First of all, the sheer creativity + multicultural richness + countryside charm that embodied this wedding might make you pass out.. but please don’t! Like a fine glass of whisky, we ask you to enjoy our photos slowly. 🙂
With that being said, we recognize it will be impossible to properly summarize Joel and Joanna’s celebration by words alone… and yet, we’ll do our best to highlight some of amazing moments (and people) that made their wedding day so special.
Our bride and groom’s big day took place in Arisaig, a picture perfect village nestled on the western coast of the Scottish Highlands. The morning hours were spent preparing at Arisaig House, followed by an afternoon ceremony at St. Mary’s Church, a gothic-style church dating back to the mid-19th century. Our late afternoon schedule consisted of a traditional Cantonese Tea Ceremony, followed by an awesome portrait sessions on the houses’ property. Let it be known to all our readers that Arisaig House is anything but a regular “guest house”- it’s more like a country estate/luxury B&B. To add to it’s charming allure, the house is family-owned, staffed with a full-time chef, and maintains their own onsite greenhouse. Phenomenal doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The evening dinner was incredible- delicate cheeses, (really) fresh seafood platters, garden-harvested salads, and tasty venison steaks.…And then there was the speeches. Joel’s best man gave a hilarious speech, sported a jimmy wig, and to top it all off, handed out miniature flipbook to all the dinner tables chronicling the groom’s one particular water sport mishap. If that weren’t enough to keep people laughing, Joel’s gave his own toast in Cantonese (presumably having written out the pronunciation in IPA-fashion), followed by a mini-speech in his native British-English tongue.
If we could give out awards for the coolest parties thrown at a wedding, Joanna and Joel would definitely be the front runners. The first few hours of their evening celebration was led by the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band. They played a fantastic set of traditional folk music, all the while teaching the guests various kinds of ceilidh. When the band had finished, Joel and Joanna introduced their guests to Nigerian (Naija) hip-hop, as well as the concept of a “Nigerian Money Dance”.
As the bride & groom dances, guests may “spray” (flick currency bills ‘at’) the couple, or for the equally adventurous, may “stick” the bills onto the dancing couples’ sweaty body. Better yet, our couple even prepared their guests with wads of Nigerian Naira. Combined with catchy songs like P. Square’s “Chop My Money“, this could probably explain all the crazy dancing photos you see below. Last but not least, my favorite image of the evening? The very last photo… it’s Joel’s grandma 80-something years young showing off her moves on the dance floor to Nigerian R&B.
More details & fun facts:
The Cantonese Tea Ceremony: a proper way of honoring all the “elderly” figures in the couples’ lives (in this modern age, it’s basically anyone relative who has more years than you). After serving them tea, the couple receives gifts + plenty of words of wisdom.
Scottish Kilts– ‘Tartan’ is another name for the criss-cross patterned fabric associated with kilts. Kilts are traditional Scottish formal wear, highly regarded as the attire proper Scotsmen wear to formal events (i.e. weddings, ceremonies, funerals). In America, we often tease this practice as merely “men wearing dresses”, but in reality, it’s really fascinating. To don a kilt is to pay homage to the Gaelic culture. After having spent 11 days in Scotland, 3 days of which included wedding-related activities, I’ve certainly attained a newfound respect for this traditional practice. One really cool fact about tartans? Historically, each tartan pattern was associated with a particular warrior clan (family clan), and clans would wear a specific tartan pattern as a form of identity/family pride, much like a family crest or a flag. Therefore, people belonging to the Macdonald Clan would wear a different tartan than, say, folks belonging to the MacLeod clan.
Nigerian Money Dance– Fun fact #1 Jon spent 2 semesters of his college life studying Yoruba, one of the major languages in Nigeria. Fun Fact #2: Joel and Joanna met in Nigeria, where they both work for really cool organizations. So what better way to represent their Nigerian pride than to include a traditional money dance into their evening celebration? Other cultures around the world also include a similar form of money dancing into their wedding reception. While this is all in good fun with Nairas, more traditional couples will use this time to receive actual money for their honeymoon/future marriage, which doubles as a sort of gift receiving event.
Scottish Highlands Catholic Traditions(?)- The first look between the bride and groom happens at the end of the aisle. As the bride walks down the aisle, the groom stands facing front. He holds his hand up + out (palms up), and stays there until the bride’s hand is placed in his– this placement is done by the honorary person who escorts the bride down the aisle). It is then that the bride + groom see each other for the first time.
For more traditional Scottish Catholic wedding ceremonies, when it comes time to place the wedding bands on eachothers’ hands, you don’t simply slip the ring on your spouse’s fourth finger. The person who is placing the ring must first touch the ring to the receiver’s fingers- first on the thumb (symbolically representing the Father of the Trinity), then the index finger (for the Son of the Trinity), then the middle finger (for the Holy Spirit), and then proceed to place the ring on the proper finger. Both wedding bands are placed in this manner.
List of Wedding Vendors:
Arisaig House: luxury bed & breakfast, contact page
Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band: traditional scottish and folk music and masters of Ceilidh, facebook page
Forget Me Nots: wedding flowers, contact page
Two for Joy Paper Studio: wedding stationary (seating chart, place cards, menu, program) etsy page
Hair & Makeup Team: Catherine of Sparkle Scotland main page
Photography: dreamlite photography! facebook page
Our lovely couple had chosen Princeton for their engagement session, as this place held a lot of significance to them both. Just a few months back, Eric had surprised Kat with the big question… and obviously, she said “Yes!”
Kat and Eric were extremely relaxed throughout the session. Asking this couple to get comfortable during the session was like asking an golden retriever puppy to ‘look cute’. We took them around the quieter side of the Princeton downtown, dodged the Saturday morning crowds, told them to make funny faces, borrowed a few bikes from the kind people at Jay’s Cycles (shouts out to the awesome staff!!) and all while having so much fun doing it. Their customized Timbuk2 messenger bags and matching ‘couples’ sneakers were an excellent personal touch… Brilliant idea, you two!
Congratulations once again to our friends Kat and Eric, and thank you for inviting us along to celebrate your engagement.
(on a slight sidenote: Smithsonian Magazine recently nominated Princeton as the 12th ‘must see’ small town in America for 2012.)