Tabitha and Richard’s wedding was inspired by the art deco era; creating an elegant and intimate affair. They planned their day from Dubai with the help of family and chose Ardanaiseig in the Scottish Highlands as their wedding venue.
They had a humanist ceremony, simple chic décor and pretty bridesmaids in blue.
I so love Tabitha’s beautiful bridal look, with her stylish Sabina Motasem dress, veil and perfect tousled up do. Oh so glorious.
Thanks goes to Brown’s Photography for sharing their wonderful imagery today.
The Proposal… We live in Dubai and were back in the UK for a summer holiday. I (Tabi) had booked a little B and B in Whitstable for the oyster festival. We spent the whole day at the waterfront enjoying the food, the sea air and the English sunshine. Then, as the sun began to dip down and we were crunching across the shingle to head home, Richard took me totally by surprise by popping the question! I’d been complaining of the chill in the air but that warmed me up straight away!
The Vision for the Day… We wanted an elegant, intimate wedding. Since we live abroad, it’s rare that we get to see our family and friends all together, so the focus for our wedding was very much on bringing everyone together to enjoy a whole weekend of fun. We had a humanist ceremony, and while we weren’t going to reinvent the wedding rule book by any means, our general approach was to put a slightly quirky twist on the usual traditions. I took inspiration from 1920s and 30s vintage dress designs and Art Deco prints for the wedding cake, and we pushed our London-based families’ love for us to the max by choosing a sprawling and remote venue tucked way up in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands – several people mentioned that it would have been easier for them to get to Dubai! It was set right on a loch (Loch Awe no less), and the scenery was suitably awesome – dramatically rugged and romantic in a brooding, Wuthering Heights sort of way, all bruised skies, hills and heather.
The Planning Process… Although we live in Dubai, we knew we wanted to tie the knot in the UK. But, being based in the Middle East meant it wasn’t all that easy to arrange everything remotely. Wedding dresses in Dubai are mainly Arabic-style (read: blingy meringues), so I had to book a trip back to the UK partly just dedicated to wedding dress shopping (tight deadline, no scope for taking it back or being around for alterations – oh so stressful!), and our venue choice was very much informed by the fact that we had stayed there before and knew what it was like – there just wasn’t the opportunity for weekends of venue scouting trips. When it came to the favours and flowers and extra details, while I had lots of ideas, I didn’t really have the time or the ability to sort it all out from afar. But luckily I had the perfect UK-based event organiser in the form of my mother-in-law-to-be, Carole. I was very fortunate in being able to send her emails with mood board inspiration of what I had in mind, and she sorted all the details out, making them even better than I had imagined!
The Venue… Ardanaiseig hotel in Oban, Scotland. We chose the venue relatively early on – we had stayed there before, and we knew we didn’t want a Church wedding, and were quite happy to have somewhere that could accommodate only around 60 people. We had fallen in love with Ardanaiseig, and its spectacular scenery and shabby chic interiors fitted perfectly with our idea of romance. As I was working for a food magazine, the cuisine was also a very big aspect of the choice as we knew the food at the hotel to be absolutely top notch from when we had stayed there.
The Dress + Accessories… I wanted something simple and elegant, and ended up returning to 1930s and 20s style designs. After an incredibly long journey, I eventually opted for the slinky Josephine style dress from London based designer Sabina Motasem. I had a vintage style hair accessory ordered from a website rather amusingly called Glitzy Secrets, which my friend chose for me, as she was doing my hair. The long, delicate veil we also got from Motasem.
Finding the Dress… After exhausting the whole of Dubai’s wedding shops, I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was going to have to go home to go wedding dress shopping in order to find something I liked. I didn’t want to spent a fortune, but I wanted it to be special, but I also wanted it to be understated and simple – which it turned out was a very big ask! I went to Browns, the vintage wedding dress shop, I went to second hand wedding stores, I scoured the whole of online, I visited boutiques local to me, and warehouses out of town, as well as all the department stores. I generally found that either they were too fussy and poufy for my taste, or they were gorgeous but waay beyond my budget, or the price was right but I could tell from the stitching and the material that they looked a little bit cheap. My mum eventually stumbled upon Sabina Motasem’s website. We arranged a visit to her home in East London and I tried on some of the designs and chose the Josephine – finally something elegant and simple, well-made in a gorgeous material that I could afford. She was also really accommodating about alterations – the likes of Browns said that they had to be done 6 weeks in advance and they would cost hundreds of pounds, but I couldn’t afford the time to have to come home again, nor the money. Sabina agreed to do any alterations with just 24 hours notice, when I popped home just days before the wedding!
Groom’s Attire… Richard rented his suit! I think it was from Brooks brothers – he and his groomsmen all had the same, with ties and handkerchiefs chosen to complement the duck-egg blue, coral and champagne colour scheme we’d chosen.
The Readings + Music… We had a string quartet playing the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba for my entrance, and they played Journey’s ‘Don’t stop Believin’ for the exit! Readings were all non-religious because of our humanist ceremony – there was John Donne’s ‘Good Morrow’, a Shakespeare sonnet and an excerpt from ‘The Velvetine Rabbit’. We also printed a Margaret Atwood poem ‘Habitation’ on the back of our service sheet – Richard thought it was too ambivalent to have in the actual service! In the evening we had a ceilidh band.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… My two younger sisters, Bella and Sephe. Their dresses were from Monsoon, and we customised the straps with motifs bought from the haberdashery at John Lewis. Their shoes were from Faith, in a distressed, vintage gold style.
The Flowers… Flowers were ordered by my mother-in-law from the local Oban florist. We went for delicate, antique-style roses for the bouquet and vintage garden flowers in jam jars for the night before the wedding. The colour scheme was supposed to be champagne and coral, but the roses ended up being more violet coloured – which was fine in the end.
The Cake… An Art Deco masterpiece arranged by my mother in law.
Your Photographer… The fabulous Morag Warrender.
The Details + Decor… All arranged by Carole through Not on the Highstreet. The theme was whimsical, vintage-style romance.
The Honeymoon… We had an amazing adventure in Tanzania on the most incredible safari, glamping in the African bush, and in a river lodge with a view of muddy hippos and crocodiles, followed by a relaxing beach holiday in Zanzibar.
Memorable Moments… Walking down the aisle and seeing my lovely husband-to-be fighting back floods of tears! So adorable yet funny! The whole of the honeymoon, the beautiful ceremony, having all of our family and friends together.. oh, and the end-of-summer drowsy wasps that were everywhere and ended up stinging my aunt on her lip. She swelled up like a balloon and had to walk around with a black headscarf covering her entire face because she was so mortified by her appearance (she was fine in the end thankfully)!
Advice for Other Couples… Don’t worry about what other people will think – looking back on this now I realise that I constantly had everyone else’s enjoyment in mind, and it made things quite stressful. Of course you want people to have a good time, but it is your big day and your enjoyment is paramount. Don’t be afraid to fully express yourself through your special day.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Dress | Sabina Motasem
Venue | Ardanaiseig
Photographer | Browns Photo
String quartet | Argyll Quartet
Hair accessory | Glitzy Secrets
Favours and accessories| Not On The High Street
Thanks so very much to Tabitha and Richard for sharing their wedding story with us today XOXO Lou