06 September 2009

A Wedding: Scottish Style

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to my first Scottish wedding this past Friday. It was of Pip and Alec that I took photos of on Saturday. Mark was bummed he had a NT conference on campus to attend so he was unable to join me for the festivities. And I had some girl friends unable to go as well, so this post is as much for them as the rest of you :) We've all been wondering how a Scottish wedding compared to an American one. And while I do realize that even amongst American weddings there is diversity, and assume the same is true of Scottish ones, I thought I'd still share what I observed as different in this particular Scottish wedding compared to the multiple American ones I've attended.

For starters, it poured all day the day before. Like for over 24 hours it just kept coming down hard and steady. Things were flooding, roads were closing, train lines stopped. I kept waiting for Noah and his ark to go floating by. I think everyone participating in the wedding must have been praying overtime, because around 20-30 minutes before the wedding the sun came out!! It was so great to see again and that way the bride didn't have to get drenched going into the wedding.

In Scotland many more weddings are conducted on Friday's. Often on summer Friday afternoon's on campus there are weddings taking place at the chapel. I'm unsure why this is such a popular time to get married, but it is. All I can figure is that everyone gets plenty of days off work so it isn't such a big deal for all of your guests to take a day off to participate in your wedding activities.

There was, of course, the traditional piper (bag piper, that is) outside the church playing signaling to all wedding was about to start. Sorry, no photo. Couldn't bring myself to be a tourist this time.
Another thing you would notice quickly at most weddings here are the hats. Many women, especially the, er, more mature generations, would be wearing hats. At this wedding there weren't too many worn, but some of the weddings I've seen on campus have had nearly all ladies in hats. 
They did have the bride side and groom side, but the ushers didn't properly escort anyone to their seats. Just more of a "go find your own seat" approach. I noticed that even when the bride's mother went down the aisle no one really escorted her. There was an usher with her, but he just walked behind her. 
The dad still escorts the bride into the ceremony, and the groom with groomsmen were waiting at the end of the aisle. However, the bridesmaids and then the minister followed the bride in! (You can just see the bride's sister and maid-of-honor in the back of this photo.) Isn't Pip beautiful?! Her dress was amazing and I'm not sure if I've ever liked a wedding dress quite as much as I liked hers. Might have even liked it more than my own (which I loved). But I digress. There were no ringbearers or flower girls. Not sure if this is standard or just this particular wedding.
Another thing that caught my attention was how there were two groomsman (his brothers) and 3 bridesmaids, but the other two bridesmaids didn't actually stand up during the ceremony (just her sister). (Note large purple hat on bottom right.) Also, decorations much more simple. One large arrangement at front of church and then small arrangements hanging from the columns on either side of the stage (though not sure they are pictured in any of these photos.)
As for the ceremony. It was definitely a worship service, which was great. Lots of singing which I have seen at some US weddings. The thing I found most interesting was how quickly into the hour or so wedding they were pronounced man and wife and got to kiss. There was the giving away of the bride, a song, Scripture reading, and then the exchange of the vows and rings (which the minister [his dad] had and gave to them), the kiss and lots of people taking pictures. Then we kept singing. Then there was a charge or sermonette from the other minister [our church minister, he's pictured above]. During this charge the couple, as well as their attendents, sat down. I liked that idea as usually everyone gets tired of standing and this keeps anyone from wanting to faint. I wish we had done this! It is probably easier to listen and concentrate on what is actually being said. Then again, that might be why everyone gets videos to watch later :)

After more singing the couple, their attendents, and the ministers went to the back room to sign the marriage register while everyone else stayed put and listened to two songs sung by a duet. It felt kind of weird not to have the couple there for so long. Finally they came back, think we sang one last song and had a prayer, and then they got to go down the aisle. Slightly anti-climactic (in my opinion) but joyous nonetheless as you will see below.

Below is my personal favorite photo of the day for it's artistic quality. It paid to be on the back row and have the glass window looking into the vestibule at my disposal. Despite the sunny look, it was drizzling again at this point. In the words of another guest, the day was very "changeable." I love that Scottish description of the run/sun/run/sun/rain/sun pattern on many days here. It embodies the "you can never be quite sure what will be happening in the next moment weather-wise" reality.

I think they were scheduled to do photos outside, but because of the drizzle kept them inside. Seemed very typical. Bride/groom ones, family ones, wedding party ones. Do you see that dress? Lovely. And while we are on clothing, yes it is very traditional and typical of the gentlemen to be in kilts (wearing the tarten plaid/colors of one side of their family) with those socks/shoes and a tux-like suitcoat. Oh, and wearing the traditional sporran which is possibly the Scottish version of a "murse." Awesome. I also noted that the men's lapels were unopened thistles, which is the Scottish flower/national emblem.
And wedding party ones.
Just to give you a better idea of the kilts. Mark was disappointed Alec wasn't wearing a dagger in his sock like you sometime see. This also is a good place to mention other men (other than the groom) at weddings will be in kilts (again sporting their personal family tarten, though at times maybe they just have whatever pattern they like most). Definitely the wedding party men, male musicians and many other male guests who are Scottish.

I was sad that I never got a chance to say congrats to the couple afterwards, but the tea/coffee/sandwiches/cakes (which means, sweet baked goods, not THE cake) reception through the "hall" was jam packed. Plus I think they were still taking photos and maybe even braved a few outside at some point.

The partying would have continued later in the evening with many of the guests attending a ceilidh. Maybe even a dinner? To read more about another friend's wedding experience (though more just the reception experience since she says that usually only family and close friends attend the actual wedding ceremony. I think that because this was a Christian wedding maybe it was different?) go here.

So think that is it. All in all, it really wasn't too different than what I've experienced at American weddings. I'm thankful Pip and Alec invited the entire church to attend their ceremony so that I could celebrate with them, but also gain another cultural experience.


Mama Em said...

Thanks for the detailed account. That pic of her laughing will be fave of hers, I imagine!! I often preferred my friends' candid shots to those of my official photog (who granted was awful). Anyway, job well done!!

The Green Family said...

Beautiful pics, Rachel! Her dress truly is beautiful too. Wow. Looks great on her. Makes us miss Gilc too!!! :-(

Siân said...

What a beautiful picture you took. Definitely makes me miss Gilc...

You got invited to a wedding hey? you're a real local now!!