Bride and groom walking cliffside on Whidbey Island in Washington

Our Wedding During Corona Virus | Isle of Whidbey

Before we were even engaged, we had decided we would get married in Scotland. We didn’t know the plan past that but we always knew we wanted something intimate and adventurous! We both love to travel and had been trying to force that love on our families more. Both of our families are Scottish (MacPherson and MacKay on my side, Lindsay & Fullerton on Ryan’s) so we thought it would be extra special! The rugged and moody Scottish Highlands are 100% our jam and the fact that Scotland is the birthplace of golf sealed the deal for us! (Ryan’s dad is a golf professional and the whole family loves to golf.) We were’t sure everyone else was going to be totally on board but knowing us, we’re not sure what else they would have expected other than a little adventure…across the world! 🙂

The first thing we booked was a beautiful house on Isle of Skye, complete with its stone facade from the 1800’s. It overlooked a loch, sheep pastures and rolling green hills–We couldn’t wait to host our friends and family there! Ryan’s dad was able to get us a tee time at the notoriously hard-to-get-a-tee-time-at Saint Andrew’s Old Course, THE FIRST golf course! At our engagement party, my aunt gave Ryan a kilt pin from our side of the family that he had planned to where on his suit lapel. Even though my grandma couldn’t make the trip with us (she’s the Scottish one), I think she had fun telling us stories about Scotland and the family. We spent a couple different days digging through old family trees, birth certificates, marriage licenses and wedding photos! We even found her parents’ 93 year old invitation for their wedding in Edinburgh, Scotland! I nerded out over it and was pumped when she said we could bring it with us to display and have photographed alongside our invite! About a week before we were supposed to leave, we found out my great-great grandfather was born in Staffin on Isle of Skye, right where we were planning on exchanging vows!! I’m thinking this is a sign, this is meant to be–Coronavirus had just begun picking up steam outside of China and at that point, no travel bans had been put it place–There’s no way we weren’t going! My wedding dress (and kilts from my grandma) were already packed, everyone was excited, it was happening.

Over the next week, things unraveled pretty fast! We watched as the Coronavirus spread around the world. The first travel bans put in place by the US excluded the UK–Phew, we were good! We were in denial about the seriousness of it all but deep down knew it was only a matter of time, probably only hours before things got worse. As calls and texts from friends started to roll in, telling us either their flights were canceled or they were canceling plans themselves, the weight of everything felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. Still, we stuck to the plan. It was meant to be after all. 2 days later, 3 days before we were supposed to be heading to Scotland, travel was banned to the UK. However, our flights still hadn’t been cancelled, hmmm…Up until the day before, we toyed with the idea of still getting on that plane. Our families and some ride or die friends and wedding vendors were still in! I felt like I wanted to puke. I wasn’t excited anymore. The thing that ate at us the most was how badly our families and friends wanted to be there with us. So much so that they were willing to take the risk against all recommendations and despite travel bans and possible quarantines coming home. We couldn’t put them in that situation! We knew if we were going, they were going so we finally pulled the plug!

We had held it together until that point but along with the instant relief came the waterworks. We both cried, drank some whiskey, and cried some more! On the night we were supposed to leave, I said to Ryan “We plan everyone else’s dream days but don’t get to have ours, how does that make sense?”. He said what he’d been saying the whole time, “I can’t wait to marry you, it doesn’t matter where!” and then I fell asleep on my wet pillow.

Being a wedding planner and planning the type of weddings that we do, I think I spend more time than most thinking about weddings and pondering the meaning of it all…I obviously love weddings–All your friends, your family, the pretty stuff, the party, all of it but I’ve always maintained the perspective that “shit happens”, “things don’t always go as planned”, “you gotta go with the flow”, don’t get attached to one day, the focus should be your marriage not the wedding. And it’s true, ultimately we just wanted to be married but none of the usual stuff I tell myself (and do actually believe) was working, we were crushed!

We ran through all the emotions–Anger, relief, sadness, guilt for being sad over a wedding, excitement that we’d still be married (Luckily, we had planned to sign a WA State marriage license here to make things easy!) and then, right back to sadness.

In my everyday life, I spend a lot of time telling myself not to worry about the things I can’t control. I give myself a little bit of time to cry things out but then I pick myself up and tell myself to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. (Let’s just say there’s always a lot of mental pep-talking going on in my head!) We decided that we would rent an Airbnb and hold a little celebration with the small group of friends and family that had still intended to go to Scotland. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, a place that first inspired me to offer elopements and adventure weddings and we do Airbnb weddings for our couples all the time! We wiped our tears and began the process of un-planning a wedding and planning another one in 5 days.

Ryan was set on one of the islands so we ended up deciding on Whidbey Island–We could get those Scottish island vibes, stay away from other people, it was close to Seattle and easy for our few guests and BONUS, we could cross out Isle of Skye on our invites and call it Isle of Whidbey! (Gotta have a little fun with it, right?!)

Just before arriving to our cabin, we passed “Inverness Inn”…Inverness, Scotland was where all of our guests had planned to fly into. I’m laughing as I write this–I don’t know if it was a cruel joke or another sign! I’m choosing to believe the latter!

The day itself was beautiful and honestly, not too far off from how we would have done things in Scotland. I got ready with my best friends, got to put on a pretty dress, romped around the island with Ryan, said our vows in front of our people, ate shepard’s pie and had our first dance in front of a fire, looking out at the water!

We kissed and made it official just hours before our governor’s stay-at-home orders went into effect. We just barely squeaked by and even though it wasn’t exactly what and where we imagined, we’re so thankful to have had our day!

It would be a couple days until the gravity of the situation really hit us. I started thinking about our couples–It’s one thing for this to happen to us but our poor couples! However, I will say it has been a blessing to have been in this position ourselves when talking to them. We know exactly what they’re going through, we can really level with them and let them know we will get them married, no matter what that looks like! We can also remind that even if it’s just one day, even if there are bigger problems, it’s okay to be sad, disappointed, frustrated, mad–Feel all the feelings! Let’s be honest, IT SUCKS! You spend months planning, you build it up in your head…ya, it sucks! We feel you!! We still feel the gut punch when we see pictures of Scotland in our Instagram feeds, kind of laugh and say “Remember when we were supposed to get married there?”.

Constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY) reminding ourselves of all the little silver linings has really helped–We and our families are healthy, we have a roof over our heads, we have food in our fridge, we can still go outside, we can slow down without the productivity pressure, the earth is getting a break from us…Like, what?! We’re actually solving climate change people! Oh, and…WE’RE MARRIED!!! Overall, we’re net positive here!

If you are a couple that has had to change wedding plans due to Covid 19, do not hesitate to reach out for questions, advice or even moral support! You’re not alone, we’re here for you!

Our friend Mollie over at Between the Pine has also put out a ton of great resources on weddings and Covid 19!

Cheers & happy planning, you’ve got this!!

Erika & Ryan

Vendor Dream Team:

Photography: Lionlady Photography

Videography: Green Attic Films

Florals: Rusted Vase Floral Co.

Hair & Makeup Lesson: Angie Evans

Paper Goods: Krisanna Elizabeth

Rentals: Cort Party Rental, Balancing Balloons & BBJ Linen

Dress: Grace Loves Lace & Aritzia

Suit: Studio Suits