When you know, you know – and we love that today’s couple knew exactly what they wanted their winter wedding to be.
WWW readers (and avid snowboarders!) Fiona and Ryan chose to celebrate their union with a few dozen of their closest loved ones, against the dramatic backdrop of the Highlands of Scotland. On a windy February’s day, their magical handfasting ceremony by a castle on a Loch was the crowning end of a week of excitement at Inshriach House, where guests enjoyed the relaxed, laid-back preparations to the wedding itself. At the heart of it, a focus on delicious food and good company – a blissful homage to the beauty of simplicity. The décor embraced the personality of the venue and the intimacy of the party, warming it with candles and freshening it with arrangements of foliage and flowers. Lovingly arranged by the bride’s mother, the blooms brought everything to life: ruscus, asparagus fern, and seeded eucalyptus for greenery, alongside ranunculus, white roses, eustoma and thistles for colour. The bride – who is herself a budding bridal designer – showed off a blue-grey masterpiece of her own creation, her favourite hue echoing the sparkling sapphire of her engagement ring. It’s impossible to choose the most fabulous feature: the damask patterned silk corset (concealing a modesty panel made of her grandmother’s wedding dress), the tulle gown, the delicate lace over-dress, or the navy blue velvet cloak, complete with faux fur trim hood. If this enchanting outfit isn’t reason to marry outdoors on a wintry day in Scotland, I don’t know what is…!
We hope you enjoy the breathtaking atmosphere and love in every one of the captures by Christopher Ian Photography!
We were approaching our 10 year anniversary and had booked a trip to New York to celebrate. I had a few comments about Ryan proposing to me whilst we were there but I knew this wasn’t his style. Ryan took me to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham to have a look at engagement rings. He knew that I wouldn’t have wanted a typical engagement ring and after an unsuccessful shopping trip we decided to get a ring made exactly how I wanted. I was set on having a tanzanite stone in my ring as blue is my favourite colour. Once we had designed the ring it was just a waiting game for me. I thought it would take a few months to make and wasn’t expecting a proposal until after we came home from our trip to New York. On the 4th December 2016 we went out and bought our Christmas tree, we decorated the tree and when we were finished I turned on the Christmas lights, when I turned around Ryan was down on one knee with a different kind of sparkle in his hands! It took me a few seconds to even click what was happening, but that was it, the moment I had waited for and it was a perfect surprise. My ring was absolutely perfect and I loved it! So not only did we celebrate our 10 year anniversary in New York later that month, but also our engagement!
We really didn’t want a typical wedding, Ryan and I weren’t really keen on the whole big white wedding idea. As a bridal wear designer/dressmaker I hear brides talk a lot about their weddings and as beautiful as they are and as much as I love to hear all about their plans I wanted my wedding day to be unique and totally different. Straight away we knew we only wanted close family and friends to be there and we wanted a winter wedding. When we first thought about where we wanted to get married it was an obvious choice for us that it would be somewhere with snow! We love to snowboard so the French Alps were talked about, but when we thought about it we decided we wanted to get married in the UK. We have had a few trips up to Aviemore, in Scotland, for snowboarding so we started to look into the idea of a Scottish winter wedding. We wanted to keep everything really intimate and relaxed.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
We had just over 12 months from getting engaged to plan our wedding. Apart from the big things such as the venue, photographer and catering we planned to do everything else ourselves. Saying that, we kept everything very simple and we didn’t feel like we needed anything other than good food and good company to celebrate our marriage. I think the most stressful part of planning the wedding was buying a house in-between it all!
We initially set a budget of around £5000, this wasn’t set in stone but we both didn’t really want to spend huge amounts on our wedding. In the end we spent around £8000, probably because I wanted diamonds in my wedding ring! But as with most weddings the biggest costs were the venue, food and it was also hugely important to us to choose a great photographer.
After a little research, we found out that you can legally get married pretty much anywhere you like in Scotland. With further thought, I remembered on a previous holiday to Aviemore that we had walked around Loch An Eilein, it is set in the most beautiful surroundings. It has a little castle in the middle of the loch and the Cairngorm mountains in the background. It is just such a magical place and we thought it would be perfect to hold our ceremony there. We also loved the fact that it was somewhere we could go back and visit whenever we liked – our special place.
Finding a reception venue was a little more tricky, we had an unusual number of guests it seemed – 23. With that in mind we were looking for an intimate venue that we could hire completely, we didn’t want a typical wedding venue such as a hotel – we wanted something quirky with character. We eventually came across Inshriach House which is just a couple of miles down the road from the Loch. After initial emails backwards and forwards we thought it wasn’t going to be possible as the dining room only seated 22 guests at a push. However the owner Walter came back to us with the suggestion that he could make a bigger dining table to accommodate all of our guests, so we booked a weekend away up to Aviemore to view the venue and we just fell in love! It was perfect! I remember walking around the house feeling like I had been thrown back in time, it was like a museum full of antiques and quirky décor. It has the most amazing floor plan with a huge balcony overlooking the dining hall, which I had already started decorating in my head. We hired Inshriach House for a whole week giving us plenty of time to set up the wedding and a bit of time to relax. The house slept 17 people so all of our family were able to stay with us which was brilliant!
THE READINGS & MUSIC
Rather than readings we chose to incorporate a handfasting into our ceremony. It was such a lovely thing and a little different to other weddings we had been to. It also symbolises being bound to each other for eternity.
We put our own playlist together using Spotify. It was just a really good mixture of our favourite music, including bands we had seen together and songs that we related to good memories. I did a kind of first look before we went down to the loch, I’d been working on my dress for so long and I didn’t want the first time everyone saw me on the day for the dress to be covered by my cloak, so I decided to make an entrance in the house with my dad before we went down to the loch. I chose a couple of songs to play during this time. Before I went downstairs I had a version of The Pixies, Where Is My Mind, by a pianist called Maxence Cyrin. It is just a beautiful piece of music and it set a kind of ambiance. I am a huge Muse fan so my entrance song had to be by Muse, I chose Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever).
I chose not to have any bridesmaids. With it being such a small wedding, I didn’t feel it was necessary. I also felt that everyone who was there was equally as important to me. My only options really would have been my two sisters and I didn’t want to choose what they wore to my wedding. That said they both were there for me on the day and they fit the role of ‘unofficial bridesmaids’ perfectly – I couldn’t have done it without them!
Ryan’s outfit was probably one of the more stressful parts of planning our day as he has a well known penchant for last minute shopping. Add to the fact that it was collaborated over many shopping trips. Ryan knew he wanted something a bit unique, using contrasting colours and a velvet jacket. We stumbled across his jacket pretty early on during a shopping trip to Birmingham, in Reiss. We loved the deep damson colour and it fit so perfectly. We also found his shirt in Reiss, which may be the most expensive plain white shirt he will ever buy. The rest of his outfit was courtesy of Ted Baker, which included his waistcoat, trousers, tie and shoes. Finally, and without much time left to spare, we found his coat in Zara in Nottingham.
I wanted lots of flowers! Mostly greenery with a bit of white and blue. My mum has experience of flower arranging and we had done the flowers for my sisters wedding in 2016 so I knew we could do mine too. There were flowers everywhere! We had lots of ruscus, asparagus fern and seeded eucalyptus for the greenery. Because of the time of year we were more limited on choice for flowers but the one flower that was available that I fell in love with were ranunculus, to complement I had huge white roses, eustoma and of course since we were in Scotland we had thistles. We made ruscus garlands for the dining table, which was over 10 metres long, and garlands for two of the fireplaces. We hung geometric tea light holders full of flowers from the balcony overlooking the dining room. There was at least 2 arrangements in every room and we made buttonholes and corsages for all of the guests. My bouquet was huge! Full of greenery, beautiful, huge white roses, ranunculus and thistles. I made myself a flower crown for my hair, which was surprisingly simple and took me about half an hour at 10pm the night before the wedding!
It was really important to me to choose a photographer that I could work with again in the future, on styled shoots etc. My dreams being that I will one day soon be designing and making beautiful dresses for other beautiful brides. There are so many wedding photographers out there but nothing was blowing me away, so I asked on a Facebook group for recommendations. I had so many requests to shoot our wedding as well as recommendations, I think I had a list of about 70 photographers. Out of all of them just one caught my eye and I knew I’d found our photographer! Christopher Ian Photography. His style was perfect! We were looking for someone who would be able to really capture the mood and atmosphere of our location, we didn’t want cheesy posed shots, just natural, relaxed and for the photos to tell our wedding story. Along with his awesome photography skills he is also a really genuine and kind person. He travelled up to Scotland from Cheshire to shoot our wedding and he stayed with us at Inshriach House, which meant he was able to capture us setting up the venue, along with some really precious memories during the run up to our wedding day. Chris fitted in so well with all of us and we really enjoyed his company throughout the weekend, to us it felt like he was just another guest.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR
We wanted to keep everything really simple and as un-typically ‘weddingy’ as we could. We didn’t want to take too much away from what we loved so much about the house and tried to keep everything in keeping with its character. So we focused on just the florals, tea lights and candles everywhere, and whatever we had, it couldn’t look like Christmas! The main feature was the dining table. I made a pale blue tablecloth and draped a huge ruscus and floral garland down the centre of the table. We had lots of tea lights and three silver candelabras that were already in the house. We hired all of our crockery, cutlery and glassware from Gordon’s cater hire, Inverness, we chose pretty vintage cutlery and gorgeous cut crystal wine glasses.
I gave myself a little project for our favours/place names. Remember the story about how Ryan proposed? Well, we kept the Christmas tree. We asked my grandad to cut the trunk into slices and I used a pyrography tool to burn our initials and wedding date onto one side and on the other side the name of each of our guests. I finished them off with a ribbon tie so that they could be hung as a Christmas decoration.
Something else that was really important to us was great food! We chose a local chef recommended to us by Inshriach House and wow was it a great recommendation! Gilly of ‘Gilly’s Kitchen’ and her husband David were absolutely amazing! Gilly’s food was delicious and everything we wanted. With a Scottish theme in mind, we opted for canapés of haggis bon bons, miniature venison toad in the holes and warm shots of winter vegetable soup, served with miniature cheese scones. For starters we had Scottish salmon and for main we chose Balmoral chicken with haggis and a whiskey cream sauce. Dessert was Ryan’s domain and we had a trio of chocolate torte, cranachan and caramelised oranges. David ran front of house for us serving drinks, making sure everyone was happy and that everything ran on schedule. We loved that he came dressed fit for the occasion in his kilt, he really looked the part! Both Gilly and David went above and beyond for us on our wedding day and nothing was too much trouble.
My mum makes the best cakes! This was her territory I knew it would be beautiful and tasty whatever she did. I gave her a few ideas on what I wanted, two tall tiers, flowers of some kind and of course it had to be blue! It turned out exactly how I had expected and it was beautiful! Ryan is my mums official cake taste tester so he chose the flavours. We ended up with salted caramel and chocolate, white chocolate and raspberry and carrot cake.
Still to be decided on. We spent the week in Scotland so didn’t feel any immediate rush to jet off around the world. We are hoping to get away to the Amalfi coast later this year.
The whole day was just so amazing, I had a wonderful morning getting ready with my 2 beautiful sisters. I was so blown away with how we had managed to transform the house and how incredible it looked. The Loch was just an amazing place to get married and the atmosphere was just perfect. But I think one of the most memorable moments was my dad’s speech. He had written the most amazing speech and part of it written using Muse lyrics! I had turned him into a super fan by taking him to a concert two years before, so it was really special and more personal than you could imagine.
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for you and you’re feeling good.
Make your dreams come true, don’t give up the fight,
you’ll be alright, cause there’s no one like you in the universe.
When darkness falls and surrounds you.
When you fall down and when you’re scared or lost, be brave.
Don’t be afraid, what your minds’ conceive, you should make a stand.
Stand up for what you believe and tonight we can truly say, together you’re invincible.
From this moment you’ll never be alone. You’re bound together, now and forever.
Your love will be forever.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES
Well, where do I start! It has always been my dream to one day make my own wedding dress! To me a wedding dress should 100% represent the person wearing it, it is important to let your personality shine through, whether that means it is colourful, black or not even a dress at all. For me this meant diverting from the traditional white wedding dress.
Blue is my favourite colour so to match my engagement ring I decided to have soft dusty blue tones. I had lots of leftover fabrics from previous projects so decided to dye my own fabrics. I used a beautiful damask patterned silk for my corset which turned out perfectly and matched the sapphire in my engagement ring. I then dyed a roll of ivory tulle I had left from my sister’s wedding dress, unsure of if it would work as they aren’t the easiest of fabrics to dye, but they turned out perfectly! I used two different types of lace, one fine French Chantilly Lace and the other a corded lace. Again, both dyed beautifully. The corded lace took me by surprise as it didn’t come out one solid colour but I loved the effect I had created regardless. I had one extra special fabric which I really wanted to incorporate into my dress – my grandmas wedding dress. It was ivory in colour with ivory and gold embroidery. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would match the other fabrics so I dyed this as well. I decided to make the modesty panel in my corset with it. My grandma has taught me a lot about dressmaking over the years and I thought this was a lovely way to show her how much that had meant to me.
The design was quite easy for me to come up with, I knew exactly what I wanted and what suited me. I came up with the idea of a corset, skirt and then a long sleeved over dress with a long train. After finding and dying all of my fabrics, I got started. The first thing I did was the embellishments. I made hundreds of tiny tulle flowers which I later planned to add Swarovski crystals to the centres. Each flower was made with 5 individual petals, it was a labour of love and I had many evenings of wine, Netflix and flower making. I couldn’t start the main dress straight away as we were in the process of buying a house. We moved into our house in August 2017 which was when the hard work started. I made my skirt and corset fairly quickly. I then made a start with the over-dress, which consisted of long sleeves with delicate lace appliqué, and an extra long train covered in the tiny flowers I had been making.
To finish my look, and because it was very likely to snow or at least be very cold, I made a navy blue velvet cloak with a faux fur trim hood. I also wore a beautiful fluffy pale blue cardigan my grandma knitted for me, which kept me toasty warm whilst we were down at the loch. Outside I wore a pair of navy velvet wedge boots and for in the house I had a pair of blue light up Irregular Choice shoes. I chose to do my own hair and makeup for the day and followed the blue theme there too with smokey blue eyeshadows. I am always quite bold with eyeshadows and didn’t feel I should be any different on my wedding day. My jewellery was kept minimal with a pair of small blue stud earrings and I wore the same necklace I wear everyday, a Swarovski heart pendant Ryan had bought me for our first anniversary.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
I know everyone says it but it’s true! Be yourself, do what you want and don’t stress about it! Never lose sight of the end game, the reason why you are spending so much time making diy paper flowers or trying to match ties with the colour of napkins, remember it’s all about you and the person you are marrying! And If you want the crazy dress, wear the crazy dress! Even better, I will make you the crazy dress!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Loch an Eilein
Thank you so much to Fiona and Ryan for sharing their magical celebration with us! Val Xx