American couple have Caledonia-themed wedding after meeting through Love Scotland Facebook group

An American couple who lived nearly 700 miles apart tied the knot in a Caledonia-themed wedding - after meeting through a Facebook group where they shared a love of Scotland.

Jessica and John Allen tied the knot on February 29, on the leap day - because they had both taken a 'leap of faith', and moved in together just one month after they met.

The couple, both divorcees of Scottish ancestry but who have never visited the country they love, celebrated in style with Jessica, 39, dressed in a bright blue tartan shawl and John, 47, wearing a matching kilt.

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In a nod to their heritage, they took part in a traditional handfasting and quaich ceremony, had a Gaelic reading and a piper play at the ceremony in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where they eloped - and cut the cake with a sword.

American couple Jessica and John Allen at their Scottish-themed wedding in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Jessica was living in Osceola, Indiana, in the Midwest when the couple met on a Facebook group, Love Scotland, in August 2018.

Her future husband was living in Atlanta, Georgia, in the deep south, and Jessica said she loved him before she met him.

Jessica said: "We picked leap day for our wedding because he took a leap of faith to drive all the way to see me and I took one a month later to be with him.

"It turned out wonderful.

American couple Jessica and John Allen.
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"We both had swords and cut our cake with them, then passed round the quaich.

"My friend Emily speaks Gaelic and when she did her blessing with the quaich I was like 'what does that mean?' and her husband said 'live long and prosper'.

"Our friend surprised us with bagpipes and played wedding songs and then our friends held sparklers either side of us, then we sang Auld Lang Syne.

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"Our friends pulled everything together that wasn't there and made it a hundred times more special."

She had left a 20-year marriage before she met John, and began drawing pictures of Highland cows - which she posted in the Facebook group celebrating Scotland.

Dad-of-three John was taken with the pictures and sent her a message on Facebook.

They quickly found they had a lot in common as both were fascinated with their Scottish ancestry, with Jessica's ancestors hailing from Montrose, Angus, and John being descended from Clan Mackay.

Jessica said: "I had actually just left a really bad marriage.

"I'd been married for 20 years.

"After I'd left and my divorce was finalised I started drawing, like the Highland cows.

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"The Love Scotland Group was the first group I'd posted in.

"John put up ideas of things to draw and had messaged me, but I'd shut my phone off.

"I turned it back on and he'd said he loved my artwork and he loved my eyes.

"I didn't reply to him because I was working.

"His next message was he was sorry if he was too forward, then I replied."

They decided to meet up for Jessica's birthday on September 15, and John, a truck engineer, drove 685 miles north through three states to Jessica's hometown.

After spending a romantic weekend together, Jessica, who makes crafts for a living, decided to leave Indiana for Atlanta just a month later.

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Mum-of-one Jessica said: "I loved this man before I met him.

"That's a long way to go to meet somebody.

"After that, on October 16 I packed up all my stuff and moved down to be with him.

"I knew he was the one I wanted to be with.

"We're both extremely happy.

"He's had a very rough life and I had a very rough life, and things we've been through have helped us appreciate each other so much more.

"We've both got Scottish backgrounds which makes us click and we've both got common interests.

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"We're hoping to come to Scotland next year or the year after.

"We'd like to see as much as we could."