...and they're gonna get married.
After a traditional Scottish breakfast of eggs, ham, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, and potato scones Sarah and I gathered our things and prepared ourselves for a minibus ride into the local countryside towards the castle Duns. Both families we excited at the prospect of their children joining in marriage which made the sweltering hot minibus ride somewhat more bearable. Unfortunately for the bride and groom, the weather resisted clearing most of the day (which also fogged up our bus's windows). After turning past a slim stone arch and down a gravel road Duns Castle came into view and the magic began.
We unloaded our bags and entered the massive home into which we stepped as guests. We were guided to our rooms scattered about the numerous floors of the castle and enjoyed incredible furnishings and stunning views. Although not a castle of kings, its size was unlike anything I'd ever had the privilege of enjoying. Most everyone wandered through the castle like visitors to a corn maze might wander. Numerous sets of stairs connected the floors in ways sometimes contrary to common sense. Duns' grand size was delightfully complimented by furnishings we later learned were generally early 19th Century in origin. Stone, wood, and other materials were molded into intricate (and beautiful) shapes and patterns as though they flowed like clay. From base to top Duns Castle is a magical spot which easily set itself for the beautiful wedding of my sister Toni to her love David.
Preparations for the women of the wedding began around noon after a lunch in the drawing room. One hair stylist and one image consultant/make-up lady set to work on Toni, her bridesmaid, and my girlfriend Sarah. At the same time, the men of the group enjoyed a game of 8-ball on the oversized table in the castle's billiards room. As seemed par with the entire castle setting, large shelves of hard-bound books lined the walls of nearly every room. My dad took note of this and marveled at the age of some of the books he thumbed through from the pool room. After some pictures on my part, soon everyone prepared for the 2:30pm wedding. David and most of the other men dawned traditional kilts with a purple-based plaid while Toni's bridesmaid's husband and I wore trews of the same plaid. The scene was set, the real photographer arrived, and the time for the wedding had come.
A slight wheeze of tone gave way to the strong and piercing singly-produced chorus of bagpipes from the entryway outside of the drawing room, where the union was to take place. A moment later my beautiful sister and tear-filled father slowly made their way into the room and towards the awaiting David at the alter. Shortly after some touching words from the minister, the rings of matrimony we slipped on the fingers of the bride and groom and, sooner than most of us could realize, Toni Freitas and David Trujillo-Farley were now joined in marriage.
"Have you ever kissed a hairy piper?"
The post-ceremony activities came next and first included a number of photos of one configuration or another - generally all revolving around the bride and groom. Although the weather, up to this point, was rather gray, drizzly and windy (which equals cold) the photographer led his subjects outside to capture occasion. I, with my camera, stalked close by his side to get what I could of the positioned scenes. But too much time seemed to pass outside for a couple dead batteries and some numb fingers were a sign telling me to go back inside the castle.
The cake-cutting ceremony soon followed and was hosted by our resident piper Ian. Covered in tradition Scots piper garb, Ian was a delightful addition to the day. His bagpipe music filled the castle during the wedding, after, outside for the chilled, photographed bride and groom, and inside before the latest tradition. He led my sister and David through some lovely words and traditions native to Scotland. Ian then offered up a drake for which he instructed the newlyweds to use to cut the cake. They wielded the foot-long dagger hand in hand and cut a slice from the lovely sweet. Soon following were champaign toasts to our gracious hosts and a visit from the castle's owner Alec Hay.
Dinner in the fine castle dining room was next which prompted more, and sometimes tearful, salutes from family to the new husband and wife. The candle and fire lit room was filled with a multiple course meal and the over-large dinner table over which Joseph at one end had trouble seeing our uncle Lanny at the other. An interesting chicken (with haggis stuffing) for the main course was soon followed by a dessert which we gladly added to the mix currently in our nearly full stomachs. The rest of the evening resounded with a jazz combo hired as a surprise from Toni to David. Nearly everyone took to the dance floor as the sax/clarinet, bass, and guitar combo swung their way through a well-played set of standards. After cutting loose the group the remaining of us retired to the billiards room for a game of 8-ball.
Even in the vast glory of such a beautiful place, my sister and the man she loves shone more brightly than the Sun which lay shrouded in clouds this day. I'm more than happy to welcome David and his family into ours and can only look forward to watching them grow closer through the good and the (though hopefully very few) bad times that are sure to come.