Sam and Emily wanted to celebrate their wedding with all their friends and family, and found their dream venue at Cluny Castle.
The lovely bride tells us all about their picture-perfect day, shot by Sam Brill…
Sam and I got engaged on 23rd December 2015. We were best friends at school and had been together for six years (from the age of 17) when Sam proposed.
Although I knew we would spend the rest of our lives together, the engagement still came as a surprise!
We went for a walk up Scolty Hill in Banchory with the dogs. I should’ve known something was up this time as he didn’t stop for breath once the whole way. At the top he pulled out a picnic blanket and some Percy Pigs and I was thinking he’d gone all out. He told me he had my Christmas present early this year, then he got down on one knee.
We were engaged for 2 and a half years before we got married. When Sam asked my Dad if he could take my hand in marriage he was obviously delighted but said there were two conditions – you can’t return her and can you wait until after she’s finished studying to have the wedding. So that’s what we did! I graduated from my second degree two days before we got married it was a mental week!
Our first priority was having all of our family and friends together in one place. The first time we saw Cluny Castle we knew that was it – it has the wow factor! Turning the corner on the driveway when the castle first comes into view is amazing and the Scottish flag flying high is a goosebumps job!
Having the most beautiful chapel onsite is also very unique. Cluny Castle could offer accommodation for the bridal party and our families. We also liked that the full day happened in one place and that we had exclusive use.
Fiona Jones the events manager was so helpful from our first visit until the wedding day as was the owner, Cosmo Gordon.
We used the talented photographer Sam Brill after recommendation from friends, and he has now become a friend!
We were after something very natural and when we met Sam to go over wedding packages we knew he was perfect for the job.
I guess our wedding was what you would describe as a traditional white wedding in a Scottish castle!
The men all wore kilts, I wore a white wedding dress and we walked down the aisle to Highland Cathedral played on the bagpipes.
What is amazing about Cluny Castle having a marquee in the grounds is that, on one hand, you have the historic enchanted element of a castle, but then on the other you also get to enjoy the benefits of a personally designed modern marquee.
The chapel was stunning with the stained glass windows, wooden pews and acoustics. The interior of the castle rooms with the old organ, the chandeliers, the ornaments and antique pictures was also amazing. Then the marquee itself is a blank canvas – we had a mixture of candelabras and big floral centerpieces for our tables, pink up lights for the evening, pine trees to fill some of the side space, a rustic designed whiskey barrel bar and fairy lights draped from the ceiling. There were lots of pale pinks, purples, whites and candles!
I got my dress and five bridesmaids dresses all from Ivory Grace in Aberdeen. The bridesmaids dresses were Ghost and the girls all felt so comfortable in them, as well as looking amazing!
My dress was from the designer Augusta Jones with a waterfall veil. I’ve never worn a ball gown in my life but Kayleigh from Ivory Grace made the point ‘if you can’t wear it on your wedding day when will you’ and she was so right! I loved it in the end and it suited Cluny Castle – it was like being a princess!
Sam and I have both worked for Val Morrison Catering and it was Val who initially recommended going to view Cluny Castle. She’s one of the kindest, most caring people you’ll ever meet as well as being the most talented chef there is!
Along with her amazing team she did all of the flowers, the canapes, 3-course meal, buffet food and the finishing touches. They really are a very special group and I couldn’t recommend them any more.
We had a religious ceremony with Rev. Will Stalder from Methlick church. Because Cluny Chapel is private, any minister is able to preach in it as opposed to it just being the local one.
Will was a fantastic minister, he met us several times before our wedding to get to know us and our families and the service he led was upbeat, loving and funny.
I was actually ok during the service because I was consoling Sam. He was so emotional the full way through. He said that the reality hit him when all of the guests started to arrive and more and more people he loved were together in one place. He said once the pipes started up and I walked down the aisle that was him!
Our ceremony was at 2pm and after all the guests were piped round to the front of the castle where drinks and canapes were served for around 45 minutes. We had an acoustic guitarist, Paul Black, playing outside and an organist playing inside the castle for some of the older relatives!
Our guests mingled and had access to explore the main rooms at the front of the castle, but to be honest most people were outside playing games on the lawn, chatting and listening to the music. It was so hot!
We served an antipasti for starter and then did our speeches while people were still nibbling and picking which worked really well.
After the rest of the meal was served by Val and her amazing team, the evening guests arrived around 7:30pm.
Again, Cluny Castle was great for this as the evening guests were piped on arrival at the castle and then able to come up to the marquee – they didn’t feel like a late addition or like they were getting in the way by arriving early, which I have seen at some weddings. We had our first dance joined by family and bridal party at 8pm and then danced the night away until 12:30am.
Our band were amazing and I would recommend them to anyone! Bahookie play a mixture of ceilidh music combined with popular pop music, and the dance floor was full all night. All of our guests were ranting and raving about how fun and good they were and 3 couples out of our friends have since booked them for their own special days.
I think the toughest bit is that you want everybody you love to be there but realistically it just can’t happen, financially and logistically.
Try not to please anyone else, make the decisions based on what you and your fiancé want and remember that if they are true friends or family, they’ll be delighted and happy for you regardless.
You know you’ve got great friends and family around you, but when you get married it makes you realise just how lucky and loved you really are. Both sets of our parents were so generous and supportive, and we’ll forever be grateful for that.
It just feels right! We’ve been together for so many years but there is something solid and reassuring that it’s for forever now. Sam and I did long distance for five years whilst I was studying, and to be living together now in the same city is the most special bit – I hope that novelty never wears off!
Not much has changed (apart from our car insurance has gone down since we’re married!) and we’re both just so excited to tackle whatever the next chapter holds together.
Catering + flowers: Val Morrison Catering | Favours: Bakery Lane