Grace and Jon flew in from the USA and married in a Wild and Wet Isle of Skye Elopement in Scotland after hiking up to the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
I asked them a few questions about their experience eloping in Scotland and if they could pass on any words of wisdom to others thinking about doing the same! Read on to find out how thier day unfolded and for some good advice from the couple themselves!
Cast and Crew
Couple : Grace and Jon
Celebrant: Ashton Easter
Accommodation : Monkstadt 1745
Location : Isle Of Skye
Florals: Rosehip and Wren
Dress : And For Love
Tux : Nordstrom
Second Photographer : Justyna Wadrzyk
The Writer and The Cinematographer
An Isle of Skye Elopement in Scotland
1. Where are you from/where do you live and how did you meet?
In 2011, Grace and Jon moved to Toronto, Canada, to attend York University. Grace had moved from Newfoundland and Jon had moved from Six Nations. During a Frosh Week beach trip, they were sitting on the bus across from each other but hadn’t met yet. To pass the time, Grace’s friend suggested playing a game and told Grace to go first, instructing her to “say a name.”
“Jon,” said Grace, saying the first name that popped into her head.
“No! Someone who is here!” said her friend. But before Grace could say another name, Jon spoke up.
“I’m Jon,” he said, turning around and raising his hand. The future couple spent the rest of the day together on the beach and immediately started dating.
2. What do you both do for a living and do you have similar interests?
More than 10 years later, Jon is a director and a cinematographer and Grace is a journalist. Our shared interests are traveling (of course!), hiking, hunting for the best restaurants in the city, camping, our two cats, and deeply analyzing (and sometimes arguing about) the story structure of certain books and movies.
3. How long were you together before the proposal? Who proposed and how/where?
On Sept. 17, 2021, Jon proposed to Grace on their tenth anniversary. About a month or two before, Jon suggested planning something special for the day, so we booked a reservation at our favourite restaurant and a night at our favourite hotel. As soon as Grace walked into the hotel room, and before she had time to freshen up and change after work, Jon was down on one knee asking her to marry him. They then had a romantic evening drinking champagne and eating oysters and steak. Plus! That same evening, Grace’s sister announced she was pregnant with her first child.
4. Did you always envisage eloping to Scotland? Or Did you have anywhere else in mind?
It was always Scotland! We had always wanted to go, and when we thought of eloping, we wanted to do something epic and romantic. We couldn’t think of anywhere better than the Scottish Highlands, and then more specifically, the Old Man of Storr. We were told that legend says the area is a burial ground for giants. What could be more epic and monumental than getting married among the giants?
5. Did you consider a big wedding or was it always going to be a smaller wedding/elopement? Were your family happy you were running away to Scotland to get hitched?
We had talked about different wedding scenarios including a restaurant wedding in Toronto or a backyard wedding in Newfoundland, but eloping was what excited us the most. We weren’t interested in planning (or paying for!) a big event; we felt like it removed the intimacy and romance of getting married. And our families were supportive. They were just happy that we were going to have the wedding that we wanted. There may have been a couple of we-would-have-liked-to-go comments, but no major pushbacks.
6. What attracted you to an Isle of Skye Elopement in Scotland? Had you been to the area before?
We get asked this a lot, whether we have a special connection to Scotland. We don’t! We had always wanted to go to Scotland, so figured we’d also get married and do it all in one go. We chose an Isle of Skye elopement in Scotland because of how amazing Sean Bell’s photos were.
7. How did you choose your elopement spot on the Isle of Skye and was the day how you imagined?
Once we had decided we wanted Sean as our photographer, we picked the location based on our favourite photos of his. We saw a photo of a couple backed by the Old Man of Storr and we were completely shocked. The image was just so cinematic and dramatic and captured what we wanted our elopement to be.
The day blew all of our expectations away. You always hear of how stressful wedding days can be, but ours was incredibly peaceful. The only plan we had that day was to get married around 4 o’clock. We were able to get up at a reasonable hour, have a leisurely breakfast in our hotel and get ready at our own pace. Once Sean and Justyna showed up, we took photos in the hotel, then took off for the day. We ended up at three locations (the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr and Staffin Beach), and then ended the day with a private dinner at our hotel in our jeans and sweaters. It couldn’t have been more intimate. It was also a lot of fun riding around with Sean and Justyna in their van, chatting and listening to music. We bonded over our love for Fleetwood Mac.
8. What were your impressions of Isle of Skye and Scotland? Anything stand out, from the landscape, the food, culture etc?
Isle of Skye is our favourite place we’ve ever been. The island has the most amazing landscapes, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We arrived five days before our wedding, so had a chance to fall in love with Skye before we were married. Our favourite spots were the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr and Neist Point. The food was also incredible. We ate A LOT of seafood. The best food we ate was from the Oyster Shed, a little shed in Carbost where you eat off of barrels overlooking the ocean, and Scorrybreac, a Michelin-star fine dining restaurant in Portree.
Culturally, it was also similar to Newfoundland (in Canada), where Grace is from. She felt completely at home in the friendly, no-fuss environment.
9. Who was your celebrant and how did you find them?
Our celebrant was Ashton Easter. We found him through the Humanist Association of Scotland. He was great! A super outdoorsy guy, more than up for the hike up Storr and a rainy and windy ceremony. We had to keep up with him! He also added a nice touch to the ceremony: we each privately sent him three things we loved about each other, and he read them out loud as a little surprise.
10. How did you find your accommodation? Where and what was it like?
The night before and the night of our wedding, we stayed at Monkstadt 1745 Luxury Lodge on Skye. It’s a gorgeous, private spot full of antique furniture, lush curtains and carpets, and clawfoot tubs. It’s small, warm and welcoming. It has a rich history, too: it’s where Bonnie Prince Charlie fled after the Battle of Culloden. The staff were accommodating and made sure our stay was special. They have a little dining room and a whiskey room, the perfect place to end a day of being whipped around by the unpredictable Scottish weather. On our wedding day, we got carried away taking photos and they happily kept the dining room open late for us. We didn’t eat until after 10 p.m., but luckily, the sun was still setting. The perfect atmosphere for our wedding night dinner.
11. Anything on your day that really stands out, memories, moments, any little vignettes that have stayed with you?
When thinking back on the day, what stands out the most is the sense of peace. Although we hiked through mud, rain and wind, we were still left with a sense of utter peace. A specific moment is making it to the top of the Old Man of Storr. It’s such an incredible spot and we couldn’t believe we were getting married there. To top it all off: as soon as the ceremony started, the rain and wind kicked up. We weren’t fussed! It’s totally surreal looking at the person you’re going to marry, standing among the giant Mordor-esque rocks, getting pummeled by the wind and the rain. We would have gone to Mexico if we wanted a tropical wedding!
After the ceremony, we went to Staffin Beach and lucked into a beautiful sunset. We hadn’t planned on going there, so it felt like we just ended up in the right place at the right time. It was also probably the only part of the day when we were totally dry.
12. If you could offer a few bits of advice for couples looking to have an Isle of Skye elopement in Scotland and coming from The US or anywhere, what would they be?
- Stay on top of when your documents/applications are due. We wanted to legally get married in Scotland so we needed marriage visas, marriage licenses, etc. It doesn’t get overwhelming if you make a schedule and you are prepared. If it’s all left to the last minute, it will be a nightmare.
- Wear waterproof boots and wool socks. A wool shawl goes far too and looks great with a wedding dress. And pack snacks.
- Arrive early. We gave ourselves five days in Skye before our wedding day and it gave us the time and freedom to fall in love with it before our ceremony. By the time we said our vows, we felt like we truly belonged there and it made the day all the more special.
- If you don’t have witnesses, choose great photographers (like Sean and Justyna) who will act as your witnesses and who you can have a great day with. For us, it felt like we had made new pals and we had an awesome time hanging out.
- Let your photographers be creative. We didn’t have specific shots we wanted and were game for whatever Sean and Justyna wanted to do. You’re probably eloping in Scotland because you want a dramatic landscape and you’re an adventurous couple. Keep up that spirit by letting your photographers do what they do best!
- Don’t over plan the day, live in the moment and let yourself be surprised. Our only plan was to get married on top of Storr around 4 p.m., and we let the rest of the day unfold naturally. We had such an amazing day and our photos are spectacular. It would have been different had we not had that freedom.
13. Lastly, anything else you want to add?
We have never regretted eloping. Taking control of our wedding and not being pressured into a big event was empowering for us. It also brought us closer together. What better way to start a marriage than with a wild adventure?
If you are looking to Elope to Scotland and need some help, please do check out my ‘how to’ guide.