sarah & tim’s balnakeil beach elopement

All we knew was where we would like to marry and that we wanted to keep it simple, just the two of us. We chose Balnakeil beach as Sarah had spent many happy childhood holidays at Durness and it holds a special place in her heart. The stunning NW highlands are now a joy for both of us. We were delighted to find Monika. With her great wealth of knowledge, she took us by the hand to navigate the many options to make our ceremony both personal and intimate. By detailing our backgrounds, values, beliefs and love of both places and one another, Monika got to really know us. The poems and readings we selected allowed us to truly express how much Sarah and I mean to each other. This in itself was a profound rite of passage. Monikas considered and thoughtful words skilfully knitted the whole ceremony together. Monika went above and beyond, providing timely reminders, leading us through all the legalities, supporting with witnesses and despite the early March weather travelling the 60 miles from Achmelvich to Durness to greet us with a warm and welcoming smile. The photographs reflect that, as we stood before each other at Balnakeil and proclaimed our vows, Monika had now become a friend, confident and facilitator of the happiest, most emotional and fulfilling day of our lives.
sarah & tim
sarah & tim
Sarah & Tim first got in touch in October 2021, sharing their wish to have a simple wedding ceremony in the North-West Highlands in March 2022, just the two of them. They had a couple of locations in mind that meant a lot to them, with Balnakeil Beach, in particular, holding happy holiday memories for Sarah, going back all the way to childhood days. Fortunately, Tim had fallen in love with the Highlands too, and of course, I was more than happy to conduct their elopement ceremony in their dream location. Their affinity with the place and my own love for the very same landscape created the perfect starting point for planning their very special day.
Separated by nearly 500 miles, all our conversations took place via Zoom and emails, but we built rapport quickly. Both generously shared the story of their relationship with me, what they valued in each other, what marriage meant to them, and how they saw their future as husband and wife. Ideas for their simple but meaningful ceremony started to take shape and over the weeks and months that followed all the elements gradually fell into place. I incorporated Sarah & Tim’s chosen vows and words for exchanging rings and selected readings – all to be delivered on the big day in March with the backdrop of the rough and beautiful Scottish coast.
Whilst we didn’t quite find the blue skies everybody had been hoping for at least the strong gusts of wind settled at the last minute and there was a hint of sunshine when we arrived at the beautiful beach – which we had all to ourselves. Sarah & Tim had not met their two witnesses before, my husband and a close friend and as we walked toward their chosen location we did quick introductions. It is no doubt a unique experience to share something as personal as an elopement wedding ceremony with strangers, express your deepest feelings and commitments to each other in front of them, and yet it is indeed momentous and even symbolic to have those outsiders bear witness. Because taking that step from private and personal to the next level is at the core of every wedding.
After setting the scene with a Robert Burns poem that Sarah had chosen the ceremony flowed from reflections about their journey as a couple, through their vows, exchange of rings and ‘I do’s, and finished with a short passage from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, which perfectly matched the nature theme that ran through the service. The choppy sea, the blustery sky, the bracing cold provided the perfect stage for celebrating the union of a couple who shares a deep love for walking & nature, and not just in perfect conditions. Sarah & Tim are used to tackling challenges together, willing to take on uphill slogs for the view from the top of a mountain, and weathering storms together. A perfectly beautiful, sunny, pristine beach day might actually have been at odds with thoughts about supporting each other on tough terrain, and through tough times too.
Thanks, Sarah & Tim for allowing us to be part of your very special day up North!
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