The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Home Lands

December 26, 2010

Bride, groom celebrate ethnicity during wedding

When Dustin MacEwan and Christy (Eckenrode) Long got married, they considered their ceremony to be a 10.

It may have had something to do with them taking their vows at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10, 2010, but the bride and groom also paid tribute to their ethnic heritage by having a Scottish wedding.

The wedding took place at the J. Irving Whalley Memorial Chapel on the Pitt-Johns-town campus in Richland Township, which was decked out with tartan pew bows, Celtic St. Andrew’s crosses with scrolling banners and Scottish thistle.

“The colors, music pageantry and traditional garb offered a glimpse of how the Scottish culture performs a traditional wedding ceremony and the meaning behind the rituals,” said Wayne MacEwan, father of the groom.

No Scottish wedding would be complete without a bagpiper.

Piper Ed Hritz of Johnstown played “The Highland Wedding March” as the bride walked down the aisle.

When the couple walked back down the aisle as a married couple, Hritz performed “Scotland the Brave.”

“Live Celtic music was performed during various parts of the wedding by Matt and Jen Harnett of the band Tree,” MacEwan said.

Their ceremony was a representation of a typical late-18th century wedding in Scotland.

The Rev. Michael Wolfe, a parochial vicar at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church in Geistown Borough, performed the 45-minute ceremony and explained customs and symbolism to the guests.

Handfasting, a part of the ceremony where the couple’s wrists are joined together with a piece of tartan by the priest, signifies the couple coming together as one.

Instead of handfasting, contemporary wedding jargon says that a couple is “tying the knot.”

“Plaiding of the bride occurs when the groom pins a sash of his clan tartan on his bride with a lukenbrooch pin, welcoming her into his clan,” MacEwan said.

The groom would typically wear Highland Dress, a kilt in his clan tartan, a Prince Charles jacket and vest, kilt hose, a sporran (a pouch that performs the same function as pockets) and ghille brogues (shoes).

“These were all worn by the groom, father of the groom, bagpiper and the ringbearer,” said MacEwan.

It is customary for a bride to wear a modest dress of silk or lace.

“The bride wears a white wedding gown, complete with tiara, shoes and a veil, and she carries a bouquet in her hand,” MacEwan said.

“Very often, a lucky horseshoe is part of the bride’s attire.”

In a very traditional Scottish wedding, the bride wears items that are borrowed from friends and family.

The bride also has something that is old.

“Normally, it is something that is passed down to her from her mother,” MacEwan said.

Following the ceremony, Wolfe went to the couple’s home in Mine 37 and blessed their house.

After the ceremony, the guests gather to celebrate the marriage with eating, drinking and music during a party – called a Ceilidh (kaylee) – at the home of the groom’s parents.

“We hosted a traditional wedding reception the following weekend at the Gatherin’ Place in Windber,” MacEwan said.

MacEwan, along with his wife, Linda, mother of the groom, wore the ancient MacEwan tartan. The bride and groom wore a modern MacEwan tartan.

The parents of the bride are Dr. James Eckenrode of Geistown Borough and Marian Eckenrode of Richland Township.

“A lot of the guests said it was one of the most beautiful ceremonies they had ever attended,” MacEwan said.

“Some said they had never seen anything like it.”

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