Carol the Bride:
Paddy and I got engaged whilst snowboarding in Tignes, late December 2016. At the top of the Grand Motte glacier it was the most incredible and romantic moment of a fantastic annual trip.
After a wonderful Christmas celebrating in Northern Ireland with Paddy’s family and friends, I got straight on with planning while we were at home in Aberdeen for Hogmanay. One of my best friends Amanda was in the midst of wedding planning herself and knew all the sites and blogs to consult, pinpointing the best ones and helping kick off my searches efficiently! It was Amanda that found the brand new, still under construction, venue Barn at Barra Castle
. Barra is a berry farm with a castle and lots of beautiful buildings and farm shop on site just outside Aberdeen near Old Meldrum.
Bringing together big Scottish and Irish families and a large friend group we were looking for a venue that could accommodate 200+ guests. Patrick and I also own a Scottish inspired street food, catering and cafe business in London so the food and drink offering had to special and we wanted to bring in our favourites. This meant venue selection was limited, especially in the North East of Scotland. The Barn at Barra Castle was building our dream venue. A flexible space with the perfect layout for a formal but laid back wedding with stunning views of Aberdeenshire.
We secured the 16th of September and started on with the search of the other suppliers. I make decisions pretty quickly, sometimes a little hasty but it was great to crack on and use my time up North efficiently.
We contacted our favourite choice of food and drink suppliers and secured tastings. The evening food was a easy choice with my Mum’s favourite fish supper supplier The Bay Fish and Chips
of Stonehaven recently launching their ‘On the Road’ van. It’s award-winning and great to have them their doing mini suppers of fish, sausage and chicken and chips for our evening snacks.
We lined up Salt n Sauce
and 10 Dollar Shakes
for tastings for our trip back homing February. Chris is the executive chef of Salt n Sauce, whilst also owning some well known trendy restaurants in London. Gomes of 10 Dollar Shakes is a legend in the bar and drinks game and co-owns both companies.
Chris’ canapé offering was fantastic and narrowing it down to just a selection of 4 was near impossible. We ended up with a great mix of veggie, fish and meat including seabass ceviche and a crispy haggis ball as a nod to our business and wedding surroundings. They also specialise in sharing feasts which was exactly the laid back feel we wanted to create. We had local cured meats, 3 types of Scottish salmon and cheese platters to start. Followed by steak pie with all the trimmings. The desserts were an amazing medley of meringue, local ice creams and strawberries and rasps from Barra Farm that we were on!
We also found Isla Duncan Florist
online and met with her in Feb. Having followed some amazing florists based in London I was looking for something a little more modern and so many of the florists I found were a little too traditional, but Isla does a fantastic range of looks and after meeting her I knew she got exactly what we wanted.
We arranged the tables in long parallel strips of 24 people that Isla decorated with natural foliage, herbs and moss mixing in large white candles in hurricane vases. We mirrored this using the giant restored rafters of the barn that Isla decorated with more green foliage. The tables were named after different ski resorts Paddy and I have visited and my bridesmaid Sarah drew each mountain range for the table plan! We also had a photo booth with ski gear that people could get involved with and their place setting were a ski pass that they could then insert the polaroid photo into as a keepsake!
We didn’t want to stick to traditional champagne reception so had Gomes prepare a variety of refreshing drinks including Aperol Spritzes and a gin and elderflower cocktail. We then had more cocktails after dinner including an Irish coffee slush that went down an absolute storm!
Our photographer let us down 6 weeks before the big day but after some tips from friends and instagram research I found the wonderful Caitlin and Jones
through Instagram. At this point I was pretty stressed but knew exactly what I wanted and what I had to spend. Their package was perfect and offered a videographer which I had now realised I really wanted over a second photographer.
Although based in Yorkshire communication was great, we spoke over Skype and loved their friendly and accommodating approach. Only meeting the night before the wedding didn’t intimidate us as they were so friendly and their fantastic website and Insta feed spoke for itself!
They both spent the morning with me and the girls getting ready and it was lovely having them in my family home. The rushed ahead and got some great shots of Paddy and the guys in the church as well as the huge crowd we had to wedge into a tiny Church.
We got to use the entire gardens and outbuilding of Barra for photos, and Eleanor and Nathan from Caitlin & Jones had us running through the fields at dusk. It was pretty chilly in sandals but totally worth listening to them when we got the photos back. Especially the smoke bombs that were really cheap from eBay and work way better than I had expected. They also put up with all the formal family photo requests, even when it took at least 15 minutes every time to gather all our huge extended families!
We had friends help with the music and we walked down the aisle to our friend Kunal playing acoustic guitar and Johanna singing Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Maps’. They were so moving, Paddy and I were all balling our eyes out during the rehearsal so glad we managed to keep it together on the day. My brother and 2 of Paddy’s sisters did the religious readings and Amanda came up to read the hilarious, romantic and quite apt words from the Adam Sandlers The Wedding Singers song ‘Growing old with you’.
Our style was natural, Celtic, and laid back. I didn’t want anything flash or dominating and felt our style choices reflected the beautiful backdrop of the church, Barra Castle and the Scottish countryside.
Amanda came to the rescue again and found my dress online from a fantastic second hand shop called Gillian Million
. It was a Eliza Jane Howell
sample and the boho cape with the 1920s sleek skirt and beading was exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted. It was the first and only dress I tried on!
Paddy wore a dark checked suit from The Kooples
, a straight cut skinny suit that reflected his fashion style and found the guys a brilliant grey check suit from Marks and Spencers
that do a great skinny fit too. Their pineapple ties from John Lewis
were an added subtle fun flavour and a nod to our dream honeymoon in Hawaii that we had booked.
My 3 best friends from school were my beautiful bridesmaids and they wore an emerald green dress from Reformation
. I like the relaxed style and the sustainable foundation of the brand are what we wanted to endorse. We kept their hair in a relaxed style and they wore their own leather jackets to keep warm later.
We all looked great, comfortable and most importantly just ourselves.
This made dancing the night away a treat. We had the amazing Scott Wood
band for the ceilidh and almost everyone got up to dance traditionally to the wonderful music. Our first dance was Fleetwood Mac ‘Everywhere’ with a mix into ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ with a confetti pop included. Our friends did a wonderful job of timing this perfectly and creating the most amazing euphoric atmosphere on the dance floor and photos!
We celebrated our ‘Dweeney’s Celtic Fling’ in style, I danced pretty much until my feet bled and most people lost their voices after roaring along to the closing song Loch Lomond.
We left the venue on Cloud 9 and happy knowing our hard work curating the suppliers and the vibe had paid off and everyone had enjoyed themselves. I didn’t let running around on the day distract me and soaked up every moment. With good planning you don’t need to stress on the day, just get involved and have the best day of your life!
We had an informal dinner the night before which gave us the opportunity to catch up with everyone so we weren’t going round the tables on the actual day.
A videographer was the best thing we ever did, the memories start to fade and it is so nice to have it captured.
Finally, ask for help. We drafted in so much help from friends and family. I was not afraid to delegate and it made planning so much easier, especially when I wasn’t near the location. Everyone really does mean it when they offer to do whatever they can.