In the middle of the Firth of Forth, just off Aberdour, lies Incholm Island and its ancient and secret abbey. With the Puffins bobbing and skimming across the waves, the seagulls and Fulmars squabbling on the cliffs and the seals swimming in the bay you could be on one of the western isles and yet you are only a 30 minute boat ride from the Forth Bridge. The abbey is a Historic Scotland monument (see the link to the right) and unique and wonderful. It is like any of the Scottish Abbeys, and reminded me very much of Kelso Abbey, but it feels as if it has been shrunk in the wash. All the components are there but on a smaller and much more accessible scale. The cloisters for instance are intact on three of the four sides and surround a central courtyard not, as at Dryburgh (another great venue), the size of two football pitches but here it is the size of your back lawn.
The weddings generally take place in the Refectory which is water tight but not “wind tight” and the drinks party afterwards took place in the Chapter House, the octagonal space in the Abbey where the monks would meet to discuss, confer and agree the affairs of the institution. It would have been wonderful to have the reception outside on the lawn overlooking the little bay but the weather was not very kind to us.
If you are to get married at Incholm it takes quite a lot of planning beforehand because you need to ship you and your guests out on the boat from South Queensferry. Mark, his best man and his ushers decided to sail over in advance of Katie, the bridal party and all the guests so that they could set the room up (and have a beer or two on the boat). I went with them and after getting organised we all stood and watched the weather gradually deteriorate as we waited the two hours for everyone else to arrive. The guests disembarked first (Katie and her bridesmaids were secreted in the captain’s cabin for the voyage) and the piper piped them up the longish walk to the Abbey. Rachel got her harp organised and then we all heard the swirl of the pipes again in the distance as Katie and the bridal party made their way from the boat. Rachel played the bride in (Mairi’s Wedding if I remember) and the ceremony began.
It was magic, despite the rain and the nippy wind. I will end with a word of warning however: It is an island, it is remote, the weather can be awful, you do have to clamber on and off a small(ish) boat, the paths are stoney and the grass is wet. It might be an idea to suggest to your guests that they dress appropriately for the ceremony – the sleeveless frocks and satin stilettos might be better kept for the reception!