A Jenny Packham gown and a windswept beach in Scotland

Happy Monday folks. Today on the blog we have a very special bride (I adore her attitude, just read her moving write up) with one of the most beautiful dresses we’ve ever had the pleasure of drooling over! Joanna and Miles have been together for seven years and wed on beautiful Camusdarach beach in the Scottish highlands! The day was captured with sensitivity and style by Loraine Ross Photography. I’ll hand over to Joanna and Loraine to tell the story of this gorgeous day with their own pictures and words.

“Miles and I met in a dark, bohemian a pub called Pivo in Edinburgh.  The city was brand new to me, it was summer and life felt fresh.  I’d gone out to join a group of friends and Miles was there at the table.  I recall he had a job application he was preparing to post, and a friend and I naughtily drew a moustache on the queen on the stamp on the envelope (Miles took this well).

There’s nobody else like him.  I think I first fell in love with his sharp wit, then his old-fashioned romanticism, and finally his gentleness and patience had me hooked.

Miles proposed last April. We love a good adventure by bicycle and we were on a two-week cycle tour of the Sierra Nevada in Spain.  Halfway through the tour we were due to cross the mountains at one of the highest passes in Spain, the 2,000m Puerto de la Ragua. It took us all day to climb.  I remember seeing the top during the last 100m of cycling and feeling reassured that the Spanish had used the same shade of brown as the UK in their tourist road sign marking the top of the pass.  As we reached the sign I noticed Miles become very quiet, then he seemed to be searching for something in his bicycle pannier, then, in a thunderclap moment, I guessed what was coming, and my heart stopped.  Then Miles got down on one knee in the snow beneath the pines on the top of the pass, and asked me to marry him with an antique solitaire he’d kept hidden in his pannier during our week on the road.”

Images © 2013 Loraine Ross Wedding Photography

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“When it came to planning the wedding, one theme wasn’t enough, so we had a beach-1920ss-vintage-village hall-DIY wedding! The ideas came together partly by accident (stumbling on my 1920s style wedding dress and the breathtaking Camusdarach Beach) and partly by design (we’d always wanted an informal, village hall wedding, and I can’t turn down an opportunity for some craft!).  And after those things were in place the styling was easy.  The colours emerged from the sand, sea and sky of Camusdarach Beach, the clothing was 1920s style, we decorated the lovely Astley Village Hall with handmade bunting and loose flowers, and dug out my grandparents’ old photographs and crockery.  The themes also sat nicely alongside my natural inclination to spend as little money as possible.

We planned most of the wedding ourselves, and I did a lot of DIY.  I remember receiving, and promptly ignoring, two valuable pieces of advice which I’ll take this opportunity to pass onto other brides (for them to ignore too!)… “whatever you do, don’t hand-tie your invitations with ribbon, and don’t make your own bunting”. *editor’s note – I did both of these things too, I feel your pain.  I won’t contemplate how many hours I spent hand-tying my invitations with ribbon, and making my own bunting!  On the other hand, my parents organised the dinner, my friend Rosie made our cake, and my friend Alasdair made the driftwood signs… among many other helpful hands.”
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“It’s pretty superfluous (the best kind of detail), but this was my favourite wedding detail: I had a vintage rubber postal stamp made up to say ‘23.03.2013 Camusdarach, Arisaig’, and I used this to decorate a batch of postcards of Camusdarach Beach which I used for my save the dates.  The stamp was so cool that I ended up using it on the invitations and the dinner place names – I eventually had to hold myself back from stamping every wedding item in sight!  (I think I can legitimately eke out one more use in the thank you cards though!)

The most moving moment of the day was arriving at the top of the sand dunes and seeing, for the first time, 90 of my closest friends and family all gathered on the white beach below, with the blue-grey-purple sea and sky behind them, and the snowy mountains of the western isles in the distance, and everybody smiling, and with Miles in the middle of them.  We were also very lucky to be married by my aunt, who is very dear to me, and who was standing next to Miles.  I’d thought about the moment a hundred times before, but nothing prepared me for the real thing, it was like a dream.  Then I had to negotiate the sand dunes in my dress and heels with everyone watching!

There was also some light comedy! It wouldn’t have been right if we hadn’t involved the bicycles… so Miles and his close friends, who’d camped on the beach a couple of miles away, all arrived on a fleet of bicycles.”

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“I enjoyed the wedding planning so much, it’s hard to pick one bit that I enjoyed the most. I actually really enjoyed working with all the local folk who got involved.  It was nice because I’d never organised a big event before, least of all on the west coast of Scotland, and I found it a pleasure to work with the very talented, kind and committed hair stylist, caterer, florist, hotels, brewer, ceilidh band, landowner of Camusdarach Beach and custodian of Astley Village Hall.  They all understood the kind of day we wanted, created beautiful details, and worked damn hard.  The only bit I didn’t enjoy was the final anticipation of the weather in the lead up to an outdoor wedding –  you need nerves of steel!  Especially on the west coast of Scotland in March.  All I could think of was ‘fortune favours the brave’…

If I have any advice for future brides, it’s to be prepared for how wonderfully supportive, generous and helpful your friends and family will be, especially during the final build up.  I found this quite overwhelming, there’s just so much love around, and you’ll feel so lucky.”

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 Wedding venues: Ceremony on Camusdarach Beach – email stuartsofcolliston@gmail.com for enquiries, and reception at Astley Village Hall
 Photographer: Loraine Ross Wedding Photography
Bride’s dress, accessories and shoes:  Dress: Jenny Packham’s Eden; Beach shoes: Elsie by Perfect Wedding Shoes, Evening shoes: Mimi by Rachel Simpson; Headpiece: bespoke by Rene Walrus; Veil: Richard Designs; necklace, earrings and watch all belonged to bride’s grandmothers.
♥ Bridesmaids’ dress:  Ghost’s Novella dress at John Lewis
 Cars:  The bride’s friend Hal and his 1987 VW Golf Mark 2 (with authentic dent in rear passenger door), Joanna bought him a vintage chauffeur’s hat, dove grey driving gloves and ivory car ribbon, all from eBay.  Local taxi driver Laurence Lowrie (lawrencelowrie@hotmail.com) helped ferry some folk to and from the reception.
 Florist:  Forget me Nots (fwflowers@btconnect.com)
 Hair:  Wedding Hair Scotland
 Make-up:  Bride’s sister
 Cake:  Bride’s friend Rosie
♥ Catering:  Ariundle Centre
 Band / DJ:  Andrew MacDonald Music (andrewmacdonald88@hotmail.co.uk)
 Extras:  The couple served beer in kegs provided by the local Glenfinnan Brewery.  The bride and her family were well looked after in Arisaig House Hotel

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