Couple swap Highland wedding for virtual promise ceremony

An engaged couple switched their Highland cathedral wedding for a home “promise ceremony” as the coronavirus pandemic delayed their big day.

Amy Dickenson, 32, and Lloyd Dias, 36, took to video platform Zoom for the traditional “betrothal through handfasting” service, conducted by Church of Scotland minister the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown.

The couple had planned to marry at Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands last Monday but instead dressed up for the promise ceremony in their south London conservatory.

Their cat Rothko, resplendent in a bow tie, was the only witness present.

The couple, who have been an item for eight years, held hands and exchanged rings as more than 100 people watched online.

Miss Dickenson said: “It was a memorable day and the perfect way to bring everyone we love together into our tiny home to watch us commit ourselves to each other.”

The primary school teacher, who grew up in Dornoch, said the minster suggested the handfasting ceremony, an ancient Highland tradition.

“But in the end we realised we could not tie hands with only two people present so we just exchanged rings and put them on our right hands,” she said.

“We ended up holding hands throughout the service, with Rothko at our feet.”

The couple hope to legally marry as soon as possible and will swap their rings on to their left hands.

Londoner Mr Dias, who works for an electrical distribution company, said: “It was the best way of making good a horrible situation.”

The couple filled their conservatory with flowers, a friend made them a cake and they had a first dance in front of their virtual guests.

Dr Brown, a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, described the handfasting ceremony, the first she has ever been involved in, as “absolutely fantastic”.

“A wedding is such a big day in a couple’s lives – a door opening day on to a different future,” she said.

“For Amy and Lloyd, it wasn’t about a lot of people coming but marking their love for each other.

“They really wanted it to happen so it seemed like a good way to do it because handfasting is an ancient Highland tradition.

“So it seemed like an opportune moment to revive something from history and put it to good effect in the 21st century.”