Smiles, lochs, incredible landscape photography and joy. These are the main elements that make today’s wedding so, so special. In the nineteen months that I’ve worked for Love My Dress, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a couple with such delightful smiles as Stephanie and Murray.
The couple married in a magical spring barn wedding on the banks of Loch Voil at Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder, Scotland, on 16 April 2016. Their day was relaxed and family-focused, full of personal, handmade touches, with a glorious rustic vibe. Their photographer Neil Thomas Douglas has captured the intimate and fun barn celebration to perfection, and I love his photographs of the Scottish landscape in all its drama.
“We really wanted a relaxed wedding, where we could enjoy every aspect of the day with our closest family and friends. There wasn’t necessarily a theme as the venue already had such a magical feel about it but we knew we wanted a rustic look, with wild flowers and personal touches throughout. Our photographer Neil Thomas Douglas was definitely one of the best choices we made as he captured the day perfectly and understood the importance of us being able to spend as much time with our guests as possible.”
Photography by Neil Thomas Douglas Photography
The bride chose pieces from two of our favourite Love My Dress and Little Book for Brides designers, Sassi Holford and Stewart Parvin, combining the two for a classic and pretty look, well-suited to the springtime wedding. The Jessica gown is a figure-hugging, strapless dress with a fishtail train, and Stephanie’s lacy Stewart Parvin cap-sleeved bolero added a touch of softness and romance. Stephanie put together her look with the help of Edinburgh boutique Rachel Scott Couture.
“Picking my dress was one the hardest decisions as I was between three very different styles but in the end I knew I wanted something classic, which could be personalised. The Sassi Holford Jessica Dress was more fitted than I had imagined but I loved how simple it was, with a sweetheart neck and buttons down the back. I’ve even thought about dying it but I’ll have to tackle the mud and red wine stains first!”“Rachel was amazing at helping me visualise the dress and I was lucky enough to meet Sassi when she visited the shop. Both of them worked so well together and you can tell how talented they are as they managed to understand my vague ramblings and designed the dress to suit.”
“I went for a Stewart Parvin bolero as I knew I wanted a cover up during the day and loved how delicate the lace was and the low back worked perfectly with the dress. I had always planned to take it off after the ceremony but really enjoyed wearing it so kept it on for most of the night.”
If you’d like to see more of these designers’ gowns, then please visit their listings on our curated wedding supplier directory Little Book for Brides listings.
In keeping with the relaxed feel of the day, Stephanie’s hair and make-up were kept natural and loose. Accessories were simple, and she added just a diaphanous veil, borrowed from her mum; I love how it billows behind her in these beautiful portraits with the backdrop of the Scottish fells.
“I used my mum’s veil, which meant a lot to me and I loved the simplicity of it. We luckily have very similar tastes so it worked perfectly”
If you love wild flowers then I hope you love these natural, ‘undone’ bouquets by florist Ruby Flowers. Their hazy blues are reminiscent of Scottish moors, and how lovely do they look with the bridesmaids’ ASOS gowns in the same misty blue? Monachyle Mhor was festooned with swathes of foliage and branches, with blue and deep pink flowers providing a pop of colour.
“We couldn’t recommend Ruby enough, she is such a lovely person and has an amazing eye for detail. We really liked wild flowers in rustic colours and hanging displays from the ceiling and she did an amazing job of transforming the barn and making it look so magical.”
Ruby also created simple, natural buttonholes of Scottish thistle and lavender, for Murray and his groomsmen to wear. They celebrated their Scottish heritage by wearing traditional Highland dress.
“Murray wore his family tartan kilt and his tweed jacket was made by Lochcarron.”
Stephanie, who works in marketing, met surveyor Murray through friends, and they married eighteen months after their engagement.
“We met through mutual friends after a rugby game in Edinburgh and after some unsubtle match making by two of our friends, we went on our first date a few days later. We soon realised how similar we were and we’ve been pretty inseparable since. Murray proposed in August 2014 on a sunny trip to North Berwick in East Lothian.”
“We would often sit at the end of the rocks, beyond the harbour to watch the boats come in and that’s where he popped the question, with a ring that he designed himself, which was really special.”
The couple chose Monachyle Mhor as their venue and added their own touches to accentuate its beautiful features.
“My sister is great at crafts and made us some lovely bunting to hang around the barn, using a range of tartans to represent our family and friends’ different clans. It was something really special and great for us to use again. Our best man’s family also supplied us with some amazing decorations which they had used for his sister’s wedding the year before, including everything from a watering can to a bike and rooster.”
“Ruby was able to use these props really creatively and dressed them up with a selection of rustic flowers. For our tables, we named each one after our favourite places in Scotland and luckily we only had five long tables to work with so we made wooden photo frames, using a picture of us at each location, sticking wooden letters on top for the name and hanging them at the end of the table.”
Stephanie travelled to the church with her dad, walking down the aisle to Murray as a local piper played ‘Highland Cathedral’. These photographs really capture their delight and happiness so well. Their service readings were 1 Corinthians 13, and Murray’s mum recited ‘True Love Defined’ by Cori and Joseph Kupisch.
My favourite images are those taken against the backdrop of the loch, with the Scottish hills rising behind them. With this beautiful sunset it’s hard to believe that it had been snowing only that morning.
“There were so many special moments throughout the day but one that will always stick in our mind is when we went down to the loch after dinner and we were able to spend some time together reflecting on the day. When we looked back at the barn we could see the bonfire blazing, with the snow-peaked hills behind and the music and chat of our friends and family fill the barn inside. It was so special to hear everyone enjoying the night while we took some time out by the water.”
More Scottish influences came with the wedding favours; mini bottles of gin.
“We made up personalised gin bottles for our favours, using different flavours of Edinburgh gin so our guests could drink them for Murray’s toast.”
This tiered naked cake, made by Three Sisters Bake, really caught my eye!
“This was literally the best cake we’ve ever tasted and so happy that we went with flavours we know and like… chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! The bottom layer was chocolate and Guinness, the middle was chocolate with raspberry and the top was chocolate with salted caramel. I don’t think we could ever get bored with this cake!”
The day ended with dancing to a mix of Celtic and contemporary music, provided by Edinburgh band Callanish.
“Our first dance was ‘Feel The Love‘ by Rudimental, which is probably quite random but we weren’t keen on having a slow song and we wanted everyone up dancing and enjoying the moment as much as us. It was also a song that we listened to quite a bit on road trips together and reminded us of our first camping trip in Arisaig.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Enjoy every moment as it goes by so quickly and the planning should be an extension of that fun. Try and embrace the enjoyment that comes with it and not get too focused on the detail as everything always works itself out. It’s also easy to get worried about the weather but when you live somewhere like Scotland you’ll always be taking that gamble so it’s worth being prepared for anything.
We actually had snow in the morning and then sun for the rest of the day but my mum luckily had a selection of umbrellas and wellies ready.”
For more Sassi Holford brides on Love My Dress please follow this link, or to see some of Stewart Parvin’s gowns, we have a lovely selection on his Style File page here. Sending many thanks to Neil Thomas Douglas Photography for sharing his work with us. We are big fans of Neil’s style and are so lucky to have featured other weddings shot by him on the blog, which you can see here.
Congratulations Stephanie and Murray on your beautiful wedding. You both look so, so happy and I wish you many years of joy to come.
Credits & Thanks
- Photographer - Neil Thomas Douglas Photography
- Planner/Stylist -
- Venue - Monachlye Mhor, Balquhidder, Scotland
- Wedding Dress - Sassi Holford Jessica gown and a Stewart Parvin bolero from Rachel Scott Couture
- Veil - Borrowed from her mum
- Groom - His family's tartan and a tweed jacket from Lochcarron
- Bridesmaids - ASOS
- Florist - Ruby Flowers
- Cake - Three Sisters Bake
- Transport - Their own cars with personalised number plates (a surprise from Murray's dad)
- Entertainment - Callanish
- Rings - From a friend's jewellers in Edinburgh.
- Catering - Provided by the venue
- Stationery - White Blossom Paper Boutique
- Hair Stylist - Leeanne Kerr
- Make-up - Lauren Gollan