Yep... that's my wife...
One day we started talking on Facebook, by pure coincidence. This girl in Prague (Czech Republic) and this guy in Rijswijk ZH (The Netherlands). 2 days later we decided to meet. A few weeks further we met, at London's Gatwick Airport, and kept doing so for 3 years, including other airports and train stations in the mix. This August we set off on the most climactic of our journeys. No one person traveling to or from the other, but together onwards to a better future. Off to Scotland we went, for our marriage. Destination: The Isle of Iona, most sacred of places.
It's a beautiful and most tranquil island, with few inhabitants, beautiful scenery, and a very rich history. A place where the layer between the physical world and the spiritual, whatever that might be or mean, is very thin. One feels closer to the meaning and purpose of being alive there. There wouldn't have been a better spot to establish our marriage bond.
It took us 4 days to travel there. First from The Netherlands to Reigate, England. Then to Glasgow, Scotland. Onwards to Oban to meet the minister who would perform the ceremony. And finally across Mull to Iona. Small steps feel like really big ones when you carry lots of luggage! Our initial week on Iona we'd stay at the MacLeod center of the Iona Community, to settle down and come to rest both physically and mentally. We met some great people there.
2 Days before the wedding we met photographer Paul Robertson, to go over the day and review the spots where we would be taking pictures. He travelled 1.5 hour to Iona, and then back again. Also he found us a hairdresser, whom we visited earlier on the day on the Isle of Mull. And he managed to find Jim, a piper-man to provide a musical note during our processional walks to and from the ceremony at the chapel, who turns out to be a very friendly fireman from Tobermory running a cute little bed and breakfast too.
One day before the wedding, we were awaiting our 4 guests and witnesses: Marleen, Diana, Martin and Roy. In no particular order, but ladies first :) Roy and Marleen also just got engaged, so that made it a little extra festive. While waiting for their ferry to arrive, the wonderful Simon de Voil walked by. He had agreed to play on his guitar and sing a little during our wee (little) ceremony, and it was so great to meet again in person after 4 years.
But then... the day itself. Friday the 24th of August 2012.
It couldn't have been more perfect.
The day started a bit rainy, making everything fresh and green and not too hot, which ceded nicely on time, making way for beautiful dramatic skies with the sun breaking through.
Me myself, I was ready and finished dressing up a few hours before Veronika did, so wandered around the Argyll Hotel a bit, attracting a few oooh's, aaahh's and "are you getting married??"'s from guests. You don't say! :-D Photographer Paul had shown up by now, so it was time for a little fooling around.
Then at about 12:00, we finally received our staircase appearance of Veronika. I could hardly believe my eyes. My aunt, Tine Boelaars, had spend weeks on making the dress, and my oh my was it beyond imagination!
On we went, led by piper Jim, wished good luck by hairdresser Sandra, circled by photographer Paul, and applauded by the tourists just arriving off the ferry, in procession to the small Michael Chapel, tucked away behind the amazing Iona Abbey.
I couldn't keep my eyes off my lady...
While at the same time being dazzled by the glorious view of the gorgeous Abbey in the amazing surrounding Scottish landscape.
But after a walk of about 10 minutes we reached the Abbey and circled around it to the little chapel, where minister Carol and guitarist singer Simon awaited us.
The candles in the chapel were lit, and it was as in a fairytale.
Diana made sure we did indeed have the rings present.
Veronika was happy times happy!
So there we all were. Ready and willing. Minister Carol held a lovely little speech of which we had made sure that the content was so tuned that instead of 'being religious' it was more in touch with 'being spiritual' and 'about love'. It worked out beautifully.
We were put together...
We took the vows...
And were united at last...
Simon played his beautiful rendition of the ancient Scottish prayer and blessing spoken at the end of the ceremony:
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the son of peace to you
It's available on his CD 'Sacred Earth' for sale on his website.
And then we spend some time around the Abbey and in the cloisters. It's such an amazingly beautiful and peaceful place.
All together now!
So happy together...
Afterwards we had our little procession back to the hotel, through the ancient ruins of the Nunnery, the other monastery on the island. Once more led by piper Jim. The sun was blazing, and there were many more tourists in the street now, so congratulations were everywhere. Also the question "Is it a REAL wedding!??" was uttered, to which I could happily respond that indeed it was!
Love was in the air! The next engaged couple is already there.
And no celebration without cake. My colleagues can tell you how important cake is to me ;-) It was heavy with chocolate and with fresh fruits and flowers straight off the little island itself. The tricky bit is to not spill any of that on the light wedding clothing, but we managed.
The evening we joined together with the 6 of us in a nice meal in the Argyll Hotel, before the journey away from Iona the following day. The 2 of us would set off to Greece, and then onwards to new adventures. In the distance can be seen the island called Dutchman's Cap. It's supposed to be looking like the old "Zuidwester" cap worn by Dutch seafarers.
Come walk this way...
Stand by me... 'Cause united we stand, divided we fall.
We look into the future, together.
This is only the beginning...