AN EDINBURGH couple’s plans for a white wedding at a romantic hideaway were almost blown away by the blizzards, after most of their guests got stuck in the snow, the celebrant had to hitch a lift in a tractor, and the car carrying the mother of the bride had to be towed to the venue.
But Claire Williamson and Ruairidh Mackay’s marriage went ahead against all the odds at Crear, a remote venue set in splendid isolation amid spectacular scenery at Kilberry, Argyll.
The couple, both 29, drove to Crear on snow-covered roads, the day before their wedding, to find the power was down. But that was the least of their worries.
They woke on their wedding day last Saturday to find the single-track road to Crear blocked by a 10ft snowdrift.
More than half of the 104 guests – including the bride’s grandparents and many of the bridegroom’s family – couldn’t get there after becoming stuck in the snow.
The celebrant of the humanist wedding arrived over an hour late – after hitching a lift in a tractor. And the mother of the bride arrived in a car that was towed.
Some of the food for the reception arrived in the bucket of a tractor. The chef who had the rest in his car couldn’t get through and handed the food to guests who were stuck in their vehicles.
Hairdresser James Margey, from Glasgow, only made it after hitching a lift in several cars and walking the rest of the way. Three staff had to man the reception on their own – during a power cut – when seven others couldn’t get through.
Speaking from their honeymoon cottage in Glenelg – from which they came close to being evacuated because of a hill fire – the new Mrs Mackay praised the efforts of all involved in making their big day possible.
She said: “It wasn’t perfect, but Crear were incredible and everyone did what they could, including friends, locals and staff at the Port Bhan Caravan Park, where some of our guests stayed.”
She added: “There were a lot of sad tears and a lot of happy tears. We had 104 guests invited and only 45 got through. We didn’t know if Annie [Loughlin], the celebrant, was going to make it.
“Both sets of my grandparents, who are all around 80, got stuck in the convoy of cars on the wrong side of the snowdrift, and Ruairidh’s aunts, uncles and a few cousins couldn’t get through.
“It was candlelight for most of it, and during the meal the guests kept their coats on, but a generator meant we could put fairy lights on and a couple of lamps and a blow heater. Then the Jim Jam Ceilidh Band arrived … so they got everybody up dancing.”
Ms Loughlin said: “There were 15 cars in front of me, full of wedding guests, stuck where a snowplough had come off the road, and there were lots of cars behind me. I was the only one from the Tarbert side who got through.
“But the wedding couldn’t go ahead without me, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle gave me a lift to the 10ft snowdrift, and I hopped in a tractor to get through the actual snowdrifts, and at the other side a four-wheel-drive vehicle was waiting to get me to the venue.”
Kate Lithgow, who runs Crear, said: “We got the food through in the bucket of a dumper truck and they were cooking with a gas stove.
“Everybody locally, if they had a tractor, was out helping, the road opened and closed and an emergency generator was pulled in through the snow.”
She added: “The bride and groom were fantastic, they had their wedding, although it wasn’t quite what they had planned. But everybody in the whole community pulled together to make it happen.”
The new Mrs Mackay said they hoped to have another reception, which all their family and friends could attend.