ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND
Tell us a little about yourselves
M: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a closeted queer Mormon kid, I hated Utah growing up. I couldn’t wait to escape and leave. Eventually, I left Utah to live in a few countries: Scotland, England, Thailand [for summer volunteer work], and China. Funnily after coming out, and living around the world, now I love Utah. We have an amazing queer community here.
Curtis and I are very outdoorsy, so Utah has made a lovely home for us.
We spend most of our free time camping, hiking, rock-climbing, skiing, canyoneering, and hammocking. I work as a program manager for a large tech company.
C: From Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I work for a large hospital system as a healthcare Operations Specialist, training physicians, and nurses how to improve their skills in trauma scenarios and difficult births.
C & M: We meet at our local rock-climbing gym. Marcus was on a date with another guy but saw Curtis and had an immediate attraction. Even maneuvering to making sure he picked climbing routes that put him next to Curtis and his friends. Curtis often describes seeing Marcus at the climbing gym as a moment of tunnel vision, doing his best to steal more glances. We later made plans to climb together, and quickly fell for each other.
That was four years ago. To this day, we still get excited retelling that story.
Tell us about the proposal.
C: We had a trip planned to Hong Kong and Thailand, and I wanted to use that trip as the opportunity to propose to Marcus. I purchased a ring before the trip, and it was burning a hole in my pocket the ENTIRE trip.
I wanted the proposal to happen as candidly and natural as possible. So, I didn’t know when I was going to do it. It became very clear that Hong Kong was not the place for the proposal. There were too many people around every second of the day.
I waited until we flew to Thailand.
One day we were exploring this large cave system near Railay Beach. We used our weak iPhone lights to try and navigate the pitch-black maze of the cave. We found several bamboo ladders that kept taking us higher and higher into the cave. We eventually found what appeared to be a small shaft of light at the top of one of these bamboo ladders. We climbed it and were greeted with a gorgeous view of the beautiful karst topography or Railay Beach through a massive cave window.
It was just the two of us there. It was so beautiful and romantic.
“This is it”, I thought. “I’m gonna do it. Holy shit, I’m gonna propose.”
There was just enough space for the two of us to stand there on that cliff.
Marcus was busy taking photos with his camera and I was standing behind him, pretending to fetch something out of my bag. I got the ring out of its little pouch and held it in my sweaty palm. Marcus turned around and asked, “what are you doing?” I stammered, and Marcus again asked “What are you doing? You’re being weird!”
I said to not worry about it and to turn around and take more photos.
So, this is when I got down on one knee.
I was in position, my mouth opened to tell Marcus to turn around when all of a sudden, I heard something behind me. I turned and saw a man and woman climbing the ladder adorned with lots of rock-climbing gear. My heart dropped into my stomach. I couldn’t believe this perfect moment was being interrupted by strangers! I quickly stood back up and hide the ring in my pocket again. Marcus turned around also and saw in my face that something was wrong with me. I did my best to pass it off as merely no longer being alone with my guy.
A few days later, it was our last day in Thailand before flying back to Hong Kong. We were walking along Bangtao Beach looking for a place to grab dinner. We found this little hut that had several small tables right in the sand next to the water. Again, my heart started racing, as I knew this was my last chance to propose. I was so nervous, the waiter came to take our food order and I don’t even remember what I ordered, I couldn’t think straight. The waiter left and I thought “just do it, just show him the ring and ask him.”
I looked out over the ocean and saw a beautiful sunset. I started to cry which surprised Marcus, as he later told me that he thought this was me about to break up with him, telling him I had cheated on him or something! Hahahaha! I pulled out the ring and showed it to him. I couldn’t get any words out at all. My voice wouldn’t work. Marcus saw the ring and put his face in his hands for a minute.
Then he looked up, and I asked if he wanted to marry me. He said yes, and right then the waiter came back with our food! Ugh why am I so bad at these things! Haha! We waited for the waiter to leave before crying some more, hugging and kissing. We were both so happy. We spent the rest of the night walking on the beach and telling each other how important we were to one another.
M: I decided I wanted my turn to propose to Curtis. Six months later, while on the black sand Diamond Beach in Iceland, I proposed to Curtis. It was magical, even if it was round two!
What lead you to the elopement destination?
M: I was raised Mormon and served a Mormon mission in Scotland before coming out and leaving the Mormon church. Scotland is the only place I have ever felt homesick for. Despite still being in the closet and being there to serve a religious mission, I felt like I discovered myself being in Scotland. Since then, I’ve always dreamed of getting married in Scotland.
Curtis and I went to Scotland in 2017, and I got to show him all the places I lived. We visited the Isle of Skye together. We fell in love with the Island. It is pure magic there. I actually hesitate to tell people about how amazing Scotland is because parts of it still feel undiscovered. When Curtis proposed the next day I told him I wanted to get married there.
What did having a wedding, and a marriage mean to you both?
M: Growing up queer and Mormon is painful. Many, if not most, queer kids are rejected by their families and communities when they come out.
Our wedding, and entire relationship, has been about reclaiming our identity and right to love. Knowing that many would struggle to support our wedding, or attend, we decided to focus on us and those who would and have support us from the beginning.
We knew we wanted to get married in the outdoors. We also didn’t want to have what most would call a religious ceremony. Having a pagan/Celtic ceremony, like my ancestors would have, felt so right—especially given the location of the wedding.
Tell us about the wedding day
C & M: Our wedding day was more than we could have ever dared to dream and wish for. We would describe the day as our definition of perfect – especially when the rain came.
We arrived in Scotland on the 12th of September, married on the 16th [Mexican Independence Day, Curtis served his Mormon mission in Mexico City].
We rented a home on the Isle of Sky that fit most of those who attended the wedding, and others got homes close to ours. We were joined by one family member, Marcus sister Melissa, and 9 of our very best friends.
We woke up very excited and happy. All of our friends were at the house, so we spent the morning laughing and making breakfast. We looked out the window and saw the best weather we could have hoped for: cloudy and very lightly raining. We really wanted a moody and misty scene for our photographer.
We drove about 5 minutes to the site where the ceremony was to take place, in the north of Skye. The only other occupants there were lots of highland sheep, which our celebrant Sonja told us were out bridesmaids! This had the entire wedding party laughing. We found the spot for the ceremony, which was a small valley full of ferns, nestled between rolling hills.
Sonja had us all in our spaces and began the ceremony by using Celtic bells to call “the four corners” and ask the gods to bless this space and ask permission to hold our wedding there. After, we began to walk between the two lines made up of our closest friends/sister, towards Sonja, and we could not stop smiling. We were doing it! We were really about to be married! Marcus looked so amazing in his kilt, and Curtis looked stunning in his suit.
Sonja had us stand facing each other while she read what was not hyperbolically the most beautiful ceremonious passages we’d ever heard. We all cried as we listened to her beautiful words. For our ceremony, we had three pagan/Celtic traditions the Quaich (we put Talisker whiskey in ours), ring warming, then read our own vows and did the handfasting rite.
Part of our traditional Celtic wedding included Hand Fasting. We’ve always loved the symbolism of handfasting. Our celebrant who performed the ceremony talked about the symbolism of being bound together, with our free hands laying over the top, we made our own infinity loop. Bound, but also free to define our own relationship – which has always been a big theme in our relationship.
We decided to make our own cord for the handfasting ceremony. Marcus made it out of rock-climbing rope to remember our first day meeting, our shared love of the outdoors, and the symbolic strength of a thousand strands making a strong rope. At the center of the rope the celtic love heart knot was tied, which represents to hearts looped in an infinite knot.
…and then we were declared husbands.
We refilled the quaich cup with whiskey and each person drank as part of the ceremony, and we saved the last portion to be poured out to the land, which is done as a way to show respect to the earth for letting us use the space.
The rest of the day was spent with our incredible photographer exploring other parts of the Isle of Skye. We had pictures taken doing what we love; being outdoors with one another. I’m sure it must have appeared funny to other tourists, to witness two men in tailored wedding suits on these very difficult hiking trails in the pouring rain. We loved it. We were soaked to the bone and cold, but it didn’t matter. We were so happy and having the best time being together in our favorite place on earth as newly married husbands.
After photos, we went to the Cullin Hills Hotel for our wedding dinner. We arrived early before our guests to have a drink together and have a quiet moment together. The dinner was amazing! Afterword, we returned to the house, where we continued to celebrate late into the night.
Now that you are married, what does it mean to you?
M: I respect anyone’s right to their beliefs about marriage, and what their marriage means to them. I marched, protested, and voted for marriage equality. I love being able to legally call Curtis my husband; growing up never thinking marriage would be possible. It means a lot.
With that said, we have a lot of outdated and gendered ideas of marriage and the roles we play. Curtis, first and foremost, will always be my partner in this life. Marriage means a lot to us because we took the time to sit down and openly define what marriage means for our relationship and no one else’s.
If we hadn’t, I don’t think marriage would actually mean that much to us.