For many women, a wedding is something carefully considered from birth until her actual wedding day occurs and even years after that. As little girls, it is not uncommon to play pretend wedding, mentally preparing for the big day, celebrity crush always included, of course.
When it comes time for a woman to live this day out in reality, my hope is that the actual product surpasses her adolescent expectations of what “the perfect wedding” is. For Bethany Blair, recent bride and wedding expert, it is safe to say that is true.
On September 21, 2013, Bethany and Kevin Blair tied the knot at their unique, culture-filled ceremony, including influences from Scottish and Irish heritages.
However, before that, came two people who stumbled upon an “unexpected relationship.” “We were both attending church at London First Baptist when we met. We started talking some at church and then he took me on our first date, which was hiking on Petit Jean, and it all went from there,” said Blair.
Staying true to the theme of “unexpected,” Kevin’s proposal was nothing short of that. “It was a Sunday morning and I was getting ready for church when Kevin called to see if I had some Tylenol for one of my three stepdaughters. When he showed up, I was in a robe, hair in a towel and he was in a suit and tie. I kept thinking ‘there is still an hour and a half before church,’ but he got down on one knee and read a poem he had written. I said yes, crying, and then kicked him out so I could get ready,” recalled Blair.
When the wedding planning began, both Bethany and Kevin knew they wanted the wedding that they wanted. Both being previously married, a big, over the top wedding was not appealing. “Part of getting to know each other was done talking about our heritages, so we decided that was important to us. He is Scottish and I am Irish,” said Blair.
After committing to a theme, things took off. “After we got engaged, we went to a Renaissance fair soon after where Kevin got a traditional kilt and I found a dress. Both of our outfits were from the same time period. Kevin’s kilt was Scottish and my dress was from the Highlands,” said Blair.
It is customary in their heritages for a man to take part of his tartan clothing and drape it over his bride’s shoulders, representing that he is taking her into his house. Per Scottish tradition, Kevin had a broach with the Blair crest on his kilt. “I had a matching broach with the Blair crest that was made for me, and was pinned on my tartan after it was given to me. I also wore bells around my ankles and wrists, which signifies long life and fertility,” said Blair.
All of Blair’s jewelry incorporated trees, which symbolizes “love of the land” and how everyone is connected.
“My sister was my Matron of Honor, Kevin’s best man was his good friend from church. Everyone in our wedding was family or we knew them from church. The bridesmaids wore simple, black dresses,” said Blair.
Other traditions included in the ceremony were tying of the bride and groom’s hands, known as handfasting. “The term handfasting, is from late medieval times, deriving from Old Norse: hand-festa, which means to strike a bargain by joining hands. The notion of a handshake comes from the old tradition of hand fasting; and even today, let us shake on it, can represent a vow of sorts. Similarly, handfasting, represents a commitment in context to a more intimate partnership.”
“I always had this romantic idea of riding my horse, Toba, down the aisle when I got married. I have had Toba since I was 16. Since my dad did not get to walk me down the aisle because I rode my horse, he tied our hands together and said a prayer,” said Blair.
Bethany and Kevin’s ceremony took place at a friend’s house and land on top of Crow Mountain. “The day before the wedding, it was raining and storming. That was the only time I really felt stressed about things. We decided to decorate the barn in case the weather did not cooperate. I took old sheets and ripped them into strips and hung when around the barn to cover everything up,” said Blair. Aligning with the culture of their wedding, the Blair’s had bells ring after their ceremony.
“A tradition we thought about doing is having guests actually bring cakes and stack them up. The bride and groom kiss over the cake. My mom made my cake, though. Making cakes was one of her first jobs. We chose to kiss over the traditional cake instead,” explained Blair. Blair’s cake topper was hand blown glass, with a purple crown and a trinity symbol centered.
“Our flowers were a mixture of orchids, roses and wheat, all done by Cathy’s flowers. Wheat is a Scottish tradition. In my bouquet was lavender in the shape of a heart, with wire roses and orchids. My mom also used fresh orchids to decorate the cake,” recalled Blair.
“We kept it simple with food. Our cups were mugs, though, because it is customary for the groom to sprinkle ale over the bride, but we didn’t do that. We served punch,” said Blair. Also served were Blair’s handmade cream cheese mints in the shape of leaves.
During the reception, Blair’s brother and sister-in-law played the flute and guitar. Family friends Hannah Branscum and Cara Gentry took all photos. “We spent our honeymoon in Hot Springs. The coolest part of our stay was definitely the outdoor shower,” said Blair.
Blair has done weddings on the side for years, for family and friends, and when it came time to plan her own big day, she took no shortcuts for making it perfect. “It was a lot less stressful planning my own wedding. I also had the option when planning to do what I wanted; it was the wedding we wanted,” explained Blair.
For Blair, what came after the wedding is the best part. “I hope people can see the deep love and joy we have for each other and in each other. That love comes from God, and it is not something we expected. We did not expect to find each other and the joy that came with it. We enjoy spending time together, and occasionally, we still wear our wedding clothes on dates,” said Blair.