Hand fasting ceremonies on "Cloud island" captured by Lynne Kennedy
LynneKennedy is a wedding and elopment photographer who lives in a wooden house by the sea next to the Isle of Skye known as cloud island in Old Norse. Lynne captures the magical moment and connection between two people in the most beautiful natural scenery- on the Isle of Skye and the Highlands of Scotland. Today we talk to her about where she photographs and the handfasting ceremony - a ritual of binding the hands together with ribbons in existence since the Celtic times.
1. Lynne, tell us a bit about Skye and why it is special to you.
I don’t think I truly grasped the incredible beauty of the landscape that surrounds me until adulthood, after living away for many years and doing quite a lot of travelling the world. Growing up, I realised Skye was a popular tourist destination, of course but it wasn’t until seeing some other parts of the world that I realised just how amazing my own landscape is. As a youngster I don’t think I fully appreciated it. Now that I get to work on Skye and the surrounding islands and Highland areas all the time, I am always finding new, stunning spots that I didn’t even know about. Everyone has heard of the iconic places on Skye but the fact is that beauty and magnificence can be found on every part of the island and the western coast of the mainland. I am so happy being back, living in the Highlands and working in this environment every day.
2. What magical moments do you like to capture in a couples photoshoot
My main focus is to capture the emotion between the couple and their connection with our spectacular landscapes. I love the little glances and touches they share as well as the laughter and tears. I want to photograph them in a way that means in the future, they can look at the images and be transported back into that moment just by looking at a photograph.
3. Tell us about the handfasting ceremony- I know you have witnessed many as a photographer- what is special about it.
In smaller villages, especially in the Scottish Highlands, there wasn’t always a minister/ priest there all the time and they perhaps only got a visit from one once a year. So if a couple wanted to get married they could ask the laird to conduct a hand fasting which would be recognised as a marriage until such time as the minister or priest would be back to do a legal ceremony. Hence the reason why they say a hand fast only lasts a year and a day. If the bride failed to become pregnant in the first year the groom could call off the whole thing and not have a legal ceremony but this wasnt seen as a divorce . It is also where the term 'tying the knot' comes from. Often the couple’s hands would be tied together with a piece of tartan from their respective clans or a ribbon.
4. How important is the handwritten note in the ceremonies you have photographed.
The handwritten vows are something that some couples do, in addition to the more traditional vows that are required to be repeated. I don’t think it matters if a couple chooses not to write their own vows - everyone is different - but it is always lovely when couples DO write something more personal to say to their partner. I love it because it almost always elicits an emotional reaction of some kind, from both the person reading and the partner they are reading too and for me it’s a great chance to take some beautiful, emotional images. But some people don’t feel comfortable doing that and that’s totally fine. The beauty of a wedding ceremony in Scotland is that it can be tailored exactly to suit each individual couple.
5. Tell us what romance is for you - just in a few words.
Romance for me is not about grand gestures and expensive gifts. It is the little, thoughtful things that people do for their partners, just to make them feel loved and appreciated.
Visit Lynne's website at lynnekennedy.co.uk for more info, photos and stories. All photographs in this blog post are by Lynne Kennedy.
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