A Deeside couple have sealed their love by getting married on the summit of Lochnagar.
Keen mountaineers John and Milena Wales, from Torphins, tied the knot in front of the local registrar and a dozen guests after a three-hour trek to the mountain top.
It was the culmination of an event-filled eight weeks for John, 69, in which he popped the question, got married, went on honeymoon, celebrated a birthday and then underwent a hip replacement operation.
Speaking exclusively to the Piper, John, a former aircraft engineer from Blackpool, said: “It’s been an incredible eight weeks and I just couldn’t be happier.”
The couple met on a cruise ship in 2007 when John was the diving officer and Milena, 37, worked as a croupier during her studies.
They made their home in Deeside four years ago when Milena, 37, from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, took up a job as an environmental scientist in the oil industry.
It’s been an incredible eight weeks and I just couldn’t be happierJohn Wales Groom
The couple developed their fondness for mountaineering on trips to the Lake District.
She said: “I was over the moon when he popped the question. I was hoping he would propose one day but I thought no, it won’t happen.
“When he suggested getting married on the mountain I said yes, that would be fantastic, and it was. It was absolutely magical.”
Once John had proposed - on a weekend trip to Edinburgh - the couple wasted no time in making arrangements for the big day.
John: “With my hip operation pending, I said why don’t we get married straight away, if we can arrange it.
“Milena was delighted with the mountain idea so we got in touch with Colin Riley, a minister who is also a mountaineering instructor at Glenmore Lodge, whom we knew from a previous course.”
But Colin couldn’t manage on the date - Sunday, August 28 - so the couple approached registrar Elaine Jaffray in Banchory and she was delighted to help out.
Elaine told the Piper: “I had always wanted to do something like this, so when John came in and asked about getting married on Lochnagar, it was like a dream come true.
“It was very special and I don’t think there’s been anything like this during my time in Deeside.
“It was perfect for John and Milena because this was what they wanted and it was a perfect setting. It was a lovely day.”
The couple and their guests met at Glenmuick car before making their way to the summit of the 3789ft peak in ideal weather conditions.
Following the 30-minute ceremony, the couple were toasted with champagne in plastic flutes, chocolates and showered in biodegradable confetti.
The reception with family and friends was held in the Lodge on the Loch at Aboyne.
John, who is retired, is now recovering from his hip operation and is keen to get out and about again with Milena on the Deeside hills.
He said: “We are quite a unique couple. We’re dead happy, we’re dead laid back most of the time and we just enjoy outdoor life.
“The age difference never comes into the equation. It works for us. Everyone knows we’ll be together forever.”