Rainbow cake and tartan shawls on the shores of a loch as two French brides elope to Perthshire

Elisabeth Azémard & Mary Etchegaray

20th September 2020

Venue | Loch Turret Reservoir, Perthshire
Photography | Crieff Photography

back of two brides on the shore of Loch Turret Reservoir

“Mary and I have been together since April 2015. We got engaged in May 2018 while on a Scottish roadtrip. Mary got down on one knee on a little bridge at Rosslyn Chapel. She managed to surprise me even though I’d been waiting for it the whole holiday!

We happened upon our dream wedding venue – Crieff Hydro in Perthshire – that very same day. So, we booked it and set the date there and then: Easter weekend, 12th April 2020. It was meant to be a three-day affair with 50 guests flying in from our native France. We’d host a BBQ and games on the Saturday; marry on the Sunday; then celebrate our daughter Stella’s and grandmother’s respective birthdays over brunch on the bank holiday Monday. We couldn’t have imagined a more perfect celebration.

When the pandemic struck, we initially postponed, but with seemingly never-ending new regulations and Covid-related bumps in the road, we ultimately decided to cancel the big wedding altogether.

Fiona Scougall, our wonderful celebrant and dear friend, suggested we might consider eloping instead, so we set a new date of 20th September 2020. Brian O’Neill, who runs Crieff Photography, mentioned a place he knew – Loch Turret Reservoir – that would make a perfect setting for an outdoor ceremony. Because numbers were restricted, Brian and his wife Paula kindly agreed to act as our witnesses too.

We wanted a photographer who would understand and respect the fact that we don’t like some parts of ourselves and who would make us feel safe and beautiful in spite of that. Someone we would feel comfortable with. Someone funny. Someone with talent. We got all of that and more in Brian and Paula.

A few days before we were due to depart France, the UK government announced quarantine restrictions for international travellers. This meant we had to isolate in an Airbnb for two whole weeks before our wedding, rather than enjoying a holiday. It left us with just three days to get ready, get married and go back to France! Thankfully, we had a wonderful wedding planner, Gabrielle Plasman, to help take care of everything while we were out of action.

I’d recommend couples use the services of a wedding planner, especially if they are from overseas. With us in France, a wedding planner was an absolute necessity; we needed Gaby to go meet suppliers and deal with bookings. She had so many good ideas, was a real inspiration and always available on WhatsApp. When does she sleep? We still don’t know!

Fiona wrote the most beautiful ceremony. It couldn’t have been more perfect; it was about love, us and our family. It got emotional as we read our vows to each other (we somehow managed to write three pages each!). We had a handfasting that we got right first time too.

We wanted to honour our love for bonnie Scotland, so we included touches of tartan and thistles where we could. We worked with some amazing local suppliers: Cake 32 in Crieff baked us an incredible rainbow cake; Eucalyptus Flowers in Auchterarder provided our flowers and Lazy Sunday cooked a wonderful meal for us after the wedding.

The only things I would change? I wish we could’ve had a proper dinner and celebration after the ceremony, but Covid restrictions didn’t allow. Also, 5-6 degrees warmer would have been great because – despite our cosy shawls – it was freezing during the ceremony.

We plan on having an anniversary party or vow renewal when the virus is no longer a threat. In the meantime, we are content showing our lovely photograph album to friends and family.”

Top tip: “Do not invite people you don’t truly want at your wedding. It’s okay to leave them off the guest list. You’re doing this for you – not for them. Our elopement allowed us to experience something wonderful we’d never had dreamt about – and now we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Celebrant Fiona Scougall, Humanist Society Scotland
Wedding planner Gabrielle Plasman
Both brides’ dresses Mariage Couture
Cake Cake 32
Catering Lazy Sunday
Flowers Eucalyptus Flowers­
Rings Serendipity Diamonds and Paulette á Bicyclette
Stationery Le Manège à Faire-Part
Hair Kelly Tall

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