Glenurquhart & Glenmoriston
Old Wedding Announcements

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The Inverness Courier - Inverness, 1820 (ref: Iain McKenzie - Glasgow, Scotland)

    Last week a wedding was solemnised in the wild but beautiful Glen of Urquhart, near
Lakefield, betwixt George Anderson, the blacksmith of the district, and Marjory May
Macdonald, a decent young damsel, who belonged to the same parish. As the blacksmith is still a personage of some importance in the thinly populated straths, a vast concourse of people assembled on the joyous occasion, and numerous presents were made from all quarters, that there might be a competency of good things of this world available at the ceremony.
    The younger members of the families of Lochletter, Lakefield, and Corrimony grace the scene
with their presence, and there were in all four hundred persons assembled. All the maidens
displayed their snoods and plaids, about ninety of the young men were dressed in full Highland garb. The preparations for the feast would not have disgraced an English corporation dinner or vestry meeting. There were 100 English gallons of whisky; 60 English gallons of homebrewed ale; 2 cows; 18 Highland wedders; 12 salmon; 3 dozen hens; 40 ducks; 6 turkeys; 30 brace of muirfowl; 6 black cocks; 50 stones of cheese; 7 stones of butter; 6 bolls of meal baked into cakes; 50 cogs of croudie; with milk in all varieties of preparation, and eggs 'thick as the leaves of Vallambrosa'.
    The distribution of the native beverage was entrusted to the management of a Highland Caleb Balderstone called 'Sogan Buidhe' (hearty, jovial fellow), and he performed the important
functions with such success, that there was not one of the guests upon which he did not confer the degree of hilarity, so admirably defined by his Celtic cognomen. As merry-makings of this sort do not occur every day, even in the Highlands, the guests wisely resolved to make the most of the occasion, and they accordingly kept up the festivities from Tuesday till Saturday night.
    Among many diversions resorted to for amusement, the athletic and national sport of putting the stone was a favourite, at which a man named 'Ian-mor-na Cunn', about 6ft 6in high, the Goliath of the Glen, outdistanced all his competitors, except one, while throwing the stone kneeling upon one knee. Dancing was kept up with occasional short intervals, day and night - the mountain dew circulated with a twelve horse power of rapidity, while the pipers 'hotched and blew with might and main'.
    The local band of pipers and fiddlers was led and the dancing was conducted by an eccentric, well qualified master of ceremonies, named 'Murrach na Gealaich' or Murdo the Moon, a sobriquet originating in a feat, which Murdo boasts of having performed with a favourite rifle - namely, having with one shot brought down an enormous eagle, and fractured at the same time a piece of the moon. On the whole, 'sic dancing and deray', has not been witnessed for many a long year in the Glen of Urquhart, and as the Gaelic bards are invoking the great lost power of song to celebrate the event, there can be no doubt but the nuptials of the blacksmith, and the bonny May, will be sung and remembered to the latest posterity.

Old Highland style of Wedding in Glen Urquhart which took place in 1823 . This account is of the marriage of John MacDonald, Milton, who was to become an elder in the Free Church, he married the daughter of Donald Campbell, also of Milton and is given in the biography of Kenneth Somerled MacDonald, son of John MacDonald by James MacPhail in 1905.  (ref: Ian M. Allen - WTG pg. 212)....

    The guests numbered between three and four hundred. Fat bullocks and sheep were killed, and pure Highland whisky was drunk by the gallon. The wedding ceremony was performed in the parish church. For the custom of celebrating marriages in private houses, which afterwards
became so common in Scotland, was at that time regarded with disfavour.
    Two processions, afterwards united into one, were formed before the ceremony. One consisted of the bridegroom and his friends, the other of the bride and here; but the fathers of both bride and bridegroom led the procession, mounted on horseback. They were followed by two bagpipers, and after them came the bridegroom escorted by two maidens, then the bridegroom's friends, each with a maid on his arm, while the rest of the train was made up of friends, all walking in couples.
    At an appointed place, the bride's procession met them, and the whole party then proceeded to the church. On returning from the church the procession was in very much the same order, with the exception that it was now headed by the newly married pair, arm in arm. As the first
procession referred to wound its way along the road towards the church, the male relations of all the unmarried girls in the neighbourhood, whom the bridegroom was supposed to have rejected, ranged themselves along the roadside, armed with guns and gunpowder, and fired blank charges at the bridegroom's party. The bridgroom was escorted by a "firing party" of young men who returned the fusillade. The bridal procession was on this occasion nearly a mile long. It proceeded to a large barn in Milton, which had been specially fitted up for the marriage feast.
    As the newly married couple crossed the threshold baskets of oatmeal cakes were thrown up into the air so that their contents should fall over their heads, and the broken fragments were eagerly scrambled for by the young unmarried men and maidens. Long tables were loaded with eatables, beef, mutton, lamb and fowl, roasted, boiled stewed, and prepared in every conceivable way by a professional cook from Inverness; and whisky flowed in abundance to sharpen the appetites of the guests. Men with flails marched up and down the hall pretending to compel the people to eat and drink. Outside the house the bagpipes skirled; inside three or four fiddlers were vigorously at work. When the first occupants of the table finished they adjourned to dance on the green and others took their places. This was kept up for three days. Then the homecoming was made the occasion of another feast that lasted two days.