This week we're celebrating intimate weddings with destination elopements, cozy city hall vows, and private romantic ceremonies. It's the warm fuzzies on a smaller scale.

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The offbeat bride: Andrea, Dance Teacher

Her offbeat partner: Peter, Bartender

Date and location of wedding: Duffus Castle, Elgin Moray, Scotland — April 26, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We actually were never officially engaged, and there was no big proposal. We started talking about marriage in the fall of 2011 and for Christmas that year Peter gave me a small gift bag. Inside was a handwritten note that said “Yes.” What unfolded after that was an intimate and bonding experience where we planned the wedding, hired a minister, a photographer, and picked out rings.

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We live in Canada, but we found a romantic, ruined castle in northern Scotland and researched Scottish handfasting and quaich rituals. We did a few more common things like writing our own vows and I kept my dress a secret until just before the ceremony. It was everything I ever wanted, it represented us, and we didn't tell a soul.

Our wedding was part of a month-long backpacking trip around Scotland, and I carried my wedding dress in an extra large Ziploc bag, flat along the back of my pack. Peter was kind enough to take my wedding shoes in his larger bag but my pack only weighed 18 lbs!

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After our wedding we spent three weeks on our honeymoon, exploring Scotland and enjoying our secret. We waited until we were back in Canada to tell anybody that we had gotten married. It was so fun and romantic, and we felt on top of the world.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We included a Scottish handfasting ritual, but instead of the traditional pagan ritual, our minister did a simple version that included us “tying the knot” as we spoke our vows to each other. We also drank from a quaich, which is another Scottish tradition. We poured water and scotch into the quaich as our minister spoke of how the liquids, once mixed, can never be separated. Then we both held the quaich and took turns drinking. Our minister even encouraged us to finish off the last drop to keep us warm in the chilly weather!

Andrea & Peter

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was keeping the wedding a secret. It was a good thing that we planned the wedding inside of the vacation, otherwise people would have started to wonder why I was getting so excited. It seemed like everyone around me was talking weddings, either engagements or dress shopping or picking out rings for a vow renewal, and it was killing me that I couldn't join in without giving away our secret.

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The weather was not on our side for our ceremony, but instead of being upset (which a younger version of me would have been), we were reminded that we didn't want to control every small detail of our day. We picked and planned the things that were important and let the rest happen naturally. Other little details fell perfectly into place, though. For example, our B&B host created my bouquet from flowers in her garden and chose the tartan ribbon herself, our minister brought the handfasting ribbon with no discussion of a color theme, and Peter found his Leask Tartan tie only days before the ceremony, and all the colors matched better than I could have ever planned.

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My favorite moment: The best part of our day was not worrying about a thing — we just let the day unfold and tagged along for the ride. We never had to watch the clock or put out fires or deal with anything unexpected. It was just the two of us, and the smiles on our faces said it all.

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My funniest moment: There was an airfield base in the area and two fighter jets were doing some training. It was awesome when their thunder sounded as we first approached the castle but after a few interruptions, our poor minister was shaking her fist in the air at them.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? There were moments when I panicked and was worried that our friends and family would be mad at us, but I shouldn't have worried. Everyone was happy for us and so supportive of how we choose to get married. There were only a few ruffled feathers, but those smoothed out once we planned a “we-got-married” party. We are lucky to have family who knew we had done what best suited us. It was the best gift we could have gotten.

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