Elena and Sam captured perfectly by friend of Fuze Neil Thomas Douglas Photography

Written by Douglas Gilgallon, Celebrant at Fuze Ceremonies

The name’s Gilgallon……………Douglas Gilgallon, with a licence to ‘marry’.

From Skye to Austria to Portugal

Every once in awhile in the life of a Celebrant, a wedding comes along that takes the excitement level into a whole new stratosphere. For me that came along in the form of an international wedding with a lovely young couple called Sam & Elena. Sam is originally from Skye, Elena is originally from Austria but they both now live in Portugal, along with their two cats. Their plan was to have an elopement somewhere in Glencoe around late October 2022.

I absolutely love Glencoe, so the prospect of their plans already had me excited. It must rank amongst a select few as one of the most beautiful and magical locations on earth. Not to mention that it is a jaw dropping experience to just be there and gaze in wonder at the vastness of the Rannoch Moor, and stare in absolute awe at the mighty Buachaille Etive Mor as it towers over all it surveys at a colossal 1,021 metres high. 

The Surprise Reveal

On our second Zoom call together, which at this point in our timeline was only a few months away from the big day, I asked Sam if he was any further forward in finding a suitable location for their elopement, at which a smile broke out across his face. He told me that since our last meeting, they had decided that the elopement had now evolved into a small intimate wedding, complete with family and some friends in attendance. That however, as I was about to discover, was not the surprise! The surprise was in two parts!

The first part was that Sam & Elena had found a house for themselves and their guests to stay in during their time in Glencoe. Their plan was always to have an outdoor wedding and so it was hoped that despite the potential for changeable weather conditions or even torrential rain, they had their hearts set on a wedding within the grounds of the house and were set on just going for it regardless of what the weather would be on the day. 

However, it would be the second part of the surprise that would render me speechless. Sam & Elena had booked a country estate called Dalness House, which was once the home of the Fleming Family, who’s most famous member was none other than Ian Fleming, the creator of 007 himself…James Bond!I could fib for Scotland at this point and say that I played it cool, but I didn’t. I was sitting there in front of my computer screen looking at Sam & Elena, grinning away like the proverbial Cheshire cat!

Above picture from the James Bond SKYFALL movie and below is the house it took inspiration from, once owned by the Fleming family


I knew Glencoe reasonably well having spent so much time there in pursuit of my Munro bagging adventures, and I knew that in the year 2012, part of the James Bond movie SKYFALL had been filmed there, in particular one scene that was filmed about halfway down the Glen Etive Road, which was only about 6 miles further back from the Dalness estate. The actual house itself is not too dissimilar from the house depicted in the SKYFALL movie although clearly the one in the movie was designed deliberately to look neglected and foreboding. The movie version of the house wasn’t even constructed in Scotland, but was built as a front, back and sides facade in Hankley Common, Surrey where all the exterior action shots took place.

But back to Sam & Elena’s wedding. Now It would be fair to say that the route to their dream wedding was not a straight path for Sam & Elena as they navigated both visa’s and a plethora of documents from the Austrian and the Portuguese authorities that all needed to be translated into English for their M10 application at the Registry office in Fort William. However, as the saying goes, true love always finds a way, and in this case, it came in the form of Elena & Sam’s tenacious determination to make their dream wedding a reality. And that was exactly what they did, they brought their dream wedding to life.


Elena and Sam’s wedding is also featured in print and online with Your Scottish Wedding.

CLICK HERE for more.

The Journey

And so, the day finally came when all the required paperwork was in place, the flights were booked, the suitcases were packed, and the many months of stress and anxiety was behind them now, and it was all systems go for their flight to Scotland. So fast forward to the morning of Thursday the 27th of October. I had hardly slept a wink the night before, due largely to the fact that I was catapulted back to experiencing the same excitement I felt in the 70’s as a child on Christmas Eve…however, I did get some sleep…eventually! The wedding was set for 12pm. I set off from my house at around 8am so that I could beat any potential traffic… auch who am I kidding, I set off early because I simply could not get there fast enough to begin this epic wedding adventure! 

Getting there early would also mean that I could have extra time to capture some spectacular social media recordings, photographs, and weather permitting even get the drone up in the air for some aerial shots. I must admit there was one photograph in particular I had my sights on, but I will get to that in a minute. 

The weather when I left Glasgow was drizzly and really overcast, not a great combination at all. I did have a peek at the predictions as to what the weather forecasters were saying, and they all seemed to be in agreement that it would be a reasonably mild temperature of around 14 degrees with light to moderate rain for the Glencoe area…oooft! 

I was right to set off early, as there was the obligatory road works along the way. There was also a convoy of static homes that seemed to crawl along the A82 for what seemed like an eternity before they all eventually pulled into a lay-by to await a police escort to their next destination. After a while I stopped noticing the rain on my windshield as a familiar Munro began to appear in the distance as I drove out of Tyndrum in the form of the mighty Beinn Dorain. 

The View

The sight of this unmistakable Munro signified that Glencoe was not far too away now. About 10 minutes further down the road the vast expanse of the Rannoch Moor came into sight, I felt the thrill of wonder and excitement I always seem to get in this magical place. It’s one of the few places in Scotland that makes me realise how truly small we are on this planet…the place is truly epic! I soon drive past the famous Kingshouse Hotel on my right, and with the jaw dropping sight of my most favourite mountain the Buachaille Etive Mor in front of me, I take the next left onto the Glen Etive Road. The Dalness Estate is about 9 miles away now, but I just have one stop to make, and that stop is a location that also made it into the movie SKYFALL. 

Above pic from the SKYFALL movie as James Bond and M look into the distance – below pic is my recreation of the same shot on route to Elena and Sam’s wedding

Roughly two miles down the Glen Etive Road there is a particular passing place that in the movie, James Bond and M stop on the way to the fictional SKYFALL estate to take a rest and to take in the epic view down into Glen Etive. Since that movie came out, fans of the movie have literally travelled from all over the world to find this location and recreate that scene. For those who are interested, here are the GPS coordinates: 56°37′10.31″N 04°55′51.23″W.

Luckily for me the road is empty and I feel like the only person on the planet. The conditions look almost identical to that of the movie, so I set up my camera, took the picture (see pic), and then set off excitedly to get my first glimpse of Ian Fleming’s former house, in the Dalness Estate. No matter how much I try to describe the house or its surroundings, I could not do it any justice. Living there must have been amazing.

Watch the film footage I took HERE but, good as it is, it could not capture just how amazing this house and its location truly are in person.

A Hillside Hike

I am greeted by my Groom Sam at the door as I get out of my car. He looks suitably dapper and handsome in his kilted finery, looking every bit as if he was the owner of the house himself. Inside the house itself I am trying to play it cool, but everywhere I look I am thinking that was the Fleming’s staircase, that was the Fleming’s kitchen, that was the Fleming’s fireplace! I get my professional Celebrant head back on again as I am met by Elena coming down the stairs, she is just beautiful, her hair, her make-up, her dress are all perfection. 

The plan is that as a collective group of family and friends, everyone was going to walk together as a group across the wee bridge (see pic) to a small hillside clearing within the grounds of the estate where the wedding was to take place. At this point, the time is about 11.35am and the weather conditions are not only dry but the lighting is very favourable with high clouds just kissing the top of the nearest Munro, the impressive Ben Starav. 

I then spot a familiar face in the form of Neil Thomas Douglas. Neil is an incredibly talented photographer whom I have had the pleasure of working with before and his photographic eye and photographs are remarkable. Neil does spend a lot of time photographing weddings in Glencoe and he knows the place like the back of his hand. “We should go for It now Douglas! The weather and light is in our favour”. Sam & Elena  are in agreement also,  so we set off to the ceremony location, complete with back up blankets and brolly’s just in case. 

Once at the location, the ceremony was every bit as magical as the location, both seemed to compliment each other as if working in unison. Sam and Elena’s ceremony included a handfasting with a modified twist. In order to make the ceremony as inclusive as possible, Elena’s Dad tied the first knot, and Sam’s Mum tied the second knot, with me tying the third and final knot. One of the material cuts used matched Sam’s Highland Storm wedding day kilt tartan with the others matching the colour and theme of their ceremony setting. Sam & Elena then recited the personal vows they had written to each other, and this was followed by Elena’s Mum Heidi who is a very accomplished Flutist, playing a beautiful piece of music that gave everyone goosebumps on top of their goosebumps. Just in the exact moment that the ceremony came to a close, the rain came on and so the brolly’s came in handy after all. 

The Confetti Shot

As we headed back to the house, we stopped momentarily on the bridge to create a confetti tunnel of flowers that were picked and dried from Elena’s Mum’s garden back in Austria especially for the ceremony. 

In my time as a celebrant, I have been to some wonderful weddings, and like all weddings, it is the couples and their guests who make them all special, not just the beautiful locations. Some weddings do inevitably stand out more than others though, and for a James Bond fan like myself I will never, ever forget the time I married one of my couples in the grounds of the house that was once the family home of Ian Fleming.

The who’s who of Sam and Elena’s Wedding:

Wedding Date: 27th October 2022
Celebrant:  Douglas Gilgallon
Photographer: Neil Thomas Douglas
Venue: Dalness House
Dress: Rowan Joy Bridal
Kilt: Slaters
Florist: Briar Rose
Hair & Make Up: Bonny’s Wonderland

Add our smiles to yours

No two couples are the same so no two ceremonies should be the same. At Fuze we work alongside our couples to make their humanist wedding ceremony script is unique, personal and bespoke. It’s your day your way with us, so let us add our smiles to yours. To check Douglas and all of our amazing celebrant’s live availability for your special date click here!

Douglas Gilgallon
Celebrant at Fuze Ceremonies

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