I first saw Cat across a lit exhibition hall thirteen years ago. I was fresh out of University, a breakup and my cats had just died; and in a desperate attempt to get me out of the house, my parents forced me to a career convention in London. I remember seeing her across the hall, representing the University she worked for back then. The way she moved her hands and laughed. The whole world tilted sideways towards the light. I just knew.
I wrote her a note and left it with a colleague, who after some confusion thinking it was for him, left it on her desk. I had written my number alongside these words: ‘You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Call me if you’re ever free’. When I got home that night my Nan asked me if I had found a job, and I told her I hadn’t, but that I had found a girl. When I told my Nan that Cat had text me she cried and said ‘you lost two cats but you found another’. We both roared with laughter over the phone. I went to bed that night feeling like a glowing neon star, tucked up under a big moon under what would be the first night of the rest of my life.
We started to date and travelled around the world together. It didn’t matter wherever we went, or how far away it was or for how long, because when we were together, we were home. After a trip to Norway; one where we drove across the Finnish border chasing the Northern Lights- at the top of a snowy mountain, in a tiny, rural train station at sunset, Cc got down on one knee and asked me to marry her. I had a ring in my pocket too- and we both looked at each other, both on our one knees in the snow, laughing and saying yes with so much joy.
Cat is now a director at RGU , and has slightly more understated taste than me. She likes cobalt blues, sage greens, slate greys, inky washes of block colour against stark white. I’m a writer and a teacher, so I like a little more colour. I love tropical plants, pastels and neons, baby pinks and buttery apricots against pops of sugar lemon and electric violet. Weirdly, our styles mix together well. We started thinking we wanted to get married in somewhere where we could merge dark classic luxury alongside with playful chaotic disco- but somewhere our friends and family would love too.
After persuading me against getting married in a disused air hangar in Berlin that’s made to be an indoor tropical island with a wave pool, and then a further idea of a gospel choir in a forest in Narnia, Cat and I looked around venues near to our new home. We moved up from London a year ago and wanted somewhere that gave a nod to Cat’s Scottish roots but that also would make us proud to show our loved ones the space that we had chosen to promise forever in.
We knew Barra was the one on the way there. There were coincidences on the way, too many to mention; names of places and roads, particular wildflowers lining the roads, the way the clouds were clearing as we drove. When we got there we laughed. The house I grew up in as a child in Buckinghamshire was called Bennachie, and now here we were, in this magical place, looking onto very mountain itself. We walked into the cafe and saw the neon sign. We both knew. The book I wrote was called Neon, and seeing it in the bookshops was one of the best feelings of my life. But when we walked into the main barn, I had a new best day. Cat grabbed my hand. Sarah was warm and funny. I barely said a word when we walked around. It felt like the most beautiful space in the world, which seemed right to me because it would also be the space where I will marry the most beautiful person. We booked it a few days later: a winter wedding for 23.11.23. It’s our anniversary and a perfectly symmetrical date- so confirming it all felt just the same as meeting her; like it all just made perfect sense.