Dell of Abernethy elopement wedding, Cairngorms National Park
Melissa and Luke’s magical winter elopement wedding at the Dell of Abernethy in the Cairngorms National Park really took our breath away. As wedding photographers, we always love capturing weddings in this breathtakingly beautiful part of Scotland; the combination of mountains, Caledonian pine forest and lochs is really unique and lends every outdoor wedding ceremony a special atmosphere.
Having given the subject of when, where and how to get married, these guys decided that eloping in Scotland was the perfect way to celebrate their love and mark the start of a life together.
Our bride, Melissa: “We knew we wanted to be married but neither of us wanted a traditional wedding. There were aspects of a traditional wedding that we knew we wouldn’t enjoy. Instead, we wanted to create a wedding that worked for us, something that we could really get excited about. As lovers of walking and being outdoors, a Scottish elopement in the forest felt like a perfect fit for us.
I thought carefully about what I would miss if I didn’t have them… I wanted a beautiful dress, and a few close friends to enjoy the morning preparations with. So we made sure those things happened. By keeping it simple, everything we had on the day felt really special. We told our immediate family before our elopement and on the whole they were supportive of our decision. We didn’t tell anyone else until after the wedding and having the secret really added to the excitement in the build-up to our day.”
The day of their wedding dawned clear and bright – with a fresh scattering of snow on the hills. Pulling back the curtains really did reveal a winter wonderland. Read on to see how the story of their Scottish elopement adventure unfolded.
Melissa and Luke envisaged a weekend house-party vibe: them and three close friends to witness their love and help them celebrate. The atmosphere of the whole day was so relaxed: with no official ‘timeline’ to rigidly stick to – things could just unfold calmly and at their own pace. No stress, no pressure and plenty of time to enjoy every element of the day.
We loved how much joy Melissa’s dress gave her. It has such a beautiful floaty skirt, with loads one movement – which made it fantastic to photograph! Melissa’s advice to other elopement brides:
“Choose the dress that makes you feel amazing! Having looked at elopement ideas I thought I had to choose a certain style of dress to fit the setting, but I fell for a much bigger and more sparkly gown than I planned. I worried it would look out of place but in the end I went with it, and it was perfect! I felt like a princess and it made me want to dance and twirl!”
Melissa and Luke decided to get ready separately, then have a ‘first look’ before they headed out into the forest for their wedding ceremony. The first time that you see each other all dressed-up and ‘wedding-ready’ is always a really special moment that we love to capture.
Melissa and Luke had decided that they wanted an outdoor woodland wedding ceremony on the shores of a loch. We knew of a secluded spot surrounded by tress with a view out over the loch towards Cairngorm mountain beyond with a really peaceful and intimate feel.
Working with humanist celebrant, Ashton Easter, Melissa and Luke had created a ceremony that was unique and personal to them. They wanted it to be simple and heartfelt. Melissa works in healthcare, which makes wearing a wedding ring difficult for hygiene reasons, so they had decided to let go of that particular part of the wedding ceremony and focus on their wedding vows and a personal expression of their love.
The weather in Scotland is notoriously changeable…no more so than in Spring! As serendipity would have it, just as Ashton pronounced Luke and Melissa husband and wife, a snow shower swept across the loch and snowflakes intermingled with the flower petal confetti. After the ceremony it was time to toast their married with a dram of fine Scottish whisky!
The temperature turned pretty chilly, but Melissa and Luke were total troopers and completely embraced the wintery weather conditions. Melissa’s advice to other couples planning a winter elopement in Scotland:
“If you opt for a winter wedding, wrap up warm! Layers are your friend. Take blankets, gloves, thermal leggings and whisky!! It was cold. There isn’t anything I regret or wish we had done differently. I will admit I had concerns in the planning stages about the wisdom of having an outdoor elopement in the Cairngorms in February, but we had blankets, and back up plans, and in the end we were rewarded with a truly magical setting and a good dusting of snow.”
As they had met at salsa class, it felt only fitting for Melissa and Luke to have their ‘first dance’ as they strolled down a quiet track through the woods. We love the way that elopements can incorporate as many or as few of the elements of a traditional wedding as you wish: you just decide which ones feel right for you.
Melissa: “The plan was to start our married life as we meant to carry on. The day itself was so relaxed and the ceremony was beautiful. Without the crowds and the structure of a traditional wedding we were able to feel really present and enjoy it all. People often say that their wedding day went so fast and felt like a blur. Our experience was very different and we loved every moment (even the really cold ones!)”
After taking some time together to go exploring in the woods, Melissa & Luke rejoined their friends in the Main Lodge at the Dell of Abernethy. It was time to warm-up by the fire, crack-open the champagne and get ready for their evening celebrations. They had asked local Cairngorms catering company, The Lunchbox Boys to create a hearty feast for their wedding night.
Melissa’s thoughts on vendors for an elopement wedding: “Choose your vendors carefully! With so few (or no guests) they will become a big part of your day. Everyone we picked, from hair and makeup, our wonderful celebrant, our caterer and of course our incredible photographers, really helped to make our day feel special. Having like minded, fun and interesting people involved made the day even more perfect for us.”
Melissa & Luke’s words of wisdom for an couples currently sitting on the fence about whether or not to have an elopement wedding: “If you have any reservations about whether a traditional wedding is right for you we would highly recommend considering an elopement or finding a way to create a wedding that feels right for you.
A wedding is a very personal thing, don’t be afraid to make it exactly what you want. Include what brings you joy, and forget about the things that don’t.
Sharing the news of our elopement wedding with our friends and family was so much fun and everyone was really happy and excited for us. The whole weekend of our elopement was incredible. We wanted it to feel like the kind of adventure we would usually have, just with a wedding added in!”
We absolutely love photographing Scottish elopements and intimate weddings. If you are planning something similar to Melissa & Luke’s elopement adventure, we would love to hear about your plans!