It was a totally imperfect wedding that earned the Scottish Isle of Skye an international reputation for kindness.
Amanda and Paul Russell flew more than 4,000 miles from Orlando, Florida, to get married in Skye, in the Highlands.
It was a wedding that took two years to plan, and cost the school meals supervisor and her groom more than £12,000.
But their dream began to unravel after their plane was diverted to Philadelphia, a detour that led to three days of delays, as the couple got stuck at various airports along the way. “We all had breakdowns along the way,” Paul said. “It was a delay, a delay, a delay.”
The weary couple finally arrived at Skye around 11 p.m. on Monday, the night before their wedding – only to discover that all of their belongings were gone.
With no wedding dress or suit, they were ready to cancel the wedding. “We didn’t know the baggage wasn’t made until we got to Inverness,” said Amanda, who happily carried wedding rings and flowers in her handbag. “We got to the baggage cart to see that it was completely empty and our bags were not there. It dawned on me that we would have to cancel and there was nothing else I could do.”
But they calculated it without specifying their local photographer, Rosie Woodhouse, and the kindness of the islanders. “I told them I was sure I could make this business a success,” Woodhouse said. “Sky is a great place.”
Shortly before midnight on Monday, Woodhouse posted an appeal on social media site Skye. By 7.30 a.m. on Tuesday, she had been inundated with offers of help. By 10 a.m., Amanda had eight wedding dresses of her size to choose from—and Paul had a full set of skirts.
Amanda managed to get makeup from a local chemist and Woodhouse provided the couple with a home-cooked meal in her home.
“Rosie did all this, I was oblivious to all the work that was going on in the background,” Amanda said. “In the middle of the night people responded, even a woman left her normal clothes to help. We woke up to this beautiful thing orchestrated for us. Because of her perseverance we got married.
“Everyone Rosie has introduced to us who offered to help will forever have a place in our hearts,” she added. “The Sky folks in Orlando will be famous because we will tell anyone who listens to them that they are the reason our love solidified on a totally imperfect wedding day. There won’t be enough words for us to express how grateful we are.”
Amanda said fate had a hand on her happy day because she ended up wearing an honorable dress to local school meals. “The principal supper lady of Broadford, Teresa,” she said, “was the owner of my dress and I am also a dinner lady of the house.” “Wearing it means more to me knowing that it came from someone who loves and feeds her students as much as I do.”