And the time of our formal wedding was upon us! I had reserved everything a year in advance from the comfortable confines of my basement apartment in Seoul, Korea. I reserved rooms in Dalhousie Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, contacted a photographer, coordinated with the minister, and locked on a bagpiper. All was well.
Our wedding was set for January 4th, 2000.
What did they call it? The Y2K bug? This digital glitch would take down worldwide transportation and infrastructure, plunging the whole of humanity into darkness.
Interesting – the hotel and airlines took our money without hesitation despite impending Armageddon. We did not let the hype bother us and a good thing, too. Nothing impaired our journey to Edinburgh. Wendy’s parents and grandparents joined us. My friend and his wife drove down from Aberdeen and that was it. A small affair to be sure.
Dalhousie Castle is a little way outside of Edinburgh. All went swimmingly – the commercial aircraft flew in without interruption and everyone was able to get to the castle without incident. My friend picked us up at the airport, so we did not have to suffer the indignity of getting lost while driving on the other side of the road, which can be disconcerting. I had lived in Japan for four years and drove the entire time, so was I not completely inexperienced in the ways of the right-side driving roadies. Still, why put that monkey on my back if I didn’t have to. So we enjoyed our ride from Edinburgh airport to the castle. And if it weren’t for Mark and Heather, this day would have been difficult at best.
We left the United States on the 2nd of January, arriving in Scotland on the 3rd. We had to meet with people to make the final arrangements and payments on that day for the wedding which was on track for the 4th. Mark had coordinated and knew where everyone was. With little trouble, we met with the photographer, talked with the minister, and settled in with the backup bagpiper. Our primary bagpiper (as recommended by the castle) was not able to make it, but they recommended an up and coming young man, who turned out to be stellar.
The castle folks seemed a bit surprised that I had not chosen a kilt to go with my tuxedo. Years later, I admit that they were right. Even though an American, still, when in Scotland, no one would have looked askance had I worn the kilt. Then again, the wedding pictures would not have been something to show around with my skinny white legs in view. I guess I could have hidden behind Wendy somehow – she looked magnificent!
For our wedding rehearsal dinner (we actually did not rehearse anything), we chose the Dalhousie Castle restaurant, which had in other times been the dungeon. This was a great time and the service was excellent. I still remember the bread crumb brushing between courses. The server had a little squeegee thing that he used – all very prim and proper. My father-in-law ordered a Budweiser. For Pete’s sake man, we’re in Scotland! Get a local brew – they invented the lager, or appropriately stole the idea of beer from the Germans. In any case, they’d been brewing beer in Scotland since before America. For that matter, they were also playing golf before Columbus made his fateful voyage.
Wendy and her mother retired to the Keep room for the evening. This room was in the tower and it was great. There were two very long hallways leading to the room. The room itself was round, with the cross windows (for shooting from with a bow or crossbow). The bed was a four poster with canopy. Wendy’s dad and I retired to the ramparts, the room we had chosen for our honeymoon suite. This room had a deck on the ramparts that looked out over the countryside. It also was a great room with much character. The castle had been here for some 500 years so it wasn’t quite like what your average American considered an antique.
Dad slept on the couch and I had the bed. We slept well and rose early for the wedding which was scheduled for the late morning. Mark and I went into town to get some cash and we all had our separate breakfasts. The morning was gray and dark (it was Scotland in January).
The chapel doubled as the Armory and we took pictures of the sign which had “Armory” on one side and “Chapel” on the other. The room was completely outfitted in oak with a heavy wood staircase leading down from the castle’s foyer. Tall double glass doors looked out onto fields where sheep grazed. It was lightly raining and cold. The wedding went well, all according to the minimal plan we had. God was smiling on us, it seemed, as it stopped raining immediately after the ceremony so we were able to go outside and get a number of pictures. Although cold and wet, everything was still green.
We took an afternoon respite, each to his own and reconvened in the castle foyer in the early afternoon. It was now raining fairly steadily. We headed downtown for our mini reception. The loose plan called for fish and chips in a basement pub. The good news is that we were in the right place for this.
It was now about 33 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heavy wind driving a moderate rain. On the way, and this is the reason for this entire story, we passed a local golf course. Understanding the conditions outside, I expected to see nothing. Not so. There was one Scot holding an umbrella at an angle to keep the majority of the driving rain off his partner who was teeing off. I had heard stories about Scots and their golf, but thought they were exaggerations. Once again, not so. There they were, in the flesh, oblivious to our presence and awe. To them, it probably was a good day for golf. It could have been snowing. Finding a parking spot in downtown Edinburgh was not easy. We succeeded, but it resulted in a bit of a walk. The rain fortunately stopped as it was getting dark. We found our basement pub with the menu on a sandwich board outside. We went in, sat at a heavy oak picnic table, ordered beers and fish & chips. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. Although, once again, a certain unnamed member of our party ordered a Budweiser…