, cake and champagne – and all sensibly wearing wellington boots. As we set up everybody was astonished about the weather, and incredibly awed by the atmospheric setting – the sparkling white coral sand, shades of turquoise water and blue sky. For the ceremony Chris & Rico had chosen a part of the beach which comes with a backdrop of 3 billion year old rocks of Lewissian Gneiss. The features of the sand and rocks and the stream flowing towards the sea change all the time and luckily, at this very moment, the exposed rocks formed the perfect seating area for the wedding guests, looking towards the couple, and the sea in the background.
The ceremony itself was a joyous celebration of the ‘love journey’ of two men from two different continents, who met on a third and now live on a fourth. Aptly, the theme that ran through the ceremony was travel, not just in their personal story as a couple, but also continued in the readings various family members delivered and through my words about the meaning of marriage. After saying ‘I do’ in response to the words of commitment they had written themselves, formally taking each other as husbands, they exchanged rings made out of New Zealand gold. What a wonderful reminder of their current life, wherever their future as a married couple will take them to.
After the ceremony there was champagne and a wonderful cake, later followed by a swim in the sea. And this is my cue to share the second tale I alluded to at the start… as I chatted with Chris’ parents Karen and John over cake we discovered that for their first wedding anniversary John had bought Karen a pair of ear rings from my father-in-law’s gemstone shop, followed by others in the years to come. How wonderful that many years later I had the privilege to marry their son, at our family beach!
Thanks Chris & Rico for choosing this place so close to my heart for your special day and having me as your celebrant!
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