It was a perfectly imperfect wedding that has won the Scottish island of Skye an international reputation for kindness.
Amanda and Paul Riesel flew more than 4,000 miles from Orlando, Florida, to get married on Skye, in the Highlands.
It was a wedding that had been two years in the planning, costing the school meals supervisor and her groom more than £12,000.
But their dream began to fall apart after their plane was diverted to Philadelphia, a detour that led to three days of delays, with the couple stuck in different airports along the way. Paul said: “All of us had breakdowns along the way. It was delay, delay, delay.”
The exhausted couple eventually arrived on Skye at about 11pm on Monday, the night before their wedding – only to discover that all their luggage had disappeared.
With no wedding dress or suit, they were ready to call off the wedding. “We didn’t know the luggage hadn’t made it until we were in Inverness,” said Amanda, who had fortunately carried the wedding rings and flowers in her hand luggage. “We got to the luggage carousel to see 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 had reckoned without the determination of their local photographer, Rosie Woodhouse, and the kindness of the islanders. “I told them I was sure I could make this work,” said Woodhouse. “Skye is an amazing place.”
Shortly before midnight on Monday, Woodhouse posted an appeal on a Skye social media site. By 7.30am on Tuesday, she had been flooded with offers of help. By 10am, Amanda had eight wedding dresses of her size to choose from – and Paul had a full kilt set.
Amanda managed to source makeup from a local chemist and Woodhouse gave the couple a home-cooked meal at her home.
“Rosie did all of this, I was oblivious to all the work that went on in the background,” said Amanda. “In the middle of the night people responded, one woman even dropped off normal clothes to help. We woke up to this beautiful thing orchestrated for us. Because of her perseverance we got married.
“Every single person Rosie introduced us to and that offered to help will for ever have a place in our hearts,” she added. “The people of Skye will be famous in Orlando because we will tell anyone who will listen that they are the reason our love was cemented into a perfectly imperfect wedding day. There will never be enough words for us to express how grateful we are.”
Amanda said that fate must have had a hand in her happy day because she ended up wearing the dress of a local school meals supervisor. “Local Broadford primary dinner lady, Theresa, was the owner of my dress and I’m also a dinner lady back home,” she said. “Wearing it meant even more to me knowing it came from someone who loves and feeds her students just like I do.”