Aysha and Paul exchanged their vows in the shadow of the magnificent pines of Rothiemurchus Forest, a stone’s throw away from a ruined island castle.
Their wild elopement, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, was witnessed by two guests and was heartfelt and full of love.
This is one to bookmark if the thought of a Scottish Highland elopement is setting your heart aflutter!
How did you two meet?
We were introduced by a mutual friend at a local gig venue in August 2018. We had no idea that meeting would be so life-changing, since we were both quite independent individuals who were not looking for romance at that time.
From that very first meeting, Paul was the one who was keen off the bat. We got along so well that it didn’t take long for us to be completely serious about each other. We both knew quite early on in our relationship that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and so on our second year anniversary, he proposed in the Italian restaurant where we had had our very first date.
What inspired your wedding plans?
We were both already looking at venues where we could have the wedding ceremony outdoors, so ideally somewhere next to a forest but couldn’t find a venue that grabbed us in England. Aysha came across a blog of a beautiful elopement in the Cairngorms while she was searching online and we immediately realised that that’s where we wanted to get married.
It was the gorgeous forests and lochs of the Cairngorms that really started the process of making us feel like we were planning our wedding. We wanted a small, intimate and special ceremony tailored to us, so we decided that we wanted to have a humanist wedding and only have our two witnesses with us.
We wrote our own vows, baked our own wedding cake and walked to our ceremony together. The only custom we wanted in our ceremony was the Celtic handfasting. Other than that, the rest of our day was the complete opposite of traditional!
Tell us about your venue…
Not a wedding venue but we booked a cottage at Loch An Eilein and got married on a hill not far from the loch’s shore. It was the perfect setting for us and we chose it ourselves the morning of our wedding!
We had a barbeque with our two witnesses and our photographer back in the Loch An Eilein cottage where we were staying. Not a typical wedding reception, but we loved it! We set up a gazebo in the back garden and while we were off to get our photos taken, our witnesses, Annabel and Jason, made everything cosy with a roaring fire, comfy seats, warm blankets and candles.
We love your outfits! Tell us more…
Aysha: My wedding dress was a complete surprise. I knew that I didn’t want a heavy, blingy gown. I loved the A-line silhouette and wanted sleeves and lace. Something light and easy to move in, but still unique and me. I was nearly giving up on the idea of finding a dress that I liked until I tried this very last one on at Bexbrides (the third boutique I went to). It had everything I wanted in a dress but what made it a real wild card was that it had little polka dots everywhere! I tried it on and was astonished how well it suited me and how much I liked it. It was definitely one of a kind and I couldn’t let it go. In addition to the polka dots and the ivory lace along the sleeves, neckline, waist and hem, a few delicate light blush coloured 3D flowers were sewn into the waist and around the back of the dress which complemented it nicely.
I wore a pair of almond leather ankle boots from Zara. In terms of accessories, I wore a silver ring with Paul’s name carved in and my engagement ring on my right hand. I also wore an ivory headband with one of the same 3D flowers that was sewn into my dress added on. Both the ring and headband were found on Etsy. My mum got me a lovely pair of white gold, pave diamond earrings that match my engagement ring. They were bought from the local jewellers in our hometown in the North of England and from whom my family had been purchasing their gold for years.
Paul: I wore a navy raincoat over a white cotton shirt with an open top button and no tie for a rustic and relaxed look. With tan chinos with a dark brown Hugo Boss belt and Timberland boots to match. I pretty much knew the look that I wanted right off the bat, the only uncertainty was exactly what kind of long jacket to wear. I tried a double-breasted wool jacket, but that was a bit too much and more on the formal side. From there I went straight to the raincoat and it worked. I wanted to check with our photographer that navy would be a good match for the brown and green tones of the surroundings (it was!).
I wore dark brown Timberland Heritage 6′ Boots. As far as accessories go, I kept a fleur-de-lys pendant in my pocket that Aysha had gifted me on the day I proposed to her.
Your photos are incredible!
Paul came across Radek’s work online and we both loved his style. We wanted a raw, natural feel to our photos, and a tone of photography that was atmospheric and carefree at the same time. We wanted our emotions to be captured naturally and Radek fit all of that and more. He was really easy to communicate with and made us very comfortable.
We were so happy when we got to see our gallery; his photos blew us away. Everything that we wanted was there, all the special moments that we had on the day were captured, and the colder more editorial style that we were looking for looked even better than we had imagined.
What was your first dance song?
We picked Call Out My Name by The Weeknd as this became our song over the time we’d been together. However, we didn’t end up listening to music on the day or even having our first dance as we had planned. The company and banter of our two witnesses and photographer were so perfect that we didn’t need music.
We did, however, end the day by listening to our song on the couch in front of the fire in the cottage, with tummies full of burgers and cake once everyone had left.
Did you manage to stick to your budget?
We did, yes. Paul had the whole thing budgeted and itemised for each of us on a spreadsheet. Aysha managed to come in under budget on her dress and combining our wedding and honeymoon was a great money-saver.
Were there any challenges along the way?
The biggest obstacle was having to plan the wedding via video calls and having to be apart from each other for months due to Covid restrictions. We had to be apart for 4-5 months during the first lockdown and then we were unable to see each other for a further four months ahead of the wedding. The first time we saw one another after lockdown was at the train station to head up to Scotland for the wedding.
We had to delay booking the cottage as Paul’s parents tested positive for Covid (they are fine now), then the date we had pencilled had been booked in the meantime, so we booked for the week starting April 26th, which we would later learn would be the first day the cottage could open when Scotland eased their lockdown restrictions and the cottage was booked up solid for pretty much the rest of the year. We were very lucky!
We would both advise you future couples to forget about anyone else’s opinions and do things your way. It is your one special day, so have it however, wherever and whenever you want.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and try to communicate with each other as much as possible during the planning process, since it can be pretty stressful at times. As long as you two are on the same page, that’s all that matters, and don’t forget that it’s about the two of you and your love for each other.
Also, we wish you the best of luck and best wishes from both of us!
Why did you get married in Scotland?
How could we not get married in Scotland?! The main reason was because we fell in love with the Cairngorms. Additionally, we loved the fact that we could legally get married anywhere without being tied to a mandatory wedding package that didn’t cater to us and our elopement.
Honeymoon or minimoon?
We booked Loch An Eilein cottage for the week and combined our wedding and honeymoon in one. We were right on the loch with a beautiful view of the water, trees and snow-covered peaks in the distance. We woke up to birds and red squirrels outside our kitchen window each morning.
What’s the one moment you’ll always remember?
There were many moments spread throughout the day that will stay with us for a lifetime. We feel as though having a small and intimate wedding allowed us to stay in the moment and not feel like there was too much going on or a queue of folks to talk to on the day.
But to chose one… and though it’s quite an obvious one, the moment we were announced as officially married by our celebrant was surreal as we had been kept apart for so long prior to the wedding due to lockdown restrictions. It hit us both immediately and the tears began to flow just after we had our first kiss as husband and wife.
Oh my goodness, we felt all the feels reading about these two being reunited for their journey to Scotland. And what breathtaking photos to remember it all by. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story with us Aysha and Paul! x